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The true roots of martial arts are not easy to trace. The art of mock combat, in particular wrestling, has been part of mankind since its beginnings.
Martial arts evolved with the development of the human physiology and has grown into what we now recognise as martial arts in the modern era.
Below, Beemat takes a look at the history of martial arts and how it has evolved over thousands of years to become what it is today.
Origin of martial arts
The earliest evidence of martial arts originates from depictions of fights both in figurative art and early literature as well as the analysis of early archaeological findings and weaponry. Some of the oldest artwork depicts scenes of battle that date back to 3000BCE.
Many people consider Asia to be the centre of the martial arts world as many of the most prominent martial arts such as kung fu, karate and hwa rang originate from the region.
Over the years, martial arts have been shaped by a culmination of factors to include ancient myths and legends to historical revolutions. Since the beginning of time, different cultures have developed styles of fighting in order to survive, but it is Chinese martial arts that has endured and flourished more than in any other country.
Creation of martial arts
Martial arts techniques were created out of the need for survival between humanity and animals, and between different tribes of humans. From these battles, experiences and techniques were accumulated and recorded then passed down through the generations.
The invention of weaponry enabled new fighting techniques to be created. Different types and shapes of weapons were invented which led to different schools and styles of martial arts. These new styles were formed by imitating the fighting techniques of animals such as the tiger, panther, monkey, snake and bear as well as a number of birds and insects.
Mankind firmly believed that in order to survive in what was a harsh natural environment at the time, it was necessary to study animals' natural talent and skill for fighting. The way to learn these techniques was to study and imitate these animals, for example the pouncing of a tiger or the attacking motions of an eagle.
Gradually, over the years, the martial techniques developed became a part of Asian culture.
Teaching martial arts
The teaching of martial arts in Asia has historically followed cultural traditions - students are trained in a strictly hierarchical system by a master instructor. The students are expected to memorise and recite as closely as possible the rules and basic training of martial arts whilst the teacher is expected to directly supervise the student's training.
Students with more seniority are considered 'older brothers and sisters' whilst those with less seniority are 'younger brothers and sisters', and these relationships are clearly delineated and designed to develop good character, patience and discipline amongst students.
In some Asian countries, a student's skills were tested for mastery before being allowed to study further - this traditional style has been widely ignored by many of the modern teachings in the West.
History Of Martial Arts