Armed and unarmed martial arts are two types of martial arts. Archery, spearmanship, and swordsmanship are examples of the former; the latter, which developed in China, focuses on striking with the feet and hands or grappling. In Japan, a warrior’s traditional training included archery, swordsmanship, unarmed combat, and armoured swimming. Other classes that were interested in combat focused on staff arts, common work instruments (such as thrashing flails, sickles, and knives), and unarmed combat. Ninjutsu, which was designed for military spies in feudal Japan and encompassed training in disguise, escape, concealment, geography, meteorology, medicine, and explosives, was perhaps the most varied technique. Some armed martial arts adaptations, such as kend (fencing) and kyd (archery), are now performed as sports in modern times. Unarmed combat derivatives such as judo, sumo, karate, and tae kwon do, as well as self-defense forms such as aikido, hapkido, and kung fu, are practised. Simplified versions of tai chi chuan (taijiquan), a Chinese style of unarmed combat, are popular as a type of healthy exercise that has nothing to do with martial arts. Many of the armed and unarmed forms have derivatives that are used for spiritual development.
The primary Aspect
The influence of Daoism and Zen Buddhism is the fundamental unifying component of East Asian martial arts, which distinguishes them from other martial arts. This impact has resulted in a heavy emphasis on the practitioner’s mental and spiritual condition, a state in which the mind’s logical and calculating functions are suspended so that the mind and body can react as one unit to the changing situation around the combatant. When this state is achieved, the everyday experience of subject-object duality fades away. Many students of Daoism and Zen practise martial arts as part of their philosophical and spiritual training because this mental and physical state is also essential to Daoism and Zen and must be experienced to be grasped. On the other hand, a large number of martial arts practitioners practise these philosophies.