Martial arts is the study and practice of skills involving fighting techniques, physical exercise and mental discipline. Originating in ancient Asia, Martial arts, in one form or another is used worldwide for exercise, health, competition and self defense.
I personally studied TaeKwonDo. I became a first degree black belt and also taught my own class. Although studying TaeKwonDo helped me improve my physical strength, flexibility, concentration and boosted my self esteem, I don’t believe one should study it for the sole purpose of self defense.
If it weren’t for the occasional self defense seminar, which I found it be extremely valuable, the art itself would not be helpful in real life situations. Outside of class we used to joke that if confronted on the street we would have to ask the attacker to wait a minute while we removed our shoes and stretched out first.
Martial Arts offer two main objectives, to defeat one’s opponent and to defend oneself. Martial Arts are commonly associated with, but not unique to Eastern Asia. Some are linked to spiritual/religious beliefs/philosophies.
Throughout the world we find various forms of local systematic fighting techniques. Training methods may involve forms-sets of routine techniques performed in a sequence and sparring with partners. Some may also include wrestling and limb and joint manipulation.
It is claimed that the word Martial is derived from the name of the Roman god of war, Mars. Martial Arts literally means arts of Mars. The 15th century Europeans coined this term referencing their own fighting style. One who practices is referred to as a martial artist.
The Asian Martial Arts were developed around 600 BC. It is a blend of early Chinese and Indian arts, due to widespread trade between these nations. During the Warring States period of Chinese history martial philosophy and strategy were developed. Early legend of the Indian monk Bodhidharma (or Daruma) credits him with founding Zen Buddhism and influencing the martial virtues of discipline, integrity, humility, restraint and respect.
Martial arts spread from China to other Asian countries. In Japan, influenced by Zen Buddhism and the samurai warrior customs, Karate was developed. It wasn’t until after 1945 that the Western world was introduced when World War II veterans brought from Japan. Vietnam and Korea also influenced the west during subsequent military conflicts. The popularity of movies starring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li has also been credited with the growing recognition of Martial arts.
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Su Ericksen is a first degree TaeKwonDo black belt. She has taught self defense classes to youth groups. her web-site SelfDefense-4-Women.com is loaded with practical self defense information, resources and techniques for all ages.