The Martial Arts Portal

A fighter preparing to throw his opponent from the lei tai, an elevated fighting area
A fighter preparing to throw his opponent from the lei tai, an elevated fighting area

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage. (Full article...)

Although the earliest evidence of martial arts goes back millennia, the true roots are difficult to reconstruct. Inherent patterns of human aggression which inspire practice of mock combat (in particular wrestling) and optimization of serious close combat as cultural universals are doubtlessly inherited from the pre-human stage and were made into an "art" from the earliest emergence of that concept. Indeed, many universals of martial art are fixed by the specifics of human physiology and not dependent on a specific tradition or era.

Specific martial traditions become identifiable in Classical Antiquity, with disciplines such as shuai jiao, Greek wrestling or those described in the Indian epics or the Spring and Autumn Annals of China. (Full article...)

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Selected articles

  • A fighter leans back to evade a round kick
    A fighter leans back to evade a round kick
  • Image 2The traditional martial arts of the Mainland Southeast Asia are related to one another, and as a group to Indian martial arts.  The most salient common feature is Mainland Southeast Asia kickboxing.  The region of Mainland Southeast Asia is believed to be the land of Suvarnabhumi that ancient Indians mentioned in Buddhist text and Hindu text. In 790 A.D., a Khmer prince who grew up abroad by the name of Jayavarman II returned to unify the Khmer civilization.  In 802 A.D., Jayavarman II established the Khmer Empire, the precursor to modern Cambodia, and declared himself the Chakravatin (universal ruler).    Around 850 A.D., Pagan, the ancestor of modern-day Burma, was established by Tibeto-Burman speakers. For 200 years, Pagan remained a small principality until the reign of King Anawrahta.   In 1238 A.D., Thailand's first state, Sukhothai, was started when the residents declared independence from the Khmer Empire. In 1353 A.D., Laos's first state, Lan Xang, was started by Fa Ngum with the assistance of the Khmer from Angkor. (Full article...)
    The traditional martial arts of the Mainland Southeast Asia are related to one another, and as a group to Indian martial arts. The most salient common feature is Mainland Southeast Asia kickboxing. The region of Mainland Southeast Asia is believed to be the land of Suvarnabhumi that ancient Indians mentioned in Buddhist text and Hindu text. In 790 A.D., a Khmer prince who grew up abroad by the name of Jayavarman II returned to unify the Khmer civilization. In 802 A.D., Jayavarman II established the Khmer Empire, the precursor to modern Cambodia, and declared himself the Chakravatin (universal ruler). Around 850 A.D., Pagan, the ancestor of modern-day Burma, was established by Tibeto-Burman speakers. For 200 years, Pagan remained a small principality until the reign of King Anawrahta. In 1238 A.D., Thailand's first state, Sukhothai, was started when the residents declared independence from the Khmer Empire. In 1353 A.D., Laos's first state, Lan Xang, was started by Fa Ngum with the assistance of the Khmer from Angkor. (Full article...)
  • Krav Maga course at an Israeli Paratroopers school in 1955
    Krav Maga course at an Israeli Paratroopers school in 1955
  • Part of the Zliten mosaic from Libya (Leptis Magna), about 2nd century AD. It shows (left to right) a thraex fighting a murmillo, a hoplomachus standing with another murmillo (who is signaling his defeat to the referee), and one of a matched pair.
    Part of the Zliten mosaic from Libya (Leptis Magna), about 2nd century AD. It shows (left to right) a thraex fighting a murmillo, a hoplomachus standing with another murmillo (who is signaling his defeat to the referee), and one of a matched pair.
  • A retiarius stabs at a secutor with his trident in this mosaic from the villa at Nennig, c. 2nd–3rd century CE.
    A retiarius stabs at a secutor with his trident in this mosaic from the villa at Nennig, c. 2nd–3rd century CE.
  • The first page of the Codex Wallerstein shows the typical arms of 15th-century individual combat, including the longsword, rondel dagger, messer, sword-and-buckler, halberd, spear, and staff.
    The first page of the Codex Wallerstein shows the typical arms of 15th-century individual combat, including the longsword, rondel dagger, messer, sword-and-buckler, halberd, spear, and staff.
  • Image 7Iaidō (居合道), abbreviated iai (居合), is a Japanese martial art that emphasizes being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to sudden attacks.Iaido consists of four main components: the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard (or saya), striking or cutting an opponent, shaking blood from the blade, and replacing the sword in the scabbard. While beginning practitioners of iaido may start learning with a wooden sword (bokken) depending on the teaching style of a particular instructor, most of the practitioners use a blunt-edged sword called an iaitō or mogitō. Few, more experienced, iaido practitioners use a sharp-edged sword (shinken). (Full article...)
    Iaidō (居合道), abbreviated iai (居合), is a Japanese martial art that emphasizes being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to sudden attacks.

