We all have watched kung-fu, karate, and other martial arts movies in our childhood. We all have lots of fantasy with it. And why not? The martial arts is one of the most precious gifts our legendary ancestors have given to us. It always looks as cool as it is. Even many of us still are a big fan of those movies as well as those actions or the so-called martial arts. In today’s world, the martial art is so famous that anyone can give a name to a set of martial art.
Different Types of Martial Arts and Their Origins
But do we really know what really is a martial art? Where does it come from? Did martial art come from Africa or they came from Asia? When did martial art begin? What does it mean and signifies? What are its various forms and what is their status in the present time? Let’s check that out.
Martial comes from the Latin word which means or signifies Mars or the god of war. So basically martial art means the art of war or techniques of war. In today’s modern era there are lots of variations of martial arts. Some of the most prominent ones are Muay Thai of Thailand, Kung fu of China, Taekwondo of Korea, Judo of Japan and many more.
The techniques and moves vary with different styles and form. And many moves and techniques are common to all of the forms but they are known by different names depending on the language of their country of origin.
Most of the martial arts are quite unknown to Western countries but after World War 2 it started to spread in the world gradually. During 1970s martial arts were started to promote through television shows or films.
The origin of martial art is still quite complicated. Many communities have given many theories regarding its origin. However, the most popular and accepted theory is related to India and China in the ancient ages.
In both China and India, evidence from 2,000 to 4,000 years old have been found with paintings of people striking with possible martial arts poses.
According to the legends, a man or precisely a monk from India (South India) whose name was Bodhidharma (also called Daruma by some communities) brought the Buddhism religion, yoga exercises and meditation techniques to Shaolin monastery of China which later evolved and gave form to Kung fu.
It is also said that Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial art of India is the mother of all martial arts and is the oldest martial art of the world. So, if you are an Indian then you must have been proud of this fact.
In both China and India, evidence from 2,000 to 4,000 years old have been found with paintings of people striking with possible martial arts poses. According to the legends, a man or precisely a monk from India (South India) whose name was Bodhidharma (also called Daruma by some communities) brought the Buddhism religion, yoga exercises and meditation techniques to Shaolin monastery of China which later evolved and gave form to Kung fu. It is also said that Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial art of India is the mother of all martial arts and is the oldest martial art of the world. So, if you are an Indian then you must have been proud of this fact.
Every concept and every idea have a long story and long journey to tell before it comes to this world and known by everyone. Like that, martial art also has a history and long, inspirational and a very hard journey.
At one stage it was likely to become extinct but thanks to some legends who kept this art alive till now. Even there are many martial arts which were banned and are practiced no more. In the depth of this MakeMeFine article, we will read about that too.
Let us now look at its journey at three stages- early stage, middle ages, and modern age.
From China, it eventually spreads to many parts of the world. Most Japanese martial arts origin can be found in the middle ages especially during the development of war and warrior traditions of Samurai and caste system that restricted the use of weapons by other members of the society.
Originally, samurais are expected to be proficient in many weapons as well as unarmed combat and fighting reaching for the highest possible rank or mastery of combat skills which brought lots of attention and played a big role in the development of Martial arts.
It is likely to be said that the first iron sword is manufactured in Japan in the 4th century. The oldest school of Japanese swordsmanship in existence today was started in the 14th century and arts such as Battojutsu which means “the science or art of drawing a sword” developed in the mid 15th century.
In order to counter an opponent with a sword, the jujitsu began developing around the 15th century combining various martial arts which were used in the battlefield for close combats to make weapons ineffective.
During the middle ages, the martial art was developed in Korea too and Ssireum where it gained wide popularity starting from the 14th century. Wrestling throughout the middle ages and was practiced by all social levels.
Jousting and tournament were also practiced by nobility throughout the high and late middle ages. During the late middle ages, there was an appearance of an elaborate fencing system such as the German and Italian schools with its teachings still preserved till the 15th century. Unfortunately, with changing times, martial arts from west suffered a lot.
In modern ages with rising in firearms, in Europe faced a strong decline and was unable to maintain the reputations and structures as the Asians did. Despite these facts, a number of fencing forms and manuals survived from 1400 to 1900 AD.
And many groups are still working to retain, reconstruct and involve the European martial art to be the part of the culture again. Despite little damage to martial arts during the modern age, many forms of well known martial arts also developed in this age too.
