- martial art
n.any of various systems of self-defense originating in E Asia, such as karate or kung fu, also engaged in as a sport usually used in pl.
* * *Any of several arts of combat and self-defense that are widely practiced as sport.There are armed and unarmed varieties, most based on traditional fighting methods used in East Asia. In modern times, derivatives of armed martial arts include kendo (fencing with wooden swords) and kyudo (archery). Unarmed varieties include aikido, judo, karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do. Because of the influence of Taoism and Zen Buddhism, there is a strong emphasis in all the martial arts on the practitioner's mental and spiritual state. A hierarchy of expertise, ranging from the novice ("white belt") to the master ("black belt"), is usually recognized. See also t'ai chi ch'uan; jujitsu.
* * *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, emphasize striking with the feet and hands or grappling. In Japan, traditionally a warrior's training emphasized 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 tae kwon do, are practiced, as are self-defense forms, such as aikido, hapkido, and kung fu. Simplified forms of Taijiquan (tai chi chuan) (T'ai Chi ch'uan), 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 rationalizing 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.
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