A scholastic definition of martial arts considers them as systems that blend fighting techniques, strategy, philosophy, and tradition. That is why contemporary scholars include other martial traditions—such as Western medieval swordfight—under the umbrella of martial arts. Nonetheless, a layperson’s understanding of martial art is still attached to Asian bare-handed fighting techniques involving some degree of spiritual development. This entry discusses the development of martial arts based on Asian traditions, research on the effects of martial arts on participants, theories on how involvement in martial arts leads to change, and the characteristics of successful educative programs and interventions based on martial arts.

Martial art was originally a Western term applied to Asian martial traditions. The term is foreign to those Asian traditions that use myriad cognate terms ...

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