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Martial arts


Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development. Although the term martial art has become heavily associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, it was originally used in regard to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. An English fencing manual of 1639 used the term in reference specifically to the "Science and Art" of swordplay. The term is ultimately derived from Latin, and means "arts of Mars," where Mars is the Roman god of war.[1] Some authors, most notably Donn F. Draeger, have argued that fighting arts or fighting systems would be more appropriate on the basis that many martial arts were never martial in the sense of being used or created by professional warriors

Variation and scope

Martial arts may be categorized along a variety of criteria, including:

By technical focus

Unarmed
Unarmed martial arts can be broadly grouped into focusing on strikes, those focusing on grappling and those that cover both fields, often described as hybrid martial arts.
Another key delineation of unarmed martial arts is the use of power and strength-based techniques (as found in boxing, kickboxing, karate, taekwondo and so on) vs. techniques that almost exclusively use the opponent's own energy/balance against them (as in T'ai chi ch'uan, aikido, hapkido and aiki jiu jitsu and similar). Another way to view this division is to consider the differences between arts where Power and Speed are the main keys to success vs. arts that rely to a much greater extent on correct body-mechanics and the balance of the practitioner's energy with that of the opponent. In all such delineations, aspects of many arts, if not most, can fall within both camps, regardless of which way the defining line is viewed (striking vs. grappling or power vs. energy/balance). Most arts have features on both sides of any such dividing line.
Weapon-based
Those traditional martial arts which train armed combat often encompass a wide spectrum of melee weapons, including bladed weapons and polearms. Such traditions include eskrima, silat, kalaripayat, kobudo, and historical European martial arts, especially those of the German Renaissance. Many Chinese martial arts also feature weapons as part of their curriculum. Sometimes, training with one specific weapon will be considered a style of martial arts in its own right, which is especially the case in Japanese martial arts with disciplines such as kenjutsu and kendo (sword), bojutsu (staff), and kyudo (archery). Similarly, modern Western martial arts and sports include modern fencing, stick-fighting systems like canne de combat or singlestick, and modern competitive archery.

By application or intent

Combat-oriented 
Many martial arts, especially those from Asia, also teach side disciplines which pertain to medicinal practices. This is particularly prevalent in traditional Indian martial arts which may teach bone-setting, and other aspects of traditional Indian medicine.[3]Martial arts can also be linked with religion and spirituality. Numerous systems are reputed to have been founded, disseminated, or practiced by monks or nuns. For example, gatka is a weapon-based Indian martial art created by the Sikhs of the Punjab region of India. Japanese styles, when concerning non-physical qualities of the combat, are often strongly influenced by Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. Concepts like "empty mind" and "beginner's mind" are recurrent. Aikido, for instance, can have a strong philosophical belief of the flow of energy and peace fostering, as idealised by its founder Morihei Ueshiba.
 
Traditional Korean martial arts place emphasis on the development of the practitioner's spiritual and philosophical development. A common theme in most Korean styles, such as taekkyeon and taekwondo, is the value of "inner peace" in a practitioner, which is stressed to be only achieved through individual meditation and training. As with most other East Asian martial arts, the Koreans believe that the use of physical force is only justified through defense. Systema draws upon breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as elements of Russian Orthodox thought, to foster self-conscience and calmness, and to benefit the practitioner in different levels: the physical, the psychological and the spiritual.[4]Some martial arts in various cultures can be performed in dance-like settings for various reasons, such as for evoking ferocity in preparation for battle or showing off skill in a more stylized manner. Many such martial arts incorporate music, especially strong percussive rhythms. (See also war dance.)

