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Towards a General Theory of Fighting Arts

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Introduction: The fighting arts are an interesting area for researchers from many scientific disciplines around the world. Scientific investigations need to choose appropriate theory, language and methods. The first theory that gives us a special language is the Humanistic Theory of Martial Arts, HTMA. The second is the Anthropology of Martial Arts, AMA. The problem considered in this study is how we should study the martial arts & combat sports & systems, or ‘combatives’; what theoretical framework should we use. It is the author’s proposal for a scientific perspective which should be useful; an elaboration the Humanistic Theory of Martial Arts (HTMA) and definitions, the General Theory of Fighting Arts (GTFA), and the Anthropology of Martial Arts. Methodology: Participant observation, and qualitative content analysis of the literature were used. Methodology of research (in the area of the fighting arts) was also analyzed. Results and Discussion: General Theory of Fighting Arts – GTFA. In the GTFA we can study and explain a broad area of fighting arts and the related problems. These are: 1. Cultural areas of martial arts & combat sports & combat systems (according to AMA and HTMA); 2. Teaching concepts (technical and tactical issues), combat strategy (for self-defence and in combat sports), aspects of real fighting – interdisciplinary; 3. Bio-technical issues – from the perspective of sports sciences. The Research methodology for traditional East Asian martial arts requires its own practice and a high level of sophistication – at best, in more than one martial art. It is a qualitative method of participant observation associated with the experience of metaphysical dimensions. This special method is the ‘shugyo’ (Jap. shūgyō) – psychophysical study and experience from practicing psycho-physical systems. Michael Maliszewski was one of first researchers using this method. Conclusion: The GTFA is the sum of HTMA (humanistic, social and cultural issues), AMA (philosophical, cultural and biological approaches), and a part of Sport Sciences, for coaching, bio-technical and bio-medical issues, the methodology of teaching, etc. The GTFA now created should give us the opportunity to research and explain complicated problems of fighting arts, according to this new, holistic paradigm.
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