Martial arts

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Martial arts is the collective name given to a variety of hand-to-hand fighting styles, or fighting styles that involve weapons that are used as an extension of the body. Most fighting styles are unique to a particular culture, such as Tai Chi to China, Karate to Japan, and TaeKwonDo to Korea. While many have roots that antedate the physical birth of Christ, there are variations of the styles that evolved in the last 200 years.

The oldest martial arts originated in China in the Buddhist and Taoist temples and monasteries and thus breathing meditation is considered a foundation technique of great importance.

Interestingly enough, Karate is more of an anti-martial art, designed to help common folk prepare to fight against martial rule, during a time of weapons bans. Kara te do means "empty hand way" referencing this style without weapons. TaeKwonDo means "the way of the hands and feet".

Most martial arts were originally intended to be used for serious fighting, but in the modern age they are mainly practiced as sports, with strictly codified rules; indeed some, such as Judo, were developed from other martial arts purely for sporting purposes. Many people, especially women, also learn martial arts for self-defense.

Stylized forms of martial arts, especially kung fu, are widely found in cinema. Martial arts movies are so widespread that they are often considered a genre in their own right.

Some American gun enthusiasts would say that self-defense skill in firearms, such as displayed by Jerry Miculek, is a martial art.

There is a dichotomy between martial arts that train for success in the controlled environment of the ring, where rules are enforced, such as Brazilian Ju Jitsu, and more effective arts that train for success in the uncontrolled environment of the streets, such as Aikido, where the art has to actually be effective against, for example, mulitiple opponents, or armed opponents.

See also