How self-defence differs from combat sports and martial arts

In the vast and intricate world of martial arts, where practices range from ancient traditions to modern competitive sports, understanding the subtle nuances that differentiate combat sports, traditional martial arts, self-defence, and street fighting can be an enlightening journey.

A common misconception is that practising combat sports and martial arts equates to comprehensive self-defence training. While these disciplines undeniably impart valuable physical techniques and skills relevant to self-defence, they often neglect several other crucial aspects of personal protection.

Understanding the differences and subtleties among these practices requires first identifying the defining characteristics of each discipline.

Our journey will start with the question “What is a martial art?” (section 1), exploring the roots, purpose or orientation of martial arts and the idea of martial arts as self-defence.

In section 2, we will explore how traditional martial arts promote holistic development by incorporating physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. They emphasise discipline, respect, and adherence to cultural practices, to achieve personal growth and self-discovery.

In section 3, we will consider the competitive nature of Combat sports, the importance of specific rules, the drive for athletic achievement and sportsmanship within a regulated framework.

In section 4, we will explore the meaning of Self-defence. Based on the anticipation of unregulated violence, self-defence is distinct from the controlled physicality of combat sports. The emphasis is on practical techniques, quick responses, and skills for real-world scenarios, including awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation strategies.

In section 5, a Comparative table will outline the distinctive features of traditional martial arts, combat sports, and self-defence.

In the final section, "Navigating the Martial Landscape with Iain Abernethy’s Martial Map," we will delve into Abernethy’s conceptual framework that categorises martial arts into fighting, martial art, and self-protection.

By examining these distinctions, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how self-defence stands apart from combat sports, martial arts and street fighting, empowering individuals with a holistic approach to personal safety.

A list of Sources & References is presented at the end of this article.

1. What is a martial art?

In general, “martial arts are considered to be systems that blend the physical components of combat with strategy, philosophy, tradition, or other features[1].

In ancient Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war. He was a fatherly figure representing military power as a way to secure peace. By extension, the adjective “martial” refers to war, soldiers, or fighting, and the term “martial arts” (meaning the “Arts of Mars”) refers to combat practice.

While it seems to have been used in Europe to refer to combat systems as early as the 16th century[2], the term “martial art” as we know it today comes from the translation of East-Asian terms:

  • Bugei (Japanese): bu, “war”, “martial”, and gei, “craft”, “art”
  • Wushu (Mandarin): wu, “combat”, “martial”, and shu, “art”

It was popularised in the West with the influence of East-Asian culture in the 20th century, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s and movie star Bruce Lee[3].

Technical Focus

From a technical point of view, martial arts fall broadly into four categories:

  • Weapon-based: refers to systems that incorporate the use of various weapons.
    Some examples of weapon-based martial arts include Arnis/Kali/Eskrima (Philippines), Kendo and Kenjutsu (Japan), and Fencing.
  • Striking: refers to the techniques and methods used to deliver blows or strikes to an opponent.
    Striking involves using various parts of the body, such as hands, feet, elbows, and knees, to hit specific target areas on an opponent's body.
    Striking techniques include punches, kicks, knee strikes, and elbow strikes.
    Some examples of striking styles are Muay Thai (Thailand), Karate (Japan) or Taekwondo (Korea).
  • Grappling: refers to the techniques and methods used to control, manipulate, or submit an opponent through close-contact holds and techniques.
    Grappling is a combat sport that typically includes a range of techniques such as clinching, throws, joint locks, and ground fighting. Unlike striking, which focuses on delivering blows to the opponent, grappling is centred around controlling the opponent's body and positioning to gain an advantage.
    Some examples of grappling styles are Judo (Japan), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brazil), Wrestling, and Sambo (Russia).
  • Throws/Locks: refers to styles whose primary focus is on throwing techniques (throws) to off-balance opponents and bring them to the ground, and joint manipulation techniques (locks) to control or submit them through joint manipulation.
    Aikido is an example of a style based primarily on throws and locks.

