Over the years, everything goes through some sort of change. Sports evolve and change, ways to treat athletic injuries get better and more advanced and even training methods and techniques change. Some changes are for the better and some can leave old ways in the dust. These changes are always met with a double sided coin; Positive or Negative reactions. No matter what side you fall on, change is inevitable!
Martial Arts has changed drastically in the past 10 to 20 years and the evidence can be found in the boom of MMA and combat sports, the addition of cardio kickboxing or some kind of fitness karate in dojos and dojangs nationwide and even on the tournament circuit from smaller tournaments up to the high rated NASKA and NBL events. On the tournament scene, almost every competition still honors the traditional way of using weapons and performing katas by still offering those divisions to compete in, but a huge spot has been carved out for more “extreme” martial arts. This Extreme term highlights the change from traditional, slower paced kata to more of a gymnastics, acrobatics and martial arts hybrid with a huge emphasis on showmanship.
The concept of adding gymnastics and tumbling moves to elements of traditional martial arts is known as tricking. Some athletes can perform a normal gymnastics flip for instance but at some point in the movement add a martial arts kick that no longer makes it just gymnastics. These type of exhibition moves are the focus of the sport and with the use of open hand and weapons choreography along with music, the goal is to command the attention of the audience.
In modern television, movies and even video games, tricking and dynamic martial arts can be seen in almost every action sequence. The craziest thing about all of this is what used to be fully computer animated, can now be pulled off by actual human beings! For instance, Matt Emig is one of the most athletic gifted martial arts athletes to ever compete in the sport, in the opinion of most people. He is so phenomenal with the nunchaku that he was cast in the 2014 Ninja Turtles Reboot to perform as Michelangelo. Mr. Emig did almost all of the motion captures for his Turtle from the flips and kicks to the advanced Nunchaku techniques and fight routines. If it weren’t for Extreme Martial Arts and Tricking, it is very possible that the super hero movies that we enjoy wouldn’t be as enjoyable when it comes to the fight sequences.
Traditional Martial Arts is the base for everything that has come and will come after it, so in my opinion, tricking and Extreme Martial Arts is a fantastic and amazing addition to the martial arts family! It helps to promote a new wave of “COOL” to martial arts along with a more athletic, flexible and well rounded skill set. As long as there is always a place and an appreciation for all things martial arts, all practitioners should be proud and content!