Chronological History of the Martial Arts

About 30,000 years ago Slings, arrows, and atlatls (Nahuatl; spear throwers) are developed.
About 9500 B.C. Metal is refined.
About 8000 B.C. Self-bows appear. (A self-bow is a bow made from a single piece of wood.)
About 7250 B.C. Walled towns appear.
About 5500 B.C. Copper tools appear.
About 4000 B.C. Compound bows appear. (A compound bow is one that is made from more than one piece of wood or of material other than wood. Examples include horn and sinew glued together.)
About 3127 B.C. According to Indian texts written during the sixth century B.C.,
the god-man Krishna is born at Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh. Stories describing the life of Lord Krishna report that he sometimes engaged in wrestling matches.
About 2700 B.C. Britons begin making and using yew bows. Although made from a single piece of wood, and therefore technically self-bows, these weapons were actually compound bows, as the wood from which they were made was carefully selected to include both sapwood and heartwood. (The flexible sapwood was used for the back of the bow, while the denser heartwood was used for its belly.)
2697 B.C. According to documents written between the sixth century B.C. and the third century A.D., Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, rules China. Huang Di was subsequently credited with inventing many things, including Daoism (Taoism), archery, wrestling, swordsmanship, and football.
About 2300 B.C. Friezes on the walls of a tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, show youths wrestling. Other friezes on the same tombs also show boys in light tunics boxing with bare fists and fencing with papyrus stalks, perhaps in the context of playing soldier.
About 1950 B.C. The world’s oldest wrestling manual appears as frescoes on the walls of four separate tombs built near Beni Hasan, Egypt.
About 1829 B.C. According to the twelfth century A.D. Irish Book of Invasions, the Tailltenn Games are established near modern Telltown, Ireland. These games featured singing, wrestling, and racing; took place about August 1; and commemorated Tailltu, the mother of a pre-Christian sun god named Lugh (pronounced “Lew,” but nonetheless sometimes anglicized as Lammas).
About 1520 B.C. A fresco made on the Aegean island of Thera shows boys boxing.
About 1500 B.C. Near the ford at Jabbok, the Hebrew patriarch Jacob wrestles with a spirit being, thereby earning the title of “Israel,” or “wrestler with God.” There is some controversy about Jacob’s winning technique. The Christian Bible, for example, credits Jacob’s victory to his refusing to give in even after his opponent grabbed him by the genitals (“the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh” [Genesis 32:32, King James Bible]). The Jewish tradition, however, has Jacob continuing despite an injury to his sciatic nerve, which in turn explains why the sciatic nerve is discarded during kosher preparation of meat. The nature of Jacob’s opponent is also debated. For example, Christian theologians typically say it was an apparition of God. Jews, on the other hand, say that it was the guardian angel of Jacob’s brother Esau, and that the victory symbolizes Jacob’s spiritual victory over Esau.
About 1450 B.C. Swords (that is, metal blades that are more than twice as long as their handles and equally usable for cutting, thrusting, and guarding) are made in the mountains of Austria and Hungary.
About 1424 B.C. According to the Bhagavad-Gita (Sanskrit; Lord’s Song), the god-man Krishna and the warrior-king Arjuna discuss the meaning of life. Their decision is that a warrior should have a code of ethics and fight in defense of it. They also decide that it is inappropriate for a warrior to avoid battle by choosing to live as a merchant or a priest, as he would then be untrue to his obligations.
About 1250 B.C. According to the Hellenic story of Jason and the Argonauts, a Lakedaimonian (Spartan) boxer named Polydeukes defeats a foreign bully named Amykos.
About 1193 B.C. According to Homer’s Iliad, funeral games (agon gymnikos) played by the Homeric warriors during their siege of Troy include chariot races, boxing, wrestling, foot races, discus throwing, and archery events.
About 1160 B.C. A frieze at Medinet Habu celebrating the accession of Pharaoh Ramses III shows ten pairs of wrestlers and stickfighters in an arena surrounded by grandstands. The matches were probably fixed, as the art shows that Egyptians always won, and the Libyans, Sudanese, and Syrians always lost.
1123 B.C. According to tradition, King Wan and his son, Dan, the Duke of Zhou, patronize the publication of the Yijing (I Ching; Book of Changes). King Wan is also credited with increasing the number of the linear diagrams shown in the Yijing from their original eight to their modern sixty-four.
About 1015 B.C. According to 1 Samuel 17:21-58, a Hebrew shepherd named David uses five stones and a sling to slay a Philistine named Goliath.
About 890 B.C. The Athenian king Theseus is entertained by the spectacle of men hitting each other in the head with leather-laced fists.
Eighth century B.C. According to the Ramayana epic, the Indian kingdom of Kosala conquers Sri Lanka. The hero of the conquest is Lord Rama, whose best friend is the monkey-god Hanuman. As long as Hanuman remains celibate and loyal to his Lord Rama, he is blessed with great wisdom, windlike speed and strength, and
immunity from all types of weapons. Hanuman has since become the patron saint of Indian and Pakistani wrestlers.
776 B.C. According to tradition, the first Panhellenic Games are played at Olympia, a shrine to the god Zeus standing on a plain west of Corinth.
About 770 B.C. Swords appear in China. These early Chinese weapons were generally made of hammered bronze; although the Chinese worked terrestrial iron from about 1000 B.C., they used it mainly for tipping plows until the fourth century B.C.
708 B.C. According to a victor’s list made up by Sextus Julius Africanus after A.D. 217, wrestling is made part of the Olympic Games. However, the date is questionable, as the oldest statue at Olympia to honor a wrestler is only dated to 628 B.C.
About 700 B.C. A Chinese text written in the sixth century B.C. ranks wrestling as a military skill on a par with archery and chariot racing.
688 B.C. According to a victor’s list drawn up by Sextus Julius Africanus after A.D. 217, boxing with ox-hide hand-wrappings is added to the Olympic Games. As the first Olympic statue to honor a boxer was only erected in 544 B.C., this dating is unreliable.
648 B.C. According to the victor’s list produced by Sextus Julius Africanus after A.D. 217, pankration (literally, “total fighting” in the sense of “no holds barred”) is introduced into the Pan-hellenic Games, A giant named Lygdamis of Syracuse being its first known champion. Unfortunately the latter attribution is not certain, as the oldest statue honoring an Olympic pankra-tionist was only dated 536 B.C.
632 B.C. According to a Chinese text written during the fourth century B.C., the Prince of Chin dreams of wrestling.
About 550 B.C. Reflexed compound bows appear in Central Asia. (A reflexed bow is one that, when unstrung, reverses its curve; a Cupid bow is an example.)
544 B.C. According to tradition, the Buddha achieves Nirvana while sitting under a tree in Bodhgaya, India. The Buddha’s power was not entirely spiritual, either, as according to subsequent stories, he was a champion wrestler, archer, runner, swimmer, and mathematician who won his first wife in a duel.
About 540 B.C. An Olympic wrestling champion named Milo of Kroton (a Hellenic city in southern Italy) reportedly develops his famous strength by carrying a heifer the length of a stadium every day for four years, a feat that has in modern times been claimed as the progenitor of progressive weight training.
About 511 B.C. According to tradition, a crippled general from Shandong province called the Honorable Sun, or Sun Zi, writes The Art of War, as a way of passing his knowledge on to others.
479 B.C. The Chinese philosopher known as Kong Zi dies in Shandong province. Although his philosophy, known as Confucianism, was ignored in its time (the fourth-century philosopher Meng Zi was actually the first famous Confucianist), it subsequently became the cornerstone of the imperial Chinese bureaucracy. And, because the government viewpoint was not popular with everyone, rival philosophies such as Daoism (Taoism) and Le-galism developed to compete with it.
About 460 B.C. The Hellenic historian Herodotus describes the practices and culture of some female warriors he calls the Amazons. Who the Amazons were is not known, and in fact there were female warriors and priestesses throughout the Mediterranean world.