Regardless of the technical focus of individual martial arts, they all come down to these four basic forms. It is worth noting that some martial arts are hybrids, incorporating two or three aspects, such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) which is becoming a system in itself, largely thanks to MMA Unified Rules[4].

Purpose or Orientation

A martial art is a system of combat techniques practised for various purposes such as self-defence, physical fitness, mental development, sport, or spiritual growth.

According to this definition, any activity loosely based on a fighting system could be a martial art. That label covers a wide-range of practices, indeed.

Martial arts vary in nature and intent with significant overlaps. Some martial arts are geared towards sport (i.e. Combat Sports, such as Mixed Martial Arts, Judo, Boxing, Taekwondo), other more specifically towards self-defence (e.g. Krav Maga, Combato) or well-being and spirituality (e.g. Tai Chi), while some martial arts are performative (e.g. Capoeira) or more akin to a cultural practice (e.g. Aikido).

“Traditional martial arts and combat sports comprise a rich variety of styles, each distinguished by its unique techniques, training methodologies, and philosophies, which mesh into one large discipline” (Liu et al. 2023)[5]

This state of affairs has created lots of confusion and has led to the multiplication of terms such as “traditional martial arts”, “combat sports”, “martial sports”, “sports fighting”, “fighting system”, “street fighting”, “self-defence”, “self-protection”, etc.

Overall, though, the term “martial art” is used indiscriminately in three ways:

  • broad, meaning any “activity based on a fighting system”
  • narrow, meaning “traditional martial arts” and “combat sports”
  • restrictive, meaning “traditional martial arts”

Here emerges the first distinction of interest for us: “traditional martial arts” vs “combat sports”.

Where does the “self-defence” aspect fit in this opposition ?

That’s where things get tricky.

Martial arts as self-defence

Fundamentally, self-defence is a legal concept. In the dictionary of legal terms, it is defined as “the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor”.

A significant implication of that legal background is that any martial art technique used in a real-life situation is subject to the same legal principles as any other means of self-defence. This applies regardless of the initial intent behind learning that technique or the nature of the martial art itself.

The practical application of techniques for self-defence in real-world situations was often the original intent behind the development of many martial arts like judo.

Since the concept of self-defence is often reduced to fighting, the common but erroneous view is that “fighting equals self-protection equals martial arts[6].

Consequently, there is a never-ending debate about which martial art is the best for self-protection.

While most resources on that topic are mediocre, martial artist Rokas Leonavicius has a series of very insightful and well-informed discussions on his YouTube channel, Martial Arts Journey:

From these discussions, it appears that self-defence involves more than just physical fighting as we will see in the next section. As a result, most martial art styles have serious limitations when it comes to self-protection.

"Martial arts have restrictions and rules that make them often unrealistic and without application" (Thompson 1992:251)[7]

Even though people have long tried to categorise martial arts according to various attributes, the reality is that martial arts and the way they are practised exist on a tridimensional spectrum.

Each dimension of that spectrum (i.e. tradition, sport, self-protection) has its own set of specificities as we are going to see.

But first, let’s see what characterise each aspect.

2. Traditional Martial Arts: A Path of Mastery Beyond Physical Prowess

The wide range of meanings encapsulated by the term “martial art” is effectively illustrated by the Japanese words that refer to the concept of martial arts:

  • Budo: “the martial way” encompassing physical, spiritual and moral dimensions with a focus on self-improvement, fulfilment or personal growth[8]
  • Bujutsu: “martial art”, “martial technique”, specifically the practical application of martial tactics and techniques in actual combat[9]
  • Bugei: “martial art”, i.e. the adaptation or refinement of those tactics and techniques to facilitate systematic instruction and dissemination within a formal learning environment[9]

A traditional martial art is a Martial Art that extends beyond mere combat skills and emphasizes elements of history, culture, intellect, spirituality, self-development and well-being.

The students of traditional martial arts are taught values such as honour and respect, they are taught rituals pertaining to their discipline, and also how to conduct themselves.

