"What's the best way of explaining martial arts to someone who is ignorant of them? My cousin once asked me "What's the difference between tai chi and taekwondo, aren't they all the same thing?" I told him what I knew from studying both martial arts, but he seemed like he still didn't quite understand."
Asked by ink-the-earthbound
This may sound a little pretentious but I explain martial arts as I would languages. Take French and English. They’re two languages. Languages with many variations on accents and dialect.
Well, martial arts is the same except it’s the language of the body (or the language of combat if you prefer). Different martial arts are different languages. So while English people say “Yes” and French people say “Oui,” they’re essentially saying the same thing. It’s the same with styles of fighting.
All martial arts aim for beating an opponent or defending yourself. They just do it different ways, with many different physical dialects.
What martial arts practitioners typically want is to become fluent in their chosen “language.” A Wing Chun practitioner will learn the fundamentals, then the advanced concepts and, eventually, will be able to utilize that style in any situation. Again, just like language.
The term “martial arts” is just an umbrella under which many fighting styles exist.
Some languages communicate better than others. Some are vastly different. It’s the same with fighting styles. Each one usually has its own attitude towards combat. Saying “a punch is a punch” doesn’t exist in martial arts as a punch isn’t a punch. It’s what that language…that martial art…says a punch is. A Wing Chun punch is not a Choy Li Fut punch.
It’s just about keeping it simple. There’s different ways of fighting and those different ways basically fall under the “martial arts” tag.
Unfortunately, you can’t differentiate between specific styles without going into detail.