A reputed martial art called savate known as French boxing or kickboxing uses the element of western boxing and awesome kicking techniques.
It was developed in the 19th century which consists of French street fight and fighting techniques used by French sailors. This style is not only practiced today but has become one of the popular sport today in many regions.
Controversies and Choas
Further to the west, another form of the martial art known as Capoeira was developed in some regions of Brazil. It is known for its quick and complex moves, which uses power, speed, and movements across a wide variety of kicks, spins, and other techniques. However, it faced many harsh situations during its journey. During the 19th century, its practice was prohibited and after the prohibition, any person caught practicing this martial art, in a fight or for any other reason, would be arrested, tortured and often mutilated by the police. Capoeira from the beginning of the 20th century began to become a more sanitized form of dance with the less Martial application. Due to this, it became less threat and more attractive.
As it had become a form of dance, its prohibitions were reduced and today as well it is one of the main tourist attractions in the regions of Brazil. Maybe if there were no prohibitions, this martial art probably has become the most dangerous one.
As it happened in Asia
In Asia, most martial arts that are practiced in traditional Chinese fighting styles reach their popularity in modern ages too. The main reason behind this is that many martial artists were encouraged to openly teach their art and it is observed as a means to promote national pride. Many training plans were published and academies were opened.
Numerous teams traveled overseas, formed the Chinese community and spread these martial arts.
Many of the best modern forms of martial arts developed in Japan during this period after the end of samurai’s rules during 19th – 20th century. Martial arts such as Jundo, Karate, Aikido and many others were formed by the people who looked to preserve the old culture while the samurai culture was fading away.
As a result of the spread of eastern martial arts to the west, more and more variations, combinations and, mixtures were developed in modern ages. One of the most notable ones is what we knew them by the name of Brazilian jujitsu or simply BJJ which is changed and more evolved version of judo and jujitsu. Year after year martial arts keeps evolving themselves. They are being mixed together and gave the appearance to many modern forms like Mix Martial Arts or MMA, Taekwondo and various military combat-based martial arts such as Krav Maga of Israel.
Martial Arts As a Sport
If we think about sports, Olympic games are the highest level a sportsman can compete in and represent his or her country. However, all martial arts are not included in the list of Olympic games.
All the martial arts faced lots of ups and downs and lots of controversies to get their spots in the Olympic games. There are lots of martial arts which are not included in Olympic games but are played as sports which are organized by other federations.
For Example– Mix Martial Art or MMA and professional boxings And there are also some martial arts which are not even considered as sports at all. Krav Maga is the best example of such martial art.
So far, the games which were included in the Olympic games are:
- Greco – Roman wrestling
- Freestyle wrestling
- Amateur boxing
- Pankration and singlesticks
However, pankration and singlesticks were not included at all after 1900.
Grappling Martial Arts
Greco – Roman wrestling is the most ancient form of martial art in the Olympics. It was introduced in 708 BC. This type of martial arts is more restricted than the freestyle wrestling because the competitors in this sport are allowed only to use the arms and upper body. Women are not allowed to participate in this event. However, they can participate in freestyle one.
Freestyle wrestling is the modified counterpart of Greco – Roman wrestling. It was introduced in the 1904 Olympics and after that, it got a huge popularity and at present, it is one of the core sport of the Olympics. In 2004, the women division was also started and women also started to participate after the weight classes were reduced.
Judo became a recognized event in the Olympic games in 1964. It was primarily a male sport until 1992 when women participation gets started. It has also become a part of Paralympic games.
Striking Martial Arts
Amateur boxing was also introduced in 1904 but it was developed back in 3000 BC. From time to time it has evolved from bare-knuckle fighting to protective gears like gloves and helmets. Women participation was started in 2012 and it has become one of the most fantastic and competitive sport.
Taekwondo was developed by soldiers of Korea during 50 BC. It was declared as the national game of Korea in the 20th century. It was first introduced in the Olympics in 1988 but only as a demonstration purpose. In the year 2000, it was declared as a competitive sport in which competitors or players spare for the medal or victory.
Fencing is the only weapon based sport in the Olympics. It was introduced in the Olympics in the year 1896. The participation of women was allowed in 1924. The three types of swords used are – the epee, saber, and foil. Points are analyzed and measured electronically according to the hitting area of the opponent by the sword of the player.
