Kampsport are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a variety of reasons. These include self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage. The martial arts are unique in that they combine the goals of military, therapeutic, athletic, and theatrical combat with an emphasis on discipline and spirituality.
There are many different martial art schools and styles. Some focus on grappling and throwing techniques such as wrestling, judo, aikido, hapkido, kung fu, and boxing. Others concentrate on hand and foot strikes and kicks. The goal of martial arts is not necessarily to hurt an opponent but rather to incapacitate them or subdue them. Various tactics are used to accomplish this goal including joint locks, strangle holds, submission holds, throws, and chokes.
In addition to fighting skills, martial artists must also learn to evade attacks. This can be done by blocking a punch or slipping a blow, as well as by circling around an attacker to prevent him or her from gaining an advantageous position. Martial arts also stress the use of counterattacks, such as a backhand strike to an attacker’s neck or knee to his or her groin area.
Martial artists often feel a strong sense of camaraderie with their fellow students. This feeling is largely based on shared experiences and the challenge of mastering new techniques, but it is also rooted in tradition. In historical times, prospective students had to prove themselves worthy by undergoing difficult tests of skill, endurance, and adherence to a code of honor.
The martial arts have a profound impact on the cultures of their practitioners and are influenced by Daoism and Zen Buddhism. Those influences manifest in an emphasis on a state of mindfulness, in which the practitioner’s mind and body react as a single unit and reflect changes in the environment instantly.
Many martial arts focus on close-quarter fighting and natural stances, making them relatively unaggressive when compared to other combat sports. They also emphasize the conditioning of the body, scenario-based drills, and sparring to improve the students’ ability to respond to an opponent’s attack.
A number of martial arts are based on the idea that an experienced martial artist can overcome a stronger, more skilled opponent through persistence and perseverance. This mentality translates to the classroom, where students must strive to improve their technique by studying diligently and practicing in class. In addition, martial artists must always be prepared to face new challenges and remain open to learning from their mistakes. Keeping this in mind, it is important to remember that mastery of the martial arts takes a lifetime.