    Iaido consists of four main components: the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard (or saya), striking or cutting an opponent, shaking blood from the blade, and replacing the sword in the scabbard. While beginning practitioners of iaido may start learning with a wooden sword (bokken) depending on the teaching style of a particular instructor, most of the practitioners use a blunt-edged sword called an iaitō or mogitō. Few, more experienced, iaido practitioners use a sharp-edged sword (shinken). (Full article...)
  • Image 8 Lethwei (Burmese: လက်ဝှေ့; IPA: [lɛʔ.ʍḛ]) or Burmese boxing, is a full contact combat sport from Myanmar that uses stand-up striking including headbutts. Lethwei is considered to be one of the most brutal martial arts in the world, as the sport is practiced bareknuckle with only tape and gauze while fighters are allowed to strike with their fists, elbows, knees, and feet, and headbutts are also permitted. Disallowed in most combat sports, headbutts are important weapons in a Lethwei fighter
  • Statue of Jigoro Kano at the Kodokan institute.
    Statue of Jigoro Kano at the Kodokan institute.
  • Image 10 ) with standing attacker (uke) and seated defender (nage) | imagesize = 300px | alt = A man kneeling throws another man from a standing position; both are wearing robes | name = Aikido | aka = | focus = Grappling and softness | hardness = | country = Japan | creator = Morihei Ueshiba | famous pract = Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Moriteru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Christian Tissier, Morihiro Saito, Yoshimitsu Yamada, Mitsunari Kanai, Gozo Shioda, Mitsugi Saotome, Steven Seagal, Takashi Kushida, Kyoichi Inoue, Robert Mustard | parenthood = | ancestor arts = Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu | descendant arts = | olympic = | website = (Full article...)

Selected biography

Yamashita Yoshitsugu
Yamashita Yoshitsugu (山下 義韶, February 16, 1865 – October 26, 1935, also known as Yamashita Yoshiaki), was a Japanese judoka. He was the first person to have been awarded 10th degree red belt (jūdan) rank in Kodokan judo, although posthumously. He was also one of the Four Guardians of the Kodokan, and a pioneer of judo in the United States. (Full article...)


Selected entertainment

Mortal Kombat (also known as Mortal Kombat 9) is a fighting video game developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game is the ninth main installment in the Mortal Kombat series and a soft reboot of the franchise. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems in April 2011, and a PlayStation Vita port was released in May 2012. An expanded version of the game, titled Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition, was released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in February 2012 and for Microsoft Windows in July 2013.

Although beginning during the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the plot is a retcon to the earliest period in the Mortal Kombat series: the events of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (as well as the latter title's two updates, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy). The storyline involves the divine protector of Earth, Raiden, attempting to change the aftermath of the events of Armageddon by contacting his past self as he faces defeat at the hands of the evil emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn. While having characters and levels rendered in three-dimensions, the gameplay distances itself from the fully 3D graphics style seen in the last four games, bearing closer resemblance to that of the 2D era of the series, using a camera that is perpendicular to the two-dimensional playing field. Colloquially this is called 2.5D.

Upon release, Mortal Kombat received very positive reviews and won several awards for fighting game of the year. It was also a commercial success, selling one million copies in the first month alone. Due to its extremely violent content, the game was banned in Australia due to the lack of appropriate ratings category, and South Korea, and it has been reportedly indexed in Germany; the Australian ban was later lifted due to the introduction of an R18 classification and the game was released with many other R-rated games in May 2013. A sequel, Mortal Kombat X was released in 2015 with another direct follow-up, Mortal Kombat 11, releasing in 2019.


Sports portals

Selected image


A painting of a boxer being knocked out of the ring.
Credit: Deborah Feller

Dempsey and Firpo (sometimes referred to as Dempsey Through The Ropes) is a 1923–1924 oil canvas painting by George Bellows, depicting the September 14, 1923 boxing match between American Jack Dempsey and Argentine Luis Firpo. As time passed by it has become Bellows' most famous boxing painting. The work has been in the collection of the Whitney Museum of Art since the museum's opening in 1931. (Full article...)


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Selected quote


Humility is the first rule of martial arts. Either you learn humility quickly, or you leave because your ego can't handle losing repeatedly. — Georges St-Pierre, The Way of the Fight


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