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Western Martial Arts History

The oldest record of boxing are pyramid hieroglyphs and mural paintings in Egypt that date back 4000 B.C. From these early origins, fighting sports were born like pankration in ancient Crete to today’s prizefighting. (The first recorded bare-knuckle champion was Englishman James Figg in 1719.)

Western martial arts continued to evolve around the world. For example, 17 years after Chinese dignitaries visited, Persians created varesh-e-pahlavan in 98 B.C., which is a fighting art that uses kicks. Another example is how Russian’s Mongolian occupiers influenced the Russian martial art of systema. During the Viking Age, the Finnish created the fighting art kas-pin. When African slaves were shipped from Angola to Brazil during the late 1400s, they eventually created the Brazilian martial art known as capoiera. French savate (foot fighting) arose during the French Revolution (1789-1799). After studying jujutsu in Japan, Edward William Barton-Wright returned to England and, in 1898, created bartitsu, which combined jujutsu, boxing and savate.

Today, new Western martial arts are generally created by someone who has a background in several other arts. Evolution is nonstop.

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  1. The Life and Times of American Martial Arts Pioneer Donn F. Draeger, Part 2

    The Life and Times of American Martial Arts Pioneer Donn F. Draeger, Part 2