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That’s not Karate, its choreography!

Posted on: February 24, 2015


Whether it is the scene where the good guy is surrounded by dozens of enemies or the one where our hero is engaged with the head of a rival school, martial arts movies have impacted the martial arts world more than any other media. The biggest issue many real martial artists face however is teaching students the difference between choreography and martial arts. Many students will proceed to head to many martial arts schools after watching the latest action movie and expect the teacher to show them those moves. They are sorely disappointed with the reality that real martial arts takes dedication and discipline and most importantly is not about showboating.

Bruce Lee1


One of the very few martial artists on screen that understood this concept was Bruce Lee. Lee was a martial artist first and an actor second. He knew that his performance on screen was very different than what a realistic fight would look like. Many young martial artists that get their start in Hollywood don’t realize that what they are doing isn’t actually martial arts. The problem becomes more prevalent within the martial arts community when these people try and teach others what they have learned under the guise of martial arts. Often times these “martial arts instructors” will throw out big Hollywood names and rely on name dropping rather than actual spiritual guidance and growth.

So what is it if not martial arts?

Martial arts can be very beautiful and many forms reflect many different schools of thought and philosophy, but much of what is shown on television and in the movies is choreography. It is no different than going to a dance studio. Do not be mistaken, dancing takes a lot of discipline and effort as well, but there are very few cases where doing the salsa would help you defend yourself in a street fight. Real martial arts are not about looking pretty, but about functionality and speed. If you are interested in learning one of the many arts of self-defense and gaining the wisdom that will help you win battles in life, then choose an instructor that has depth and knowledge and stay far away from anyone that tries to sell you on how many movies they have been in, or how many times they have been an extra.

There are frauds the world over and while there is nothing wrong with fight choreography, there is something wrong with disguising it as martial arts. Choreography takes a lot of work, but in reality these instructors share more in common with ballet teachers than with martial artists. Often times they will try and teach a new technique every class, rather than focus on making sure their students learn a single technique correctly. As Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Hockman’s ATA is a dedicated Martial Arts school within Columbia, Missouri that focuses on Songahm Taekwondo and Krav Maga, the official self-defense system of many law enforcement agencies. Whether it be Karate for Kids, or our adult classes, we are dedicated to self-defense, fitness and mental as well as physical discipline, click here to find out more.

Hockmans ATA Martial Arts