Basically the term martial arts refer to all of the arranged systems of training for combat. All these training systems have been designed for one main purpose – self defense. However, most of martial arts are also used for such reasons as military, competition or simple physical fitness. Beside the fighting techniques, martial arts also are related to mental discipline and philosophy. The word martial itself comes from a name Mars, which is ancient Roman God of war.
Martial arts come from many ancient civilizations, because they all engaged in fighting, hunting and war. The oldest evidences about these kinds of battles come from ancient Egypt. More than 5000 years old artworks show there was some forms of struggle used at this time. Ancient Babylonians wrote poetry about types of struggle and combat. A bit latter also in Vietnam some drawings were made that shows several ways of combat. Also in ancient Greece combat was developed and it was even one of the disciplines in ancient Olympic Games. Although there is some irrefutable evidence that martial arts come from many civilizations, most of the people still associate it with Asia, especially China.
That is because most of the modern martial arts that we know today, really comes from China and India. When the trade between China and India flourished, also the types of martial arts of both civilizations started to blend. Later in China the martial philosophy became very popular and new types of martial arts were created. It became a significant part of Chinese culture, but also other countries still practiced martial arts.
All the types of martial arts are divided into five main categories – stand-up, grappling, low impact, weapons based and mixed martial arts (MMA). The manes of categories speaks for themselves, so there is no need to describe who they differs. The stand up category includes such martial arts as Karate, Boxing, Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Taekwondo etc. Grappling category includes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Russian Sambo, Sumo, Judo etc. Low impact category includes Baguazhang, Tai Chi, Chi Gong etc. Weapons based category includes Iaido, Kali, Kendo etc. MMA is a mix of many well known styles.
But as it was mentioned before, martial arts are not all about fighting. Martial arts also train physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. To train in martial arts, it is not enough to know how to kick, hit or push; it also takes such skills and qualities as self-control, self-esteem, emotional well-being and improvement of these qualities is a part of professional martial art training. In some martial art classes even mental discipline is the most important aspect that is being teached.
So martial arts includes countless combat trainings, so it is hard to definite it very specifically. Each one of these trainings is unique and it has its own philosophy.