Watching martial artists have a go in a film or MMA competition is always fun. Ironically, most martial arts instructors insist on discipline and other ways of conflict resolution. As such, people train all their lives but rarely use their skills. Interestingly, when Georges St-Pierre, a former UFC’s division two champion, was asked what the best move for self-defense was, he said, “400-meter sprint.” This is always emphasized by instructors who use the famous quote, “The loser dies in the street while the winner dies in the ambulance.” Here are some interesting martial arts facts to make your day.

1. A Man Once Taught Martial Arts to a Chimpanzee

Charlie the karate chimp was a chimpanzee who impressively learned karate after being adopted by Carmen Presti, a man dedicated to saving and protecting primates. According to the chimp’s instructor, the primate was the “fastest learner” he ever taught. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away in 2013.

2. The Martial Arts Tactics Used By Denzel Washington in His Film “The Book of Eli” Are Real

Released in 2010, The Book of Eli is one of the films from Denzel Washington’s massive catalog. He plays Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world aiming to deliver a copy of his mysterious book to a safe location. He employs several martial arts tactics, including Kali, which is popular in the Philipines. It emphasizes the need to react and focus to attack angles instead of specific strikes.

3. The Philippines Have One of the Best Martial Arts Discipline for Modern Blade Systems

Black belt martial artist standing with one leg

Even though most martial arts disciplines emphasize hand-to-hand combat fighting, some involve blades, sticks, and swords. For example, Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) covers martial arts such as Eskrima/kali/Arnis, Yaw-Yan, and Panantukan, among others. The United States Army uses these because they are among the most advanced modern blade systems.

4. There Is a Form of Martial Arts that Focuses on Biting the Attacker’s Sensitive Areas

a man on the ground in a black and white photo

Kinamutay is a form of martial arts that emphasizes pinching, eye-gouging, and biting the attacker’s sensitive parts. Commonly referred to as an effeminate form of hand fighting, the discipline allows “dirty” fighting techniques. It targets nerves and pressure points.

5. Martial Arts Was Once Banned in Japan

While martial arts is synonymous with the Japanese, different regimes have had different opinions on their legitimacy in the country. For instance, in 1946, the occupying powers banned Kendo, a form of martial arts, and karate, in response to the wartime militarization of martial arts in the region. They were disbanded six years later.

6. Jet Li Rejected A Role In The Matrix Movies to Protect His Martial Arts Moves

Since the first Matrix film was released in 1999, the franchise has achieved massive success; it is one of the most popular and profitable. Interestingly, Jet Li, a renowned martial artist and actor, was offered a role in the movies but turned it down. Hollywood producers wanted to store a copy of all his martial arts moves in their digital library. Jet Li refused.

7. A Man Killed Bulls with His Bare Hands to Promote His Martial Arts School

Among many things, Mas Oyama, a former South Korean Karate master, is famous for starting his martial arts school called Oyama Dojo. He promoted it by killing bulls with his bare hands. In other cases, he grabbed them by the horns, snapping them off. Over time, Oyama Dojo became one of the most complex, challenging, and intense forms of martial arts.

8. Keanu Reeves Underwent Martial Arts Training Before Taking a Role in the Matrix Film

Famous for his role in John Wick, Keanu Reeves is one of the most likable TV personalities. For his Matrix film role, he had to train for four months in Karate to fit the character he was to play. Reports say Reeves learned over 200 martial arts moves at the time. He is also conversant with Jujitsu and Judo techniques.

9. Calcio Fiorentino Is an Italian Form of Soccer That Includes Martial Arts

Started and prominent in Italy, Calcio Fiorentino is an ancient form of soccer that involved mixed martial arts. Any method that could force the opponent into “submission” and a chance to score a goal was welcome.

10. Chinese Martial Artists Once Tried to Overthrow the Government

Sometimes known as the Boxer Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion refers to a period where martial artists in China existed between 1899 and 1901. They were against Christianity and imperialism, so they tried to force the government out – they destroyed foreign property and murdered Christian missionaries.

11. Asia Is Considered The Center of Martial Arts

While not much information on martial arts history is available, most scholarly articles and historians agree that martial arts have been in practice since at least 2,000 BCE. The sources also say it started in Greece before evolving to other regions and cultures.

Today, martial arts is predominant in Asia, with the Japanese, Chinese, and Indians being the major players. Famous martial arts disciplines such as karate, kung fu, and hwa rang originated from there.

12. Bruce Lee Is a Household Name in Martial Arts

Over the years, many people (some famous, most not) have practiced different forms of martial arts worldwide. However, it is impossible to talk about martial arts without mentioning the legendary Bruce Lee.

The Hong Kong-born American actor was known for his rapid movements, physicality, and great discipline. Even though he passed away decades ago,Bruce Lee is still highly regarded to date.

13. The 100 Man Kumite Is an Extreme form of Martial Arts

Formally known as Kyokushin, the 100 Man Kumite is a type of martial art that tests the participant’s mental and physical endurance. It is basically a kumite of 100 consecutive rounds, each lasting between one and a half and two minutes.

The event, which has been around since 1965, sees Competitors fight against similar or higher-rank opponents; there have only been 30 winners. Note that the participants don’t have to win all their fights; they just have to be willing to continue to the last hurdle.

14. Mixed Martial Arts Was Part of the Ancient Olympics

Known as Pankration at the time, mixed martial arts was part of the ancient Olympic Games. However, the sport was not reinstated when the modern Olympics was created. However, there is an ongoing debate on whether or not to include mixed martial arts in the upcoming competitions.

15. Willie Nelson First Learned Martial Arts by Buying and Reading Self Defense Manuals

Willie Nelson is a famous guitarist, songwriter, and country music singer. He is also a fifth-degree black belt holder in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, a martial arts discipline. Interestingly, due to his heavy schedule as a musician, Nelson learned the sport by videotaping himself while training and then sending the clips to his master for review. He became interested in martial arts by reading it in self-defense manuals bought from comic stores.

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General Knowledge,

Last Update: December 18, 2023