Talk:Martial arts (Eastern)

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Improving the martial arts article

Writing an article about martial arts has proven to be a rather large undertaking. It's very hard to address the particular issues that the layperson could comprehend and understand.

I have put in some basic concepts and sections and an overall view, but the article needs lots of fleshing out. History, for one, could use a lot of help. It would also be nice to get some input as to what other people would like to see in this article.

As for defining what counts as a martial art or not when listed in Citizendium, I propose to include everything that defines itself as a martial art as well as things that other martial artists usually consider to be martial arts.

I think martial arts should eventually be a category in its own right.

Oh, and should this article be under "martial arts" or "martial art"? Andrew Chong 00:42, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Good stuff. First, do not be concerned with lack of involvement - sooner or later, interested parties will carry on the page. You are under no obligation to write a full article - though it's great if you do - as long as you go beyond, say, a 50-word stub. I agree that martial arts is the best title - we say this more often in English. ("I'm good at a martial art" sounds odd.) And it will have to be in the Sports workgroup for now - maybe we need some other workgroup like 'performing arts'? John Stephenson 23:23, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
I really don't know what a good workgroup would be, I'm hoping somebody with a better concept of proper categorization will step in. "Performing arts" is still a term with connotations (i.e. doing something for an audience) that don't necessarily apply to all martial arts, and I think a number of users would be surprised to click on a link expecting articles about Russian ballet and instead stumble upon articles involving violence and fighting. Part of the problem in categorizing martial arts is that nobody, including (especially!) the martial artists themselves, can decide what exactly martial arts are. In any case, I'll continue plugging away at all the martial arts articles and hope other people will step in as they arrive. Andrew Chong 23:35, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Oh, nice work :-) I'd been thinking of starting off such an article, but what you've kicked off (no pun intended) is much broader than I would have been able to come up with initially. Regarding workgroup categories - yes, for the moment, sports is the correct one. There is a proposal to change Hobbies to another more suitable title, including 'Avocations', I think - which would then make it suitable for this article too. Anton Sweeney 10:20, 8 August 2007 (CDT)

On the article name - I agree martial arts is the best name for this article. There are already quite a few pages linking to it. I note, however, that depending on context, "martial art" is also used a lot - I've created the "martial art" page as a redirect to this article. Anton Sweeney 10:35, 8 August 2007 (CDT)

Ranges of combat

I've changed back the ranges of combat, specifically the JKD ones, from when they were edited to be described as three ranges, since I believe this to be inaccurate. JKD, or at least in the form first described by Bruce Lee, considers trapping and grappling to be different ranges. The distinction I'm trying to make in that section is that a number of different martial arts and philosophies believe in different ranges, and that it is possible (but not determined for sure yet) that there are reasonable distinctions for ranges, and that some may not exist. For example, there have been many arguments, for example with Matt Thornton of SBGi, that the trapping range does not functionally exist - it exists as a distance per se, but in a real fight no action takes place there, so fighters in that distance are either transitioning to go back to stand-up or to clinch up. The concept I'm trying to word out (with little success so far) is that the overall view of how a fight can be analyzed differs quite a bit from art to art and is still changing in different areas of the community.

I want to add other outlooks for Fillipino arts and boxing, but I'm not sure if these count as ranges. For example, in boxing there's a separation between outfighting and infighting, but typically boxers (except those who also fight MMA) don't think about the difference between the two as "ranges". Andrew Chong 11:25, 8 August 2007 (CDT)

I changed it from four to three originally because the text said three, but four ranges were listed. Should have checked here first :-) Not too familiar with JKD, apart from Lee's films. (My own background is several years of kung fu, mostly southern Shaolin style.) Anton Sweeney 11:32, 8 August 2007 (CDT)
No worries, that was my mistake because I accidentally wrote three instead of four. I'm no expert on JKD and all the subdivisions of it either. I've done a few years of kung fu as well, but most of my experience comes from mixed martial arts and all related arts. Andrew Chong 11:42, 8 August 2007 (CDT)

Article scope

Hi all...I've been editing at Wikipedia for several years, and one of the things that makes the martial arts projects so cumbersome is too much in one place. There is very little int he way of content here, so far, and Andrew has done a marvelous job of setting out an outline for us to follow. I am, however, concerned that there is too much in one place, and we should look to being very specific about what we are talking about in any particular MA article, and sticking to it. The topic is so broad, it's just entirely too eay to digress. Blessings. --Michael J. Formica 10:41, 5 November 2007 (CST)

Content sandbox

  • unarmed - boxing, tae kwon do, karate, Muay Thai
  • melee weapons (swung or thrusted but not fired)
  • projectile weapons
    • fired by human force (bow, crossbow) - kyudo
    • fired without human force (handgun) - handgun shooting, submachine gun shooting, rifle shooting, sniping

Striking and Grappling

Arts focusing on unarmed and melee weapon combat are typically focused on either striking or grappling. While often there is some form of striking in grappling-focused arts and vice versa, there are also some arts that attempt to divide training somewhat evenly.

