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Any of several arts of combat and self-defense that are widely practiced as sport. There are armed and unarmed varieties, most based on traditional fighting methods used in East Asia. In modern times, derivatives of armed martial arts include kendo (fencing with wooden swords) and kyudo (archery). Unarmed varieties include aikido, judo, karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do. Because of the influence of Taoism and Zen Buddhism, there is a strong emphasis in all the martial arts on the practitioner's mental and spiritual state. A hierarchy of expertise, ranging from the novice (white belt) to the master (black belt), is usually recognized. See alsot'ai chi ch'uan; jujitsu.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on martial art, visit Britannica.com.