Judo serves as a notable example of this principle, with key aspects including[10]:

  • Mutual Respect (Rei): Judo emphasizes a deep respect for others, including opponents and instructors. This is expressed through bowing, a common ritual in Japanese culture.
  • Politeness and Courtesy: Practitioners are encouraged to display politeness and courtesy on and off the mat. This extends to interactions with training partners, instructors, and opponents.
  • Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort (Seiryoku Zenyo): Judo teaches the principle of achieving the best possible results with the least amount of effort. This concept is fundamental to judo techniques and is applicable to various aspects of life.
  • Reciprocity (Jita Kyoei): The principle of mutual welfare and benefit is central in Judo. Practitioners are encouraged to consider the well-being of others and to seek mutual benefit in their interactions.
  • Discipline and Self-Control: Judo teaches self-discipline and restraint, both physically and mentally, through composure in challenging situations.
  • Persistence and Perseverance: Judo training often requires perseverance. Practitioners learn to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and persist in their efforts to improve.

Traditional martial arts are holistic disciplines that contribute to the enhancement of the mind, body, and spirit:

  1. Mind:
    • Mental Discipline: Traditional martial arts cultivate mental discipline through rigorous training routines and focused concentration.
    • Focus and Concentration: Techniques and forms in these arts require precise focus, enhancing cognitive abilities and sharpening mental acuity.
    • Stress Management: Training promotes stress resilience, helping individuals develop a calm and composed mind even in challenging situations.
  2. Body:
    • Physical Fitness: Regular practice improves overall physical fitness, enhancing strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
    • Coordination and Balance: Martial arts emphasize precise movements, contributing to enhanced coordination, balance, and body awareness.
    • Health Benefits: Engaging in martial arts can lead to weight management, increased energy levels, and improved overall health.
  3. Spirit:
    • Character Development: Traditional martial arts instil values such as respect, humility, and perseverance, fostering positive character traits.
    • Self-Discovery: Practitioners often embark on a journey of self-discovery, understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and personal values.
    • Connection to a Greater Purpose: Many traditional martial arts emphasize a connection to a greater purpose, whether it be personal growth, community, or a spiritual dimension.

Practitioners are encouraged to view martial arts as a lifelong journey, fostering continual improvement in all aspects of life.

In essence, traditional martial arts serve as a comprehensive platform for personal development, offering practitioners a pathway to achieve balance, well-being, and a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.

3. Combat Sports: The Arena of Competition

There is often some level of confusion between traditional martial arts and combat sports. Primarily because many martial arts, such as Karate or Taekwondo, have both traditional and sports versions. Judo is a good example of a highly competitive discipline with deep roots in tradition.

The main differentiating element is the competitive nature of combat sports. In other words, combat sports are types of sports that involve the use combative skills for competition. In simpler terms, athletes utilise their fighting abilities to compete against each other. Examples of combat sports include MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, Wrestling, TKD, and Karate.

In combat sports, two contenders engage in a competitive match and follow a predetermined set of regulations to guarantee safety and impartiality. The result of the contest is determined by these specific regulations. For instance, in many combat sports, victory is achieved by outscoring the opponent or by or rendering them unable to continue the fight.

The main elements of combat sports include:

