Martial arts (literally meaning arts of war but usually referred as fighting arts) are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat. Martial arts all have similar objectives: to physically defeat other persons or defend oneself or others from physical threat. Some martial arts are also linked to beliefs systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism or Shinto while others follow a secular code of honor. Martial arts are considered as both an art and a science. Many arts are also practiced competitively, most commonly as combat sports, but competitions may also take the form of "forms competition."
The term martial arts refers to the art of warfare (derived from Mars the Roman god of war) and comes from a 15th-century European term referring to what are now known as historical European martial arts specifically to what is today known as Historical Fencing, but is now most commonly associated with Asian fighting styles, especially the combat systems that originated in East Asia. The term both in its literal meaning however, and in its subsequent usage may be taken to refer to any codified combat system, regardless of origin, a practitioner of martial arts is referred to as a martial artist. Martial arts have originated and evolved in various cultures at various times. In the Americas, Native Americans have traditions of open-handed martial arts such as wrestling, while Hawaiians have historically practiced arts featuring small and large-joint manipulation. A mix of origins is found in the athletic movements of Capoeira, which African slaves developed in Brazil based on skills they had brought from Africa.
While each style has unique facets that differentiate it from other martial arts, a common characteristic is the systematization of fighting techniques. Methods of training vary and may include sparring (simulated combat) or formal sets or routines of techniques known as forms or kata. Forms are especially common in the Asian and Asian-derived martial arts.