Definition of Martial Arts

Martial Art : any of several arts of combat and self defense (as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport. This is the Merriam-Webster definition of Martial Art. So my question is, do people consider wrestling and boxing to be Martial Arts? I guess we would have to explore the history of these sports and see if they fall into the technical description of a Martial Art.

Wrestling is rich and well documented in its history. Wrestling is a sport but was also used in combat, in fact it represents one of the oldest forms of combat. The origins of wrestling go back 15,000 years through cave drawings in France. Interestingly Babylonian and Egyptian reliefs show wrestlers using most of the holds known in the present-day sport. So even though the dynamics of changed, the techniques haven’t. It is also well known that the Greek history of the sport and the Olympics played a big part in its popularity. In ancient Greece, wrestling occupied an dominant and important place in legend and literature; wrestling competitions served as the focal sport of the ancient Olympic Games. So since the definition of Martial Art primarily states that any of several arts of combat (and self defense) that are widely practiced as a sport, I would certainly consider wrestling to be a martial arts.

Boxing may be more rich in modern history than wrestling, but the roots of boxing also run deep. Boxing is bluntly defined by Wikipedia as: a martial art and combat sport in which two people wearing protective gloves throw punches at each other for a predetermined set of time in a boxing ring. The earliest known depiction of boxing comes from a Sumerian relief in Iraq between 2000 and 1000 B.C. Making it an ancient art as well. Many forms of boxing have come to light over thousands of years, the most notorious in history being the fights in ancient Rome. Boxing was a popular spectator sport in Ancient Rome. In order for the fighters to protect themselves against their opponents they wrapped leather thongs around their fists. Eventually harder leather was used and the thong soon became a weapon. The Romans even introduced metal studs to the thongs eventually. Fighting events were held at Roman Amphitheaters. The Roman form of boxing was often a fight until death to please the spectators who spectated. I guess without going into more history, the point has been made that boxing is definitely a Martial Art.

I guess I wanted to take the time out to make sure that people know that Martial Arts takes dedication, determination, tons of practice, and relevant competition to become an expert. These criteria are certainly met by boxing and wrestling. More traditional Martial Arts like Karate, Kung-Fu, Jiujitsu, Judo, etc… and even more modern martial arts like Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiujitsu, and Tae Kwon Do have deep histories and fall among the more commonly thought definition of Martial Art. The history and discipline involved in boxing and wrestling certainly wouldn’t be an issue of argument for those who practice traditional martial arts. Even Bruce Lee embraced the grace of western boxing and the skill of wrestling as relevant to fighting. And we all know he was an expert in Martial Arts.

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