Getting Started with Martial Arts
I’m Alexander Gruezo, creator of Filipino Personal Defense Systems. If you’re new to the world of martial arts or have been interested in taking up a martial art(s), this page is for you! It contains the information you need to get up to speed quickly and start your own martial art(s) practice.
Martial Arts: Filipino Personal Defense Systems Definition
In order to begin our martial arts practice, we must first understand what the term martial arts really means. Definitions vary. In my experience, what most martial arts practitioners hope to learn-and what I focus on here at FMA Blogger-is:
Codified systems-ancient, classical, or modern-of combat and fighting practices. The goal of which is self-defense, sport, health, entertainment, physical, mental, and/or spiritual development.
In other words, your practice is very much personal. But whatever reason it may be, martial arts is the system we use to get us there. We martial artists invest our time, energy, and experience to constantly improving ourselves. We work hard now to continually reap the benefits later.
What Martial Arts Is Not
Let’s dispel some myths and set realistic expectations before we go any deeper.
1. Martial arts is not about kicking ass and beating people up. There is nothing I despise more than hearing someone say that the reason they want to learn martial arts is to kick ass. When I hear that, I immediately tell people I am not the person who will teach them that. Sadly there are many places out there that are only about teaching students how to hurt. That’s not me. To me it’s about personal development and protecting myself and those I care about should the need arise.
2. Martial arts is not just about getting your black belt. While we should all strive to get our black belts some day, that shouldn’t be the end goal. Believe me when I say this, “Getting your black belt is just the beginning!” I only just begun truly understanding my system AFTER I received my black belt. And the more I continue to study and teach, the more I realize that there is still a lot more I can learn.
3. Learning martial arts is not impossible. I have taught kids, teenagers, adults, and even older adults. And although many of them may learn at different rates, they all learn. I have had even the most uncoordinated persons eventually learn how to strike with a weapon, perform punching and kicking combinations, throw with ease, and apply an effective joint lock after only a few weeks of practice. The biggest factors in learning any art is hard work and consistency. As they say, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Types of Martial Arts
When you do a search for a martial arts school or martial arts style these days, many tell you that they are a “complete” style. Although this may be true to some extent, careful inspection will reveal to you that many of these styles actually specialize in a particular technical area of expertise. So while they actually may be “complete,” their foundation is actually the area of expertise that they specialize in. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
To help you decide what type of style or system you would like to study, here are the 3 technical areas most martial arts can be classified as:
This area tends to emphasize armed combat and encompasses a wide variety of weapons such as bladed weapons, impact weapons, pole weapons, and projectiles.
Examples of these arts are:
- Kali, Eskrima, or Arnis (also broadly known as Filipino Martial Arts and is part of the system I practice and teach in NYC)
- Kenjutsu (sword art)
- Bojutsu (staff art)
But as I mentioned before there are numerous styles that feature weapons as part of their curriculum but the examples of the styles I mentioned here have you using some sort of weapon during your first day of class while other styles or schools don’t teach you weapons until you have attained an advanced rank.
Here’s a video of the founder of Kuntaw Kali Kruzada (the system I practice and teach), Shihan Rico Acosta, demonstrating weapon techniques:
Here’s a video of the chief instructor of Kuntaw Kali Kruzada, Maestro Rich Acosta, brother of the founder, demonstrating different weapon techniques:
This particular area tends to emphasize unarmed fighting involving a variety of hits and strikes. It can also be further subdivided into the following:
Examples of striking arts are:
- Western boxing
- Muay Thai
- Tae Kwon Do
- Chuan Fa
Again striking is also incorporated in the curriculum of many weapons and grappling arts as well. It is incorporated in the system I practice and teach as well.
Here is a video of me teaching some striking techniques as we tested out our cameras for the first time:
This final area emphasizes all the unarmed techniques that do not include striking but involve both stand-up and ground fighting. It can be further subdivided into the following:
- Joint Locking, Choking, Submission Holds
Examples of grappling arts are:
- Brazilian Jiujitsu
As in the previous two areas, grappling is also incorporated in the curriculum of various weapons and striking arts. This too is incorporated in the system that I study and teach in NYC.
Here is old footage showing Japanese Jujutsu. Throws, joint locks, submissions, and pins are all demonstrated in this video:
I just wanted to finish by saying I’m here for you, not only as a guide while you begin or continue your martial arts practice, but as a friend.
I do my best to respond to all emails. I’m nobody special. My hands don’t glow when I strike nor do I catch bullets with my teeth (for those of you that have seen “The Last Dragon” movie 😉 ). I love martial arts and how much it has improved my life and continues to improve my life. I just want to use my knowledge and experiences to help improve the lives of everyone that I touch.
Thanks a lot for your support. And if you’ve made it this far please feel free to follow me on Instagram or hit me up and say hi on my Facebook page or Twitter. I’ll definitely respond and I look forward to meeting you!
If you live in the NYC are and are interested in studying Filipino Martial Arts (kali, arnis, eskrima) and martial arts in general, I teach private, semi-private, and group lessons throughout New York.
If you would like more details about the FMA system I teach, you can find an overview of the martial arts curriculum here.