Religion Philosophy and Fists

A traditional fighting art often has a philosophy that augments its martial base or even constitutes the foundation upon which it's built. For instance, the strikes, footwork, and forms of Pa Kua Chuan (pp. 187-188) are all founded on an interpretation of the I Ching. Stylists walk circles to stay in harmony with the Tao and practice utilizing chi (see below) to protect themselves and defeat foes.

Many traditional styles have strong religious content, too. The religion might be external to the art (like Christianity for European knights or Islam for those who practice Pentjak Silat, pp. 189-191); taught in conjunction with the martial art; or form its underpinning, informing how students are taught and which moves are considered "proper" even if the fighter doesn't practice the religion (e.g., Sumo, pp. 198-199, has close ties to the Shinto faith). Rarely, the style is the religion: Shorinjikempo is officially a religion in Japan (see Kempo, p. 172-173).

Only a purely combative or sportive modem style is likely to lack such traits. Mixed martial arts (p. 189) and Greco-Roman Wrestling (pp. 205206) are examples of entirely sportive arts; Krav Maga (p. 183) is a wholly combative one. Styles like this don't try to make you a better person through a philosophy or set of beliefs.

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