Martial arts can certainly be an excellent spectacle, involving thrilling duels between qualified athletes, for example at each Olympic Games. But do you know what martial arts appear at this most important sporting event? Combat sports – seven Olympic disciplines.
A combat sport is one in which one person competes against the other in a one-on-one duel. There are different types of combat sports and they are governed by specific sets of rules. In this article, we will tell you about a very special group in this great family: the Olympic martial arts; that is, those that are present on the agenda of the most important world sport event.
What are Olympic Martial Arts?
You certainly need to know what we mean by “martial arts” to begin with. According to its definition, a combat sport is a contact discipline in which two opponents touch each other through specific body parts. How opponents touch depends on the rules of the sport.
Some of the disciplines approved by the International Olympic Committee to participate in the Games every four years are:
Boxing has always been a popular sport since its inception and is believed to have been practiced in ancient Greece. In 688 BC it was included in the Olympic Games in antiquity under the name Pygmy or “fistfighting”.
As well, it is one of the sports that has appeared in most editions of the modern Olympic Games. More precisely, from the second edition in St. Louis in 1904. Boxing did not only appear in Athens 1896.
Boxing is one of the most traditional martial arts at the Olympics.
Another historic Olympic combat sport in modern editions is fencing. Moreover, she has been present since the first Olympics, at least in the men’s category.
The female category was included in 1924. Fencing actually aims to “touch” the opponent with a white weapon. It can be a saber, sword or foil. Participants are protected with special suits and masks that signal the occurrence of an opponent’s touch.
Judo is another martial arts regularly appearing at the Olympics. The Olympic Committee decided to add this sport to the official program at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
In 1992, a female category was added and the competition was divided into seven categories by weight.
- Greco-Roman wrestling is probably one of the oldest when it comes to Olympic martial arts
The sport has its roots in Greece and Ancient Rome – hence its name – it was part of the Olympic Games since antiquity. When Pierre de Coubertin decided to organize the Modern Games, he insisted that this discipline should not be missing.
Thus, Greco-Roman wrestling was included in the program in the second edition, in San Luis in 1904. Today, this ancient discipline is divided into seven categories.
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Greco-Roman wrestling is a sport that dates back to ancient times.
- Olympic wrestling
This is another Olympic fighting sport with ancient roots whose regulations (based on Greco-Roman wrestling) have been modified. In this discipline, wrestlers are allowed to use any part of their body. Olympic wrestling was approved in the 1904 edition.
Taekwondo is a modern Korean martial art, created in the 1950s and recognized as an Olympic sport in 1988. Therefore, during the Seoul edition of the same year, it participated as a show art, but was added to the Sydney 2000 program.
Taekwondo is played in an 8 x 8 meter ring without ropes and physical restrictions, like in a boxing. There can be one to three rounds and the duration varies from one to three minutes depending on the category. Participants can hit the front of the body and head.
Taekwondo is one of the most widely practiced martial arts.
- Karate, the newest in the “Olympic martial arts” category
Finally, we will quote the last of the Olympic sports, which we will discuss in detail. This sport also belongs to the group of martial arts. The name Karate, which comes from Japan, means – “path of empty hand” because no weapons are used.
Karate is an Olympic sport – indeed considered the most “modern” sport because it has just been approved after several attempts to participate in the Tokyo 2020 edition. Karate has been added to the list along with baseball or softball, surfing, climbing and skateboarding.
Undoubtedly, Olympic martial arts are the most interesting in each edition of the Games. What’s your favorite of the ones on this list?