A Unit of Path Defender Private Limited (XMA Member of Karate India Organisation)



A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques, physical and mental exercises developed as an effective means for self-defense and offense, both unarmed and with the use of weapons. The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. We can see signs of Martial Arts in Greek, Indian, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures. There is a clear trail leading from the Southern China-regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians and Martial Artists.


The martial arts are both art and science. The word "art" is defined as the activity of creating beautiful things and the word "science" is defined as a methodological activity, discipline, or study". While these two definitions are correct, I prefer the contributions of an anonymous poet: "Art is a passion pursued with discipline; science is a discipline pursued with passion". At their most basic level, the martial arts are nothing more than ways to prevent someone from harming or killing you. At their highest aspiration, the martial arts are paths to self-knowledge and the expression of beauty. The martial artist must be both scientist and artist. He must learn the traditions, theories, principles, laws and techniques upon which martial artistry is based. He must then practice them with passion and discipline so as to properly learn and understand what he is doing. Only then can he master himself and the martial arts.


There are many ways in which martial arts can be divided. Here are a few of them that might be useful to use in defining Martial Arts and discussing them. These are not necessarily consensus definitions but they are commonly held. It is also useful to remember that very few of these martial arts are just one way or another...they are all mixtures of these elements in various degrees. When we say a style is "hard" what we mean is that the predominant expression of that style is hard. If we say Shotokan is linear, it does not mean Shotokan has no circular techniques.

Linear and Circular styles

This distinction refers to lines of movement, attack and defense. "Circular" styles use circular movements to block, attack, or move. Around and aside... "Linear" styles use direct, straight-on movements, attacks, or head-on blocks. In and out... Styles can, and sometimes do, mix circular blocks with linear attacks. This is a subtle distinction and not absolute, but it gives some information.

Soft and Hard styles

Soft" styles tend to redirect energy, channeling and diverting momentum to unbalance an opponent, or to move them into striking range. They tend to be lower commitment and use less force. Thus, they are less likely to be unbalanced and can recover from redirection easier. Examples are Tai Chi, Aikido, Ninjutsu, or many Kung Fu styles and sub-styles. "Hard" styles tend to direct energy outward and meet energy with energy. They will tend to strike more, and deliver more force with each strike. Hard stylists will often damage with their blocks, turning them into attacks. They deliver more power, and thus are harder to turn aside, but they are higher commitment, and thus don't recover as well from mistakes. Examples are Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Muay Thai, and some Kung Fu styles and sub-styles.

Internal and External

"Internal" styles are styles that emphasize the more non-tangible elements of the arts. They utilize chi/ki/qi flow, rooting, and those elements which some people consider "mystical". They tend to emphasize meditation, body control, perception, mind control (self, not others!), and pressure points. Typically internal styles are soft. Tai Chi is an internal style. "External" styles tend to emphasize body mechanics, leverage, and applied force. They tend to use weight, strength, positioning, and anatomy to optimal advantage. Typically' external styles are hard. Muay Thai is an external style. MARTIAL ARTS: A WAY OF LIFE Did you eat breakfast today? Probably so. Just as you need to nourish your body everyday, martial arts is also a daily supplement to good health. Neither with food nor martial arts should you feast and/or famine. You can buy anything you want with money; a car, clothes or a house, but even a million dollars cannot buy your good health.