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What is Sport Martial Arts?





In today’s terminology, Sport Karate (or Sport Martial Arts) is the application of competitive martial arts in a sporting environment, and has been around for a few decades.

The two main categories/divisions of competition are Fighting and Forms. This article will focus on Forms, if you are interested in the Fighting category click here.

Within those two categories, there are various areas of competition – such as weapon forms, musical forms, team forms, team fighting, continuous fighting, and many more divisions (depending what sanction an athlete competes in). Sport Martial Arts is quickly evolving as competitors continue to push the envelope of what people are physically capable of doing. This not only has increased the level of competition, but also allows martial art athletes to be more innovative in their traditional and competitive training.




Form competitions are similar to the gymnastic floor routines seen in the Olympics. While gymnasts put together routines that demonstrate their abilities in front of a panel of judges, martial art forms competitors will either perform a traditional Form from their MA style or be more creative and incorporate flashy moves from Extreme Martial Arts. This is all performed in front of a panel of either 3 or 5 judges, (more if it is a national championship) who then give a score to each Form competitor. The competitor, or player, with the highest score takes first place, down to however many places are awarded for each division. Competitors who tie will have to perform their Form (or an alternative) again to break the tie. At times MA athletes that win their division compete against other first place winners to determine an Overall Grand Champion.

Martial Artists are beginning to take their traditional martial arts training of Forms and combined it with acrobatic/gymnastic moves to create the widely accepted term, Extreme Martial Arts. This basically encompasses traditional punches, blocks, and kicks of any art, with a flare of flips, tucks, twists, spins, and creative combinations (flips, twists, and spins combined with kicks and/or punches). At times, break dancing moves are also included.

If you are interested in forms competition, be sure to ask about specific training as you are researching a martial arts school to join. While every school will teach you the forms of their art (since they are essential to learning any style) some schools may offer training that focuses even more on perfecting the forms for competition.