  1. Rules and Regulations:
    • Structured Format: Combat sports typically follow specific rules and regulations that define the permissible techniques, attire, duration of rounds, and scoring criteria.
    • Referees and Judges: Officials are present to enforce the rules and ensure fair play. Judges score the performance of competitors in cases where a decision is needed.
  2. Training and Technique:
    • Skill Development: Competitors undergo intensive training to develop the skills and techniques relevant to their specific combat sport.
    • Striking and Grappling: Combat sports usually involve a distinct technical focus. Some specialise in striking (punching and/or kicking), others in grappling (holds, throws, submissions). But some, like MMA, use a combination of striking and grappling.
  3. Weight Classes:
    • Categorisation: Competitors are typically grouped into weight classes to ensure fair competition. This helps reduce the significant impact that differences in size and strength can have.
  4. Protective Gear:
    • Safety Measures: Competitors use protective gear such as gloves, mouthguards, and sometimes headgear to reduce the risk of injury during competition.
  5. Scoring System:
    • Point System: Combat sports use a scoring system to determine the winner in cases where the match doesn't end with a knockout or submission.
    • Criteria: Scoring criteria vary between sports but often include effective striking, grappling, control, and overall dominance.
  6. Refereeing and Officiating:
    • Authority: Referees play a crucial role in enforcing rules during the match, ensuring the safety of competitors, and making decisions when necessary.
  7. Fair Play and Sportsmanship:
    • Respect: Combat sports emphasise respect between competitors. Displays of unsportsmanlike conduct, such as intentional fouls, are typically penalised.
    • Handshake/Gesture: Competitors often start and end the match with a handshake or a similar gesture as a sign of mutual respect.
  8. Training Camps and Coaching:
    • Preparation: Competitors often undergo rigorous training in specialised camps, receiving guidance from coaches to refine their techniques and strategies.
  9. Competition Formats:
    • Single or Tournament: Matches can be one-on-one or part of a tournament format, where competitors advance through rounds to determine an ultimate winner.
  10. Promotion and Championships:
    • Organised Events: Combat sports are often organised into events and championships where athletes can showcase their skills and compete for titles and recognition.

These elements collectively contribute to the structured and competitive nature of combat sports, providing a platform for athletes to showcase their physical abilities, strategic thinking, and sportsmanship.

It's important to bear in mind that rules and context have a significant impact on people's approach and strategy[6][7][11]:

  • Techniques are adjusted to a strict set of rules. For instance, most boxing styles do not allow grappling, while most grappling styles do not allow striking.
  • Movements, focus and strategy are adjusted to 1-on-1 combat situations. Multiple opponents are never a concern in combat sports.
  • Due to safety concerns, some techniques, such as eye-gouging, may be banned from the sport.

4. Self-Defence: The Essence of Self-Preservation

At its core, self-defence is the art of safeguarding oneself from potential harm.

“Self-defence is about doing the minimum a situation will allow to ensure your own survival. It’s not about defending a corpulent ego or misguided honour” – Geoff Thompson

As a result of its legal roots, self-defence has come to refer to any activity geared towards preparing for the use of force to prevent or stop an act of violence. More precisely, an act of unregulated violence, as opposed to the regulated physical violence found in combat sports (i.e. bound by rules, regulations, safety protocols, and values).

The understanding of what unregulated violence is and how martial arts techniques need to be adapted to respond to the reality of interpersonal violence, is the hallmark of the Reality-based Self-Defence (RBSD) movement, led by Geoff Thompson starting in the late 1980s.

Doorman, martial artist, turned BAFTA-winning writer, Geoff Thompson has had a major impact on the self-defence industry [12][13], particularly with his work on defensive stance (The Fence, 1998)[14] and pressure testing (Animal Day, 2000)[15]. He is known for his account of his experience as a bouncer in Coventry [7].

Similarly, the cold assessment of what unregulated violence meant is the hallmark of the development of self-defence systems such as Krav Maga (Krav Maga did not invent much in terms of physical techniques as most -if not all the techniques- are borrowed and adapted from other martial arts).

Krav Maga principles are famously based on the assumption that:

  1. There are no rules in a street fight, i.e. aggressors do not follow any sportsman’s code of chivalry; they're trying to hurt, maim, or possibly kill you,
  2. No one is coming to save you. You can only rely on yourself,
  3. There will be multiple aggressors,
  4. They will be bigger and stronger than you,
  5. They will ambush you,
  6. They will have weapons.

These premises, very different from those of traditional martial arts and combat sports, directly influence the way you train because you need to cover scenarios that are unusual in combat sports and traditional martial arts[7], for example:

  • Full range, from striking to grappling (few martial arts cover the full range). “In a real situation, you need all the ranges” (Thompson 1992)[7]
  • Multiple aggressors (as opposed to the typical 1-to-1 situation)
  • A concealed weapon deployed during the altercation

The complexity of these scenarios highlighted the importance of knowledge and skills that extend well beyond physical combat. It also includes the ability to evade or avoid dangerous situations (i.e. Avoidance), to read the cues indicating potentially violent behaviour (i.e. Awareness), or to defuse confrontations (i.e. De-escalation) [6][7][11][16][17][18].

