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Martial arts have the same basic structure

Martial arts are systems developed with the objective of facing one or more opponents, be it an aggressor in a street fight, an enemy in a war, or even an athlete on the other side of the ring.

For each situation, specific techniques are developed, which may not work as well when the context changes. So the discussion about which is the most complete martial art does not make so much sense.

However, despite the variety of techniques and systems, martial arts have points in common, which must be observed and studied. They are the common structure that all martial arts have.

The system and theory in martial arts

The two main pillars that all martial arts have are the system and theory. These two pillars appear simultaneously as soon as the martial art begins to be developed.

The system concerns the set of techniques to be developed and the physical and mental skills needed for its application.

Therefore, when creating the system, or method, not only the techniques to be used are elaborated. There is also the concern about how to improve body and mind so that these techniques can be applied when necessary.

The martial theory is about why that martial art was created. From the conception of what combat is, the combat strategy, tactics and techniques are elaborated.

The result is the creation of the method.

Let’s see a little more about each pillar below.

The system

As said before, martial arts are combat systems created from diverse needs. Therefore, a system is created to meet a specific need.

Martial systems are composed of three elements: the physical, the mental, and the technical.


What are the most required physical skills in a martial art that you practice? Is it worth wanting to develop all the physical skills?

The fact is that each modality requires different capabilities, focused on the focus of the rules established in the system.

For example, if you practice taekwondo, where speed and flexibility are very important, is it worth focusing on endurance training, or heavy-duty weight training? Or would high intensity and flexibility exercises make you more fit?

The same applies to modalities where the focus is on street situations, where getting the opponent out of combat as quickly as possible is the goal, and explosive movements are required.

For a 12 round boxing match, the development of physical abilities must be thought of differently, as the needs are different.


Known by many as the spiritual component of martial arts, or even philosophy of martial arts.

In this element, the focus is the development of the mental capacities necessary for combat, such as courage, aggressiveness, concentration, control of emotions, “mental hardness”, among others.

Usually, the training itself provides these skills, but the practitioner can seek complements to formal training such as meditation and yoga (in case they need more concentration), endurance training, and exposure to extreme stress situations (in case they are a combatant).

In any of these three elements (physical, mental, and technical), there are practices that will help you become a better fighter/combatant, but they are not necessarily healthy.

The important thing is that you develop these skills and arrive prepared in combat.


Here is developed its repertoire of weapons to be used in combat.

Depending on the focus of your martial art, these weapons will be: punches, kicks, knees, elbows, keys in the joints, projections, and why not, handling of white weapons and firearms.

Tools are used to make the weapons well, such as punching bags, focus gloves, wooden dolls, grappling dolls, etc.

Often, in a training, the three elements are worked on simultaneously.

For example, when you shoot 100 repetitions of kicks, you work the part:

  • Physics: performing 100 kicks at the height of the face improves your cardiopulmonary resistance, as well as the muscular;
  • Mental: you need focus and mental toughness so you don’t stop halfway through the exercise when tiredness hits;
  • Technical: with each repetition performed correctly, you make your technique better.

Martial theory

The conception of a martial arts modality is the creation of a method that seeks to solve a specific problem. For this, it is necessary to know exactly what this problem is.

Who is raising you, is thinking of defending your tribe or your family? Do you want to create a sport with combat techniques? Do you need to fight for your life, or defend your country? Do you want to develop spiritually?

From the question to be answered, one begins to think about “what is a struggle”.

The martial theory is composed of:

  • Definition of combat;
  • Strategy;
  • Tactics; and
  • Technical.

Let’s go to every one of them!

Definition of combat

To define what the fight you or your group is facing, you need to think about some issues.

First, it is the environment in which the combat takes place. Is it in the street? Is it in a ring, or on a battlefield?

In this environment, you can use only punches (boxing)? “Only” kicks (taekwondo)? Can you punch with fingers in the eyes? And throat punches? Can you score objects (street fighting)?

Secondly, think about the limitations you have in this confrontation (its disadvantages).

You just know how to punch and you’re facing someone who punches and kicks? Are you unarmed against someone with a knife? You’re with a knife against someone with a revolver?

Know that, even in situations where there is an equivalence of skills, even being well prepared, when not knowing the opponent their chances of victory are about 50%.

Finally, it is necessary to define what would be the victory in the situation faced.

Would it be a knockout? A finish? Would it be killing the opponent? Or take him out of combat? Would it be controlling him until the authorities arrive?

When defining what combat is for you, you can think of the next steps (strategy, tactics, and technique).


As you think about what the situation will be like in combat, you will need to develop strategies to win.

Basically, what you will do is prepare to be at an advantage in the confrontation.

If you’re going up against an opponent who uses knives, learn how to use them as well, or a weapon that gives you more advantage.

When facing more than one opponent on the street, is it a good idea to take an opponent to the ground? Wouldn’t that leave you more vulnerable to attack from the other aggressors?

In short, developing the strategy consists of finding out what your limitations are in a given situation and finding out what opportunities you can take to win.


The tactic is derived from the strategy.

As soon as you define the best way to win, you also need to think about how to use your weapons more effectively.

If you are in a boxing ring against a larger opponent, shorten the distance so he can’t score effectively.

In a street situation, against a very agile opponent, perhaps seeking to corner him might be a good idea, as this does not allow him to move so easily.

Tactics are the way we decide to tackle specific situations in a fight. They must be decided before the confrontation so that you arrive at it prepared.


The techniques are developed as a result of the above elements.

The creation of a technique should be based on five issues:

  • What weapon are we using? As mentioned before, it can be punches, kicks, knees, chokes, white weapons, firearms, etc.
  • How will we be using these weapons? Will we be punched with gloves or bare hands? Will the bullets be real or paintball?
  • When do we use them? It refers to the right time to use each gun/stick. The correct timing and the distance the opponent is at.
  • What do we use as weapons? Our hands? Our feet? The head?
  • Where are we fighting? Are we in a ring? Are we on a battlefield? What are the rules of this fight?

By studying martial theory, you can discover “what” you want. From this, the method, or system, that prepares you for the goal, shows you the “how” to achieve what you want, will be born.

Full martial art

The complete martial art is the one that fulfills the practitioner’s goal. It is composed of these two pillars, and all the elements contained in them.

You must find out what your need is, or your goal when choosing a sport, so you don’t waste time and energy on something that won’t solve your problem.

After all, the practitioner’s greatest goal is victory. However, you must know exactly: what is a victory for you?

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