History  

Historical martial arts 

The oldest work of art depicting scenes of battle, dating back 3400 BC,[5] was the Ancient Egyptian paintings showing some form of struggle comparable to the stocks;[6] and dating back 3000 BC in Mesopotamia (Babylon), reliefs and the poems of the first signs of a struggle were found.[6][7] In Vietnam, dug drawings and sketches from 2879 BC certain ways of combat combined with the use of a sword, stick, bow, and spears.[6]Chinese martial arts originated during the Xia Dynasty more than 4000 years ago. It is said the Yellow Emperor Huangdi (legendary date of ascension 2698 BC) introduced the earliest fighting systems to China. The Yellow Emperor is described as a famous general who, before becoming China’s leader, wrote lengthy treatises on medicine, astrology and the martial arts. One of his main opponents was Chi You who was credited as the creator of jiao di, a forerunner to the modern art of Chinese wrestling.
 
The foundation of modern Asian martial arts is likely a blend of early Chinese and Indian martial arts. During the Warring States period of Chinese history (480-221 BC) extensive development in martial philosophy and strategy emerged, as described by Sun Tzu in The Art of War (c. 350 BC).[8] Legendary accounts link the origin of Shaolinquan to the spread of Buddhism from India during the early 5th century AD, with the figure of Bodhidharma, to China.[9]In Europe, the earliest sources of martial arts traditions date to Ancient Greece. Boxing (pygme, pyx), wrestling (pale) and pankration were represented in the Ancient Olympic Games. The Romans produced gladiatorial combat as a public spectacle.
 
A number of historical combat manuals have survived from the European Middle Ages. This includes such styles as sword and shield, two-handed swordfighting and other types of melee weapons besides unarmed combat. The most famous of these is Johannes Lichtenauer's Fechtbuch (Fencing book) of the 14th century, which today forms the basis of the German school of swordsmanship. Likewise, Asian martial arts become well-documented during the medieval period, Japanese martial arts beginning with the establishment of the samurai nobility in the 12th century, Chinese martial arts with Ming era treatises such as Ji Xiao Xin Shu, Indian martial arts in medieval texts such as the Agni Purana and the Malla Purana, and Korean martial artsTaekkyeon from the Joseon era and texts such as Muyejebo (1598). "Historical martial arts" in both Asia and Europe are mostly based on such records of the late medieval to early modern period (15th to 17th centuries; see also Koryū).
 
European swordsmanship was trained for duels until the Napoleonic era, and developed into sport fencing during the 19th century. Modern boxing originates with Jack Broughton's rules in the 18th century, and reaches its present form with the Marquess of Queensberry Rules of 1867. Europe's colonization of Asian countries also brought about a decline in local martial arts, especially with the introduction of firearms. This can clearly be seen in India after the full establishment of British Raj in the 19th century.[10] Similar phenomena occurred in Southeast Asian colonies such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Folk styles  

All over the world, there are traditional styles of folk wrestling, and in some cases also stick fighting, rooted in local culture and folklore. In East and Southeast Asia, these are forms such as Korean, Khmer or Mongolian wrestling and Japanese sumo, in South and Southwest Asia Indo-Persian Pehlwani and Dravidian malla-yuddha, in Central and Western Asia Turkic (Uzbek, Tatar) styles; in Europe, there are Icelandic, Swiss and various English wrestling traditions. African folk wrestling includes the West African style of Lutte Traditionnelle.
 
While these arts are based on historical traditions of folklore, they are not "historical" in the sense that they reconstruct or preserve a historical system from a specific era. They are rather contemporary regional sports that coexist with the modern forms of martial arts sports as they have developed since the 19th century, often including cross-fertilization between sports and folk styles; thus, the traditional Thai style of muay boran developed into the modern national sport of muay Thai, which in turn came to be practiced worldwide and contributed significantly to modern hybrid styles like kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

