History of Martial Arts - Modern History (1800 To Present)

Modern History (1800 To Present)

Further information: Modern history of East Asian martial arts

The Western interest in East Asian Martial arts dates back to the late 19th century, due to the increase in trade between the West with China and Japan. European martial arts before that time was focused on the duelling sword among the upper classes on one hand, and various styles of folk wrestling among the lower classes on the other.

Edward William Barton-Wright, a British railway engineer who had studied Jujutsu while working in Japan between 1894–97, was the first man known to have taught Asian martial arts in Europe. He also founded an eclectic martial arts style named Bartitsu which combined jujutsu, judo, boxing, savate and stick fighting. Also during the late 19th century and early 20th century, catch wrestling contests became immensely popular in Europe.

The development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the early 20th century is a good example of the worldwide cross-pollination and syncretism of martial arts traditions.

During pre-war and World War Two shows the practicality of martial arts in the modern world and were used by Japanese, US, Nepalese (Gurkha) commandos as well as Resistance groups, such as in the Philippines, (see Raid at Los Baños) but not so excessively or at all for common soldiers.

The later 1970s and 1980s witnessed an increased media interest in the martial arts, thanks in part to Asian and Hollywood martial arts movies and very popular television shows like "Kung Fu", "Martial Law" and "The Green Hornet" that incorporated martial arts moments or themes. Following Bruce Lee, both Jackie Chan and Jet Li are prominent movie figures who have been responsible for promoting Chinese martial arts in recent years.

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