American martial arts cover a wide range of martial art styles and do not have to exist only in the United States. Quite the opposite, the Americas have existed as a continent since the late 1400's early 1500's and consist of many diverse cultures and peoples.
Now it is quite understandable that in the United States the word America is often used in reference to our country and sometimes others may refer to United States citizens as Americans. We are a melting pot and as such our originality is expressed in our ability to meld cultures and peoples. (I understand this is not a perfect process)
Ok, you may now be asking what does this have to do with the martial arts?
I simply wanted to lay out my thought process of how I define American Martial Arts.
While martial arts in the Americas cannot be discussed without US-Americans, it also cannot be discussed without the other parts of this continent.
South American countries, for instance, have contributed to many forms of martial training. Tracing back the native peoples of South America you can certainly conclude they had their own effective warrior arts.
Unfortunately these arts, like much of their culture, has been almost completely lost to time.
However, the European (and, later, Asian) colonists brought over their own martial training skills and lifestyles to this hemisphere.
The european martial arts helped to form many of the early fighting arts, skills and combat sports in the Americas.
In the last decades of the twentieth century, the US American public became fascinated with a number of martial art movies, particularly those of Chinese American Bruce Lee; this tremendous interest in Asian martial arts movies helped to propel interest in the martial arts.
Initially, only a few Asian martial arts systems were available and/or popular, such as Karate, Judo and Taekwondo, but soon students began to realize that there were many more choices, and a tremendous diversity in Asian American martial training appeared in many countries throughout the Americas
Although, not all american martial arts fall into the definition of a western martial art , the influence of western culture can be seen in many american martial arts. And many american martial arts styles are forms of western arts.
The American Heritage Fighting Arts Association has set forth to study western fighting arts of the United States of America during the 18th-19th century, the american warrior arts of this time period include:
Many native cultures of the americas practiced martial weapon arts of the;
Many american martial arts are hybrids of other fighting systems base on fighting systems of other cultures, often melded together.
For example, Okichitaw is a martial art that was created by a Canadian martial artist. It claims to be based on the martial techniques of the Plains Cree.
There is also, the south american art of Capoeira, it originated from the slaves of Brazil and has African tribal roots.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is an adaptation of pre-World War II Judo. The art began with Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese expert judoka and member of the Kodokan. This system has become a popular martial art and has proved an effective style in mixed martial arts competitions.