Definition and Benefits of Martial Arts

What is martial arts

Martial arts are structured systems of fighting and self defense. These systems are usually broken down into basics, techniques, and sparring. Some martial arts emphasize striking while others emphasize grappling. Striking arts involve punches, kicks, strikes. Grappling involves locks, chokes, and throws. All arts involve shuffling, or foot maneuvers, stances, positioning, timing, and leverage and body mechanics. In addition, some arts are classical while others are non-classical; some emphasize fixed patterns and others are more eclectic and include varied arts and are more inclined toward examination of diverse possibilities and scenarios.

Benefits of martial arts include sharpened awareness and skills that carry over into everyday life as well as fighting ability.

Here we examine these variations on martial arts and the benefits of training.

Three Elements of Martial Arts Training

Basics, Techniques, and Sparring


Basics are the foundation of an art. In martial arts, they are singular moves: Punches, kicks, strikes, rolls, stances, shuffles. They are taught and repeated, performed over and over again to be perfected and memorized, concentrating on proper performance and form, in addition to body mechanics. Learning these is not a matter of application as much as learning proper execution of the moves. They offer the student a foundation, because without basics nothing else is possible in the performance of a martial art.


Techniques are the study of position and movement. They involve the examination of possibilities and the application of problem solving. A student might be presented with an ideal attack and defense, but also be given different possibilities on what might happen; the idea is that the student must independently problem solve, which would be necessary in a real violent confrontation. Again, these techniques and scenarios are practiced to the point of memorization but also to elicit spontaneous responses. Of course, this is true of the non-classical systems in which there is not the emphasis on fixed patterns. In classical systems, primarily the base technique is taught without any examination or elaboration.


Sparring is the direct application of what you’ve learned in the art. It is play between training partners in which they fight but don’t try to really hurt each other seriously. The idea is to play with applying techniques spontaneously, to respond offensively and defensively on the spot. It is necessary for testing the student’s ability to operate on his own using what he or she has learned.

Two Types of Martial Arts

Classical Vs Non-Classical

Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do is probably one of the most famous of the Non-Classical martial arts. It is based on concepts and principles, not fixed patterns or tradition. The student examines real-life scenarios and practical applications, with varied possible responses. The student develops attributes, reflexes, and explores both grappling and striking.

In contrast, the Classical arts are based in tradition and the repetition of fixed patterns without consideration of the changing circumstances in real life situations that are alive and require immediate adjustments.

Probably the most striking (excuse the pun) example of Non-Classical systems is the current trend known as Mixed Martial Arts. These arts are focused on fighting for competition and are a mixture of Jiu Jitsu grappling and Kick Boxing.

So, it depends on what the student is looking for when they choose either Classical or Non-Classical arts. Non-Classical arts tend to be more encompassing and practical; Classical arts, I imagine, satisfy a need for security in tradition and the trappings that go along with it.

Emphasis of the Art

Striking Vs Grappling

The main idea behind striking arts is to disable the attacker; not necessarily permanently unless it is a life threatening attack; but the idea is to strike vital targets to stop the opponent, to hit nerves or joints, attack bones or even muscles and tendons. You are looking for the nerve response to follow up with the next move, to escape, or you are looking to shut him down completely to end the fight promptly. That is the idea of striking: Efficiency. To end the situation quickly to avoid further danger. For this reason, many teachers emphasize striking against multiple opponents: There’s no time to waste.

Grappling, on the other hand, emphasizes controlling the opponent and being sensitive to movement to gain an advantage in terms of leverage. It is ideal in many respects in one-on-one situations. It is better to have control of the opponent than to have him free to continue his attack. For this reason, grapplers are experts at restraining people; with locks, pins, and chokes. They manipulate joints and cut off blood flow in arteries to force the compliance of an aggressive attacker. They apply throws to put the aggressor on the ground to further control and manipulate him.

It seems some of us are better when it comes to grabbing and controlling, some of us like the precision and freedom of standing back and letting loose a barrage of decently placed strikes and kicks. A person has to study their own bodies and mentalities to come to what they prefer in a martial art in this regard.

Benefits of Martial Arts

Fitness, Self Defense, Confidence, and Awareness


An obvious benefit to martial arts training is that it is a good workout. The body must move vigorously in multiple ways; it is a cardiovascular workout and a strength building workout. In addition, you have better balance and coordination and very good body awareness.

Self Defense

You have an advantage over the average person when you train techniques and push your body to endure the pressures of training. It’s pretty simple.


Just putting the body through the rigors of training gives you confidence; you’re in shape, you’ve let loose some nervous energy, you feel relaxed and the oxygen and blood is flowing smoothly through your body. In addition, you have skills to defend yourself against a physical attack.


This might be the most important skill you develop from training. You’ve examined techniques and learned to problem solve. You’ve made your mind clear to learn lessons under circumstances that are trying and difficult. You’ve enjoyed the learning process and see its value. So, you are capable of learning more and more, about more things. It’s opened up a whole world to you.

So, as stated, which martial art you choose is a matter of preference; you might enjoy the practicality of Non-Classical styles or the tradition of Classical styles. You might be more apt to throw strikes than to grab someone and throw them and choke them out. This all could be dependent on your body type or even your mental inclinations. Some shy away from hitting, some don’t have the strength to grapple.

But, above all, you will benefit from the training. You will be in better shape, feel better, and be more aware. It’s an all-around good package.


Excellent book taken from the notes and sketches of Bruce Lee. It is good information on Bruce Lee’s philosophy on life and martial arts with extraordinary sketches by the late and iconic martial artist. Truly shows how very involved he was in life and his art.


The author can tell you personally he has used this product. It is a very decent way to keep you in shape and condition your body for delivering punches and kicks and for keeping proper form. The best thing is that this punching bag is portable and convenient, can be rolled off to the corner when not in use. The base fills with water to offer resistance while you punch and kick away.




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