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Martial Arts as a Contribution to Safety

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Since the dawn of civilization, men needed to develop their physical and spiritual abilities in order to survive. Since their beginnings, apart from being a defensive tool, martial arts have been used to calm ourselves spiritually. It will show how they are actually the first line of personal safety and that their knowledge will bring only advantages, no disadvantages. They have hugely contributed to personal as well as social safety.

Martial arts represents a system of exercises based on traditional postulates that, primarily, include preparing the body and the mind for combat. In comparison to other sports and physical activities that usually focus only on physical training, martial arts also require the development of the body and mind. According to that, every martial art is not a martial sport, however, every martial sport is a martial art. Martial sports can be sorted into contact sports in which both athletes are fighting each other by using techniques and rules depending on the type of martial art.

Various studies show an improvement of physical health of those persons who practice martial arts. It leads to a decrease in depression and sleep disorders, better anger management and management of stressful situations, it brings the feeling of prosperity and happiness. Training martial arts represents a type of competition with oneself. The person is evolving and is fighting his/her weaknesses, laziness, fear, pain etc.

Apart from maintaining physical and mental activities, martial arts teach us life values such as sincerity, perseverance, bravery, compassion, humility, respect towards others, gentleness and responsibility. This develops individuality, builds character and fair judgement. The goal of martial arts is to, first and foremost, create a peaceful society. Because of today's lack of information and knowledge, martial arts are considered to be just physical combat that holds a negative character.

But this opinion is incorrect because martial arts are a product of an entirely positive context. Martial arts build a harmonious individual who tends to preserve human dignity and create a peaceful community desirable for life.

Martial arts have an educational character, their purpose includes a pedagogical and practical sense in all aspects of life. The Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi once said: "The true meaning of martial arts is to know how to practice them in a way that they can be helpful at any time and to teach them in a way that they can be helpful in everything.” His saying reflects best the true worth of martial arts. Men have been practicing martial arts for centuries.

The reasons for this have changed through history and in accordance with social changes. Today, people start to train martial arts primarily because of self defense, but also because of their competitive character. Also, by training martial arts, the psychological character of the person develops and builds his/her self-esteem, self-efficacy and personal wellbeing.

Martial arts have a long history and an important role in building character of defense forces such as the military and the police. In today's world, learning martial arts is one of the disciplines that all police academy attendees need to pass. Self-defense as well as attack techniques are learnt by all police officials. Defense forces also use different martial arts knowledge, although some martial arts have been used less than before.

Martial arts consist of many rules and techniques that can be used for every man's welfare. It has been seen through history how different styles have developed and that all have one thing in common- building a well-rounded man, including his physical as well as psychological states.

Through martial arts characteristics, we can see that its practice is beneficial for both sexes and for all age groups.

It is very important to make people conscious of and show them the benefits of martial arts. They bring only good, whereas the bad is fenced off right from the beginning. Although they can evoke certain negative terms such as combat or conflict, they can have a very positive purpose if not misused. We live in a world where conflict and dangerous situations are a part of our everyday lives.

Such situations need to be recognized on time in order to avoid them and, if they cannot be avoided, we need to know how to defend ourselves. Most often, the endangered groups are women, children and the elder population. We often see physical as well as psychological attacks on those vulnerable groups in our society. Although the general opinion is that they cannot defend themselves, it is important to note that this is due to lack of informness.

Violence over women is part of every society, but a very small number of violence is being reported. Besides violence experienced in their families, women are often attacked by unknown persons. In that moment, they feel weak and helpless because, sadly, they do not know how to reciprocate. Although they memorize the face or some characteristic, they are afraid to report the perpetrator. This usually happens because of lack of trust in institutions, long judicial processes, feelings of guilt and fear from the offender. The system may also be partially guilty because court processes may last for years and people do not place any trust in the system and, consequently, do not wish to report violence because they will carry its effects for years to come.

