Get a kick out of life by signing up for lessons in some of the lesser-known martial arts in Dubai.
Aikido – Nasser Bayman
What’s it about? A Japanese martial art, based on the Samurai way, Aikido has no competition element and is based purely on self-development. The founder Morihei Ueshiba, gathered together elements from tai chi, kung fu and judo to form a peaceful discipline.
How does it work? ‘You don’t start a fight, but finish one. You take the aggressor’s power and energy and bring it back on them. There’s a big philosophy going on behind the form, it’s all based on your ki, the centre of your body. There’s even a method of calligraphy that’s part of the system, it’s a complex but peaceful philosophy.’
How fit do you need to be? ‘You don’t need to be exceptionally fit or strong. You’re not using your strength, instead you’re using your opponent’s strength. It’s good for smaller built people and also for ladies.’
Where can you do it? Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at Wafi, and also more private lessons at World Black Belts Centre (WBBC). Call Nasser on 050 865 7971.
Modern arnis – Rio
What’s it about? A Filipino martial art, otherwise known as kali or escrima, Arnis focuses on how to use a stick to defend yourself from different attacks.
How does it work? Arnis involves using a rattan stick about 28 inches long and is based on a strike system for 12 points of the body. ‘The good thing about arnis is that you learn how to use all weapons, you can apply this to a golf club, baseball bat and so on. It also teaches you how to disarm somebody using a weapon.’
How fit do you need to be? ‘Arnis does not make you fit; it makes you able to defend yourself with a stick. But it is a system for somebody who is looking for a significant level of self defence at any level of fitness.’
Is this going to hurt? ‘The arms are protected, you get sponge sleeves that protect your whole arm along with headgear, our sticks are shaped as well for safety.’
Where can you do it? Saturday and Monday, 8.30pm-9.30pm, at the WWBC . For more info. call 04 343 4397
Brazilian jiu-jitsu – Carlos Santos
What’s it about? In 1904, a Japanese judo and jiu-jitsu master called Mitsuyo Maede came to Brazil on a world tour. While there, he trained 14-year-old Carlos Gracie, who went on to develop what’s now known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and popularise the sport internationally.
How does it work? BJJ emphasises ground fighting and grappling. The idea is to take an opponent down to the floor and bring them to submission.
How fit do you need to be? ‘You can start training whatever fitness you’re at. If you go in for tournaments you need to be ready, but training is for everyone. I have students from nine to 65 years old.’
Is this going to hurt? ‘It’s a fight but we’re very careful, if you take care during the session there’s nothing to worry about’
Where can you do it? Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at WBBC, 7.30-9.30pm. Call Carlos on 050 337 7381.
Tang soo do – Master Altaie
What’s it about? A Korean martial art that involves 50 per cent hands and 50 per cent legs, a cross between the kicks of tae kwon do and the punches of Karate. ‘They say tang soo do is responsible for making Bruce Lee kick above the belt. He started doing head kicks after working out with Chuck Norris, who was world champion of the sport in the ’60s and ’70s, during the filming of Return Of The Dragon.’
How does it work? ‘It’s a combination of arts. Tang soo do means the way of the Chinese hand, because it’s said to have the fluidity of movement seen in Chinese styles of fighting. We start with warm-ups, bag work, then learn how to react to take downs, kicking, striking.’
How fit do you need to be? ‘It’s one of our best classes for fitness; we want people to develop a certain level of fitness before they move on in the belts. We devise a fitness program for students, discuss eating habits and talk about what to eat and drink before starting a session.’
Is this going to hurt? ‘We have our own fighting equipment that we use called Scudboy, it’s a complete face covering, arms covering, leg and hand protection, and it’s our own brand. We’ve never had a major incident in tang soo do at the centre, even though we spar and have tournaments.’
Where can you do it? Master Altaie teaches at the WWBC on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, 7.30pm-8.30pm (adults) and Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, 10am-12am morning session and 5.30pm-7.30pm evenings. For more info call 04 343 4397.