About 445 B.C. Hellenic philosophers describe the four “roots” of the universe as being Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. These elements in turn had basic characteristics, namely hot, cold, dry, and wet.
About 398 B.C. Engineers working for the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius the Elder invent what the Greeks called katapeltes (hurlers) and the Romans called ballistae (throwers). Smaller versions of these weapons subsequently became crossbows. The Chinese meanwhile were developing trebuchets, which were enormous slings attached to pivoting wooden beams.
388 B.C. During one of the first fixed fights on record, a boxer named Eupolos the Thessalian pays the fighters Agetor of Arkadia, Prytanis of Kyziokos, and Phormion of Halikarnassos to lose to him during the Olympics.
About 350 B.C. According to a story by Zhuang Zi, Chinese kings enjoy watching sword fights, sometimes to the exclusion of affairs of state.
About 330 B.C. Etruscan bronze statuettes show men wrestling with women.
About 322 B.C. According to Greek sources, a north Indian king named Chan-dragupta kept an armed female bodyguard.
About 290 B.C. While commenting on the Yijing (I Ching; Book of Changes), the Chinese scholar Zhuang Zi introduces the convention of describing “yin” and “yang” as “bright” and “dark” instead of “weak” and “strong.”
About 270 B.C. Chinese scholars describe matter in terms of the Five Configurations (wu xing). These elements included wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, and may show Hellenistic influence via India. The appearance of this cosmology in Sun Zi is part of the reason that many non-Chinese scholars think that Sun Bin actually wrote (or at least extensively revised) the text.
About 246 B.C. As part of a memorial for a deceased patrician named Junius Brutus Pera, three pairs of slaves are made to fence with one another in the Roman cattle market. The spectacle makes this funeral famous, and gladiators are the ultimate result.
216 B.C. King Ptolemy IV of Egypt sends his best pankrationist, a man named Aristonikos, to the Olympic Games; his goal is to show Egypt’s superiority over Greece. However, to the Greeks’ satisfaction, the Theban pankrationist Kleitomachos ultimately prevailed. And how did he do this? Not by outfighting the Egyptian, but by appealing to the patriotism of the ethnically Greek officials and crowd. This is a reminder that neither the use of athletics for political purposes nor biased officiating is anything new.
Second century B.C. The Chinese historian Si Ma Qian describes xia, a word that can be translated as “knights who wore coarse clothes” or “knights from humble alleys.” In general, these heroes were noted for their altruism, courage, and sense of justice (with the emphasis being on correcting individual rather than social injustices). They were notorious for associating with butchers and gamblers, drinking in public, and ignoring normal social cour-
tesies; while not all of them were famous swordsmen or archers, some were, and these probably provided models for subsequent Chinese martial art heroes.
165 B.C. A rope-dancer and a pair of boxers upstage a new play by the Roman dramatist Terence; undaunted, Terence unveils an improved play five years later and is again upstaged by the announcement that the boxers are about to begin. This is a reminder that Roman boxing and wrestling were as much theatrical acts as combative sports.
105 B.C. To show recruits exactly what happens on battlefields, the Roman governors of Pavia, Italy, introduce public gladiatorial matches. That these matches were not intended to be recreational (in which case they would have been called ludi [Latin; games]) is indicated by their name, munera, from munus, function, employment, duty.
First century B.C. A Chinese annalist named Zhao Yi writes about a woman who was a great swordsman. She said the key to success was constant practice without the supervision of a master; after a while, she said, she just understood everything there was to know.
23 B.C. According to the Chronicles of Japan, the Emperor Suinin watches a sumo match between a hero named Sukune-no-Nomi and a bully named Taima-no-Kehaya. The story is probably legendary, as the text was not written until the eighth century, at which time its purpose was to trace the genealogies of the reigning leadership back to ancient gods.
A.D. 90 Roman entrepreneurs introduce gladiatorial battles between dwarves. Similar midget acts remained popular in circuses and professional wrestling rings for the next 1,900 years.
About 98 The Roman writer Tacitus reports that German priests forecast the outcome of upcoming engagements by comparing the strength of the two sides’ war-chants. Warriors amplified their chants by shouting into their shields while clashing their weapons against them. Sixteenth-century English playwrights called this sound “swashbuckling,” and said it was especially useful against cavalry attacks, as the noise scared horses.
Second century Indian Buddhists are encouraged to avoid all contact with evil or cruel persons who practice the arts of boxing, wrestling, and nata. Nata is, literally, “dancing,” but in some of the more violent dances, the dancers go through choreographed battles against invisible demons. The Hellenistic world had its equivalents; unarmed exercises were known as skiamachiae (Greek; private contests), while armed versions were known as hoplo-machiae (armed contests).
Second century The medical texts ascribed to the Indian physician Susruta describe 107 vital points on the human body. (Some people added a secret spot, too, to bring the total to 108, a number with important Buddhist cosmological significance.)
141 The Chinese physician Hua Tuo is born. As an adult, Hua cre
ated a series of exercises called Wu Qin Xi (Five Animals Play).
Although the inspiration is said to have been observation of the
141 cont. animals themselves, the animal dances of Turkic animists seem a more likely source, especially if those dances were done by sorcerers interested in acquiring the animals’ magical powers.
About 200 A Christian philosopher named Clement of Alexandria writes that women should be athletes for God. That is, they should wrestle with the Devil and devote themselves to celibacy instead of bowing meekly to their destiny of mothers and wives.
About 220 As a way of recruiting the best fighters for his bodyguard, a Chinese warlord named Liubei begins holding fencing tournaments.
271 A group of Gothic women captured while armed and dressed as men are paraded through Rome wearing signs that read “Amazons.”
302 Stirrups appear in Chinese art, the Turks or Mongols then beginning to invade the country having introduced the devices. The most famous member of the Han resistance to the contemporary invasions is Hua Mulan, a young girl who takes her elderly father’s place in the Northern dynasty army.
About 378 In Mexico, the Tikal king Jaguar-Paw and his brother Smoking-Frog begin using atlatls (Nahuatl; spear-throwers), for the purpose of killing enemies from long range. (Earlier battles had been fought hand-to-hand.)
Fifth century Quarterstaffs become associated with Daoist exorcisms. The idea was that when the priest pointed his staff toward heaven, the gods bowed and the earth smiled, but when he pointed it at demons, the cowardly rascals fled.
About 400 The Indian poet Vatsayana writes the Kama Sutra, or “Aphorisms on Love.” Along with acrobatic sex, the Kama Sutra also taught Indian courtesans to captivate men through regular practice with sword, singlestick, quarterstaff, and bow and arrow.
495 The Shaolin Temple is built at Bear’s Ear Peak in the Song Mountains of Henan province. The name means “the young forest,” and alludes to the forest in north India where the Buddha chose to depart this life.
501 The king of the Burgundians introduces trial by battle into Western Christianity.
About 530 According to tradition, an Indian monk known as Bodhi-dharma (Carrier of Wisdom) introduces southern Indian moving meditations to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery in Henan province.
About 550 During an exhibition held at the court of the Liang dynasty Wu Di emperor, a Buddhist monk called Dong Quan (Eastern Fist) uses unarmed techniques to disarm armed attackers.
590 The Christian Synod of Druim Ceat orders British women to quit going into battle alongside their men. The ban must not have been especially effective, since the daughter of Alfred the Great is remembered as the conqueror of Wales and the people who taught sword dancing to the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn were female.
About 600 The imperial court of China’s Tang dynasty hires Punjabi and Bengali astrologers to teach Vedic astrology. This may have significance for the Chinese martial arts, as many subsequent mar-
tial art practice forms have rectilinear patterns whose designs are similar to those used by Vedic astrologers to cast birth charts and horoscopes. (Practice inside tiled courtyards is another possible explanation, but defining social space using geometric methods was vastly more important to thirteenth-century Muslims and sixteenth-century Western Europeans than to seventh-century Chinese.)
