Martial art is the practice of physical and mental self-defense. It is an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years, with each new generation enhancing and improving upon the techniques passed down from previous generations. The discipline of martial arts is more than just fighting techniques, it is a way of life. Students learn a philosophy that helps them to conquer the adversities of daily life, turning their weaknesses into strengths and their fears into courage. The discipline also provides an effective means of self-defence, both on and off the battlefield.
The martial arts are most closely associated with Buddhism and Daoism, and this explains why they are not purely combative, but also emphasize the development of the whole person. The ultimate goal is to reach a state of “sensate” in which the rationalizing and calculating functions of the mind are suspended, so that the body and the mind react instantly as a unit and reflect the changing environment around them. This is a spiritual and mental state of total awareness, and it is what sets East Asian martial arts apart from Western styles of boxing, wrestling or other combat sports.
Although records are scarce, the martial arts are widely believed to have originated in China. One story traces their origin to a wandering Indian monk named Bodhidharma who brought a system of physical and mental training to the Shaolin monastery in 600AD. Over the centuries Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts) developed into a wide variety of forms, and traveling monks took these systems to other countries where they were modified into native styles.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, karate was introduced to the West by William Fairbairn, a Shanghai police officer who taught judo to British and American commandos and Special Forces. The popularity of karate was further fuelled by the arrival of tens of thousands of American G.I.s in Japan after World War II, who were fascinated by the Japanese martial art of kenpo.
Another popular martial art is jiu-jitsu, created in 1882. It is a highly effective art for close-range combat, as its primary goal is to throw or takedown an opponent and then immobilize them with a grappling technique, joint lock or chokehold. Strikes with the hands and feet are used only in pre-arranged routines called kata, and they are not permitted in competition or free practice.
Other martial arts, such as kung fu and judo, are more about kicking, punching, throwing, and other striking techniques. During the early 1950s, men such as Ed Parker (founder of American Kenpo), Steen, Norris and others did what their Korean and Japanese predecessors had done, taking bits and pieces of different martial arts styles to create their own distinct style. Then they started spreading the word, and today martial art has become a global phenomenon. There are now more than 100 million practitioners worldwide, from children to seniors. This is an increase of more than ten-fold over the past 50 years. Kampsport