Martial arts is generally thought to have begun in what is now known as Asia, but there is evidence that supports theories that some forms of fighting that evolved into martial arts began in early Greece, with the Vikings and even as early as the Minoan civilization. The earliest pictorial renderings of fighting similar to modern age martial arts were found in a manual dating to 1300 B.C. and compiled by Franconian monastery.
The history of martial arts shows evidence from early China, to what was called the Shuai Jiao discipline, almost 4,000 years ago. In 2698 B.C, Huangdi, also known as the Yellow Emperor was a General trained in martial arts and he introduced these fighting systems to China after rising to the position of Emperor.
Even though the term martial arts is usually associated with fighting styles from countries in Asia, the term was actually coined to describe systems of combat fighting first found in medieval Europe. The phrase derived originally from Latin and translated means, Arts of Mars, where Mars is the Roman god of war.
As the history of martial arts continues, European fighting styles developed during medieval times with documented combat manuals that still survive. Japanese marital arts also started to document their styles and it is these records that provide the documentation of martial arts styles in both Asia and Europe for the period from Medieval to early modern times.
In a more modern narration of the history of martial arts, interest in martial arts rises dramatically in the western world as trade increases between the United States and Japan and China. As United States military presence increased in Asia during World War II and then again during the Korean War, U.S. military personnel became interested in martial arts fighting styles and brought these fighting styles home to the United States.
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Hollywood soon caught the martial arts fever and that is when martial arts really took off in the United States. Film stars like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris greatly increased the popularity of all types of martial arts fighting styles and then kickboxing became popular in America in the early 1970s. The 1970s also saw a rapid increase in private teaching studios in the United States led by Bruce Lee who was one of the first to agree to teach martial arts outside the Far East.
Today the history of martial arts is continuing to be written and martial arts continues to grow in popularity.