When most people hear the term Martial Arts, they automatically think of Tae Kwon Do or Kung Fu, as these have been most popularized by television and movies. Many are surprised to hear just how many sports and self defense systems are actually considered martial arts. The term martial arts gets it basis from Mars the Roman god of war. Therefore, martial arts means simply the art of war. It is often misunderstood as being entirely from Asia, however as martial arts encompasses numerous fighting styles, it has come from all over the world. While most self defense is merely a way of protecting your self from bodily harm, some systems are based in religious and ethical codes. For example, Judo and Aikido are considered a spiritual or religious philosophy. Fencing however, has a strong moral code behind it.

There are several other styles of martial art that you may not be aware of, or have not considered to be a martial art. One of these styles is Capoeira. This system came out of Brazil in the 16th century and was actually started by slaves. It is a blend of dance, game and of course martial art. The basic movement in Capoeira is is called the ginga where they swing and rock back and forth. The players form a circle of Roda and take turns playing inside of it. They will use cartwheels, handstands, kicks, sweeps and head strikes as a form of attack, rolls are ducks are used as defense. Capoeira is set to music and the players move with the beat.

Boxing is another martial art that is often forgotten. It began in ancient Greece and was introduced as a sport. It is a contact sport, so precautions are taken for the players safety. Combatants are generally paired up with others in a similar weight class or bracket. They wear hand and wrist wraps and boxing gloves to protect themselves from injury. During practice, headgear is also worn to protect the head and face. A mouthpiece protects the inside of the mouth and cheeks from injury when they are hit in the face. Boxers generally practice on a speed bag or punching bag to improve their speed, agility and strength.

The last martial art that we will discuss is fencing. This began in Europe and involves the use of swords, knives, bayonets, etc. used in armed combat. Three of these such weapons are the foil, the epee and the sabre. Dueling was quite popular from the 17th to the 19th century and involved defending ones honor. Sharp blades were not generally used unless a formal insult was made.

Hopefully this has given you a good overview of the many types of martial arts. When you think about martial arts, remember, it is not just the karate type systems that you are used to, but rather a world of self defense systems.

Sydney Garrison is an avid cyclist and sports enthusiast. She is also a partner in an online bike rack store.