In this article and the more specific Indian Martial Arts below, we are only talking about martial arts from the current borders of India. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh are covered in their own sections.
Indian text, from 1700BC onwards, contain the some of the earliest records of different types of Martial Arts in India. Including empty hand fighting styles and weapons practice. Many Hindu and Buddhist deities carry weapons and are related to fighting in some way.
A with most countries whose martial arts dates back 1000’s of years, wrestling is the first indian martial art to be systemised and have formed training regimes and patterns.
In the 3rd century, many different Indian traditions had merged into one another. There were elements of yoga, ayurvedic medicine and indian traditional dancing mixed into the martial arts practice.
By the 4th century, the depth of the understanding and training had reached to levels where 107 vital points had been identified on the human body of which 64 were classified as being lethal.
By the 10th century many of the major styles known today were starting to form. Styles such as Kalaripayat had developed into its present form helped by an extended period of wars.
When the British was expanding their empire and took control of India in the 19th century, martial arts was outlawed, expect for certain communities who were classed as martial races. These martial races were used throughout the British empire as guards and soldiers. As the British rule receded the popularity in traditional Indian martial arts grew again into what it is today.
Currently there are the following major styles of Martial arts from India:
– Inbuan Wrestling
– Mardani Khel
– Musti Yuddha
– Thang ta
– Vajra Musti