Martial arts take a Western turn
Elizabeth Weise, USA Today
"Cool. Knights!" exclaims a little boy, part of a YMCA preschool class next door, as children pressed their faces against the glass door to watch.
He's right. These are the knightly arts of a long-ago time.
The growing interest in European martial art traditions comes 60 years after Eastern martial arts gained popularity in the USA, brought home by World War II servicemen stationed in Japan. And today the plethora of karate, judo, tae kwon do and kung fu studios filling America's strip malls makes it seem as if all martial arts come from Asia.
But Western Europe has a long tradition of both armed and unarmed combat traditions. The very phrase "martial arts" goes back to Mars, the Roman god of war.
For many, the draw is the love of history, the desire for a good workout and the beauty of the forms.
But get one of them all sweaty after an hour doing the intricate dance-plus-power-lunges that is medieval swordfighting, and they'll admit that it's just "wildly cool," says Craig Johnson, 35, who studies the long sword in Kelowna, British Columbia.
"You grow up watching the movies, and suddenly you get the chance to do it," Johnson says. "There's a reason it's been so romanticized. Let's be honest: A sword is cooler than a gun."
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