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International Journal of Martial Arts - Vol. 8

[ Article ]
International Journal of Martial Arts - Vol. 8, No. 0, pp. 19-39
Abbreviation: IJMA
ISSN: 2287-8599 (Online)
Print publication date 28 Feb 2023

Historical European Martial Art in the spectrum of martial arts. Part 1: What are Historical European Martial Arts and Historical Fencing and how do they fit in the spectrum of Martial Arts. A scoping review
Sean Wauters
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Martial Arts Research and Studie, Beigemsesteenweg 304,1852, Belguim.

Correspondence to :; +32 496 840 715


Introduction: Martial arts and combat sports are a wide spectrum of sports and disciplines. The spectrum can be divided in several clusters, by origin and geography, content (Striking arts, grappling arts, armed arts, armored arts and others), by contact (non, limited, full) and goal (recreative, competitive, self-development, self-defense, etc.) Aim: The aim is to investigate the place of Historical European Martial Arts in the broad spectrum of Martial Arts and how it relates to other martial arts. Methods: A scoping narrative review of martial arts and Historical European Martial Arts. Results and Conclusion: Historical European Martial Arts is defined by its own properties and aspects that are defined by its origin, content, impact forms and goals. They are a cluster of martial systems developed in Europe and can be seen as the European counterpart of many comparable eastern martial arts such as a.o. the Japanese Budo and Chinese Wushu/kung fu with sometimes comparable techniques and with a variety of (often comparable) weapons. They can consist of grappling arts, striking arts, armed arts, armored arts and any combination thereof, depending on the discipline. Comparable to Budo, Wushu or other (Eastern) martial arts, some European martial arts also incorporate Kata-like drills, exercises, and plays. There are different contact forms ranging from non-contact with no protective equipment to full contact sparring and tournaments with a full set of protective equipment. Due to its own properties, it also has a specific injury profile. It deserves its proper place in the spectrum of martial arts and more research in the field of injury prevention is required.

Keywords: Historical European Martial Arts, Martial Arts, Historical Fencing, striking, kickboxing, grappling, armed martial art


Many thanks to Robert Daniel Brooks, Bert Gevaert, Janik Puttemans, L.C., V.L.W and V.P.W. for their support and help on this work.

The pictures were taken at official Netherland and Belgian tournaments and by tournament organizations. The people in the picture gave their consent to these organization to be photographed, and organizations gave their consent to use the photos. Faces were blurred for privacy reasons.

This work was done in collaboration with Martial Arts Research and Studies. There was no funding for this project.

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