What is the TRUE definition of “Martial Arts”?

Anybody know?

Or are there actually different definitions depending on who you ask?

Would you find varying definitions if you look up the term “martial arts” in the many dictionaries & encyclopedias??

What is the true documented definition of martial arts?

Martial arts are the English words used to describe any fighting art, by most people. However, the most correct definition of the words is….. Martial (Military) and Arts (as in arts of war). So this being said when you get down to it almost all of what people call martial arts are by the strictest definition not really martial arts. To truly be a martial art, the particular art would have to be a battleground method of combat in a life or death scenario. Anything modification to the art making it safer or less than a method of killing would disqualify the art as being a True “Martial Art”.

That being said there is not convenient word that can cover most arts we tend to call martial arts. Since these arts come from many different countries where the languages themselves are different, there is no one Asian term that is correct for all arts either.


It seems that many have gone off on a tangent. The question asked was what does the English terms “Martial Arts” really means. Anyone that researches the term Martial will find that it means military. And art is a science or a logical, methodical method. The last time I checked military forces around the world don’t teach their fighting men sports, but teach them how to kill or be killed.

Caucasian means white. All Europeans are white. Even Middle Eastern people are white. They do have different skin tones like “olive” especially the South that gets more vitamin D from the sun, rather than “snow” white, in North where you get much less. Russia is very big though, huge, the Western side is white, the East has East Asians. .

it depends on the culture more so
budo people interpret as martial arts or the way of the warrior, thats not entirely correct,
while the character for Do means way
the character for bu is formed by two symbols, one means to stop, inside another that represents shield, thus, bu, means to stop a conflict or peace. in chinese the kanji bu also means peace.
so another translation for budo is the way of peace.

and no you wont find this in a dictionary, this took a lot of research, actually the member on here sensei scandal started me off with he when he first mentioned this in another question.

A martial art is basically any system of fighting (this is not limited to Asian martial arts). People may be picky about what qualifies as a “true” martial art, but the fundamental definition of “martial arts” relate primarily to the science of fighting.

I don’t think there is a universal definition.
Virtually all cultures have a fighting system and their own definition of what that is. It goes back to the greek and roman empires and even further than that. Asian martial arts came from southern India from a monk named Bodhidharma or Daruma in Chinese language. Bodhidharma’s royal pedigree implies that he was of the Kshatriya warrior caste.
So how far back do you want to go for the definition? And which culture will have the right one?

To me a martial art is the combination of a combat system and a spiritual doctrine. Personally I don’t consider most “martial arts” as martial arts. I think they’re combat styles and I think that combat styles are better than martial arts. I think in this day and age the spiritual stuff isn’t relevant, but ya know its your choice what you think a martial art is. It’s really to the eye of the beholder.

Martial Arts. Martial are has self – defense. It includes power,speed,agility,endurance or stamina, etc. It includes to discipline people who want taking martial arts. Martial arts is to help people who is someone attacking.

It’s a combat or fighting system.

Way of the open fist

Martial Arts is punching, kicking, wearing t-shirts with skulls and dragons (similar to Dungeons and Dragons), being tough and making sure everyone knows you’re tough. If everyone doesn’t know then it doens’t count.

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