OGDEN -- Even with the growth of mixed martial arts and its hybrid of striking styles and grappling styles, an array of more traditional martial arts still thrives in Utah.
For those seeking something more traditional, taekwondo and hapkido from Korea, kempo karate and judo from Japan, various styles of kung fu from China and even Western styles such as boxing and fencing, may be more to their liking.
Each style offers something different -- from the fast kicks of taekwondo to the chokes and throws of judo, but all offer exercise and a sense of well-being for their practitioners.
Interest in martial arts, however, comes in cycles.
Ogden resident Kim Garcia teaches kung fu out of his garage. He said there are times when there are no martial art schools and times when there is a dojo in every strip mall.
Movies such as the "Karate Kid" and those of cinema legend Bruce Lee excite people into taking martial arts.
"It did make an impact on me," Garcia said, "I was just a young kid when Bruce Lee passed."
The silver screen did not influence Cheng Tsang Lu, known by many as Master Lu, into learning kung fu, but it did inspire him to leave his native Taiwan and come to the United States in 1970.
"I came here to make a movie," Lu said, "and the movie dream stopped, so I had to create myself."
Lu began teaching Shaolin kung fu skills and practicing traditional Chinese medicine.
Although based in Salt Lake City, where he teaches Shaolin kung fu, he also has an office in Ogden and teaches tai chi every Tuesday evening at Mount Ogden Park.
He said the benefits of learning martial arts are a limber body, aerobic exercise and, lastly, self-defense, Lu said, stressing the first two over the latter.
At 64, Lu is a testament to the benefits he touts. He has a grip like a vice and still remains flexible. He is able to interlock his fingers, bend over and touch the ground with the palms of his hands.
Some martial artists go from practicing one style to another.
Wayne Johnson teaches judo at the Clearfield Aquatic Center on Mondays and Thursdays, using the skills he learned from an instructor who came to Utah because of the Japanese internment camps during World War II.
Originally a karate practitioner, Johnson said he found that his fights constantly ended up on the ground, which eventually led him to take up judo.
"A lot of it is a lot like free-style wrestling," Johnson said.
There is a style for every taste, but like any activity, all martial arts take time to learn.
Danny Ochoa, who teaches boxing in Ogden, said he sees many kids show up for a lesson and never return.
"They show up a few times and then poof," Ochoa said. "But it's OK, more come."
No matter the reason for learning a martial art, whether it is to get into the cage or to meditate in the park, those interested should choose a style and instructor that makes them feel comfortable and best suits their tastes.