The notion of safeguarding oneself has evolved beyond the conventional idea of self-defence. This expanded concept is commonly known as "self-protection".

“To kill a lion with a spear needs a different technique and different training than to throw a standardized javelin as far as possible” (George Godia 1989)[19]

Retired correction officer and security expert, Rory Miller has listed seven essential elements for training in self-defence[20].

Namely known for his 2008 book Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence,[11] which established him as a leading authority in the field, Miller has largely contributed to the discussions on violence and the distinction between self-defence and martial arts.

According to him, the following elements are key parts of self-protection:

  1. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Understanding the specific laws and ethical guidelines in your area is crucial for making informed decisions in self-defence situations.
  2. Nature and Dynamics of Violence: While martial arts are concerned with technical and athletics aspects, self-defence focuses more on behaviour patterns because understanding the nature and dynamics of unregulated violence (i.e. how it can escalate) is crucial in preventing and responding to violent situations.
  3. Avoidance & De-escalation: While combat sports are about engaging in the fight, avoidance and de-escalation refer to the use of strategies and techniques to (i) prevent or reduce the likelihood of a violent confrontation, and (ii) defuse potentially dangerous situations. These strategies are critical parts of self-defence, as they help to keep you safe and minimize the risk of physical harm.
  4. Counter-Assault / Counter Ambush: Learning to respond effectively when attacked unexpectedly.
  5. Breaking the Freeze: Overcoming the natural freeze response which can occur during a violent encounter.
  6. The Fight Itself: Learning to fight effectively in a self-defence situation. That part is what people usually focus on. It is also what martial arts and combat sports will teach you.
  7. The Aftermath: It is important to prepare for the potential physical, psychological, and legal consequences, and take steps to minimise their impact.

5. Unravelling the Nuances: A Comparative Table

In the following table we have compared self-defence, traditional martial arts and combats sports across 12 aspects:

Aspect Self-defence Traditional Martial Arts Combat Sports
1. Purpose Protect oneself from physical harm Holistic personal growth and development, well-being Competitive sport
2. Main Focus Situational awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, effective self-defence techniques Discipline, respect, character development Tactical thinking, strategic manoeuvring, technique mastery
3. Technical Focus Full-range Mostly Specialised Mostly Specialised
4. Techniques Practical and efficient techniques for real-world scenarios Often includes a wide range of traditional and stylized movements Specialised techniques for scoring points or achieving submissions
5. Tactical Scenario Multiple aggressors, Ambush 1-to-1 Fair duel, 1-to-1
6. Environment Varied, may include unpredictable or unstructured situations Controlled, often in a dojo or training hall Regulated arena
7. Training Environment Adaptive and scenario-based training, often in a traditional gym Training in a dojo or martial arts studio with a structured curriculum Gym or training facility with a focus on competition preparation
8. Training Focus Emphasis on situational awareness, escape techniques, and practical scenarios Focus on forms (katas), patterns, and often philosophical aspects Training for specific ruleset, strategy, and conditioning for competition
9. Training Contact Level Variable with an emphasis on escape and evasion Contact level varies but can include both light and controlled sparring Involves regular and often intense contact in sparring and competition
10. Uniform / Attire No specific uniform requirements, practical clothing Traditional uniforms (gi) specific to the style Specific attire based on the sport (e.g., shorts, rash guards, gloves)
11. Rules & Regulations No set rules, adaptive to the situation. But subject to local laws Clear rules but they vary widely Clear & Strict rules and regulations governing matches for safety and fairness
12. Cognitive and Motor Skills Under Stress Focus on maintaining cognitive function and motor skills under high-stress situations. Training includes scenarios that simulate real-life stress to enhance decision-making and physical response under pressure Limited emphasis on realistic stress scenarios, with more focus on disciplined execution of techniques in controlled environments Some stress exposure during competition but may not fully replicate the unpredictability and high-stakes situations encountered in real-life self-defence. Training primarily centred around competitive performance

Traditional martial arts encompass a holistic philosophy, combat sports emphasize competition and skill development, and self-defence prioritises practical techniques for real-world scenarios.

