Martial means, “suitable for war”. - Oxford Dictionary.
Martial arts have therefore been practised since the dawn of mankind.
Examples of modern dictionary definitions of “martial arts” are as follows:
"Martial art: a sport that is a traditional Japanese or Chinese form of fighting or defending yourself" Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
"Martial art: any of several arts of combat and self-defense (such as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport". - Merriam - Webster Dictionary
"Martial art" is a term which is generally used to describe a deadly system of fighting which formalizes its traditions, training and knowledge. Today however, many of the techniques passed down in martial arts have been made redundant by advances in modern warfare. As a result, many martial arts stress different aspects such as sport, fitness training, health or self-defense.
Sport however, is a part of martial arts which is often played down in the more traditional arts, which tend to focus upon other aspects such as character development, mental focus and self-discipline.
Martial arts are often unarmed systems of combat but may also contain weapons and/or defenses against weapons. Although most modern definitions of a martial art refer to the oriental systems, there are many others including Krav Maga (Israel), Capoeira (South America) and Savate (France). Martial arts are characterised by their systemisation of fighting which often includes forms or patterns of movements, created in order to pass on valued techniques to students and future generations.
Area of Knowledge
The martial arts are not limited only to the knowledge of fighting. There are several styles, like the Chinese arts, which aim to offer knowledge of fitness and health. While fighting is involved, some styles offer knowledge in several related fields, like strategy, medicine, maths or literature.
Martial Arts Styles