About 630 Norasimhavarman I Marmalla, the Vaishnavite king of southern India’s Pallava dynasty, commissions dozens of granite sculptures showing unarmed fighters disarming armed opponents.
About 647 The White Huns settle in northern India. Various Rajput (King’s Sons) clans claim descent from these warriors. This seems unlikely. First, reliable Rajput genealogies rarely go back further than the eleventh century. Second, Muslim chroniclers do not start describing Hindu warriors as Rajput rather than kshatriya until the tenth century. So the Rajputs are probably not White Huns, but Hindus who got tired of the passive resistance that many Brahmans preached.
668 The Chinese capture the Koguryo capital of Pyongyang, leaving a political vacuum in Korea that Silla quickly fills. The question has been raised of why the Chinese did not also conquer Silla. Evidently the government was too well organized and the military too strong. Koreans also believe that the Silla warriors’ hwarang spirit deserves some of the credit. It is also unclear what hwarang refers to. The name translates into something akin to “Young Flower Masters.” It could refer to an earlier women’s group that its members replaced politically, the flower of manhood the members represented, a flower that the Buddha once held aloft to admire, a Korean gambling game that involves fencing with reeds, or something else altogether. In any case, the followers of hwarang were said to refine their morals, learn right from wrong, and select the best from among themselves to be their leaders. Aristocratic youths were inducted into this organization while aged 14-18 years. Usually there were about 200 hwarang scattered throughout the kingdom, each with an entourage of about a thousand, and they frequently served as generals or political advisors.
About 671 The Byzantines develop a liquid incendiary called by the Franks Greek fire.
680 During a battle at Karbala, Iraq, the third Shiite imam, al-Hus-sein ibn ‘Ali, disappears under a shower of arrows. To commemorate his martyrdom, the Shiites instituted a forty-day period of mourning in 1109. Known as Muharram (abstinence), this observance originally meant little more than hanging black sheets from windows. But over time people took to showing their piety in more sanguinary ways. Lent served a similar purpose for Christians, while for Rajputs, it was Dussehra.
682 In an essay called The Canon on the Philosopher’s Stone, the Chinese alchemist Sun Simiao becomes the first person known to have written that saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur are explosive when mixed.
Eighth century Vishnaivite monks living in Kerala, India, are described as devoting their mornings to archery, singlestick, and wrestling; their afternoons to chanting and dancing; and their evenings to walking in the woods.
Eighth century The Kievan annals describe a Slavic boxing game involving fist-fights between picked champions. Bouts took place during the winter on the frozen rivers that established boundaries between districts. While kicking, tripping, and putting iron into one’s gloves were discouraged, the only real rule was that the two men had to fight face to face and chest to chest without recourse to magic or trickery.
About 700 The Chinese scholar Hong Beisi describes an esoteric Buddhist movement art using the word quanfa. This term, which has become a generic term for the Chinese martial arts, is probably best translated as “boxing methods” (quan means “fist,” and fa means “method” or “law,” usually in a philosophical context).
About 710 Christian Serbs are reported using poisoned arrows against Bosnian Muslims. The English word toxin comes from the Greek phrase toxikon pharmakon (bow poison), which is what the Byzantines called these arrow-borne poisons.
714 China’s Xuan Zong emperor establishes an acting school at his royal capital, and the sword dances and gymnastics taught in such schools subsequently were associated with Chinese martial arts.
About 750 A peripatetic Indian monk called Amoghavajra introduces the esoteric finger movements, or mudras, of Yogacara Buddhism into China. As memorizing these finger movements was supposed to cause subtle changes to the practitioner’s internal energy (which is possible, since the hands provide more sensory input to the brain than all other parts of the body except the eyes, tongue, and nose), they were subsequently incorporated into some East Asian martial arts.
About 750 Probably in hopes of obtaining divine intervention, the Koreans erect Buddhist temples all around Kwangju. By the gates of these temples were statues of bare-chested temple guardians standing in what the Koreans now call kwon bop (pugilistic) stances. The guardian on the west (the excited fellow with wild hair and open mouth) represented yang energy, and was called Mi-chi. The guardian on the east (the fellow who stands with his mouth closed and his emotions under control) represented yin energy, and was called Chin-kang. Similar temple guardians were constructed in Japan. The surviving pair at the Tedaiji Monastery in Nara were unusual, though, partly because they were next to the altar rather than the gate and mostly because they wore armor. The Tedaiji statues were made of lacquered hemp cloth spread over a wooden frame, and known as rikishi, or strongmen. Japanese professional wrestlers also use the latter name.
788 Shankara achieves enlightenment in India. While little known today, Shankara was probably the most influential philosopher of his day, as his theory that one could escape fate by achieving a mind empty of illusions (sunya) led to the development of both Zen Buddhism and the Indo-Arabic numeral zero.
789 The Japanese aristocracy start patronizing kumitachi (sword dances). Their models were similar Chinese and Korean entertainments, and their methods reportedly set the precedent for the choreographed fencing depicted in the seventeenth-century No and Kabuki theaters.
About 790 Rhinelanders develop bellows-driven forges, significantly improving German metallurgy and becoming a factor behind the subsequent successes of the Danish Vikings, who bought their swords from the Rhenish Germans.
793 Given a choice between seeing his mother torn to pieces before his eyes or losing his horse, an Aquitanian aristocrat named Datus does the only sensible thing: He keeps his horse.
Ninth century The Franks start using the Latin word schola, or “school,” to describe places where monks study philosophy rather than places where soldiers wrestle and fence.
About 800 Buddhist monks develop the idea of centering the mind and the breathing at a spot about three fingers’ width below and a couple of inches behind the navel. While the practice soon became popular among sitting Zennists, it did not become popular among Japanese swordsmen for another thousand years. (Pioneers of the idea that training in proper breathing and energy projection was important to swordsmanship included Shirai Toru Yoshinori [1781-1843], whose Heiho michi shirube [Guide to the Way of Swordsmanship] was widely circulated during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.)
About 820 Members of an Indian monastic order called the Dasnami Naga are reported practicing archery and other combative sports.
About 840 Sumai (struggle) wrestling, an ancestor of modern sumo, develops in Japan. Associated with harvest festivals, the wrestlers were part of a giant potlatch relationship designed to show their patrons’ ability to squander such mighty energies. The roots of the sport may lie in Korea.
About 860 The Iraqi mathematician Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn-Ishaq as-Sabbah al-Kindi (called in Latin Alkindus) writes that the finest swords in the Islamic world come from Yemen and India. To al-Kindi, these weapons were known as wootz, after the Indian steel used to make them; to Europeans, they were known as Damascus, after the damask cloth that the wootz steel resembled.
863 The Chinese storyteller Duan Cheng dies. His works include a text called Yu Yang Za Zu (Miscellaneous Fare from Yu Yang, a mountain in Hunan where great masters had hidden books containing great knowledge). One story describes a young man who learns that a prospective knight-errant needs to master swordsmanship as well as archery, and another an old sword-dancer who whirls two swords as if pulling silk, then plants them in the ground in the manner of the seven stars of the Big Dipper.
About 890 According to David Howlitt of Oxford University, King Alfred the Great of England has a cleric named Aethelstan write a vernacular description of proper chivalric behavior that even Alfred’s grandson will be able to understand. The result is the untitled poem called by eighteenth-century scholars Beowulf.
Tenth century A Punjabi weaver called Goraksha (a title of initiation; the man’s actual name is unknown) renounces the world to become a Tantric mystic of the Natha sect. Goraksha is remembered as the creator of hatha yoga, which means the “yoking (of the spirit) to the sun and the moon,” a system of breathing techniques and calisthenics designed to teach practitioners how to control their personal and psychic energies.
About 907 Following the collapse of the once-mighty Tang dynasty, Chinese refugees settle in Japan. The Togakure-ryu ninjutsu system claims these Chinese refugees as its founders.
