Martial arts include kung fu (Pinyin gongfu), judo, karate, and kendo, which are all primarily East Asian fighting sports or skills.
Armed and unarmed martial arts are two types of martial arts. Archery, spearmanship, and swordsmanship are examples of the former; the latter, which originated in China, focuses on striking with the feet and hands or grappling. In Japan, a warrior’s traditional training included archery, swordsmanship, unarmed combat, and armoured swimming. Other classes who were interested in combat focused on staff arts, common work implements (such as thrashing flails, sickles, and knives), and unarmed combat. Ninjutsu, which was developed for military spies in feudal Japan and included training in disguise, escape, concealment, geography, meteorology, medicine, and explosives, was perhaps the most versatile practice. Some armed martial arts derivatives, such as kend (fencing) and kyd (archery), are now practised as sports in modern times. Unarmed combat derivatives such as judo, sumo, karate, and tae kwon do, as well as self-defense forms such as aikido, hapkido, and kung fu, are practiced. Simplified versions of tai chi chuan (taijiquan), a Chinese form of unarmed combat, are popular as a form of healthy exercise that has nothing to do with martial arts. Many of the armed and unarmed forms have derivatives that are used for spiritual development.
Martial arts from East Asia
The influence of Daoism and Zen Buddhism is the primary unifying factor that distinguishes East Asian martial arts from other martial arts. This influence has resulted in a strong emphasis on the practitioner’s mental and spiritual state, a state in which the mind’s rationalising and calculating functions are suspended so that the mind and body can react as one unit to the changing situation around the combatant. When this state is achieved, the everyday experience of subject-object dualism fades away. Many adherents of Daoism and Zen practise martial arts as part of their philosophical and spiritual training because this mental and physical state is also central to Daoism and Zen and must be experienced to be grasped. On the other hand, a large number of martial arts practitioners practise these philosophies.
The Olympic Games are held every four years.
The popularity of East Asian martial arts in the West grew significantly in the twentieth century, and both judo (1964) and tae kwon do (2000) were added to the Olympic Games as full medal sports. Mixed martial arts, a syncretic discipline that incorporates fighting techniques from various cultural traditions, had also gained prominence by the early twenty-first century.