Martial arts training has evolved quite a bit over the centuries and millennia. One martial art begins as a philosophy, but then becomes combative as an army approaches. Another might start as a form of dancing and then morph into a way to protect escaped slaves deep in the South American jungle.
So many martial arts have names that sound strange to American ears, and there’s a good reason for that: most martial arts simply aren’t from America. As good as America is at inventing things, you’d think we would be exporting our martial arts by now. But no, we’ve almost exclusively importers. Here’s why.
America Is So Young
If you’ve ever visited Europe or the Middle East, you’ve probably noticed just how old so many of the structures are. In America, a building that’s 200 years old might be on a registry of historic places, while in other parts of the world it’s just “a house.” The real historical building in other parts of the world is the 1000-year-old structure that’s just down the street.
America is a very young country, relatively speaking. We haven’t had nearly the amount of history in which to develop martial arts, or the type of battles that warrant them. And speaking of conflict…
American History Came About In The Time of Firearms
When the Revolutionary War was fought, firearms were a very common form of combat. Battles of the time started with people squaring off on a battlefield, firing rifles and cannons at each other. When they got near enough to fight hand-to-hand, it turned out to not be hand-to-hand at all but with bayonets and swords. If those weren’t available, close-quarters combat of the time would have been nothing more than simply hitting someone.
Later forms of warfare in America didn’t require the need for martial arts training, either. Warfare became more vehicular, with tanks and planes. Later forms gave way to ambushes, boobytraps, and IEDs. Basically, American never needed its own martial art in a military setting.
America Came About In The Age of Information
By the time America became a nation, information was getting around a lot faster than it had earlier in history. Oceanic travel was much more common, and while it could still take weeks for news from England to reach America, it could be quickly disseminated thanks to the printing press and the US mail system (The US mail was started in 1775, a year before American even became America!) The printing press also created a way for Americans through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries to learn about martial arts from countries.
All this to say: America has always been able to pick its martial arts from other countries that had a lot more time to hone them to perfection. Today you can find many kinds of martial arts schools teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, karate, kung fu, and dozens of other forms.
We Grab What We Need!
There are a few martial arts that are claimed by America, but in most cases they are variations of other martial arts or have roots in them. Some are military-based, such as the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Others are direct descendants of other styles, such as American Kenpo. There are also hybrids sports, like Mixed Martial Arts, which picks and chooses at will from multiple martial arts styles.
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If you’re ready to learn an amazing martial art, SubForce is here to provide the BJJ and Muay Thai training you’ve been looking for. Contact us today for a tour!