About 950 Japanese martial philosophers describe kyuba no michi (the Way of Bow and Horse). This discussed the Japanese warrior’s overriding concern for personal honor, and was the conceptual grandparent of the Tokugawa-era code known as bushido. (The contemporary pronunciation of the two Chinese characters meaning “warrior,” though, was “mononofu,” not “bushi.”)
About 960 Indo-Iranian merchants settle along China’s southeast coast, leading to the creation of an ethnic Chinese Muslim population known as the Hui. Chinese persecution occasionally led to Hui insurrections, and several modern wushu (martial arts) spear forms are attributed to the fighting arts of nineteenth-century Hui rebels.
960 The Song dynasty is established in southern China. This dynasty is remembered for its many technological innovations, probably because it used scholars rather than warlords as its governors and generals. Song-dynasty storytelling was divided into eight categories, and topics included magical tales (yao shu), sword stories (biao dao, or military tales), and cudgel stories (gan bang; these are essentially detective stories, and the allusion is to police using clubs rather than swords to apprehend and interrogate suspects). These categories were not too distinct, and were freely mixed in later works such as The Water Margin.
About 967 Japanese officials describe their peers’ bodyguards as samurai, or “ones who serve,” instead of “henchmen” or “minions.”
About 970 According to a twelfth-century writer named Zhang Bangji, Chinese palace dancers begin binding their feet to make themselves more sexually attractive to men. The crippling practice was widespread throughout southern China by the fourteenth century and throughout all of China by the seventeenth, and is remarked because foot binding prevented well-bred Han females from effectively practicing boxing or swordsmanship until the twentieth century. (Some were noted archers, though, generally with crossbows.) Still, into the 1360s, Hong Fu, Hong Xian, Thirteenth Sister, and other Chinese martial heroines (xia) were sometimes portrayed by women on Chinese stages, and there was a seventeenth-century reference to a fourteenth-century woman named Yang who was said to be peerless in the fighting art of “pear-blossom spear.”
About 1040 Indian Buddhists fleeing the raids of the Muslim Muhammad of Ghazna reestablish Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. One of their earliest monasteries was the Shalu monastery at Shigatse. Its
claim to fame was that it trained its monks to run for many days and nights without stopping. The basis for such tales is the khora, or pedestrian mandalas, run by Tibetan monks around sacred mountains. Buddhist monks ran clockwise, while Bon monks traveled counterclockwise. (This difference had to do with which direction the practitioner held to be the most important, the female/left or the male/right. The landowning classes, which included priests and soldiers, generally preferred the right-hand path, while the mercantile classes, which included artisans, merchants, potters, burglars, hunters, and prostitutes, generally preferred the left-hand path.) Analogous dances appeared in Islam and Christianity about the same time. The Islamic and Christian dances represented the angels in heaven and the progression of the planets. Only men did such dancing, as women’s dances were considered lewd. Such dances also reinforced Hellenistic medical theories, according to which standing strengthened the spine, walking removed afflictions of the head and chest, and well-regulated breathing tempered the heat of the heart.
1042 Warrior-monks establish a Western Saharan Islamic nomocracy known as the Almoravides (al-murabbitun—those who gather in the fortress to wage the holy war). By the 1080s, these fundamentalists had conquered Morocco and invaded Ghana and Iberia; Rodrigo Diaz, known as El Cid, was the Christian hero of the Iberian defense.
About 1063 Following his reported intervention during a battle in Sicily, Saint George becomes the patron saint of Norman warriors. Pious English soldiers continued seeking Saint George’s assistance well into the modern era, and he was reported to be personally supporting British forces as late as 1914.
1066 According to the Chronicle of Saint Martin of Tours, Geoffroi de Preuilli, the man “who invented tournaments,” is killed during a tournament at Angers. The Germans rejected the French claim to primacy in inventing tournaments, citing as evidence similar equestrian games played by the retainers of Louis the German in 842 and King Henry the Fowler ca. 930.
About 1070 An Englishman known as Hereward the Wake exchanges blows with a potter, the two men agreeing to stand up to each other’s blows in turn, with the better man to be judged by the result. The blows seem to have been open-handed slaps to the side of the head rather than punches to the jaw, but in the parlance of the day the game was known as boxing. In the nineteenth century, the story caused Sir Walter Scott to claim that Richard the Lion-Hearted played similar boxing games.
About 1075 Norman clergy start dubbing Norman knights. The reason seems to have been that the clergy wanted to exert control over the men-at-arms by blessing preexisting initiation rites. Rituals varied from place to place. The practice of “striking me kneeling, with a broadsword, and pouring ale upon my head” (Burke 1978, 39-41) is associated with eighteenth-century journeyman initiations rather than medieval aristocratic practice.
1077 The Song-dynasty scholar Zhao Yong dies. Ming-dynasty scholars subsequently credited Zhao and his students with creating Earthly Branch horary astrology. Earthly Branch astrology sought to locate auspicious moments by combining birth information, Indo-Iranian arithmetic puzzles, and the 64 trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching; Book of Changes). Earthly Branch divination methods are commemorated by the names of several Southern Shaolin quanfa (fist law) styles, various Okinawan karate kata, and the eight trigrams shown on the modern South Korean flag.
About 1086 Believing it to be useful for teaching heiho (the way of strategy) to soldiers, a Japanese prince named Otoku introduces the game of Go into Japanese military training. Most of his contemporaries continued to view the game as an entertainment rather than a practical martial art.
1090 An Iranian imam called Hasan ibn al-Sabbah establishes the occult branch of Sevener Shiism known as the Nizaris in the mountains of western Iran. Due to hashish-laden drinks that Nizari leaders supposedly gave their followers before sending them out to commit political assassinations, the Nizaris are better known by the Syrian name of hashshashin (hashish-takers), from which the word assassin comes. The Nizaris are also remembered for providing Islamic literature with its stories about Aladdin, the daring young thief who could open magic caves and seduce women simply by crying, “Open, sesame!” Pakistan’s Agha Muhammad Khan (1917-1980) is probably the most famous modern Sevener.
1096 During England’s first important judicial duel, the Norman Count of Eu fights another Norman named Godefroy Baynard; the cause is a dispute over Godefroy’s relationship with the homosexual King William Rufus.
Twelfth century A Tamil martial art develops in southern India. In Travancore, it was known as varma ati (hitting the vital spots) while in Kerala it was known as kalarippayattu (gladiatorial training).
About 1100 Mystery plays become popular throughout Europe. These presented the history of the world from the Creation to the Last Judgment (the word mystery originally meant “to minister”) and taught biblical stories to illiterate audiences during Carnival or other popular festivals. The plays’ scatological dialogue and use of partial nudity were sacrilegious and crude by modern standards. Nevertheless, from a martial art standpoint, their feats of choreographed sword dancing and wrestling were impressive, and it was not for want of a better word that the twelfth-century German theologian known as Hugh of St. Victor described all kinds of games and amusements as “theatrics.”
About 1106 Troubadours popularize pre-Christian legends about an Ulster hero called Cu Chulainn who was so much a man that by the age of 7 he already required the sight of naked women to distract him from wanton killing. Further, as he got older, Cu Chulainn became notorious for conquering matristic societies by rape. Evidently Christian patrilinealism was being imposed
on Ireland, and the victors were describing how it was being done, since in the earliest forms of the story, Cu Chulainn’s martial art instructors included a woman known as Scathach (Shadowy). At any rate, the military training described included lessons in breath control, charioteering, chess, sword dancing, tightrope walking, and wrestling. At advanced levels, the training also included fencing games, in which the goal was to chop off locks of hair without drawing blood, and dodging well-thrown rocks and spears.
About 1130 An Indian text describes the nature of wrestling patronage in the kingdom of Chaulukya.
1132 A Chinese text describes a firearm made using a bamboo tube reinforced on the inside with clay and on the outside with iron bands. The invention is attributed to a soldier named Gui Chen, the commander of a Southern Song garrison in Hebei province.