Modern history  

Late 19th to early 20th century
The mid to late 19th century marks the beginning of the history of martial arts as modern sports developed out of earlier traditional fighting systems. In Europe, this concerns the developments of boxing and fencing as sports. In Japan, the same period marks the formation of the modern forms of judo, jujitsu, karate, and kendo (among others) based on revivals of old schools of Edo period martial arts which had been suppressed during the Meiji Restoration.[citation needed] Modern muay Thai rules date to the 1920s. In China, the modern history of martial arts begins in the Nanjing decade (1930s) following the foundation of the Central Guoshu Institute in 1928 under the Kuomintang government.
Western interest in Asian martial arts arises towards the end of the 19th century, due to the increase in trade between the United States with China and Japan.[citation needed] Relatively few Westerners actually practiced the arts, considering it to be mere performance. Edward William Barton-Wright, a railway engineer who had studied jujutsu while working in Japan between 1894–97, was the first man known to have taught Asian martial arts in Europe. He also founded an eclectic style named Bartitsu which combined jujutsu, judo, boxing, savate and stick fighting. Fencing and Greco-Roman wrestling was included in the 1896 Summer Olympics. FILA Wrestling World Championships and Boxing at the Summer Olympics were introduced in 1904. The tradition of awarding championship belts in wrestling and boxing can be traced to the Lonsdale Belt, introduced in 1909.
The International Boxing Association was established in 1920. World Fencing Championships have been held since 1921. As Western influence grew in Asia a greater number of military personnel spent time in China, Japan and South Korea during World War II and the Korean War and were exposed to local fighting styles. Jujutsu, judo and karate first became popular among the mainstream from the 1950s-60s. Due in part to Asian and Hollywood martial arts movies, most modern American martial arts are either Asian-derived or Asian influenced.[11] The term kickboxing (キックボクシング) was created by the Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi for a variant of muay Thai and karate that he created in the 1950s. American kickboxing was developed in the 1970s, as a combination of boxing and karate. Taekwondo was developed in the context of the Korean War in the 1950s.
 
The later 1960s and 1970s witnessed an increased media interest in Kung Fu, influenced by martial artist Bruce Lee. Jeet Kune Do, the system he founded, has its roots in Wing Chun, western boxing, savate and fencing. Bruce Lee is credited as one of the first instructors to openly teach Chinese martial arts to Westerners.[12] World Judo Championships have been held since 1956, Judo at the Summer Olympics was introduced in 1964. Karate World Championships were introduced in 1970.
 
Following the "kung fu wave" in Hong Kong action cinema in the 1970s, a number of mainstream films produced during the 1980s contributed significantly to the perception of martial arts in western popular culture. These include The Karate Kid (1984) and Bloodsport (1988). This era produced some Hollywood action stars with martial arts background, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. Also during the 20th century, a number of martial arts were adapted for self-defense purposes for military hand-to-hand combat. World War II combatives, Kapap (1930s) and Krav Maga (1950s) in Israel, Systema (Soviet era Russia), San Shou (People's Republic of China). The US military de-emphasized hand-to-hand combat training during the Cold War period, but revived it with the introduction of LINE in 1989.
1990 to present
During the 1990s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became popular and proved to be effective in mixed martial arts competitions such as the UFC and PRIDE.[13]The K-1 rules of kickboxing were introduced in 1993, based on 1980s Seidokaikan karate. Jackie Chan and Jet Li are prominent movie figures who have been responsible for promoting Chinese martial arts in recent years. With the continual discovery of "new" Medieval and Renaissance fighting manuals, the practice of Historical European Martial Arts and other Western Martial Arts are growing in popularity across the United States and Europe. November 29, 2011, UNESCO inscribed taekkyeon onto its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List.[14]

Testing and competition

Testing or evaluation is important to martial art practitioners of many disciplines who wish to determine their progression or own level of skill in specific contexts. Students within individual martial art systems often undergo periodic testing and grading by their own teacher in order to advance to a higher level of recognized achievement, such as a different belt color or title. The type of testing used varies from system to system but may include forms or sparring.
 
Various forms and sparring are commonly used in martial art exhibitions and tournaments. Some competitions pit practitioners of different disciplines against each other using a common set of rules, these are referred to as mixed martial arts competitions. Rules for sparring vary between art and organization but can generally be divided into light-contact, medium-contact, and full-contact variants, reflecting the amount of force that should be used on an opponent..[2]
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