The Heart of Martial ArtsI hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Martial arts are systems of codified practices and traditions of training for combat. While they may be studied for various reasons, martial arts share a single objective: to defeat one or more people physically and to defend oneself or others from physical threat. In addition, some martial arts are linked to spiritual or religious beliefs/philosophies such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism or Shinto, Confucianism, and even Islam (by Chinese Muslims) while others have their own spiritual or non-spiritual code of honour. Many arts are also practised competitively most commonly as combat sports, but may also be in the form of dance.
The foundation of the Asian martial arts is likely a blend of early Chinese and Indian martial arts. Extensive trade occurred between these nations beginning around 600 BC, with diplomats, merchants, and monks traveling the Silk Road. 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).
An early legend in martial arts tells the tale of a South Indian Pallava prince turned monk named Bodhidharma (also called Daruma), believed to have lived around 550 A.D. The martial virtues of discipline, humility, restraint and respect are attributed to this philosophy.
Shaolin Monastery was built by the Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty in AD 477. Buddhabhadra (called Batuo in Mandarin), an Indian dhyana master becomes the first abbot of the Shaolin temple.
The teaching of martial arts in Asia has historically followed the cultural traditions of teacher-disciple apprenticeship. Students are trained in a strictly hierarchical system by a master instructor: Sifu in Cantonese or Shifu in Mandarin; Sensei in Japanese; Sabeom-nim in Korean; Guru in Sanskrit, Hindi, Telugu and Malay; Kruu in Khmer; Guro in Tagalog; Kalari Gurukkal or Kalari Asaan in Malayalam; Asaan in Tamil; Achan or Khru in Thai; and Saya in Myanmar. All these terms can be translated as master, teacher or mentor.Recent History
Europe's colonisation 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. More European modes of organizing police, armies and governmental institutions, and the increasing use of firearms, eroded the need for traditional combat training associated with caste-specific duties. and in 1804 the British Colonial government banned kalaripayat in response to a series of revolts. Kalaripayat and other traditional arts experienced a resurgence in the 1920s in Tellicherry and spread throughout South India. Similar phenomena occurred in Southeast Asian colonies such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Other Indian martial arts, like Thang-Ta also witnessed a resurgence in the 1950s.
The Western interest in Asian martial arts dates back to the late 19th century, due to the increase in trade between the United States with China and Japan. 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 martial arts style named Bartitsu which combined jujutsu, judo, boxing, savate and stick fighting.
As Western influence grew in Asia a greater number of military personnel spent time in China, Japan, and South Korea. Exposure to martial arts during the Korean war was also significant. The later 1970s and 1980s witnessed an increased media interest in the martial arts, thanks in part to Asian and Hollywood martial arts movies. Jackie Chan and Jet Li are prominent movie figures who have been responsible for promoting Chinese martial arts in recent years.EuropeHistory
Martial arts existed in classical European civilization, most notably in Greece where sports were integral to the way of life. Boxing (pygme, pyx), Wrestling (pale) and Pankration (from pan, meaning "all", and kratos, meaning "power" or "strength") were represented in the Ancient Olympic Games. The Romans produced Gladiatorial combat as a public spectacle.
A number of historical fencing forms and manuals have survived, and many groups are working to reconstruct older European martial arts. The process of reconstruction combines intensive study of detailed combat treatises produced from 1400–1900 A.D. and practical training or "pressure testing" of various techniques and tactics. This includes such styles as sword and shield, two-handed swordfighting, halberd fighting, jousting and other types of melee weapons combat. This reconstruction effort and modern outgrowth of the historical methods is generally referred to as Western martial arts. Many Medieval martial arts manuals have survived, the most famous being Johannes Lichtenauer's Fechtbuch (Fencing book) of the 14th century. Today Lichtenauer's tome forms the basis of the German school of swordsmanship.
In Europe, the martial arts declined with the rise of firearms. As a consequence, martial arts with historical roots in Europe do not exist today to the same extent as in Asia, since the traditional martial arts either died out or developed into sports. Swordsmanship developed into fencing. Boxing as well as forms of wrestling have endured. European martial arts have mostly adapted to changing technology so that while some traditional arts still exist, military personnel are trained in skills like bayonet combat and marksmanship. Some European weapon systems have also survived as folk sports and as self-defense methods. These include stick-fighting systems such as bataireacht of Ireland, Jogo do Pau of Portugal and the Juego del Palo (Palo Canario) style(s) of the Canary Islands.
Other martial arts evolved into sports that no longer recognized as combative. One example is the pommel horse event in men's gymnastics, an exercise which itself is derived from the sport of Equestrian vaulting. Cavalryriders needed to be able to change positions on their horses quickly, rescue fallen allies, fight effectively on horseback and dismount at a gallop. Training these skills on a stationery barrel evolved into sport of gymnastics' pommel horse exercise. More ancient origins exist for the shot put and the javelin throw, both weapons utilized extensively by the Romans.AmericasHistory
Native peoples of North America and South America had their own martial training which began in childhood. Some First Nations men, and more rarely some women, were called warriors only after they had proved themselves in battle. Most groups selected individuals for training in the use of bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and war clubs in early adolescence. War clubs were the preferred martial weapon because Native American warriors could raise their social status by killing enemies in single combat face to face. Warriors honed their weapons skills and stalking techniques through lifelong training.
Capoeira, with great roots in Africa, is an African-Brazilian martial art originating in Brazil that involves a high degree of flexibility and endurance. It consists of kicks, elbow strikes, hand strikes, head butts, cartwheels and sweeps. Jeet Kune Do is a martial arts system developed by martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. Its roots lie in Wing Chun, western boxing and fencing with a philosophy of a casting off what is useless and using no way as way. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an adaptation of pre-World War II Judo developed by the brothers Carlos and Hélio Gracie, it was restructured into a sport with a large focus on groundwork. This system has become a popular martial art and proved to be effective in mixed martial arts competitions such as the UFC and PRIDE.AfricaHistory
African knives may be classified by shape—typically into the 'f' group and the 'circular' group—and have often been incorrectly described as throwing knives. There are also wrestling and grappling techniques found in West Africa. "Stick fighting" formed an important part of Zulu culture in South Africa, and is a significant part of Obnu Bilate, a fighting form practiced in southern Botswana and Northern South Africa. Stick fighting was also described in Ancient Egyptians tombs, it is still practiced in upper Egypt and a modern association was formed in the 1970s.Modern history
Wrestling, Javelin, Fencing (1896 Summer Olympics), Archery (1900), Boxing (1904), and more recently Judo (1964) and Tae Kwon Do (2000) are the martial arts that are featured as events in the modern Summer Olympic Games.
Martial arts also developed among military and police forces to be used as arrest and self-defense methods including: Kapap and Krav Maga developed in Israeli Defense Forces; San Shou in Chinese; Systema: developed for the Russian armed forces and Rough and Tumble (RAT): originally developed for the South African special forces (Reconnaissance Commandos) (now taught in a civilian capacity). Tactical arts for use in close quarter combat warfare, i.e. Military Martial arts e.g. UAC (British), LINE (USA). Other combative systems having their origins in the modern military include Soviet Bojewoje (Combat) Sambo. Pars Tactical Defence (Turkei security personally self defence system)
Inter-art competitions came to the fore again in 1993 with the first Ultimate Fighting Championship this has since evolved into the modern sport of Mixed martial arts.
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- What kind of martial arts do you like?
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Nobody can hurt me without my permission.~Mahatma Gandhi