1135-1147 A Welsh cleric named Geoffrey of Monmouth writes a Latin manuscript called Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain). In it, Geoffrey makes Arthur a king nobler than Charlemagne, transforms Merlin from a slightly batty poet into a powerful warlock, and introduces the characters of Uther Pendragon, Gawain, Mordred, and Kay. In other words, he codified the entire Arthurian legend.
About 1140 A bas-relief at Ankor Wat shows Thai mercenaries parading before King Suryavarman II. Cambodian war-magic of the era included ingesting human livers.
1155 An Anglo-Norman scholar named Wace dedicates a French poem named Brut to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Brut tells the story of Britain’s Trojan founder (a myth borrowed from Virgil) and introduces Round Tables and other Celtic myths into the Arthurian legend.
About 1160 Southern Chinese philosophers (including the neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi) begin arguing that the elixir of life is not found through magic spells or elixirs, but in directed meditation. The same sources also introduced the Greco-Indian concepts of the Three Treasures (jing, semen in men, and life energy in the universe; qi, breath in people and cosmic energies in the universe; and shen, consciousness in people and the Dao [Tao] in the universe) into Chinese exercise routines.
1170 Tametomo, a minor retainer associated with the Minamoto clan, becomes the first Japanese samurai honored for slitting his belly open with his dagger rather than surrendering. (Before that, Japanese warriors had often changed sides if it seemed expedient, but the Minamoto stressed loyalty more than had their predecessors.)
1184 Minamoto soldiers kill a Taira general named Yoshinaka and his wife. Subsequent Japanese accounts portray the woman, To-moe Gozen, as a mighty warrior.
About 1190 “During the holydays in the summer,” writes the English traveler William Fitzstephen, “the young men [of London] exercise themselves in the sports of leaping, archery, wrestling, stone throwing, slinging javelins beyond a mark, and also fighting with bucklers” (Carter 1992, 59).
1191 Chinese mathematicians start experimenting with the Indo-Ara-bic numeral zero. The transmitters were more likely Indo-Iranian merchants than Zen monks, for if the Zen Buddhists had transmitted the knowledge to China from India, then Chinese mathematicians would have started experimenting with the “gap,” as they called the numeral, 300 years earlier than they did.
Thirteenth century Tahitian priests introduce the Huna religion into Hawaii. The martial art associated with this religion was known as Lua, a word meaning “to pit [in battle]” or “two” (e.g., duality; the idea was to balance healing and hurting, good and evil).
Thirteenth century According to tradition, a text called Mallapurana (literally, Old Story of the Caste of Wrestlers from Modhera) appears in India. Although the exact date is uncertain (the oldest surviving copy of the text only dates to 1674-1675), the Malla Purana is clearly one of the oldest surviving Indian wrestling manuals.
1215 According to tradition, Swiss mountaineers develop Schwingen (German; swinging) wrestling at Unspunnen, near Interlaken, in honor of their duke, Betchold von Zaringenn. While thirteenth-century Swiss mountaineers clearly used wrestling matches to resolve or minimize intracommunity conflicts, the earliest verifiable Schwingen matches were only held in 1593, and the sport only became popular following the introduction of Swedish and Prussian gymnastics into Switzerland during the 1830s.
1228 A woman challenges a man to a judicial duel at the lists in Bern, Switzerland, and wins. Such challenges were not uncommon in Germany and Switzerland during the thirteenth century, particularly in rape cases.
1235 Crossbows enter common use with Swiss hunters, and in 1307, an Altdorf farmer called Wilhelm Tell reportedly uses one to shoot an apple from atop his son’s head. While the veracity of the latter tale is questionable (it did not appear in print until 1470), it has become an important part of modern Swiss nationalism.
About 1250 1258 Chivalric codes are codified throughout France. English clergymen tell their parishioners that they should not engage in violent wrestling (axlartok), ring-dancing, or dishonest games on church holidays.
About 1261 English minstrels create stories about a landless outlaw of the Sherwood Forest called Robin Hood. Robin’s arrow-splitting feats appear to combine folklore—heroes are always supermen—and gambling games with old men’s memories of days gone by.
1280 The Venetian merchant Marco Polo describes a Mongol princess named Ai-yaruk (Bright Moon), who refused to get married until she met a man who could throw her in wrestling.
1285 A Chinese actor introduces Chinese military dances into Vietnam. These dances were a possible source of inspiration for the Vietnamese court dances known as vo vu, which were in turn a source of inspiration for the eighteenth-century Vietnamese stickfighting art known as Vo Tay Son (Tay Son fighting) or Vo Binh Dinh (Binh Dinh fighting).
1289 Kublai Khan issues orders prohibiting Chinese peasants from possessing swords, spears, and crossbows. Although these bans are popularly believed to have inspired the development of the modern Chinese martial arts, that causality is uncertain, as reliable descriptions of the Chinese unarmed martial arts do not become common until the 1560s.
1292 Northern Italian towns start holding pugil-stick fights, bare-knuckled boxing matches, and cudgeling tournaments. Legend attributes the creation of these games to the Sienese monk Saint Bernard, who taught that fists were better than swords or sticks for deciding arguments. Preparations began shortly after New Year, and celebrations were in full swing by Lent. (Essentially a time of institutionalized disorder, the celebration of Carnival before Lent always placed enormous emphasis on food, sex, and violent stage plays and games.) Where Carnival was not held, the Feast of the Innocents and May Day served as substitutes.
1295 A man calling himself “The Snake” (Del Serpente) publishes an illustrated swordsmanship manual in Milan.
Fourteenth century Chinese sources describe methods for attacking the 108 vital points of the human body.
About 1300 A secretary to the Bishop of Wurzburg produces a manuscript depicting unarmored German fighters. Known today as Manuscript I.33, the text is in Latin, and the technical terms are in German.
1307 A seafaring Turk named Suleyman Pasha leads forty Muslim holy warriors on a raid into Byzantium. Two of Suleyman’s men were mighty wrestlers. (The other thirty-eight were evidently smaller, bowlegged Central Asian archers rather than mighty wrestlers.) According to legend, these two men were so well matched that they died wrestling one another. The match was said to have occurred near Hadrianopolis (modern Edirne). Be that as it may, Suleyman Pasha (by then the Ottoman emperor Orkhan I) organized an annual wrestling tournament in 1342 near Edirne. Known as the Kirkpinar tournament, it soon became a national festival.
1314 To celebrate the Scottish victory over the English at Bannock-burn, the people of Fife, Scotland, organize the Ceres Highland Games, with events including wrestling, stone lifting, caber throwing, and horse racing; the venue is the archery ground. The Scots claim the Ceres Games as the oldest annual sporting contests in Europe.
1325 The black African knights of Mansa Musa, king of Mali, are described as receiving pairs of new trousers whenever they distinguished themselves in battle. The greater their exploits, the baggier their pants.
1332 The world’s oldest surviving bronze cannon is cast in China, probably for the Mongols.
About 1345 Korean sources describe a wrestling game called ssirum, similar to Mongolian wrestling, except that rope belts knotted on the right are used to show government-awarded grades. The chief Korean martial art tournament was held annually at Kaesong
About 1345 cont. on the fifth hour of the fifth day of the fifth month. Since this was according to a lunar calendar, that meant around the beginning of June. From an astrological standpoint, the timing was propitious. After all, the competitors’ yang (male) energy was at its peak with so much Horse energy in the air. (In East Asian astrology, five is a powerful male number, and the horse is a major symbol of male energy. Meanwhile, in Confucianism, relationships between people, nature, etc., are almost always arranged in quintuples.) On the other hand, from a political standpoint, the ability to host a peaceful national tournament reflected well on the central government’s credibility and power.