Hybrids of Martial Art
Pankration means “total combat or freestyle combat”. We can tell that the Pankration is the ancestor of Mix Martial Arts or the so-called MMA. However, unlike other games, it is no longer a part of the Olympic games.
Karate will also be included in the Olympics from 2020. Finally, the Karate fans of Japan will get lots of actions to see in the coming Olympic games. Kata, the demonstrative part of Karate will be in the list too.
Non-Olympic Martial Arts
However, there are many popular martial arts which are not included yet in the Olympic games. One of the most prominent ones is the Muay Thai of Thailand.
In 2016, Muay Thai received provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which means that the governing body will receive at least $25,000 USD annually from the Olympic committee and will also have the opportunity to apply for additional grants.
There is a small chance that Muay Thai may be included in the list of Olympic martial arts in 2024.
However, the rules will not be the same as traditional Muay Thai as it is very aggressive and unsafe for competitors. It may not be played as a part of the Olympic games but it is being played in a huge number with huge popularity in Thailand and has got many spectators.
Mix Martial Art or MMA (also known as Modern Martial Art) is one of the most popular and most well-sponsored sports or combat sport nowadays.
The International Mix Martial Art Federation (IMMAF) has started the process and there is a chance that Mix Martial Art may become an Olympic sport by 2024 without much modification in its rules.
This sport has already got huge popularity because of its well-known promotion by many of the reputed organizations. One of the most popular platforms is the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC. The most famous superstars of the game include Connor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Khabib Nurmagomedov and many more.
Non-Sport Martial Art
Krav Maga is a martial art developed by Israel army and it has spread in many parts of the world and is now used by the army of many countries including India. It is the most dangerous martial art and is very aggressive and violent which targets the most vital and sensitive organs of the opponent and sometimes it is considered as the most deadly martial art and so there is no chance that it can be considered as a sport.
Rules and Regulations
Regarding rules and regulations, we will discuss only those martial arts which are included in the list of sports or the Olympic games. Different martial arts have different rules and regulations.
But one thing which is common to all martial arts is the discipline. All players are trained and taught very well to maintain discipline and fair play.
The rules and regulations are made for the best safety of the players in the best possible way. Many of the martial arts do not have good safety rules and regulations because of which they are not included in the list.
MMA is a good example of one of those games as it involves striking and knocking out the opponents with explosive blows but very few safety gears are allowed to use due to which many competitors suffer from serious injuries.
Greco – Roman Wrestling
This is the oldest form of wrestling and it involves taking downs, defense and pinning your opponent. Points are awarded according to the moves used to take down your opponent. If a player escapes from its opponents attacking moves then also points are awarded.
The wrestling is done in 9-meter diameter mat. The use of legs or lower body is forbidden. A player cannot strike his opponent otherwise a penalty score will be given. Various protective gears are used in the form of singlet, shoes, and headgears (optional). The match goes on for 3 periods and a player must win at least 2 periods. The ways of winning include- win by fall, win by technical superiority, winning by default, win by disqualification, win by decision and win by injury.
This is the advanced form of wrestling or evolved form of Greco – Roman wrestling. Its rules are somewhat similar to that of Greco – Roman wrestling.
The only difference is that a player can also use his/her lower body and legs during the game.
Boxing comprises mainly of two types- Pro boxing and Amateur boxing. Pro boxing is not included in Olympic games. However, amateur boxing got huge popularity among people. It consists of three 3-minute rounds in the male division and four 2-minute rounds in female divisions.
The judges will decide the score in accordance with the performance of the players. However, a player can also win the contest by knockout (when the opponent does not get up for 10 counts), RSC (referee stops contest), RSCI (referee stops contest due to injury), RSCH (hard blows to the head). Pro boxing differs in some conditions as it comprises of 4 to 12 rounds, players should fight bare-chested, etc.
It is one of the gifted martial art of Japan. It includes grappling and holdings (submission holds and locks). A player wins the contest if a player throws his opponent to the ground and hold it for 20 seconds or if a player throws his opponent twice on the ground. Kicking, punching, strikings are not allowed in Judo.
It is the only combat sport in Olympic in which striking with kicks is allowed. However, many protective gears such as shin guard, helmet, chest guard, groin guard, ankle guards are used and the points are counted electronically on the basis of types of kicks used to strike the particular target area of the opponent. For instance, spinning kicks gives more points than simple standing kicks. And kicking at the head helps to get more points as compared to kicking in the chest. Kicking below the waist, holding, grapplings are prohibited in the game.
