Man has been a part of fighting and battles since his very beginning. His movements are natural- atavistic reactions similar to those of animals with the primal goal to survive and self-preserve. This is why we can conclude with certainty that fighting is as old as the human race. Fighting and battles will follow man later on throughout his life and in all of his stages as well as various areas of expertise. During childhood, fighting begins as a sort of a game and fun, whereas later on, it continues as an existential, cultural, religious or political struggle. Human life itself is a source of his wish and struggle to become affirmed and recognized as well as to gain social prestige and value. Since man’s origin, the fight between two people has been viewed as a sort of a psychosocial phenomenon. No matter which type of physical conflict we are talking about, the man- individual is always in its centre. So, in the earliest periods, the first battles for hunting grounds, power or group domination begin. This was also true in cases where two tribes would differ and share the wish to dominate over one another as well as because of the difference in cultural- religious- philosophical characteristics of their environment.
The struggle to survive has forced man to develop his physical features since the very beginnings. This crude and merciless fight made our ancestors defend themselves and attack. This is why people trained various martial arts and strived to show their skills and capacity in competitions, gatherings and ceremonies. It was almost always the case where different city or rural middles wanted to resolve rivalries by challenging each other in some kind of a sports match or game. Sports, sports trainings and game have evolved in this way.
According to their origin, all sports and sports games have actually developed on the basis of martial or war- like games whose goal was to compare and judgement physical attributes, defense skills, but also to assert personal bravery. In addition, the invention of various tools and weapons has forced people to practice systematically in order to use them purposefully when collecting food, as well as in need of personal protection or an enemy attack. Since the advantage of a person with knowledge of martial arts is obvious, practicing has become a part of a preparation for a life- long struggle and military training where these skills are being gained or maintained.
Martial arts were once called – athletics. For example, in Ancient Greece, the term gymnastics covered physical exercizes which, primarily, had a military character and, later on, a scientific one. The Old Greek called their martial (militaristic) disciplines athletics (in Greek athlos– fight). In 1880 the term has changed so, besides javelin throw, other non- martial disciplines are included. Martial sports have gradually been classified according to different martial techniques and styles of fighting that they include. We are witnesses to a huge number of various martial sports that are being practiced around the world.
It is certain that martial sports owe their roots in the most elementary styles of fighting. It is obvious that the game meets certain primal desires and needs to fight. The question is whether the inherited tendency to play is simply a way of adapting to a certain life- long fight to survive. The meaning of a sports fight or conflict is the desire to feel the primordial joy of victory over one’s opponent. Once these games were extremely crude and implied many injuries. Thanks to the evolution and development of civilizations, games become much more humane and the protection equipment was of a better quality. The rules changed often, but have become better, while the medical supervision came to a higher level.
First contemporary features were visible in an English sport. Certain types of physical exercise were mixed with favourite games of the English court. A greater notice and recognition was started to be given to sport and sportsmen. They gradually started to stick to a certain regime because, in order to show high- quality performance, one needs to submit oneself to a systematic training pattern. Whether one will achieve a desired goal and achieve excellent sports results partially depends on the his physical condition and the level of his talent and, on the other hand, his social millieu and sports status, the training style and system he is undergoing, the sports regime as well as the type of competition.
Today, martial arts represent a legal and humane style of martial competition which, with certain boundaries, replaced physical destruction with points, i.e. scoring. By using points, human aggression is being controlled and switched to a sports match with rules which is, again, filled with emotion and suspense. The rules and the judges ostensibly reduce the fear of death which appears in conflicts between men and replaces it with a so- called fear from injury.This is why it can be concluded that martial sports are the most suitable way of preserving and improving the human experience when it comes to martial arts.
The expansion of the popularity of various martial sports across the world is a phenomenon which is difficult to explain even for psychologists and sociologists. It is certain that film, TV series and other competitions helped expanding this popularity. They are the reason why thousands of young people of different character features submit themselves to long- lasting and exhausting trainings which carry a potential danger of injury.
Not even the basic motives which attract an individual to a sports activity, and which could be explained as a need to fight, move, gain personal satisfaction or the company of other people, are not the crucial factor that guide young people to a marital sport. Other sports are able to satisfy those needs as well. The real reason why people take up martial sports is to fulfill the strong desire to satisfy one’s aggressive impulses (which are strongly controlled by society) and to release anxiety.
Sportsmen who practice in the domain of martial sports must not be anxious or uncontrollably aggressive and should be able to control their emotions. Since aggression and anxiousness are reasons why certain people take up these kinds of sports, as well as the main factors on which antisocial behaviour depends, it is possible to guide an individual’s aggression and reduce his anxiety with organized and professional help. Many martial skills have, therefore, a positive socializing and therapeutic function.