1347 According to tradition, Saint Barbara becomes the patron saint of English gunners.
About 1350 Temple art shows Southeast Asian and Indonesian aristocrats carrying the serpentine daggers called krisses. For Vaishnavas, these blades appealed to a serpent god, whereas for Muslims, they symbolized a believer’s willingness to accept pain.
About 1360 Chinese authors begin writing down the oral traditions known as Shuihu Zhuan (The Water Margin). These stories were originally set near the end of the Northern Song period, meaning the early 1100s, and featured a social bandit named Song Jiang. Writers associated with this transcription are Shi Nai’an (a possible eighteenth-century forgery) and Luo Guanzhong, the pseudonym of a fourteenth-century romance novelist. A version running to 120 individual episodes appeared in 1614, but in 1641 literary critic Jin Shengtan edited this to a more manageable 71 and simultaneously reset the plot to the late Ming dynasty. In the process the 108 bandits of the stories were made loyal to the old emperor and ascribed other conventional values. This latter text is the version of the story most commonly translated into English. (For example, All Men Are Brothers in 1933 and The Water Margin in 1937.)
1368 After seizing Peking from the Mongols, a Chinese warlord named Zhu Yuanzhang establishes himself as the Hong Wu (Extensive and Martial) emperor, thereby establishing the Ming dynasty. Because Zhu was an orphan who had been raised at the Shaolin Monastery, Chinese panegyrists subsequently credited all Shaolin monks with nearly supernatural fighting prowess.
About 1374 The Malayan national hero Hang Tuah moves from Menang-kabau, Sumatra, to Malaka, Malaya. As Hang Tuah was a shopkeeper’s son and Malaka was a major spice-trading port, this move was probably mercantile rather than military. Hang Tuah is famous for introducing both krisses and silat (“quick action,” with an implication of “a method for overcoming any problem posed by an adversary”) into southern Malaya.
1377 After learning how to manufacture gunpowder from a Chinese engineer, a Korean official named Choe Mu-son persuades the Koryo court to establish a “Superintendency for Gunpowder Weapons.”
1378 A Welsh mercenary named Owain Glyndwr is murdered in
France. His military exploits and hatred of the English endeared him to the Welsh people, and when the Welsh rebelled against the English in 1402, Owain Red Hand became the subject of many legends and stories. These stories in turn inspired Shakespeare’s character Owen Glendower.
About 1380 Bornean Muslims settle the Sulu Islands. During the holidays and coronation ceremonies of their sultans, Muslim soldiers often did sword dances known as dabus. These had Indonesian and Sufi roots, and provide one source of the modern Filipino stickfighting art known as arnis de mano (harness of the hand). Christian Moro-Moro plays produced for performance during Carnival provide another major root.
1383 German butchers establish the Burgershaft von St Marcus von Lowenberg (The Citizens’ Association of Saint Marcus of Lowenberg) at Frankfurt-am-Rhein. This was a sword-dancing club where members learned a mimed dance using carving knives instead of swords. To reduce injuries, the sword techniques taught used slashing movements rather than thrusting blows. Dances were done publicly during Carnival and Christmas. Although the dances themselves were festive in nature, rival guilds often fought over which should have precedence during parades and speeches. Butchers also danced the sword dance in Zwickau in Bohemia, while in Breslau (now Wroctaw, Poland), it was the skinners.
About 1391 According to a seventeenth-century hagiographer named Wong Xiling, Zhang Sanfeng, a Daoist (Taoist) alchemist turned minor deity, creates taijiquan (tai chi ch’uan; Grand Ultimate Boxing). But the alchemist wasn’t associated with boxing until the sixteenth century, when the boxer Zhang Songqi mentioned that he had learned his methods from the alchemist in a dream.
1393 According to Okinawan tradition, emigrants from Fujian province introduce quanfa (fist law) to the Ryukyus. Unfortunately for the tradition, these Chinese emigrants were navigators and shipwrights rather than boxers, and, in the words of the U.S. historian George Kerr, “There is no evidence that they were more than very ordinary folk at home on the China coast” (Kerr 1972, 110).
About 1410 A swordsman of the Bolognese school named Fiore dei Liberi publishes Flos Duellatorum in Armis (Flower of Battle).
1411 According to tradition, two Thai princes resolve a dynastic dispute by agreeing to be bound by the results of a boxing match between picked champions. While this wager is often claimed as the first manifestation of Muay Thai (Thai boxing), that claim remains unsubstantiated.
About 1413 Because the Daoists (Taoists) believe that qi (internal energy) develops fastest at places that are 2,000 to 4,000 feet higher than the surrounding territory, during the thirteenth century some of them start building hermitages in Hebei province’s Wu-dang Mountains.
1416 Buddhist monks establish the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. It housed over 7,000 monks in 1901, and was one of the largest Buddhist universities in the world until the Communist
1416 cont. Chinese destroyed it in 1959. In 1419, a rival sect established the Se-ra monastery at Lhasa. Because Tibetan political power rested in the hands of abbots and prelates, a corps of warrior monks, or dob-dob, was also established at this monastery. The warriors’ training consisted of running in the hills, throwing stones at targets, practicing high and long jumping, and fighting with clubs and swords.
About 1450 A retired samurai named Choisai Ienao establishes the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu. This is Japan’s oldest documented martial art school.
1474 The Swiss establish the Societe de l’Harquebuse (French; Society of the Harquebus) at Geneva, making it the country’s first gun club. As in modern shooting sports, the shooters fired at black bull’s-eyes surrounded by concentric rings. As the targets stood 200 yards from the firing line, weapons probably included rifles as well as harquebuses.
1485 Portuguese merchants arrive at Benin City, in southern Nigeria; the Portuguese describe the Bini soldiers as carrying iron swords, wooden shields, and iron-tipped spears, and using poisoned arrows.
1486 Sword dances are outlawed in Vitoria, Spain; the reason given is “the scandalous behaviour and shedding of blood occasioned by them” (Alford 1962, 121-122). Iberian dances of the era often feigned combat between Moors and Christians. Hence the English term Morris (from Moorish) dancing. Besides patriotism, their purposes included impressing women.
About 1499 The Sikh religion, which borrowed tenets of faith from both Hinduism and Islam, appears in the Punjab. One unusual Sikh weapon was a sharpened steel washer measuring about 7 inches in diameter. The weapon was known as a chakra (circle), and aristocratic Sikhs often carried two or three stuffed inside their turbans and amused themselves by twirling them around their forefingers and then flicking them toward targets; the television heroine of Xena, Warrior Princess is of course the most famous chakra user in recent memory. More important personal weapons for Sikh soldiers included swords, bucklers, lances, and daggers.
About 1500 The Iranian Shah Ismail I makes Shiism the paramount Islamic faith in Azerbaijan and Iran. Ismail was also an avid physical culturalist, and the modern Zour Khaneh (Iranian academies of physical training) owe much to his patronage.
About 1500 The straight-bladed rapier known as the Toledo appears in Spain. The design is important because it evolved into the modern epee.
1509 A monument is built at Shuri, Okinawa, to honor the accomplishments of the Ryukyuan king Sho Shin. In 1926, the Oki-nawan scholar Iha Fuyu interpreted the part of the monument reading “Swords and bows and arrows exclusively are accumulated as weapons in the protection of the country” to mean that the king had ordered the collection of all the iron weapons in the country. In 1987, Professor Mitsugu Sakihara of the University of Hawaii showed that this was a misinterpretation of the text,
About 1510 1517 and that King Sho Shin was actually stockpiling arms rather than suppressing them (Sakihara 1987, 164-166, also 199, fn. 76). Matchlock harquebuses enter service throughout Europe. A Spanish expedition commanded by Hernan Cortes introduces crossbows, cannons, iron armor, horses, and war dogs into Yucatan and Mexico. Although the Spanish thus had superior technology, the conquest of Mexico owed less to technology than to the hatred that the coastal Indians had for the Mexica-Tenochitlans, who raped coastal Indian women and boys, then cut out their hearts and ate their arms and legs.
