Here follows a brief timeline of world martial arts.
Well the world first martial art was Pankration.
A holistic martial art involving punching, kicking, grappling and wrestling. An olympic sport for a thousand years.
Taught to Alexander the Great’s troops to make them extra lethal.
Over time it spreads throughout Russia. Eventually there is such a huge diversity of styles and techiniques that this martial art is just refered to as ‘SAMBO’. An acronym that stands for ‘Self Defense Without Weapons’. It still flourishes today and it is quite nasty
Meanwhile Pankratin is taken to India through cultural osmosis where it became the Indian wrestling style whose name escapes me.
From there it may or may not have been taken by Bodhi Dharma (spelling?) from India to China where he may have taught it to the Shaolin monks. Even if Dharma himself did not study this martial art it is highly unlukely that he did not know of it’s existence.
Back in europe the romans take over sport Pankration and introduce a bladed gauntlet (the cestus) in order to turn it into a deathmatch. The sport dies out but various techniques are spread around and watered down until they become savate, savatte and probably boxing as well.
Back in China the Shaolin monks develop Kung-Fu. Hundreds of thousand of styles. Those that suck die out (literally) those that are effective prosper. Eventually Kung-Fu becomes a far richer source of technique than Pankration ever was.
At some point a Japanese fisherman is blown across to China from Okinawa, he spends a few years there and learns a bit of kung-fu. When he goes back he begins the Okinawan martial arts tradition.
Cultural osmosis again: karate is developed from the okinawan styles. Ju-jitsu (and thus hapkido and aikido) is developed by the samurai by combining the positional strength of and foot movements of kendo with the joint manipulation techniques of the okinawan martial arts. Judo is derived from ju-jitsu by focusing on very particular parts of the style: throws and positional control.
1950’s: several korean practitioners of karate seek to distance themselves from Japanese culture after WWII. They combine their karate with a korean sport that is thousands of years old and involves throuws and kicks and stuff. Thus Tae Kwon Do is born.
1980’s an american martial artist of greek descent discovers that his beloved homeland was responsilbe for the world’s first martial art (historians had always known about pankration but THEY didnt really care). He does major research and opens a Pankration academy. Currently the sport is experiencing a revival. I am sure you will all here about it sooner or later. In fact I am competing in the South African National Championships on saturday.
1700’s: As stated above Angolan slaves in Brazil begin adapting a centuries old game involing acrobatics and faked kicks into a lethal fighting style that does not require hands in order to work. Thus Capoeria is born. The object is to throw a kick out and then, without losing any momentum to reassess your opponent’s position and throw another one. This continues until one of you lands a kick. Trust me guys: when you do capoeira you olny need one. Every kick is thrown will the total body weight behind it and the force is amplified by co-ordinating one’s muscles into the strike. Even when the kicks are down incoreclty it is impossible to block them. They are just too powerful.
Anyway the slaves break free, carve themselves out a piece of jungle to call their own, fight several small battles with the Spanish and hold out until slavery is abolished
Thats about it. Pretty off topic but interesting none the less.
The only thing I am unsure of is how the Phillapino martial styles (Kali, Escrima etc) were developed. I assume that they are a derivation of Kung-Fu as well but I dont want to piss anybody off if I am wrong.