Unfortunately, because of his primordial need to fight, man use martial skills in warrior- militaristic purposes although their real and original purpose was bot to attack, but to defend. All martial skills were, at some point, used in these negative purposes and used on the battlefield. Later on, because of the desire to preserve a fighting condition, these skills were turned into so- called military sports as well as various martial sports. One of the most famous is surely the modern military pentathlon which exists since 1948. It was later abolished by sportsmen who were involved in existing sports. Various martial skills are a main part of today’s trainings for soldiers. Among them, skills such as shooting, fighting with weapons or weapon throwing skills etc. are useful in close combat.
The military, i.e. fighting have a connection to modern sports because the majority of today’s sports games uses certain military terminology. Examples of this include names of roles and positions of certain players in a gaming system- attacker, defender, offense, counter- offense, defense, player blockade,body–check,goalkeeper, offensive defense, zone defense, man on man strategies and so on. Because of its positive influence on the growth and development of youth as well as its tremendous importance for general national defense, martial arts and martial sports take on an important role in society and in today’s progress of Physical Education.
Various persons are starting to take part in the development of different martial arts clubs. They feel the need for sport, sports recreation, the need for self- defense and self- protection; they want to gain new knowledge and skills and protect themselves from the attacker or any kind of unfavourable situations. They also wish to protect themselves from injuries. This is why such a variety of martial arts makes possible for an individual to find a sport or a skill which will satisfy his wishes and needs.
In the past, martial arts have accentuated the development of a complete personality which required the athlete to know the martial arts techniques and to be acquainted with practial philosophy, alchemy, fighting with weapons and traditional medicine. Many customs and rules of behaviour have been retained until today. Some martial arts schools, as well as some sports, require of their athletes to respect them.
By analyzing the development of certain martial arts styles and sports, it is clear that today’s styles strive to use techniques that allow more physical contact. Of course, that style of fighting often leads to more serious injuries which includes a humane as well as a sports aspect. This is why, in order to keep the fighters from harm, the use of protective equipment should be tolerated. It sometimes even fails to protect the fighter if a trained fighter gives it a forceful blow.
The popularity of martial arts is rapidly expanding today. Sports such as boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, kung- fu, kick boxing, savate, tae kwon do, and many other martial sports such as MMA fighting are becoming more and more popular among young people. Saying that a certain martial sport is better than the other because of its popularity is incorrect and unfair. Every martial style, i.e. martial sport has its strengths and weaknesses. Every martial art or sport makes a great training ground is it is professionally taught and led. Such a sports activity leads to a massive scale of physical activity among youth which is, of course, good for one’s health. Training martial arts and self- defense also fits in the concept of general national defense which is not to be neglected in today’s terms.
The success in mastering a self- defense technique as well as succeeding in a martial sport lies entirely in day- to- day painstaking practice. Training on a daily basis is the only way that leads to the perfection of a technique, it affects one’s psychosomatic abilities and health, it has an effect on the mind and personality traits and it develops a consistent and socially- adaptable character. A lot of practice is needed in order to become a skillful fighter. Training martial arts certainly gives knowledge to a man who wants to gain power and skills. Defensive skills will develop only as a result of long- lasting, hard training and gained knowledge. Training martial skills or sports will help us use the grip that we have already acquired and we will be able to use it if we will find ourselves in a situation that requires it to be used.
The knowledge of different punching techniques with the hand or foot, different throws, grips, locks and choking, various grips and take downs, using different tools and weapons which are taught at martial arts clubs will help an individual to defend himself from an attacker. The knowledge in martial arts and its practice can have a crucial role in the concept of general national defense and social self- defense as well as a special style of guerilla warfare or close combat. Nevertheless, always keeping its defensive character.
Martial arts have always been of a great importance for a versatile development for the members of the military and the police force. Thanks to the regular and systematic practice of various martial sports, soldiers and policemen are physically and psychologically speaking more prepared for carrying out their tiresome and demanding duties. Many soldiers and policemen are involved in different sports competitions of certain martial sports and are also active participants in the, for example, World Police and Fire Games and Military World Games.
The whole defensive- security system of every country lies on the extraordinary capabilities and immaculate physical abilities of the members of the military and the police as well as their professional training and fitness, the amount of their versatile knowledge and skills as well as their knowledge in martial arts.
The knowledge in martial arts belongs to a fundamental and mandatory training of all members of the police and military, no matter their role or instantaneous position in which they belong in a given moment. The tasks they are given are also of a crucial importance and are given with confidence and trust.
David “Sensei“ Stainko – Prof. of kinesiology
Master 7th Dan – mixed martial scientist