What are martial arts?


A lot of people today use the term martial arts very frequently. But the term is used very loosely while they are only referring to the Japanese, Korean and Chinese fighting systems, or Asian systems in general, with or without the use of weapons. If we analyze the meaning of this expression, we can see that a lot of other Martial Arts are missed.

The word Martial comes from the ancient name of the God of War in the Roman Mythology. His name was Marte, So Martial Arts means the Art of Marte or the Arts of War. Even the name of the red planet, Mars, has the similar meaning – red, blood, war.

These Arts of War are as old as life on earth. Every population has its fighting techniques set in a particular system. If we look back at the oldest civilization on earth, every single one of them had a warrior class who was learning Martial Arts. The old Indians, Chinese, Egyptians , Asyrians, Macedonians, Turks, Europeans, Mayas, Aztecs, Native Indians of North and South America, Africans, South East Asians, all had Martial Arts of their own.

If we look at the empty hand techniques used by the above cultures, we can see that they have a lot in common, since the human body has limited possibilities of movement. For example, every one of the empty hand techniques has front kicks, hook punches, hip throws, etc. There is no such thing as “The Best Martial Arts”. If there was, then everybody would give up their style to practice “The Best Style” and the rest of them would disappear. As we can see there is no such trend today. On the other hand there is no “Bad Martial Arts” but only bad instructors. One other very important aspect of Martial Arts is the philosophy of the warrior. Because his techniques empower him to kill, he has to learn the value of LIFE itself.

The way the skills are learned is what distinguishes one school of thought from the other. But differences are not big. A bigger picture of Martial Arts would include the Modern Martial Arts such as skills used by jet fighter pilots, the firing of ballistic missiles, driving a tank or even being a radar operator. All are the Arts of Marte, the Arts of War, Martial Arts.

The path most Martial Artists take, while learning often potentially lethal skills, involves hard work, a lot of sweat, pain, humility and in the end, discovery of the value of life.