Apart from women, most vulnerable groups include children and older generations. Children are a powerless group because, thanks to their age, they have very little knowledge about life as well as dangerous situations which they can become a part of. They often fall victims of bullying from their peers as well as family members. Children need to be shown and explained how and why to use martial arts so that they can identify dangerous situations and defend themselves from them. Also, the elderly are often the target of violence and abuse. Just like children, they are very fragile and weak and, in those situations, they often let themselves be abused because they do not know hot to avoid it. This is why it is very important to educate our citizens, especially those three groups- women, children and the elderly, about martial arts and their advantages.

Women often, thanks to other people's advice, carry self-defense spray (pepper spray) in their bags. It is a very useful mode of self-defense, but it is important to inform women that they can achieve more via martial arts. They will know how to defend themselves in a moment and prevent further attacks. By practicing martial arts, women learn self-defense techniques and types of conflicts that they are most often faced with such as: verbal conflict, physical violation, hitting attempts or grabbing by the hair, pulling attempts etc. During training, women learn how to neutralize an unpleasant situation but also, thanks to mental training, how to control their reactions during stress and give the right decision under pressure. Older people represent a specific, vulnerable and sensitive group and their share progressively increases. Violence over this type of people, sadly, is more and more present. Violence and abuse over the elderly is manifested through neglect as well as physical abuse. Such persons are fragile and cannot reciprocate, mostly because of they are frail and in fear from their opponent.

Every type of elderly neglect, in terms of care about nutrition and welfare, is thought to be a form of violence against the elderly. They can be mistreated from familiar people as well as total strangers. Older people are often a target of thiefs and burglars. They get attacked in such situations and they do not have the ability or the knowledge to defend themselves.

The consequences of violence over the elderly can be huge for them, from damaging their already dissipated health (physical and mental) to losing that small bit of material safety that they already had. The problem of violence against the elderly is still not entirely explored. Because of their lack of ability and the impossibility to reciprocate with an attack or self-defense, they are often the target of violence. Although many believe that age is a problem when it comes to practicing a specific type of self-defense, they are wrong because it only needs to be introduced into everyday practice of an older person. By practicing a suitable type of martial arts, the elderly will gain more strength and flexibility in their frail bodies, gain a feeling of calm, prosperity, harmony of the mind and body and will be able to defend themselves in certain situations, or at least avoid an attack.

Violence against children has become today's problem. Children are in more and more instances the target of violence in their families as well as in schools. Practicing martial arts during childhood has a large pedagogical role. Children are taught self-control as well as how to avoid potential attacks. Children who practice and train certain martial arts are often perceived with fear because of lack of knowledge. The child isn't training in order to learn how to punch others, but in order to control and build himself/herself.

By training martial arts, children learn how to recognize potential dangerous and conflicting situations, how to solve them, avoid them and protect themselves. By training, children learn how to defend themselves and others as well as how to control their stress and fear in a dangerous situation. Through play and fun, children develop social, mental and physical abilities. They learn healthy life habits, develop concentration and discipline, gain confidence, the habit to help their peers and respect older people. Martial arts are practiced and used on every continent, in every country in the world. Small children need to be taught the basics so they can overcome larger obstacles later on.

Every martial art has its own special rules that need to be respected. Using the martial arts practices and techniques against weaker persons in one's free time, except if they haven't started it first and are being used as self-defense, is chargeable and regulated by the Criminal Law. It is desirable to use self-defense knowledge when you really need to defend yourself, but all in good measure.

To misuse those skills is unwelcome and culpable. The use of martial arts is not legally described- only its consequences in Criminal Law, The Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, The Offenses against Public Order and Peace Act, Act on the Prevention of Disorders at Sports Competitions and certain other acts and sub-legislations. Law regulations for martial arts clubs where those skills are being taught are regulated by the Law on Sports, Act on the Prevention of Disorders at Sports Competitions and other numerous regulations that those clubs use themselves. There are over 200 different martial art types and disciplines existing in the world, each with their own training characteristics and philosophy. Knowledge in martial arts such as aikido, judo, krav maga, jiu jitsu, BJJ, kapap, systema, karate, tae kwon do, sambo, kung fu, escrima and others is of great use in self-defense. Here's a bit about them.

