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History of the Martial Arts P5 - Other Arts Along the Way Home

Updated on December 13, 2012

Other Far East Arts.

Each of the Eastern Oriental nations along the the trade routes seem to have a martial art form that is indigenous to that country.

Here one has to be more careful about naming the specific arts. The art may have different names for the same discipline or the same name may recognize different disciplines dependent upon the area and bordering country.

For example Bando, from Burma, is usually recognized as "Stick fighting." However some recognize Bando as an empty-handed art and Banshay is an armed art (Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts by Draeger and Smith).

Therefore, we will address this one in a basic attitude, not addressing armed or unarmed and using the common name of Bando. The same may be true of several of the following though this not pertinent to our study and, therefore will not be explored further.

The most recognized of these are Muay Thai/Thai boxing (hand and foot system) from Thailand, Petjak-silat (hand and foot system) from Indonesia and Bersilat (hand and foot system) from Malaysia. There are many variations of these as well as many other arts, some related and some dissimilar from the rest.

Our references further indicate the people of these countries are of the same stock as the Chinese but had separated from the Chinese proper. They apparently turned "right" during the eastern migrations while the majority continued east establishing the Chinese people as well as the other northeastern civilization related to our study.

As to the Indonesian/Micronesian groups, most trace their beginnings to middle ages, 12th to 15th century, when, in an effort to escape the expanding Chinese and Mongol hordes, they left the main land for the southern islands. They, of course, took their particular versions of the arts with them as they went island hopping.

And, with reference to the last two paragraphs, the origin date for these lesser known disciplines is usually stated as anywhere from "unknown" up to the 15th century and any date in between. However this does strengthen our proofs for the origin of the arts being in the Middle East since history addresses the "migration" theory the same as we have here.

That brings us to the buffer between China and the Middle East which is India. It provides further, if not conclusive, evidence of the origin of the arts being in the Middle East.


Beginning early in the 2nd century BC, caravans traveled the Silk Road, a 4,000-mile (6,400-kilometer) trade route linking China with the West. The route began in Sian in China and wound its way to the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores(Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia, Silk Road).

India borders China. Following the above "verbal map," northern India would have been on the "Road." And India had its own martial arts system which was dated earlier than those in the Far East.

A nameless, deadly form of wrestling existed in India prior to 1650 BC and was codified into four styles(Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts).

Vajra-musti is an off shoot of these early forms of wrestling and is still practiced sparingly today yet most Indian arts have fallen into obscurity. There is a similarity between this and the Greek pankration. However, considering the time frames, it is probable that wrestling in India preceded pankration by some thousand years. And though it would be easy to accept that Indian wrestling as a predecessor to pankration, equally we must consider that each had an origin. And that origin is in between India and Greece, Mesopotamia, the Middle East.

All of this brings us back to the argument of origin. As we continue our backward look, keep in mind that according to secular history, China, with a compromise beginning date of about 1800 BC, is the oldest of these Far East countries.Yet the Middle East cultures are older than China. And the inhabitants practiced the arts long before China formed its first cities.

That brings us to the end of this study.

Concluding Comments

We have presented this series of 5 articles tracing the early history of the martial arts. These were taken from personal studies which became a part of a Doctoral Thesis.

In another Hub, a short series called "Martial Arts and the Bible, we have been studying facets of the Arts. This series is a two year study presented in 132 lessons to students of the Christian Martial Arts Fellowship called History of the Martial Arts,

As we reviewed our purpose and the subject matter still to be presented in each of these studies, there are many overlapping and stand alone pages of each yet to be printed.

After consideration, we feel it would be best to combine the two studies at this point under one title, Christianity and the Martial Arts. Though this may cause some minor repetition of information already presented in the two original Hubs, it will lend itself to a more thorough and an easier to follow format. We are confident you will get a more complete understanding of both the Arts Bibilcal position and history through under this new title.

Look for the first installment of "Christianity and the Martial Arts" in the next week or so.


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