Martial Arts

Martial Arts

Martial ArtsMartial arts are a set of combat practices which are practiced for different reasons, such as self-defense, military applications and law enforcement purposes. Martial arts are also used to improve oneís physical fitness, spiritual development and to preserve a nationís intangible cultural heritage. This article will explore the history of martial arts, as well as the different martial arts sports and techniques.


While the term martial arts is commonly associated with the fighting arts of Southern and Eastern Asia, it originally referred to the combat styles originated in Europe. The term martial arts is derived from the Latin language and originally means “arts of Mars”, who was the Roman god of war. Some authors believe fighting arts to be a more appropriate name than martial marts. This is because martial arts were never martial. This implies that they have never been used by professional warriors. The foundation of martial arts as we know it today is a blend of Indian and Chinese martial arts. Also, the philosophy and strategy of martial arts developed extensively during 480 – 221 BC, in Chinese history as well as in European history. In Europe, the earliest martial arts date back to the period of Ancient Greece. Sports like boxing and wrestling were represented at the Ancient Olympic Games. The Romans also used a form of martial arts for the gladiator fights for public spectacle. Fighting styles like sword-fighting and other types of melee weapons also survived the European Middle Ages and are still popular today.

Martial sports

Martial arts have become a serious sports when different forms of sparring became competitive. Sports like judo, taekwondo and boxing all find their origin in martial arts. The Summer Olympics now include sports like wrestling, western archery and fencing. These sports also find their origins in martial arts. Chinese wushu was also on the list of sports to be included as part of the Summer Olympics, but failed. Nevertheless, this sport is still performed on a global scale and tournaments are held often. Some practitioners specifically train for sport matches, while others do not believe in competition. Sports such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing believe that competition breeds more efficient practitioners. Also it is believed that it creates a good sense of sportsmanship. Other martial arts sports like aikido do not believe in competition. For them it is believed that competition diminishes the effectiveness of martial arts. Instead of focusing on cultivating a moral character, practitioners would rather be focusing on winning tournaments. There are also martial arts that compete in non-sparring competitions. Examples of this would be breaking or choreographed techniques such as kata, poomse or aka. Traditional martial arts have also been influenced by governments to become more sport-like with political motivations. For example, the People’s Republic of China often tries to transform traditional martial arts in a committee-regulated sport called wushu.

Martial art techniques

Martial arts techniques have many different sizes and shapes. One of the type of techniques are empty-hand techniques which are used when a practitioner does not have a weapon. These techniques generally include kicks and strikes. Another type of techniques are those with weapons. There are a variety of ways to disarm another person from having a knife, stick, blunt or another edged weapon.


One of the most famous techniques in the field of martial arts are kicks. Kicks are strikes that involve the legs, knees, feet or toes. A kick can generally be delivered in two different ways, depending on the intention of the practitioner as well as his speed and power. Firstly, the practitioner can deliver a kick with a powerful hip thrust by which he locks his knees to deliver a strong straight-leg kick. Secondly, he can deliver a quick kick with a snap of the knee and hips. More advanced kicks require more balance and speed from the practitioner in order to be successful. Some of these more advanced kicks include a flying kick, jumping, full-body rotation and vertical kicks. These kicks can also be delivered in combination with each other. However, this requires a lot of training from the practitioner. Moreover, some martial arts styles also use kicks as a defending technique. For example, it can be used to push back an opponent or to block a strike of an attacker. Before Asian martial arts became popular in North America and Europe, kicking during a match was considered weak and cowardly. This idea originated during World War I and II. During this time American and British attitudes considered French savate practitioners to be weak when they kicked.


Another commonly used technique is strikes. They are physical hits with any part of the body which are meant to cause pain or injury to an opponent. Practitioners of martial arts can use their arms, wrists, elbows, fists or fingers in different ways to perform a successful strike. Finger strikes can be performed by using individual fingers or a combination of fingers. Sometimes the practitioner can hold his hand in a claw-like grasp and grab vital points to weaken his opponent. Another type of strikes are closed-hand techniques. These include hammer-fist strikes and punches. These techniques usually target soft-tissue areas. Open-handed strikes, on the other hand, like palm strikes and chops attempt to weaker larger areas with powerful hits. Depending on the type of martial arts, the head, shoulders and hips can also be used for weakening an opponent.

Application of martial arts

Martial arts have been used as a sport but are also used in modern military trainings. A recent example of this is point shooting. This implies that a technique relies on muscle memory to effectively use a gun or firearm in unfamiliar situations. This is similar to the way a Japanese iaidoka would memorize their sword movements. Pistol shooting was also used during World War II. Special martial arts masters were recruited by the Special Operations Executive to teach their martial art skills to US, Canadian and UK special forces. These techniques were mostly drawn from Western boxing and jujutsu. Nowadays, traditional hand-to-hand techniques and movements using knifes are also used for military purposes in today’s wars and by law enforcement personnel. For example, the techniques used by the Tokyo Riot Police originate from aikido.

Health benefits

Martial arts is also known for having great health benefits. While performing martial arts, most muscles in the body are used. It can therefore be considered to be a high aerobic workout. Not only will your stamina and muscle tone improve, but so will your balance and strength. This full body workout also burns many calories, keeping you in shape. Moreover, positive encouragement and the respect for values are also known for adding to a healthier lifestyle. Respecting values play an important role in the martial arts programs. Students of martial arts have indicated to experience greater self-confidence. This in turn leads to people feeling more comfortable in what they are doing and the things they are trying to achieve in life. Also, research has found that performing martial arts improves your reflexes. By performing techniques on a frequent basis, they become memorized and allow you to respond quickly when being attacked. Researchers have also found that participating in a regular exercise routine is good way of improving your mood. Participating in intense martial arts trainings does not only allow stress-relief and frustration, but may also keep you happier for a longer time. Another benefit to martial arts is that one learns to reflect upon himself. Bruce Lee, one of the most famous martial arts practitioners, stated that a true martial artists learns to sit with himself and see what his weaknesses are. This means that you will learn to be focused and challenged. Martial artists are also said to have full control over their body and have thereby become less impulsive and aggressive towards others. Three main values within the field of martial arts are patience, insight and calmness. This does not only remind practitioners of the right attitude, but also of the virtues and state of mind they should adopt inside and outside the studio.


One of the legends in the field of martial arts is Grandmaster Yip Man. Yip Man was the first to open a Wing Chun Kung Fu school that was accessible to the general public. Yip Man established a teaching practice in Hong Kong, where he pursued an academic education. He taught a young group of students who later carried Wing Chun around the globe. In the circles of Wing Chun no other name is spoken of besides Grandmaster Yip Man. He is known for transforming Wing Chun from an obscure fighting system only known in China to a renowned style of kung fu that is currently studied by thousands of pupils around the world. One of his students was Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was born in Chinatown, San Francisco to Chinese parents. From a young age, he was introduced to the film industry and he played in several movies as a child actor. Bruce Lee moved to Hong Kong where he studied martial arts and became one of Grandmaster Yip Man’s pupils. He later returned to the United States to pursue an academic degree. He continued to play in both American and Hong Kong produced movies and influenced martial arts in both types of movies. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential martial artists of all times.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1550x
Added: 08-03-2016 22:14
Last modified: 11-03-2016 23:36

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