Recognising this spectrum allows for a nuanced understanding of the diverse purposes and goals within the martial arts community.

According to Miller, while martial art training can be beneficial for self-defence, "it has to be adapted to the specificities of real-world situations"[11][20]

According to Thompson, the difference between martial arts and self-defence is that “martial arts are artistic and competitive in nature, while self-defence is practical and functional[7].

Where in this picture does Street fighting fit?

Defined as a consensual and ego-driven form of hand-to-hand combat, usually occurring in public places, street fighting is neither a sports nor self-defence.

Enters the Martial Map.

6. Navigating the Martial Landscape with Iain Abernethy’s Martial Map

Iain Abernethy is a prominent martial artist and self-defence instructor known for his work in the practical application of traditional martial arts techniques.

His reflections regarding the difference between the various aspects of martial arts (i.e. self-defence, combat sports, etc.) led him to the realisation that combat sports and street fighting had in common the objective of winning whilst self-defence was about surviving/escaping and traditional martial arts about self-development.

Following this lead, Abernethy defined three main areas of study in the grand world of Martial Arts (broad definition):

  1. Fighting (e.g. combat sports, street fighting)
  2. Martial arts (i.e. “traditional martial arts”)
  3. Self-protection (aka “self-defence”)

He detailed his ideas in a 2011 podcast titled The Martial Map:[6]

  1. The objective of Fighting is to effectively use physical violence to accomplish a specific goal, such as winning a competition, apprehending an opponent, eliminating a threat, or killing an enemy, and so forth. In other words, it is “fighting to a conclusion”.
  2. Martial arts (i.e. “traditional martial arts”) are practices inspired by combat that aim to improve physical well-being, foster personal growth, and achieve cultural enlightenment through aesthetic beauty. Tai Chi and Capoeira are examples of such practices.
  3. The objective of Self-protection is to empower individuals with the necessary skills to avoid becoming victims of criminal activities. Some of the most effective aspects of self-protection, such as Awareness, Avoidance or De-escalation, have nothing to do with traditional martial arts or fighting.

The Martial Map is a Venn diagram illustrating the fact that fighting, martial arts and self-protection are three different things with overlapping aspects. Due to the overlaps, there are seven areas on the map.

Since we’ve already covered areas 1 to 3, let’s focus on the four other areas outlined in Abernethy’s Martial Map.

  • Area 4, the overlap between self-protection and martial arts: this includes aspects like managing ego, arrogance, and anger, which are crucial elements in self-defence and martial arts but are not relevant to fighting.
  • Area 5, the overlap between self-protection and fighting: this includes using physical techniques to escape a situation. Typically people refer to these actions when talking about about self-defence. It is crucial to note that the objective is not to win but to ensure we don’t lose.
  • Area 6, the overlap between martial arts and fighting: this covers functional combative skills that are unlikely to ever be used in a real situation. An example of this is weapon-based systems like Kubudo.
  • Area 7, the overlap between self-protection, martial arts and fighting: this encompasses maintaining good physical fitness, cultivating mental resilience, and acquiring effective functional techniques.

The Martial Map casts an informative light on one particular topic of discussion around self-defence: the question of the effectiveness of a style.

As Abernethy puts it, “whether a given method is effective or not is absolutely meaningless unless we also define effective for what.”

In other words, the effectiveness of a style is only relevant in relation to the Area of the map it belongs to. So, while Tai Chi is not the ideal style for self-protection, it is still highly effective in the realm of well-being.

Similarly, combat sports such as Muay Thai boxing or Wrestling belong to the realm of fighting. In this case, the specific rules of the sport determine the objective and influence the method of fighting.

"Fighting can never be divorced from its objective which determines how the fighting is trained/employed" (Abernethy 2011)[6]

The Martial Map addresses the question “what are we training for?” Having a clear objective enhances the focus and efficiency of training.

