The history of the martial arts is complex and not well documented however, some evidence of early martial arts is known. There are many different forms of martial arts and each has its own unique beginnings but from a global perspective, certain cultures had a tremendous impact on the evolution of martial arts. Contemporary martial arts' history is often attributed to the Asian cultures but in fact there were forms of martial arts in practice on nearly every continent of the globe for thousands of years. martial arts

The early Greek culture practiced a martial art known as Pankration, the art of complete strength. The art itself is comprised of a mix of combative styles including wrestling, grappling, and throws as well as boxing techniques. The earliest records of Pankration being practiced is around 700 BC but all indications are that this fighting style had most likely been in use for a long time before that and it is still practiced to this day.

Sambo was officially recognized as a sport by the National Committee of Physical Culture of the USSR in 1938 but its origins go back to ancient times. The combat style incorporates many diverse and ancient forms of wrestling and is now taught to the Russian military for hand to hand combat training. Russian Sambo is now recognized as one of the three international wrestling styles by the International Amateur Wrestling Federation and it continues to grow in popularity.

The ancient Romans also practiced martial arts but with a different approach. Roman martial arts training incorporated various weapons and shields in the style for good reasons. Tournaments of combative skill were usually to the death and not always against another human. Early Romans enjoyed the contests between man and beast in a fight to the death. These matches made the use of weapons a necessity and in turn, produced some very effective fighting techniques that have stood the test of time.

Though most cultures practiced some type of martial art, the majority of the contemporary fighting systems owes their roots to the Asian cultures. With records of martial arts being practiced in China as early as 5000B.C, the Chinese influence on modern hand to hand combat is unmistakable. Though historians attribute many of the techniques of Chinese martial arts to the Indian monk Bodhidharma, the early Chinese were practicing some form of fighting styles long before his arrival. However, Bodhidharma is responsible in large part for developing and recording early Chinese martial arts techniques. martial arts

Japan's influence on the martial arts world is also substantial. Karate, originally developed in Okinawa, made its way to mainland Japan very early on but was only officially accepted in 1921. Kyudo, the way of the bow, is one of Japan's earliest known martial art. Kyudo is an archery form developed well over 2000 years ago and still very much alive today. martial arts

Influences from Korea include Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. Tae Kwon Do originated around 1300 years ago and is Korea's oldest surviving martial art. Utilizing many of the same principles and philosophies as some Chinese martial arts, this combat form can be traced back to Buddhist monks who studied first in China and then brought their teachings to Korea.

The history of the martial arts is as diverse as the styles that were practiced. One commonality among all of the worlds fighting arts is that they arose out of a need for self-defense. Some are more practical than others but it can be said that each martial art offers the practitioner a unique and effective approach toward defending oneself. With this in mind, exploring various styles of martial arts will provide the most comprehensive understanding of hand to hand combat and will infer upon the student the flexibility that comes with multiple styles.

Traditional martial arts styles can be categorized into either soft, or hard styles. Although each individual martial art has some elements of both hard and soft techniques, the central principle of each martial art defines whether it is labeled hard or soft.

Tae Kwon Do, with its rigid stances and powerful strikes is considered a hard approach or style. It meets hostility with speed and power and a proactive approach. Tai Chi Chuan is best known for its soft, evasive techniques that meet aggression not with force, but with subtle redirection. The terms hard and soft do not indicate the effectiveness of each style but rather what principles each martial art adheres to. Most practical styles incorporate both hard and soft elements making them very well rounded and very effective.

Modern fighting systems, as opposed to traditional martial arts styles, tend to combine elements from a variety of different arts into a practical self-defense form. Jeet Kune Do incorporates this philosophy in its defense techniques. The understanding that adhering to strict ritualistic elements of only one martial art is contrary to practical self-defense is very important in modern fighting systems. Taking the practical elements of each fighting style and incorporating them into your own style is largely what Jeet Kune Do teaches.

The ability to remain fluid in combat, not rigid or predefined in your movements, allows for the great flexibility and spontaneous actions. Understanding both soft and hard elements allows the ability to be creative in a combat situation. Drawing from various martial arts to create a personalized approach to self-defense is the most practical approach.

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TAIMAK - The official website of Martial Arts Master and Action Movie Star Master Taimak Guarriello.

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World Tang Soo Do Association
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Master Kim's Karate Tang Soo Do Academy - Tampa Karate
Karate for the whole family from the masters that instructed Chuck Norris in traditional Tang Soo Do Karate. Special women's self-defense classes, karate for kids, and all ages adults class available now in Tampa Bay Florida.
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Online self defense publication. Listing every style and tradition of martial arts from Aikido to Thai Boxing
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Progressive Tactical Systems
Offering a variety of programs in Jeet Kune Do. Instructor biographies, courses, self defense and illustrations. [Milford, CT]
Academy of Jeet Kune Do, Dallas, TX
The Academy of Jeet Kune Do in Dallas, TX teaches the authentic teachings of Bruce Lee to Ted Wong to Marco Hernandez
United Kingdom Tang Soo Do - Moo Duk Kwan Federation
United Kingdom organization affiliated with the International Tang Soo Federation. Site offers news, TSD history, information on classes in the UK, and grading information
Australian Tang Soo Tao Federations
Tang Soo Tao is the scientific use of the body, mind and spirit in self-defense. Locations in Melbourne, Geelong, Darwin, Maroochydore, Canberra.
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Chinese Iron Palm Method
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Details about the Huc Chung style of Iron Palm, including hand position, training and exercise. Written by Guy Savelli.
Techniques for the butterfly knife for the beginner, intermediate and advanced practitioner. Includes tips and tricks, message board, video clips and links.
World Eskrima-Kali-Arnis Federation (WEKAF) USA
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Filipino Martial Arts Magazine
Online resource containing school directories, who's who, techniques, gallery and general information.
Taekwon-Do Times Magazine
Tae Kwon Do, fitness and health publication, includes contents of current issue, list of back issues, calendar of events and subscription information.
Dojang International
Huge Dojang Directory for Korean martial arts only including taekwondo, hapkido, tangsoodo, kumdo, and hwarangdo.
Taekwondo Bibles
Articles on the philosophy behind this sport.
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