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Those traditional martial arts which train armed combat often encompass a wide spectrum of melee weapons, including bladed weapons and polearms.
Such traditions include eskrima, silat, kalaripayat, kobudo, and historical European martial arts, especially those of the German Renaissance.
Similarly, modern Western martial arts and sports include modern fencing, stick-fighting systems like canne de combat or singlestick, and modern competitive archery.
Many martial arts, especially those from Asia, also teach side disciplines which pertain to medicinal practices.
The term is derived from Latin, and means "arts of Mars", the Roman god of war.
Some authors have argued that fighting arts or fighting systems would be more appropriate on the basis that many martial arts were never "martial" in the sense of being used or created by professional warriors.
Many Chinese martial arts also feature weapons as part of their curriculum.
Sometimes, training with one specific weapon will be considered a style of martial arts in its own right, which is especially the case in Japanese martial arts with disciplines such as kenjutsu and kendo (sword), bojutsu (staff), and kyudo (archery).
Throughout Asia, meditation may be incorporated as part of training.
In those countries influenced by Hindu-Buddhist philosophy, the art itself may be used as an aid to attaining enlightenment.
Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: as self-defense, military and law enforcement applications, mental and spiritual development; as well as entertainment and the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.
Although the term martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s.
This is particularly prevalent in traditional Asian martial arts which may teach bone-setting, herbalism, and other aspects of traditional medicine.Martial arts can also be linked with religion and spirituality.