Understanding Traditional Martial Arts

Martial Arts has steadily increased in popularity from the very first movie starring Bruce Lee to the rise of the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  More and more people have witnessed the effectiveness of Martial Arts and the legitimacy of such skills.  However, much of the traditional Martial Arts remain a mystery, even though these have been firmly incorporated and synergised into the curriculum of the modern-day Mixed Martial Artist.

Take successful UFC competitors such as George St-Pierre and Lyoto Machida who both use Karate for their striking game.  Both have attested in numerous interviews about how valuable the traditions of Karate have been to the success they have attained in the UFC.  Common themes that surface are discipline and mental strength, which they have attributed to their traditional fighting arts.

Despite the plethora of information that is out there about traditional Martial Arts, I find that there is not much understanding of it.  In light of this, I’d like to explore a little more about traditional Martial Arts.

traditional martial arts
Image Source: ageshiojapan.com


A Time for Traditional Martial Arts

During the times of our ancestors, when guns and its corresponding technology did not exist, hand to hand and melee combat was used to wage war.  Examples of Martial Arts that turn up in historical analysis are wrestling trained by the Spartans in Greece or Kung fu used by the Shaolin monks to protect the state against invaders of China.

Now that we have advanced in technology, what role do these traditional fighting arts play?  The answer can be found in how the Japanese arts have moved further away from the term “jutsu” (meaning technique) to “do” (the way).  Martial Arts were no longer seen as a method with which to wage war but rather a way to perfect oneself and attain personal mastery.


Traditional Martial Arts vs Mixed Martial Arts

The ability to defend oneself and protect others is really important.  Of equal importance is physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.  This is where the traditional Martial Arts really shine.  Traditional Martial Arts focus not just on self-defence but on the improvement of the multifaceted aspects of the practitioner.  These multifaceted aspects are referred to as the Mind, Body and Spirit.

Traditional Martial Arts come in a variety of flavours and, depending on your goals as an individual, one art may offer more benefits to you than another.  Check out this definitive guide to Martial Arts which discusses the various characteristics of a Martial Art.  This will help you make an informed decision on which Martial Art is right for you.


Improvement of the Mind

As a traditional Martial Artist, I have noticed substantial improvements to my mental wellness and cognitive abilities.  My motivation to train is hinged on the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones, that improve and regulate my overall mental state.  Training over the years has instilled discipline, focus, and perseverance, allowing me to set my mind towards a goal and persisting until the job is done. 

Difficult and rigorous training sessions that are tough on my body has served to toughen my mind and give me the mental grit to accept and deal with difficult situations.  I have a heightened state of awareness which helps me to be vigilant of my surroundings and is an essential factor in self-defence.


Improvement of the Body

Martial Arts training contributes to a healthy and active lifestyle.  Martial Artists who engage in a holistic training regimen benefit from:

  • Increased strength
  • Increased stamina through the strengthening of the cardiovascular system
  • Increase bone density
  • Improved spinal health, mobility, and flexibility

A strong and fit body will help in efficiently staving off and recovering from disease and injury.  This improves your quality of life.

martial arts physical training


Improvement of the Spirit

Spiritual advancement with no religious affiliations or connotations is a way to gain a deeper understanding of oneself by peeling away our complex layers and getting to the root of who we are.  Shedding the Ego to become truly humble and feel a kinship with one’s surroundings.  Spiritual advancement is associated with a greater degree of self-control, transcending the basic needs and shortcomings of a human being and a step forward in terms of self-improvement.

martial arts spiritual advancement


Final Thoughts

Traditional Martial Arts offer all the tools necessary to help you become a better human being.  We often look at attaining mastery of one or more Martial Arts, however it is really the pursuit of mastery in oneself.  I hope this has given you more insight into the value of traditional Martial Arts, the place it occupied in ancient society and the role that it plays today.   Here is a list of Martial Arts.  Read about them and give one a try today.


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