A Brief History of Martial Arts
Students learning Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Provo are taught
the strength, willpower, fortitude, and technique to
master this powerful form of martial art. Jiu-jitsu is
just one of the many forms of self-defense training
recognized in the world today. While these martial arts
nowadays are diverse and widespread in their
distribution, technique, and style, most people would
be surprised to learn that almost every form of self-
defense can be traced back to the same point in history.
The innovators of the earliest form of martial art were Mongolian tribesmen in 770 B.C. Instead of
the controlled grace and strength that self-defense masters demonstrate today, this primitive
fighting style was a crude combination of wrestling and blows to the head. Once the Chinese had
been introduced to this spectacle, they named it shang pu, and the Koreans christened it tae sang
bak. Interestingly enough, tae sang bak is a synonym for a type of Korean wrestling called ssireum,
pronounced “sumo” in Japanese.
Japan changed the course of martial arts history when unfortunate wrestler Tomakesu-Hayato was
commanded to face Nomi-no-Sukene. Nomi-no-Sukene redefined the power of martial arts by using
a combination of violent wrestling and a new fighting style called chikara kurabe to kick his
opponent to death during the fight. This deadly mixture of various martial arts resulted in the birth
of jujutsu; a form of self-defense in which Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Provo finds its roots.
The Chinese also made their mark on the martial arts legacy by
inventing chaun fa (or kempo) and introducing it to Japan in 607 A.D.
This collaboration showed the influence of different countries’
cultures on the direction of martial arts, leading to later developments
on the martial arts scene over a thousand years later. When Japanese
man named Jigoro Kano learned a form of jujutsu mixed with kempo
around the turn of the 20th century, he removed the kicks and punches
to create judo. Similarly, another karate master named Morihei
Uyeshiba created the martial art of aikido in 1943.
Aikido, while still a potentially deadly style, differs from other forms of
martial arts due to it being developed to simply subdue an attacker,
rather than to maim or kill. Every movement is defensive and those
learning the art are never taught any offensive moves. Furthermore, a
complete mastery and control over one’s body is just as important as the techniques used to
intercept and deflect attacks. Courtesy and respect are also essential components of the discipline.
While pure aikido is still taught, Uyeshiba’s death in 1969 eventually resulted in hundreds of
different permutations of the style.
Other effects of the interaction between China, Japan, and Korea are evident in martial arts such as
kendo. Additionally, the widely recognized fighting style of karate has actually been directly
affected by the influence of other countries. The Okinawan martial artist Sakugawa who invented it
in 1722, originally decided to name the form karate-no-sakugawa, with the character “kara”
referring to China. However, when karate was introduced into Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in 1921,
the meaning of “kara” changed from “China” to “empty”.
While it may be impossible to credit the responsible countries with every change to martial arts
throughout history, it is enough to say that without their combined collaboration, the disciplines of
self-defense would not be anywhere near as diverse as we know today.
Photo Credit: http://karate-basics.wikispaces.com/, http://bestofmis.wikispaces.com/