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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
martial arts

1909, translating Japanese bujutsu; see martial.

martial arts

n. (plural of martial art English)

Martial arts

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: as self-defense, military and law enforcement applications; as competition, physical fitness, mental and spiritual development; as well as entertainment and the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.

Although the term martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. The term is derived from Latin, and means "arts of Mars", the Roman god of war. Some authors have argued that fighting arts or fighting systems would be more appropriate on the basis that many martial arts were never "martial" in the sense of being used or created by professional warriors.

Usage examples of "martial arts".

Part of the mystery of a really good martial arts teacher is the way in which you're perpetually surprised by things, kept just slightly off balance.

But then he reflected that the only reason this little monk had such high standing in the monastery must be that he was exceptionally skilled in Martial Arts.

Talos, on Slate's right, could not react in time to stop his mount or to avoid the wall, but he threw himself clear as his horse went down, dropped into a roll as nimble and precise as any martial arts movie aficionado could desire, and came up on his feet.

For one thing, the stringent asceticism at the martial arts school she joined was such a welcome relief from the opulence and endless money, her parents' insatiable appetite for acquisitions, that she nearly wept for joy the first week at the school.

As Akutagawa-san had said, the force of jaho was so corrosive to mind and spirit that one always ran the terrible risk of succumbing to it rather than, as one did with all martial arts, harnessing it to one's own needs.

You were right in your feelings, right to wish that the monkey boxer were dead, because that is what the sun source of the martial arts was designed to do.

He caught one of her ankles and brought her down, stabbed fingers for her throat but she was an eel and twisted away, trained in martial arts, her hand seeking the last shuriken.

He came before me in chains, for he was a powerful man, and versed in martial arts.