Krav maga means "contact combat” in Hebrew and is the official system of personal defense and close combat of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the Israeli national police and other security services. The founder of krav maga is Imi Sde – Or Lichtenfeld who built the system and formed the martial art skill. Krav maga is an ideal mode of self-defense for men, women, the young, i.e. people of all age groups and physical fitness. Systema is a Russian martial art that stems from Cossack systems of combat. It represents a complete system of self-defense, breathing movements and health. It is a martial art which develops motor skills, coordination, condition and coping with unfamiliar situations through a complex system and unarmed combat. All of its tactics are based on instictive reactions, individual strength and characteristics, specially designed for fast learning.

The history of systema is scarce. Because of its secrecy and misinformation about the skill, very little evidence has been documented. What was publicly available was called "sports” and "militant type of sambo”, i.e. sports comeptitions and self-defense without weapons. Systema can also be found under another term – "Know Yourself”.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a martial arts focused on grappling and particular combat on the ground aimed at gaining a dominant position and using joint levers and choking in order to force the opponent to give up. Brazilian jiu jitsu developed from a modified version of judo (judo = the gentle way, its founder is Jigoro Kano) and was practiced during World War II along with classic jiu jitsu techniques.

It is based on the principle that every person, especially of a weaker build, can, with the use of balance and technique, defend oneself from a stronger attacker.

The founder of Brazilian jiu jitsu is considered to be the Japanese judo master Mitsuy Maeda. The skill that Maeda taught to the Gracie family wasn't called judo, but jiu jitsu.

The term karate comes from the Japanese word "kara” which means "free and empty” and signifies a hand or fist. It represents a militant self-defense and counter-attack skill without the use of weapons, but rather hand punches (with the edge of an open palm, fist or elbow) and legs (feet, heel, knee). Although the term comes from Japan, its beginnings are believed to come from India and China.

Karate was passed on from generation to generation and was first called "To – de”. Gichin Funakoshi later changed it to the term we know today- karate.

Tae kwon do is a Korean martial art formed in the 1940's by fusing various Korean martial arts and Japanese karate which was widely practiced at the time. The name comes from the words tae= to kick with the leg, kwon= to punch with an arm and do= the way. Allegedly, the name tae kwon do was first suggested by General Choi Hong Hi's associate in 1955, but it wasn't accepted until 1965. The skill itself was derived from the need for self-defense and its concept was made by General Choi Hong Hi himself.

Sambo represents a Russian martial art and its name is an abbreviation from the Russian phrase "self-defense without weapons”. This martial art is very similar to judo. It was founded by the Soviets. It was developed during the 1920's by the Soviet Red Army and is mostly connected to its intelligence services and special forces.

Kapap denotes an Israeli martial art, i.e. a survival and self-defense system. It was coined in order to inspire an individual to use whatever he/she feels natural with, all with the goal to self-defend oneself. Kapap is an acronym for "Krav Panim el Panim" which means "face to face combat”. Kapap is often mistaken for krav maga, but they are not the same. Krav maga functions under specific principles, it prepares persons for specific situations they can find themselves in. In comparison, kapap teaches that you should always expect the unexpected and remain calm in all situations.

Practicing martial arts is a crucial part of training for all military and police services. They teach how to control oneself, as well as the opponent. In such institutions, trainees do not learn only how to attack someone, but to defend themselves and how to utilize a specific martial art technique in such situations. Martial arts have become more and more popular in today's sports and recreational purposes, but we need to emphasize their importance in the self-defense of the most vulnerable groups of our society.

Experts stress the fact that the purpose of martial arts is not only fighting with the opponent, but also a deep spiritual and humane character. Almost all martial arts speak about the relationship between a man's mind and body. Also, we often need to work on updating regulations that prevent violence but also to popularize martial arts.

The public needs to be informed about their positive purpose and this is perhaps how we will start living in a community with less violence because people will know how to recognize dangerous situations and defend themselves from them.

We can conclude how martial arts are not practiced because of their negative goals, but because a person wishes to build himself/herself as a human being. This is also how we will help others on this path and secure a safe, natural and humane space for all humanity.

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