People who practice any disciplined style of combat that espouses self-defence, and leads to the betterment of the mind, body and spirit are those individuals known as martial artists. Martial artistry also takes the form of competitions and exhibitions, allowing the experts to showcase their specific styles of combat. Martial arts have been around for millennia, with records indicating drilled combat styles within Egypt and China as far back as 4,000 years in the past. When looking throughout the European continent, Greece holds the oldest accounts of martial arts combat in forms like wrestling and Pankration, the latter of which could be seen as the progenitor of Mixed Martial Arts due to its combination of wrestling, boxing, kicks, holds and even biting. While martial arts have been cultivated by humanity for centuries, the idea of martial arts as a sport did not take root until the 19th century. This era is when forms like kendo, fencing, boxing and karate take root.
A true martial artist is an individual that can elevate strikes, motions and stances and turn them into poetry. Martial artistry demands a high level of physical prowess, as well as the mental discipline to know when to unleash the power its adherents have cultured and understand how much of that power to unfurl. A proper martial artist not only understands the stances and strikes of her chosen discipline but can also recite the history, pillars and virtues of that discipline.
This article seeks to highlight three of the world’s most renown martial artists, briefly mentioning what significant contributions they gave to the world and their chosen fighting style:
- Bruce Lee. This Hong Kong-American movie star created the Jeet Kune Do style of martial arts, devised as a formless, adaptive fighting style.
- Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was a Japanese samurai known for dual-wielding katanas and being undefeated in more than 60 duels. He also wrote “The Book of Five Rings,” a treatise on the practical applications of his specific way of fighting, and “The Path of Aloneness,” which covered his philosophy.
- Cynthia Rothrock. Rothrock is an American who starred in several martial arts films, possesses black belts in seven martial disciplines and is a five-time World Champion in “forms and weapons.”