Sunday, February 15, 2009
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 physically defeat other persons and to defend oneself or others from physical threat. In addition, some martial arts are linked to beliefs such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism or Shinto while others have their own code of honour. Many arts are also practised competitively, most commonly as combat sports, but may also take the form of dance.
The term martial arts refers to the art of warfare (from Mars, the god of war). It comes from a 15th-century European term for fighting arts now known as historical European martial arts. A practitioner of martial arts is referred to as a martial artist.
In popular culture, the term martial arts often specifically refers to the combat systems that originated in Asian cultures, especially East Asian martial arts. However, the term actually refers to any codified combat system, regardless of origin. Europe is home to many extensive systems of martial arts, both living traditions (e.g. Jogo do Pau and other stick and sword fencing and Savate, a French kicking style developed by sailors and street fighters) and older systems of historical European martial arts that have existed through the present, many of which are now being reconstructed. In the Americas, Native Americans have traditions of open-handed martial arts including wrestling, and Hawaiians have historically practiced arts featuring small- and large-joint manipulation. A mix of origins is found in the athletic movements of Capoeira, which African slaves developed based on skills they had brought from Africa.
While each style has unique facets that make it different from other martial arts, a common characteristic is the systemization of fighting techniques. Methods of training vary and may include sparring (simulated combat) or formal sets or routines of techniques known as forms or kata. Forms are especially common in the Asian and Asian-derived martial arts
Martial arts vary widely, and may focus on a specific area or combination of areas, but they can be broadly grouped into focusing on strikes, grappling, or weapons training. Below is a list of examples that make extensive use of one these areas; it is not an exhaustive list of all arts covering the area, nor are these necessarily the only areas covered by the art but are the focus or best known part as examples of the area:
* Punching - Boxing (Western), Wing Chun
* Kicking - Capoeira, Savate, Taekwondo, Kickboxing
* Other strikes (e.g. Elbows, knees, open-hand) - Muay Thai, Karate, Shaolin Kung Fu
* Throwing - Glima, Judo, Jujutsu, Sambo, Shuai jiao
* Joint lock - Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Hapkido
* Pinning Techniques - Judo, Wrestling
* Traditional Weaponry - Fencing, Gatka, Kendo, Kyūdō, Silambam
* Modern Weaponry - Eskrima, Jogo do Pau, Jukendo, Shooting sports
Many martial arts, especially those from Asia, also teach side disciplines which pertain to medicinal practices. This is particularly prevalent in traditional Chinese martial arts which may teach bone-setting, qigong, acupuncture, acupressure (tui na), and other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine.
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.
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 by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to teach Jujutsu to U.K., 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 its soldiers in 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 Eskrima.
The rifle-mounted bayonet, which has its origin in the spear, has seen use by the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the British Army as recently as the Iraq War.
Posted by haruhi_kyon at 12:50 AM