  • striking - boxing, karate, kickboxing, Muay Thai, tae kwon do
  • grappling - judo, aikido, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling


Range, sometimes called the phases of combat, in this context generally refers to the distance between two fighters during a fight, although sometimes the term is interchanged with scope as defined above. Different martial arts and different contexts offer different ranges that a fight can occur at, and different martial arts concentrate in fighting in certain ranges. There is disagreement as to the number and existence of certain ranges: while certainly the physical distance can be measured, the practical distinctions between ranges are important and distinct to varying views of the theoretical division of a fight.

Jeet Kune Do, the martial arts system/philosophy developed by Bruce Lee, describes four ranges:

The three ranges accepted in the mixed martial arts community for mixed martial arts fights (and often all unarmed fights) are:

Hard vs. Soft

Some martial arts have made a distinction between "hard" and "soft" arts, or "external" and "internal" arts, with the distinction often being offered as a spectrum on which all arts fall. Many so-called "traditional martial arts", particularly those originating in China, accept such categorization at least in passing.

The mixed martial arts community generally forgoes this method of categorization is often ignored as being inapplicable or even inaccurate of fighting.


The region of origin of a martial art often relates to the development of the art. Some arts that are popularly practiced today are:

  • Asia
    • China - all forms of kung fu/wushu
    • Mongolia - Mongolian wrestling
    • Japan - judo, jujutsu, aikido, karate, kendo
    • Korea - tae kwon do
    • The Philippines - escrima/kali/arnis
    • Thailand - Muay Thai
    • Indonesia/Malaysia - silat
  • Africa
  • Europe - wrestling, catch wrestling, fencing
  • The Americas
  • North America
    • USA -
  • South America
    • Brazil - capoeira, Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Sport vs. Non-sport

Some martial arts are also practiced as sports, generally combat sports but not always. Some martial arts are not practiced as sports, and some even look down on those that are practiced as sports.

Some martial arts look down on "sports arts" as being theoretically less useful in an unregulated fight and against the purpose of martial arts as well as potentially harmful to the spiritual or mental development of a martial artist, although this view is not nearly unanimous and is strongly debated by many such "sport art" practitioners, with some "sport art" practitioners going so far as to argue that the methods of training and competing for sport arts make such arts more effective in unregulated combat than many non-sport arts, and that the experience of competing in a sport makes for positive mental development.

Combat sports

Methods of training

Training methodologies are often under hot debate, as there is a wide variety of views, many of which are explicitly incompatible with each other, on the most effective methods of training. This is further complicated by the fact that many martial arts have different goals, meaning that the training methods of two arts are often not easily compared because the end results of this training aren't towards the same purpose.

Forms and kata

There are many definitions and kinds of forms and kata, but a commonly used definition is "a prearranged set of movements designed to be used to practice techniques used in a fight." Most forms are practiced by one person alone, although some forms require the use of two people, as in judo kata.

Forms tend to be featured heavily in traditional Asian martial arts, like some forms of Karate and Kung Fu. Forms are generally de-emphasized or non-existent in martial arts that are also combat sports, like Muay Thai and wrestling.


Sparring generally refers to "free fighting", typically between two sparring partners, where both partners are allowed to use a variety of techniques at their own discretion and not restricted to using a certain order of techniques, as in a drill, usually with rules in place to protect the partners and often with extra protective equipment beyond that used in a competition or fight. In the basic and common type of sparring, partners are restricted by the same rules of the competition or fight being prepared for, with the only difference between competition and sparring being a decreased intensity in sparring.

There is a variety of sparring rules, especially for striking, as demonstrated in the concepts of contact levels in sparring, as well as "one-step" and "step sparring".

The dangers of sparring inherent to striking do not largely carry over in grappling-focused arts, so grappling arts that have sparring tend to feature this type of high-intensity sparring heavily. Grappling sparring can often be carried out with a great deal of intensity at a relatively low risk of injury.

Sparring tends to be featured heavily in martial arts that are also combat sports.

In arts that use sparring, sparring is used as a way to allow practitioners to apply techniques and skills in a safe but relatively uncontrolled setting, in order to prepare them for the chaotic nature of a real fight and to help them learn to apply the skills they have learned in this setting.


There are many different kinds of drills. A drill may be generally defined as any repeated motions used as practice, although the manner in which these motions are repeated and the situations in which these drills are performed vary. Drills can be categorized broadly as focused on skill-building and fitness-building, although there is almost always some aspect of both in any given drill. The actual drills themselves tend to vary greatly from art to art, often changing with the goal of the art as well as the ranges and scopes being trained for.

Skill-building drills generally stress repetition of motions or techniques used in an art in order to better these techniques and to ingrain them in muscle memory. One example of skill-building drills are the use of uchi-komis and nage-komis in judo in order to practice throws.

