Martial-art meaning

Any of various arts of self-defense, such as aikido, karate, judo, or tae kwon do, usually practiced as sport.
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Any of various systems of self-defense originating in E Asia, such as karate or kung fu, also engaged in as a sport.
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Commonly, any of several fighting styles which contain systematized methods of training for combat, both armed and unarmed; often practiced as a sport, e.g. boxing, karate, judo, silat, wrestling, or Muay Thai.
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Military skills, proficiency in military strategy, prowess in warfare.

1832 ...of all the modes by which the advantage of his country may be secured, the martial arts and valour are those by which a Swiss the most hopes to promote it. (Richard Chenevix, An Essay Upon National Character: 4. On patriotism, p. 481).

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(slang) By restriction, martial arts originating from East Asia and Southeast Asia; often practiced as a meditative medium, e.g. aikido, judo, kyudo.
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Origin of martial-art

  • Collocation of martial + art, coined in 1933 as a loan translation of Japanese bujutsu. But already in Pope's Iliad (1715, 4.360), and in Sotheby's Iliad (1831, book 6).
    From Wiktionary