Martial arts

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; and entertainment or the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.

Although the term 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.[1] 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.[2]

Variation and scope

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

By technical focus


Unarmed martial arts can be broadly grouped into those focusing on strikes, those focusing on grappling, and those that cover both fields, often described as hybrid martial arts.




The traditional martial arts that cover 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 may be considered a style in its own right, especially in the case of Japanese martial arts, with disciplines such as kenjutsu and kendo (sword), bojutsu (staff), and kyudo (archery). Similarly, modern martial arts and sports include modern fencing, stick-fighting systems like canne de combat, and modern competitive archery.

By application or intent


Many martial arts, especially those from Asia, also teach side disciplines which pertain to medicinal practices. This is particularly prevalent in traditional Asian martial arts which may teach bone-setting, herbalism, and other aspects of traditional 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.

Throughout the Asian arts, meditation may be incorporated as part of training. In those arts influenced by Hindu-Buddhist philosophy, the practice itself may be used as an aid to attaining enlightenment.

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 practitioners for instance, can have a strong philosophical belief of the flow of energy and peace fostering, as idealised by the art's 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 Taekkyon and taekwondo, is the value of "inner peace" in a practitioner, which is stressed to be only achievable through individual meditation and training. The Koreans believe that the use of physical force is only justifiable for defense.[citation needed]

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, with capoeira being the most prominent example. Many such martial arts incorporate music, especially strong percussive rhythms. (See also war dance.)

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Vegkuns
Alemannisch: Kampfkunst
العربية: فنون قتالية
aragonés: Arte marcial
অসমীয়া: সমৰ কলা
asturianu: Arte marcial
azərbaycanca: Döyüş sənəti
Bân-lâm-gú: Bú-su̍t
беларуская: Баявыя мастацтвы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Баявыя мастацтвы
български: Бойно изкуство
brezhoneg: Arzoù emgannañ
català: Art marcial
čeština: Bojové umění
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Arte marcial
Cymraeg: Crefft ymladd
Deutsch: Kampfkunst
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Ärt marzièl
español: Arte marcial
Esperanto: Luktosporto
euskara: Borroka-arte
Fiji Hindi: Martial arts
français: Art martial
galego: Arte marcial
ગુજરાતી: માર્શલ આર્ટસ
한국어: 무예
Bahasa Indonesia: Seni bela diri
interlingua: Arte martial
íslenska: Bardagaíþrótt
italiano: Arte marziale
қазақша: Жекпе-жек
latviešu: Cīņas māksla
lietuvių: Kovos menai
Lingua Franca Nova: Artes militar
македонски: Боречки вештини
മലയാളം: ആയോധനകല
Bahasa Melayu: Seni bela diri
Mirandés: Artes marciales
မြန်မာဘာသာ: သိုင်းပညာ
Nederlands: Vechtkunst
नेपाल भाषा: मार्सल आर्ट
日本語: 格闘技
Napulitano: Arte marziale
нохчийн: Вовшахлатар
norsk: Kampkunst
norsk nynorsk: Kampsport
occitan: Art marcial
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜੰਗੀ ਕਲਾ
پنجابی: مارشل آرٹس
Piemontèis: Art marsial
polski: Sztuki walki
português: Artes marciais
română: Arte marțiale
sicilianu: Arti marziali
Simple English: Martial arts
slovenčina: Bojové umenie
slovenščina: Borilne veščine
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Borilačke vještine
svenska: Stridskonst
українська: Бойові мистецтва
Tiếng Việt: Võ thuật
Winaray: Arte marsyal
吴语: 武术
ייִדיש: קאמפקונסט
粵語: 功夫
žemaitėška: Kuovas menā
中文: 武術