I’m often asked the question by prospective clients, “How should I choose a martial arts program?” The answer to this question is another question.  My eyes will start to twinkle as I answer back, “What kind of pizza pie do you want to have in the end?”  The quizzical looks always follow when I answer them this way.  My confused clients then invariably ask, “What in the world does a pizza pie have to do with the martial arts?”

As a visual kinesthetic learner, I’ve found that analogies aid in the process of understanding and retention.  In the world of martial arts, the number of martial arts systems hover around 170 or so, stemming from various areas around the globe, making the choice of study intimidating at worse to confusing at best. A high number of systems originate from the orient and branch off into other martial arts systems and regions of the world.

At our Leominster Martial Arts Dojo, our students have the opportunity to learn three systems: The Kindai Inazuma Ryu Tai Jutsu, the Kumiuchi Ryu Ju Jutsu, and the Saigo Ha Daito Ryu Aiki Jutsu/ Aikido. Tai Jutsu, Ju Jutso, and Aiki Jutsu are what are known as mother arts.  A mother art, if you think of it akin to a large pizza pie, can be cut or divided into 16 slices. Each of those systems is considered a mother art, so each of those slices of pizza dividing the pie symbolize different tools or strategies that a person would be able to use in a physical fight or in a situation calling for self-defense.

A complete martial arts system, in my illustration would utilize all 16 slices of the pie.  So, for example, in the case of the mother art of Tai Jutsu the slices would look as follows: Slice #1-  all your punches, Slice #2 -all your kicks, Slice #3- all your blocks, Slice #4- all of your throws- Slice #5- all your chokes, Slice #6- all your joint locks, Slice #7- all your footwork, Slice #8-gun techniques, Slice #9- club techniques, Slice #10- knife techniques, Slice #11- off-balancing techniques, Slice #12: knowledge and application of Anatomy & Physiology, Slice #13: nerve centers, Slice #14:  martial arts history, Slice #15: martial arts philosophy, and then Slice #16:  spirituality. 

There is a key advantage to having a complete understanding of the why, and not only the how, within the martial arts. Those Tai and Ju Jutsu systems that are taught here are complete martial arts mother systems, so the practitioner has a larger arsenal of tools and techniques to choose from when encountering situations that require self-defense.  In contrast, although it is a fantastic martial art, Judo is not a complete martial art because it lacks some of the 16 slices of the pizza pie.  For instance, Judo doesn’t have punches, kicks, or blocks.  Its strength lies in that it has a lot of footwork, chokes, joint locks, and throws.  Another popular system, Tae Kwon Do is also not a complete martial art.  Again, it has a lot of punches, a lot of kicks, blocks, stances, and footwork.  Yet, it doesn’t have ground fighting techniques, joint locks, throws, and pressure point and nerve center studies.  Summarily, it’s the pizza pie without all the slices.

So, at the beginning of your pie consuming journey, ask yourself what kind of a pie do you want in the end, and then choose the system that has enough of the right kind of slices to get you there. Most of all—enjoy and pass the napkin!

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