Martial arts is any of various fighting sports or skills, mainly of East Asian origin, such as kung fu (Pinyin gongfu), judo, karate, and kendō.
Martial arts can be divided into the armed and unarmed arts. The former include archery, spearmanship, and swordsmanship; the latter, which originated in China, emphasizsng with the feet and hands or grappling. In Japan, traditionally a warrior’s training emphasied archery, swordsmanship, unarmed combat, and swimming in armour. Members of other classes interested in combat concentrated on arts using the staff, everyday work implements (such as thrashing flails, sickles, and knives), and unarmed combat.
Perhaps the most versatile practice was ninjutsu, which was developed for military spies in feudal Japan and also included training in disguise, escape, concealment, geography, meteorology, medicine, and explosives.
In modern times, derivatives of some of the armed martial arts, such as kendō (fencing) and kyūdō (archery), are practiced as sports. Derivatives of the unarmed forms of combat, such as judo, sumo, karate, and taekwondo, are practiced, as are self-defense forms, such as aikido, hapkido, and kung fu. Simplified forms of tai chi chuan, a Chinese form of unarmed combat, are popular as healthful exercise, quite divorced from martial origins. Derivatives of many of the armed and unarmed forms are practiced as a means of spiritual development.
The primary unifying aspect of the East Asian martial arts, which sets them apart from other martial arts, is the influence of Daoism and Zen Buddhism. This influence has resulted in a strong emphasis on the mental and spiritual state of the practitioner, a state in which the rationalising and calculating functions of the mind are suspended so that the mind and body can react immediately as a unit, reflecting the changing situation around the combatant.
When this state is perfected, the everyday experience of the dualism of subject and object vanishes. Since this mental and physical state is also central to Daoism and Zen, and must be experienced to be grasped, many of their adherents practice the martial arts as a part of their philosophical and spiritual training. Conversely, numerous practitioners of the martial arts take up the practice of these philosophies.
The 20th century witnessed a significant growth in the popularity of East Asian martial arts in the West, and both judo (1964) and taekwondo (2000) were added to the Olympic Games as full medal sports. By the early 21st century a syncretic discipline known as mixed martial arts, which incorporated fighting techniques from various cultural traditions, had also achieved prominence.
There are many benefits to training martial arts, not the least of which are physical, mental, and spiritual in nature. From the physical improvements, to the enhancement of both your mental and spiritual well-being, martial arts pave the way for people to reach their peak potential.
Martial arts have tremendous health benefits and can get you in the best shape of your life very quickly. It is one of the most effective workouts available. Many practitioners can attest to its incredible health properties and will tell you that by training martial arts, they have never felt better in their entire lives.
Achieving your fitness goals and getting your dream body takes a lot of effort. It involves absolutely no magic and it certainly isn’t easy. In this day and age, where obesity and heart disease run rampant, everyone wants to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Physical exercise is, of course, a primary component of good health. Given that martial arts has many benefits, it is a great thing for you to try.