Fitness-building drills generally use repeated actions to build up strength, endurance, or other physical attributes rather than specific skills. One example of this is hitting a speed bag in boxing in order to develop hand-eye coordination.


While competitions are often viewed as the application of training, some martial arts see competitions as another level of training.

For example, martial arts that are also combat sports typically have a large percentage of training spent on sparring that duplicates the rules of a competition. However, sparring is different than a competition because of a difference in intensity, as sparring partners are focused on learning safely rather than "winning". In a competition, the competitors are focused on winning, often with little regard for the safety of the opponent beyond that required by the rules, so the efforts are intense and performed with full effort. This is sometimes seen as good preparation for an unregulated fight, as competitors learn the "feel" of fighting an opponent resisting at full force, as well as what adjustments are required to apply techniques to the opponent.

Other competitions, such as those for performance of kata or tile-breaking, are sometimes seen as an opportunity to test one's mental and physical abilities under pressure and to develop oneself.


Martial arts references in culture

Martial arts have often been mentioned in literature, paintings, and other cultural creations, and have historically played parts in national and international struggles. Some cultural creations have heavily featured martial arts and martial artists. Many societies, after gaining control over other societies, banned the practice of martial arts in attempts to prevent rebellions and uprising by trained combatants.

Some ancient Greek pottery has depictions of men wrestling and fighting each other during war and for sport, as well as engaging in martial arts sports like javelin throwing and shot putting.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that all Eastern Martial Arts were dramatically influenced by the Greek Martial Arts known as Pankration after Alexander the Great's invasion of the Indian subcontinent in the 4th century B.C.E.

In Japan before and during during WWII, the ruling military used a propagandized, bastardized version of the samurai code of conduct known as Bushido in order to bring its society to a desired fighting and sacrificial mentality.

Books like The Art of War and The Book of Five Rings became popular as people in the 50s-80s believed concepts put forth in these books to be analogous to business practices and thus valuable tactical and strategical guides.

Martial arts films are a popular sub-genre of action and adventure films. Some of the earliest examples of this are the samurai films of post-WWII Japan. The Seven Samurai, arguably one of the greatest films ever made is a a fine example of this genre.

Combat sports and other martial-arts-based sports are popular entertainment for live audiences and TV viewers, although combat sports, especially striking-based ones, are sometimes seen as brutal and savage. Professional boxing is very popular but perhaps currently in a decline. Mixed martial arts has one of the fastest-growing audiences of all sports.


I'm not sure who changed the article, but even after somebody cleaned up the article after the additions, there's still quite a bit that's not accurate or is biased. I'm going to remove those bits, which is basically going to leave us with a stub again, but I think a stub is better than a bad article.

And is there a reason why the article was changed to aim at a focus on Eastern arts? I don't think this is a good idea, nor do I think it is accurate for the use of the phrase "martial arts" at all.

Oh, and can somebody explain to me why a whole bunch of content was moved to the Talk section in the "Content Sandbox", or point me to a link that explains what this Content Sandbox is all about?Andrew Chong 20:09, 12 November 2007 (CST)

Agreed. The reason the article was changed to focus on Eastern martial arts is that, colloquially, 'martial arts' refers to Eastern martial arts. The topic area is so huge, that it would be a mess to try and include all forms of martial arts within a single article. My intention was much the same as that with the Yoga section, which is to create a web of inter-related (hence, web...Hah!) articles, rather than attempting to get everything into one place. We might even move this to Martial arts (Eastern), and start a new article Martial arts (Western), etc.
The Talk page Content Sandbox was so that good content (which you contributed) would not get lost by virtue of sweeping edits. Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 11:16, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Gotcha, thanks for the explanation. I'm still very much curious about the separation of Eastern vs. Western. Even colloquially, when I refer to martial arts, I use it to refer to Eastern and Western arts, and many of the people I know do this too - in MMA, many of the most popular martial arts being trained are historically of Western origin (boxing, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, etc.). Perhaps, especially in the U.S., martial arts are often used to refer to Eastern arts, but I think it would be inaccurate to have an article entitled "martial arts" to use this definition. Andrew Chong 13:45, 14 November 2007 (CST)
A solution might be to have a Martial arts (Eastern) article, a Martial arts (Western) article, and a Martial arts article that serves as something more than a mere disambiguation page, but explains the major differences between Eastern and Western and also discusses "modern" martial arts styles such as MMA? Anton Sweeney 18:47, 14 November 2007 (CST)
Anton and Andrew: I agree with both of you completely. As a matter of fact, I had the same thought yesterday that Anton put forth here. Andrew, do you see this is a fair compromise? --Michael J. Formica 06:06, 15 November 2007 (CST)
I began this port. Right now, Martial arts redirects to Martial arts (disambiguation). Anton's suggestion for a compare and contrast article is a good one. Takers? --Michael J. Formica 12:50, 15 November 2007 (CST)
If nobody else gets around to it by the weekend, I can take a stab at it (no pun intended!) Anton Sweeney 18:22, 15 November 2007 (CST)