There are of course many branches of marital arts. Broad classifications are possible, based on the country of origin; and the country or origin generally reflects the different fighting schools. But some countries, such as Japan, have several similar schools of martial arts all under the general term of Karate, co-existing with several other Japanese martial arts. South Korea, by contrast, has one main martial art in Taekwondo, which has had standardised rules since the 1950s. Though different the various martial arts traditions are all respectable practices in their own right, requiring considerable skill and discipline and yielding impressive benefits.
The exact origin of martial arts are uncertain. They probably have military connections, possibly for the defence of unarmed individuals against armed opponents, possibly part of regular training. The cross influence of different martial art traditions only complicates this origin. But the military applications are far less important today; it is rare for anybody to be threatened by an armed opponent on horseback. Rather, Modern practices tend to be orientated towards sport competition, developing physical skill and on focusing mental development. Martial arts are used by many individuals to help them reach their potential.