This is the only weapon-based combat sport. In this sport, players are given swords to hit their opponent. The hitting area depends on the type of sword the player is using. There are three types of swords- foil, saber, and epee. The points are counted electronically and 3 rounds are played with 15 points each round. That means whoever score the 15 points first will win the round. This sport is the weapon-based includes lots of safety gears as well.
Martial Arts Industry
With its huge rising popularity during the 1970s and afterward, martial arts became a fantasy in the modern world. Martial art has become a subset of sports industries, film industries, and academic industries as well.
Many martial art movies were made and are still being made in huge numbers and people like those movies a lot. After that, it has become a prominent business to earn money through martial art. Many martial artists like Bruce Lee, Jet Lee, Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan have become superstars through these movies and they have created their legendary performances so well.
Not only Chinese movies but Hollywood also started to give lots of interests in this genre of martial art movies. The prominent ones of the Hollywood martial art movies are Undisputed, Never Back Down, etc. As a result, today these martial art movies are one of the favorite genres for the fans and almost every movie use martial arts at some point in time.
Martial art has not only become a fantasy but one of the best skills to learn today. And a person can make a good carrier in the field of martial arts professionally. Lots of martial arts are considered as sports as well. So, if one has good passion regarding this then, he or she can definitely make a good carrier in the sport of martial arts.
Example of famous sports-persons who have taken martial art to the professional sport are Connor McGregor from Ireland and Ronda Rousey from the United States of America.
Playing martial arts require a lot of martial art supplies, equipment, and safety guards. Martial arts supplies are meant to be used for conditioning, protection, and weapons. Specialized conditioning equipment can include breaking boards, dummy partners such as the wooden martial arts dummy, and targets such as punching bags and kicking bags.
Protective equipment for sparring and competition includes boxing gloves, MMA gloves, and headgear. And the manufacturer of these types of equipment has started earning a lot after martial art become a sport and practiced in large numbers. The wholesale value of martial arts related sporting equipment delivered in the United States was estimated at 314 million US Dollar in 2007; participation in the same year was estimated to be about 6.9 million.
As everyone knows that nowadays, martial art has become a good set of skills. In many countries, the crime rate is very high and it is almost essential for a person to learn some self-defense programs for their safety. In some countries, women are not safe at all and self-defense has become a part of their survival skills.
So many organizations have started to promote and teach self-defense skills in the form of martial arts classes. In countries like India, martial art classes can be found in huge numbers. It has become an academic-industry now as a number of practitioners are increasing day by day. Martial arts classes are mainly divided into martial arts for adults, women, seniors, and kids. The books on different types of Martial Arts also can be found in huge numbers.
However, rising demand for martial art resulted in a numerous number of the low quality of fraudulent schools, academy, and programs. There were also numerous fraudulent ads for martial arts training programs. This is not just a crime but also an insult to a precious gift our ancestors have developed in the form of martial arts. Before joining a program or academy, one should take care of these things.
Martial Art is not only for getting new skills and feeling superior to others because of having those skills. It’s about controlling your powers, your mind and your behaviors. As it is said that with great power comes great responsibilities and it is so true. Controlling your reactions, behavior, and desires are one of the most important qualities a person can have.
Self-control gives you the power to follow your instincts. It let you stay motivated throughout your journey irrespective of how hard and harsh it is. And moreover, it also makes you more disciplined which is the main quality for greatness. It teaches us that discipline does not restrict you from doing any kind of work. But it is a sign that let you control your actions and reactions. It gives you inner strength and inner peace.
It also teaches us many other great things like consistency, adaptation. Moreover, the most important trait of never giving up and pushing harder can be learned from it.
There may be different types of martial arts but none of the single art is meant to dominate each other. All of them are the best of best in their own types.
Moreover, the performance of a player depends upon the hard work and dedication of a person rather than the type of martial art he or she is pursuing. So we should not categorize any of the martial arts according to which one is best or worst.
And moreover, whether it is a martial art or some other means, we should learn to respect each and every means which can keep us fit. In addition to it, we also should have a good perspective towards ourselves and should not demotivate others on the basis of their shape or size.
Above all, a true fitness concerned person always helps others to motivate to get healthy. Furthermore, if one wants to be happy then he or she needs to be healthy. After all, health is wealth.