1517 The Bolognese fencing master Achille Marozzo writes a manuscript he calls Opera Nova chiamata duello, or New Work of Dueling. First published in 1536 and continuously reedited until 1568, this was probably the most important Italian fencing manual of the Renaissance.
1521 On Cebu, in the Philippines, a band of Filipinos enraged over Spanish sailors impregnating local women kills Ferdinand Magellan. The hour of hard fighting it took the 1,100 Filipinos to kill the capitan-general and chase his remaining forty or so men back into their longboats suggests that the historic martial arts of the Philippines may not have been as deadly as modern Filipino nationalists sometimes claim.
1525 In the wake of the Peasants’ War in Swabia and Franconia, German nobles suppress Carnival, trade fairs, and the pugilistic entertainments featured in them.
1528 In India, the Timurid conqueror Babur holds a darbar (public festival) to celebrate the circumcision of his son, Humayun. Rajputs and Sikhs held similar initiation ceremonies for their boys, and scheduled amusements included animal fights, wrestling, dancing, and acrobatics.
About 1530 English tournament fighters are reported shaking one another’s unarmored hands after completing their matches. A century later Quakers adopt the courtesy as “more agreeable with Christian simplicity” than either bowing or cheek kissing. The practice of passing knives by the handle also dates to the mid-sixteenth century. This was a matter of courtly etiquette rather than common practice, and for the next three centuries, the European practice of eating from the blades of foot-long knives horrified most Asians.
About 1532 After learning five different ways of seizing an opponent from a traveling wizard, a Japanese man named Takenouchi Hisamori establishes a martial art school that teaches students to defeat their opponents by tying them up. Although Takenouchi-ryu teachers sometimes claim that theirs is Japan’s oldest jujutsu system, that has never been definitively proven.
1533 Francisco Pizarro and a few hundred Spanish cavalrymen and harquebusiers, plus an equal number of Indian archers and spearmen, conquer the Inca Empire. Although nineteenth-century scholars said that the most important reasons for Pizarro’s success were his unshakable faith in God and glory, twentieth-century historians give greater importance to a smallpox epidemic that preceded Pizarro in the Andes.
About 1540 East Asian patent medicine salesmen start breaking bricks and boards with their bare hands, to convince skeptical customers that the peddlers’ opium-laden alcoholic beverages are as powerful as claimed. Whereas legitimate breakers used normal bricks and boards (a fist moving at 40 feet per second generates about 675 foot-pounds of energy, far more than is necessary to break a brick or board), illegitimate breakers often gave challengers hardened bricks while saving weakened ones for themselves.
About 1540 The Sikh guru Angad Dev establishes a wrestling pit, or akhara, at Khadur Sahib. According to subsequent reports, the guru’s goal was to instill character into street urchins.
1540 According to some Italian historians, Caminello Vitelli of Pis-toia manufactures Europe’s first pistols. This seems unlikely, though, as the Venetians built handgun ranges as early as 1506 and the Bohemians used the word pistala (pipes) to describe one-handed guns as early as 1427. So it is probably better to say that small handheld firearms became popular in southern Europe during this period. Sixteenth-century Italian pistols were about 2 feet long, and could be used as clubs following discharge.
1540 After surviving a terrible leg wound, a pious Basque soldier named Ignatius Loyola establishes an evangelistic Roman Catholic monastic order known as the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. Loyola envisioned the Jesuits as members of a kind of chivalric order, and his spiritual exercises, which taught solitary meditation and fencing as forms of mental discipline, bear comparison to the Buddhist meditations used in China and Japan.
1542 The English Parliament bans crossbows, giving the reason that “malicious and evil-minded people carried them ready bent and charged with bolts, to the great annoyance and risk of passengers on the highways”; they also ban “little short handguns,” the reason being that too many yeomen were loading them with “hail shot” and then slaughtering the king’s game birds (Trench 1972, 116-118).
1543 The Portuguese introduce snaphaunce muskets into Japan. Snaphaunce locks are a firing mechanism for handheld black-powder firearms that drop the piece of flint onto a steel plate near the touchhole. Hence their name, which means “pecking hen” in Low Dutch. Snapping-lock muskets were mechanically simpler and more reliable than wheel-locks, and Italian gunsmiths continued making them until the 1810s. Always looking for weapons to give ill-trained conscripts, Japanese warlords quickly ordered these weapons into mass production, and within fifty years, owned more high-quality firearms than all the princes of Europe combined.
1545 A Tudor scholar and writer named Roger Ascham publishes Toxophilus, the first English-language archery manual. An educated man, Ascham viewed archery as a way of promoting fitness and building character rather than as a practical military combative.
1547 The archbishop of Mainz conducts tests to discover why rifling
makes muskets more accurate, and concludes that demons guide the spinning balls; the result is bans against the manufacture and possession of rifles in most Roman Catholic countries.
1549 Burmese soldiers besieging the Thai capital at Ayuthia stage a series of sword dances. These appear to have been used mostly to keep the troops amused while their superiors interpreted cloud omens and other astrological signs.
About 1550 Japanese pirates (waka) use harquebuses during their raids into China and Korea. While the pirates’ successes owed more to disciplined small-unit infantry tactics than firearms, the new weapons still caused the Koreans to create new military bureaucracies. The Chinese, on the other hand, started hiring acrobats and boxers to teach their peasants how to fight. However, tales of flying swordsmen do not become a staple of Chinese fiction until the late nineteenth century.
About 1550 The training of Ottoman Janissaries is described as including archery, musketry, javelin throwing, and fencing. There was no pike training, though, since the Janissaries believed that pikes were useful only for men trained to fight like machines.
About 1560 Japanese schools of swordsmanship introduce kata designed to teach batto-jutsu (quick-draw techniques). Pioneers included Tamiya Heibei Narimasa, a sword instructor for the first three Tokugawa shogun who was a student of Hayashizaki Jinsuke, the mid-sixteenth-century samurai who reportedly developed these techniques after meditating for 100 days at a Shinto shrine in Yamagata. In 1932, the Japanese systematized some of these quick-draw techniques and then turned them into a new martial art called iaido (the way of sword-drawing). A pioneer in the latter process was Nakayama Hakudo of the Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu.
1560 Construction begins on the massive Da Er Monastery in the Nan Shan mountains of western China. Since it was an important and popular Yellow Hat Buddhist temple, an additional “Defender of Buddhism” hall was added in 1631. Bronze mirrors lined the walls of this latter hall. Beside its doors stood rows of spears and swords. The monks used these weapons to exorcise demons and entertain crowds during quarterly temple fairs.
1562 A Ming-dynasty general named Qi Jiguang starts work on a book of military theory called Jixiao Xinshu (New Text of Practical Tactics). Although most of Qi’s book was devoted to battlefield maneuver and armed techniques, this was also the first Ming-dynasty text to provide realistic descriptions of Shaolin quanfa (fist law).
1563 Because so many duelists are dying from blood poisoning or infection, the Council of Trent threatens duelists, seconds, and the civil authorities who are failing to suppress them with excommunication; rarely enforced in practice, these bans are used mainly for preventing duels between aristocrats and commoners.
About 1565 The Flemings start putting handle bindings on longbows, thus giving them both a top and a bottom. (Although bow makers routinely stamped bows at their centers to help archers line up their shots, bows without handles could be spanned either end up.)
1570 By doing single backward aerial somersaults, an Italian mountebank named Arcangelo Tuccaro becomes modern Europe’s first famous trapeze artist. Due to problems with ropes and springboards, double back flips were usually fatal until the 1890s, while triple back flips were equally hazardous until the 1920s. These statistics about world-class gymnasts are worth recalling whenever one encounters tales about the exploits of legendary heroes.
