Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage.

Although the word martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of East Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. The term is derived from Latin and means “arts of Mars”, the Roman god of war. Some authors 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.

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

  • Traditional or historical arts vs. contemporary styles of folk wrestling and modern hybrid martial arts.
  • Techniques taught: Armed vs. unarmed, within these groups by type (kicking, striking, grappling) and number of attackers (one vs. multiple).
  • Geographical origin: This can refer to specific styles (Japan-based) or general techniques (Chinese boxing).
  • Training methods: Many martial arts can be divided into “hard” and “soft” techniques; this is an important concept in

The History of Martial Arts

Martial arts developed long before the Chinese and Indian cultures began trading, as ancient peoples of all types engaged in fighting, war, and hunting. But during the sixth century BC, trade between India and China flourished, thus spreading martial arts philosophies to both countries.

During this time period, Indian monks began teaching their unarmed combat techniques to the Chinese. One of these techniques was called “Kalari,” which evolved into what we now call kung fu.

Another form of martial art that developed during this time was karate. Karate began as a fighting style based on the indigenous fighting style of Okinawa and surrounding islands known as Te (literally meaning “hand”).

Types of Martial Arts

When asking yourself ” What is Martial Arts ” it is hard to answer with just one in mind because there are so many types of martial arts. There are a lot of different types of martial arts that you can learn. Now, finding the best is difficult to do.

There are hundreds of schools and teachers that are trying to beat out their competitors by promoting their style as being superior. The truth of the matter is that all martial arts have value, and it’s not always about style or lineage, but about what works for you.

  • Silat Martial Arts: Silat is the collective term for a class of indigenous martial artist from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Looking for silat martial arts near me?
  • Karate: Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. People think it was first developed by farmers but that is not true because Okinawans were fishers first. 
  • Mixed Martial Arts: Mixed martial arts (MMA), sometimes referred to as cage fighting, no holds barred, and ultimate fighting is a full-contact combat sport based on striking, grappling, and ground fighting incorporating techniques from various combat sports.
  • Krav Maga: Krav Maga is a military self-defense and hand to hand fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces. It is known for its focus on real-world situations and extreme efficiency.
  • Kung Fu: It’s a broad term referring to Chinese martial arts. In most cases, however, the term is used in reference to one of a number of styles of Chinese martial arts originally practiced by the Shaolin monks.
  • Kickboxing: Kickboxing is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching. The combat takes place in a boxing ring, normally with boxing gloves, mouthguards, shorts, and bare feet to favor the use of kicks.
  • Boxing: Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves and other protective equipment such as hand wraps and mouth guards, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time inside a boxing ring. Boxing is commonly seen within ufc tournaments.
  • Judo: Judo is a Japanese martial arts style. The word judo translates as “gentle or yielding way” and it focuses on grappling and throwing techniques. Judo can be seen in the Olympic games.
  • Brazilian Jui Jitsu: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses its training on ground fighting and submission holds.
  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is a national sport in Thailand and one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Muay Thai is both a stand-up striking art and a form of close-range combat with both striking and grappling techniques. 
  • Wrestling: Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins, and other grappling holds.
  • Tae kwon do: Taekwondo is a form of martial arts that emphasizes speed, jumping and spinning kicks, and arm-thrusting techniques. Taekwondo is a Korean martial arts style and is widely practiced in the USA.

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