Martial arts have been practiced for thousands of years and have evolved over time into a wide range of styles and disciplines. When many people think of martial arts the first thing that often comes to mind are Asian martial arts such as Kung Fu and Karate. However it’s important to remember that the term martial arts doesn’t only apply to these styles. In fact it is applicable to a much wider range of styles that come from all around the globe.
From Pankration in ancient Greece, to Savate in France, the number of fighting styles that can be considered true martial arts is quite extensive. Because of their ancient history it’s virtually impossible to create a clear cut timeline of how these multitude of different fighting styles evolved. While you can trace the evolution of one martial art in some cases, and how it gave rise to others, trying to find a true origin is impossible. The reason for this is simple, martial arts are ancient and evolved independently around the globe. Due to our often violent nature as a species, the need for combat skills is something that is common to just about every ancient civilization in the world.
For anyone interested in martial arts looking at the differences in philosophies as well as techniques between them should be very interesting. Some styles emphasize a clear, often brutal type of attack in order to end a fight quickly. On the other hand other styles emphasize a less decisive style that focuses upon self defense instead of engaging in an active attack.
The differences in style largely come down to what the martial art in question has evolved to accomplish. If you are dealing with a so called softer style such as Taekwondo then you will focus more upon evasive and defensive techniques, and use strikes meant to disable your opponent. On the other hand if you have studied Krav Maga, a much more modern style, then you would learn to use a decisive attack to quickly incapacitate your opponent and in many cases cause them severe injury.
In recent years martial arts have taken the next evolutionary step forward. The emergence of mixed martial arts as a legitimate sport has created a format where the world can see how beautiful, and effective these fighting styles can be. One of the biggest impacts that mixed martial arts has had upon the martial arts community is that it has shown a need for growth and flexibility in all fighting styles.
While not true combat in terms of a life and death struggle, mixed martial arts create the closest thing to an actual real world fight in a sporting venue. After the initial emergence of mixed martial arts many different martial artists around the world recognized that they could no longer rely entirely upon a single style. As a result people who train in mixed martial arts usually learn a wide range of styles that incorporate a vast array of different skills. Martial arts today are continuing to grow in popularity due to the increased exposure that is provided to them through sporting events and visual media. As time passes martial arts will certainly continue to evolve in order to meet the needs of those who practice them.