According to Abernethy, one prevalent issue in the martial arts world is the perceived need to link all skills to self-protection, despite their total lack of relevance, for them to have any perceived value.

7. Conclusion

In this comprehensive exploration of martial arts, we've uncovered the diverse dimensions spanning traditional disciplines, combat sports, and self-defence.

Traditional martial arts, rooted in history and culture, promote holistic development. Combat sports, driven by competition, showcase athleticism and strategy. Self-defence, focused on survival, addresses the practicalities of unregulated violence.

The comparative table and Abernethy's Martial Map provide clarity, highlighting the distinct objectives within each realm. As practitioners navigate this complex landscape, understanding the relevance of each style becomes crucial.

Ultimately, martial arts embody unity within diversity. Whether seeking cultural enlightenment, competitive thrills, or practical self-defence skills, practitioners embark on a journey that transcends physical movements—a journey of the mind, body, and spirit.

Embracing this unity, martial artists find a pathway to continual growth, resilience, and a deeper connection to the rich tapestry of martial traditions.

Sources & References

[1] Green, T. A., Svinth, J. R. (2010). Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. United States: ABC-CLIO.

[2] Clements, J. (2006) A Short Introduction to Historical European Martial Arts. Meibukan Magazine (Special Edition No. 1): 2–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2023.

[3] Bowman, P. (2021) The Invention of Martial Arts: Popular Culture Between Asia and America. Oxford University Press.

[4] ABC Boxing (2022) Official Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts. Association of boxing commissions and combative sports.

[5] Liu, R., Lisset Jimenez, M., and Haraszti, C. (2023) Chapter 79 - Martial arts and combat sports, in Brian J Krabak, Alison Brooks (ed.) The Youth Athlete. Academic Press, Pages 849-861.

[6] Abernethy, I. (2011) “The Martial Map”. Podcast: (youtube:

[7] Thompson, G. (1992) Watch My Back: A Bouncer's Story. United Kingdom: Summersdale. (originally published as Bouncer around 1989). Summersdale Publishers Ltd. Ed. 1998.

[8] Green, T. (2001) Martial Arts of the World: Encyclopedia. pp. 56–58.

[9] Mol, S. (2001) Classical Fighting Arts of Japan: A Complete Guide to Koryū Jūjutsu. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International, Ltd.

[10] Hamada, H. (1984) Postwar martial arts program in Japanese higher education : case of Nippon College of Physical Education. Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. Paper 1539618657.

[11] Miller, R. (2008) Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence. YMAA Publication Center; 1st edition (1 Jun. 2008). ISBN: 9781594391187.

[12] Thompson, G. (1996) Dead Or Alive: The Choice Is Yours: The Definitive Self-Protection Handbook. United States: Paladin Press.

[13] Thompson, G. (1998) The Art of Fighting without Fighting: Techniques in Personal Threat Evasion. Summersdale Publishers.

[14] Thompson, G. (1998) The Fence: The Art of Protection. Summersdale Publishers.

[15] Thompson, G. (2000) Animal Day: Pressure Testing The Martial Arts. Summersdale Publishers. ISBN: 9781840241112

[16] de Becker, G. (1997) The gift of fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence. United Kingdom: Little, Brown.

[17] Ayoob, M. (2004) Body language and threat recognition. Retrieved from

[18] Staller, M., Abraham, A., Poolton, J. M., & Körner, S. (2018) Avoidance, De-Escalation and Attacking: An Expert Coach Consensus in Self-Defense Practice. Movement. Journal of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, 11(3), 213-214.

[19] Godia, G. (1989) “Sports in Kenya”, in Sports in Asia and Africa: A Comparative Handbook, edited by Eric A. Wagner, 267-281. Wesport, CT: Greenwood.

[20] Miller, R.(2011) Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected. United States: YMAA Publication Center. ISBN: 9781594392139, 1594392137.

[21] Phillips, M. (2018) Self-defence vs Martial Arts Training, which one is better survival guide. Youtube, 12 Dec 2018.

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