Martial Arts

Martial arts are systems of codified practices and traditions of training for combat. They may be studied for various reasons including combat skills, fitness, self-defense, sport, self-cultivation/meditation, mental discipline, character development and building self-confidence, or any combination of the above.

There is a great diversity and abundance of martial arts but, broadly speaking, martial arts share a common goal: to defeat a person physically or to defend oneself from physical threat. In some martial arts there is also a sense of spirituality.

While each style has unique facets that makes it different from other martial arts, a common characteristic is the systemization of fighting techniques. One common method of training, particularly in the Asian martial arts, is the form or kata; these are sets or routines of techniques that are performed alone, or sometimes with a partner.

The word 'martial' derives from the name of Mars, the Roman god of war. A practitioner of martial arts is referred to as a martial artist.


Martial arts vary widely, and may focus on [[Strike (attack)|strikes]], [[grappling]], or weapons training. Below is a list of examples that make extensive use of these areas; it is not an exhaustive list of arts, nor are these necessarily the only areas covered by the art:

  • Punching - Western Boxing, Shaolin Kung Fu, Wing Chun
  • Kicking - Capoeira, Savate, Taekwondo
  • Other strikes (e.g. Elbows, knees, open-hand) - Karate, Muay Thai


  • Throwing - Glima, Judo, Shuai jiao, Jujutsu, Sambo,
  • Joint lock - Aikido, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hapkido
  • Pinning Techniques - Wrestling, Judo


On the modern battlefield

Some traditional martial concepts have seen new use within modern military training. Perhaps the most recent example of this is point shooting which relies on muscle memory to more effectively utilize a firearm in a variety of awkward situations, much the way an iaidoka would master movements with their sword.

During the World War II era William E. Fairbairn, a Shanghai policeman and a leading Western expert on Asian fighting techniques, was recruited during World War II by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to teach Jujutsu to UK, U.S. and Canadian Special Forces. The book ''Kill or Get Killed'', written by Colonel Rex Applegate, became a classic military treatise on hand-to-hand combat. This fighting method was called Defendu.

Traditional hand-to-hand, knife, and spear techniques continue to see use in the composite systems developed for today's wars. Examples of this include the US Army's Combatives system developed by Matt Larsen, the Israeli army trains kapap and Krav Maga, the US Marine Corps's Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), and Chinese ''San Shou''.

Unarmed dagger defenses identical to that found in the fechtbuch of Fiore dei Liberi and the Codex Wallerstein were integrated into the U.S. Army's training manuals in 1942 and continue to influence today's systems along with other traditional systems such as Kali and Escrima.

The bayonet, too, tracing its origins to the spear, may seem a relic of history to many, but the weapon has seen use by the British Army as recently as the [[[Iraq war]].

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