Posted On:6/24/2010 3:51am
The same point was raised when we originally set up this forum, and has occasionally re-surfaced since then:
Originally Posted by DdlR
Over the past 15 years or so, the term "Western martial arts" (WMA) has become established as referring to MAs of European origin. The widespread use of that term in English actually dates back to discussions on the "Western Arts" YahooGroup email list circa 1996 (I was there), when the consensus was to use "WMA" rather than "European martial arts" partly because the latter abbreviates to the acronym "EMA" which might be confused with "Eastern martial arts".
WMA has since become an umbrella term, including both "living lineage" styles (savate, Portuguese Jogo do Pau, Canarian Juego del Palo, classical fencing, etc.) and also the subset of historical European martial arts (HEMA), which refers to styles that have been revived through a combination of academic research and pressure testing (Renaissance-era German longsword fencing, Medieval Italian dagger techniques, etc.)
An argument could be made for including all MAs originating in the Western hemisphere under the WMA acronym; as it stands, the term has effectively become synonymous with those styles originating in what is traditionally considered to be the "Western World", in the sense of cultures that have been profoundly influenced by (to quote the Wikipedia page):
* a Graeco-Roman Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, concerning artistic, philosophic, literary, and legal themes and traditions, as well as a tradition of rationalism in various spheres of life, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, Scholasticism, Humanisms, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, and including, in political thought, widespread rational arguments in favour of free thought, human rights, equality and democratic values averse to despotism, irrationality and theocracy.
* a Biblical-Christian cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions, around Post-Classical Era.
* Central and Eastern European cultural influences concerning artistic, musical, folkloric, ethic and oral traditions, whose themes have been further developed by Romanticism.
Briefly, while I'm not saying that the WMA designation shouldn't include styles of African descent, I am pointing out that it doesn't, in practice. Numerous other WMA message boards have effectively become miscellaneous files when people have assumed that "Western" = "everything non-Asian".
I would personally be quite happy to see the name and theme of the current Bullshido WMA Forum changed to accommodate, for example, the serious discussion of African, Native American and other lesser-known styles. In fact, that had been my original suggestion as part of the discussion that led to the WMA board being set up in the first place.
Check out the Bullshido.net Western Martial Arts Forum for all things Western, martial and arty.
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