Martial arts, also known as fighting arts, are a form of struggle or warfare, which people use to defend themselves or others from any type of physical danger. The first instance of martial arts can be traced back to the 1st millennium BC in Asia and Europe. In fact, it was from the name of Mars, the Roman God of War that the term martial arts was first coined. The styles of combat in martial arts of different regions vary greatly. However, the techniques used in the different forms of martial arts are quite similar to one another. Though practicing martial arts was the sole domain of male in any society, today women are also encouraged to take up martial arts for self defense. Credit for popularizing martial arts to the present generation should go to actor Bruce Lee who introduced the fighting arts to Hollywood, and consequently to audiences in the West and East. Let’s take a look at the different forms of martial arts practiced around the world today.
Different Forms Of Martial Arts
Striking Martial Arts
In this form of martial arts, a person uses one part of his body to strike his opponent and protect himself from physical danger. Karate, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Wing Chun are some forms of striking martial arts.
Grappling Martial Arts
This style of martial arts makes use of techniques such as pinning to the ground, throwing and joint locking to defeat the opponent. Most common types of grappling martial arts are Greco-Roman Wrestling, Judo and Shuai Jiao.
Weaponry Martial Arts
Certain styles of martial arts use not only body parts but also weapons during the course of the fight. Blunt, sharp or projectile weapons are used throughout or in parts during the fight to attack the opponent. The most common forms of martial arts which fall under the weaponry martial arts category are Kyudo, Fencing, Eskrima, Jukendo and Kendo. The blunt weapons include long staff, short staff, bo staff and cane. Sharp weapons include spear, dagger, fork and broad sword. Projectile weapons used in martial arts are guns, the bow and arrow and a blow dart.
Chinese Martial Arts
China has the world’s oldest martial arts forms. The country was the pioneer in martial arts and shows versatility when it comes to the fighting arts. The Kung Fu is the best known form of martial arts practiced in China. The other popular Chinese martial art forms are Drunken Boxing, Praying Mantis, Hsing I, Wing Chun and Tai Chi Chuan. There are spiritual and religious inspirations as well as the influence of the movement of animals in the martial arts forms known in China. The different art forms are thus divided into different sections based on the region they have originated from, on whether they are hard or soft in style and the religion that they are inspired from.
Indian Martial Arts
The origin of martial arts in India can be traced back to the period before the rule of the Gupta dynasty. Martial arts was first referred to as ‘dhanurveda’ in Sanskrit, which translates to ‘science of archery’ in English. There is an extensive use of weapons in the Indian form of martial arts. It is said that it was from India that martial arts spread throughout Asia. Kalaripayat, Varma Kalai, Gatka and Kuttu Varisai are some of the oldest forms of martial arts practiced in India.
Japanese Martial Arts
The Japanese and the Korean forms of martial arts have been a direct import from China. The most well known modifications of the Chinese combat styles are sword fighting and archery. In Japan, it was the Samurai section of the society who used the martial art forms to protect themselves against their enemies. Today, a wide variety of martial art forms including Karate, Judo, Kendo, Juijutsu and Aikido are practiced in Japan.
Practicing martial arts is an effective way to protect oneself against physical intimidation that is encouraged in every society today.