1571 To increase his power, prestige, and wealth, the Japanese lord Oda Nobunaga orders the destruction of the Buddhist temples on Mount Hiei. (When King Henry VIII of England dissolved all Catholic monasteries in Britain between 1535 and 1540, he almost tripled his private income. Although these two men didn’t know each other, doubtless they had similar hopes and expectations.) As Nobunaga’s persecution caused the surviving monks to begin living in towns instead of monasteries, the destruction was partially responsible for spreading Buddhist martial arts into the Japanese cities.
About 1578 To secure the support of the Tibetan theocracy for his son Yon-ten Gyatso, the Golden Horde’s Altan Khan orders that people start referring to the young man as the Dalai Lama Vajradhara. The phrase means “the teacher whose wisdom is as great as the ocean.”
1578 Lord Oda Nobunaga hosts Japan’s first major sumo tournament. Although referees and heroic ring names, or shikona, also date to the 1570s, the straw-and-earthen ring, or dohyo, only dates to the 1670s.
1579 Lai Qidai becomes the first Chinese philosopher known to have illustrated his explanations of the Dao (Tao) using a circle of interlocking black and white fish. Lai’s goal was to emphasize the Dao’s central nature, yin and yang, rather than its outward nature, seen in the sixty-four trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching; The Book of Changes).
About 1588 In a stage play called The Wounds of Civil War, the Elizabethan playwright Thomas Lodge becomes the first English playwright known to have included lusty rapier work in a secular entertainment.
1588 To ensure the safety of his tax collectors, the self-made generalissimo Toyotomi Hideyoshi prohibits Japanese farmers from owning weapons of any kind, which in turn forces peasants to choose between being samurai or farmers. Nevertheless, firearms, swords, and other weapons remained easily obtainable throughout the Tokugawa era, and as late as 1840, perhaps 80 percent of the participants in Saitama Prefecture fencing contests were commoners.
1592 A massive Japanese invasion causes a desperate Korean government to create a Hullyon Togam (General Directorate for Military Training). Its purpose was to teach peasants to be musketeers, archers, or pikemen. Its pedagogy came from the 1562 Chinese military treatise called New Text of Practical Tactics (described under that year). An unintentional result was the publication of some of the first detailed de-
scriptions of the Korean martial arts. Unsurprisingly, the book emphasized fighting with weapons rather than fists and feet.
1594 China’s Wan Li emperor canonizes a third-century A.D. soldier-saint named Guan Yu. This converts the latter into Guan Di, the Chinese God of War, whose likeness graces the entries of many modern martial art schools.
About 1595 Dutch Republican soldiers develop the marching and musketry drills that eventually become military close-order drill.
About 1600 The members of a Hindu religious cult known as the thugi (pronounced “tug-ee,” and meaning “sly deceivers”) become notorious throughout India for strangling unsuspecting merchants, then dancing around their bodies. Although loot was behind the cult’s popularity, cult leaders claimed that the Indian death goddess Kali provided occult powers when offered human sacrifices.
About 1605 The Tokugawa court of Japan patronizes the Go In (Go Academy) of a master called Honinbo Sansha, leading to the introduction of Honinbo’s method of classifying players (shodan for the first degree, nidan for the second degree, and so on) to the samurai class.
1610 The Spanish create the name arnis de mano (harness of the hands) to describe the ritual hand movements used during Filipino folk theatricals.
1612 Tokugawa soldiers hunt down gangs of armed peasants unwilling to resume their status as serfs. This process is pronounced complete in 1686, when 300 members of the All-God Gang are arrested and their leaders executed. As usual, this was more a case of the government declaring victory than an accurate representation of the facts, as the modern Japanese crime syndicates known as the yakuza date their origin to the officially sanctioned guilds of peddlers, gamblers, and strong-arm men formed in the wake of this repression.
1613 Some Beothuk Indians kill a couple of Basque cod fishers during a fishing dispute off Newfoundland, encouraging the angry Basques to sell large quantities of weapons, including a few old muskets, to the Micmacs, the Beothuks’ traditional enemies, and to offer bounties for Beothuk scalps. Although this offer led to the first known scalping in North America, the practice did not become widespread until the Massachusetts Bay Colony began offering scalp bounties in 1675.
1617 English merchants carry Japanese matchlocks into Thailand “three or four at a Tyme” so that the government “would not take notice thereof” (Perrin 1979, 11, 18, 64). Japanese firearms were preferred partly because they were better made than European weapons, and mainly because the Christian samurai in the Siamese king’s bodyguard preferred them.
1621 The last chapter of a Chinese military manual called Wu Bei Zhi (Account of Military Arts and Science) includes illustrations of some unarmed martial arts exercises. According to tradition, these descriptions subsequently influence the development of Shuri-di karate.
1624 Needing sugar to make their gin, the Dutch seize the sugar plantations of Salvador da Bahia. A year later, the Spanish eject the Dutch. Two years later, the Dutch return the favor, and so on until 1654, when the Luso-Brazilians finally reclaim Bahia as their own. While the importance of all this was that it gave the Dutch the desire to establish slave-and-sugar plantations in the Caribbean, some Brazilian historians have seen in these battles the roots of capoeira, which was supposedly developed to help slaves who escaped during the confusion to better resist recapture. Yet this causality seems improbable, mainly because the Maroons of Haiti, Jamaica, and Reunion all greeted the bounty hunters with firearms, spears, and pungi sticks, not musical bows and twirling shin kicks. Therefore capoeira probably dates to the development of sizable mixed-race populations during the eighteenth century rather than the unrest and warfare of the seventeenth century.
1624 The English coin the word gunman. The idea was to distinguish the matchlock-armed Woodland Indians of the Carolinas from the European settlers (who were described as “firemen,” after their snaphaunce and wheel-lock weapons).
1625 The Thirty Years’ War causes the development of new codes of warfare in Europe. The Dutch jurist Huigh de Groot describes these changes, the main purpose of which was to put legitimate use of force into the hands of a central state rather than regional chieftains, in a legal text called On the Law of War and Peace. On the other side of the world, Japanese warlords were formulating an equally flexible code of bureaucratic militarism known as bushido (the Way of the Warrior).
About 1630 French and German duelists begin scoring points using the points instead of the edges of their rapiers. To reduce injuries during training, fencing masters first develop the fleuret, or flower-like leather sword-tip, and then a special lightweight sword known as the epee.
About 1640 Catholic Irish butchers are reported hamstringing or kneecap-ping their Protestant rivals, who retaliate by hanging the Catholics from meat hooks.
1643 The phrase second-string starts referring to the substitute during a football scrimmage rather than the spare bowstrings that British archers carried in case their first string broke or got wet.
1646 The English word fire-arm is coined to describe wheel-lock carbines and other weapons that discharge projectiles using the hot gases released by burning gunpowder.
About 1648 A Dutch geographer named Olifert Dapper (who bases his comments on an account written by a Dutch mercenary named Fuller) reports that the armies of the Angolan queen Nzinga Mbande trained for war using leaping dances. This Angolan dancing has been claimed as a root of the modern Brazilian game called capoeira.
About 1653 Rather than shaking hands before a match, school-trained French fencers are reported as raising their swords to their hats.
1659 Outside Pratapgarh Fort, 80 miles southeast of Bombay, the
Maratha hero Shivaji agrees to discuss terms with a Bijapur general named Afzal Khan. The two men met with their bodyguards inside Shivaji’s tent to discuss terms. Although there is sectarian debate about who struck first, there is no doubt that the talks broke down into a brawl in which Shivaji killed the Khan, and his bodyguards killed the Khan’s bodyguards and beheaded the Khan.
1661 Johan Paschen publishes Fecht, Ring und Voltigier Buch (Fencing, Wrestling, and Vaulting Book) at Halle, Germany, which is one of the first books to describe those activities as being separate rather than related.
1663 Samuel Pepys describes a match between two prizefighters named Matthews and Westwicke. The rules required the fighters to use eight different weapons, and as the fighters’ only payment was coins that the audience threw into a hat, probably neither man had much interest in injuring the other so badly that he could not continue.
About 1664 A central Chinese soldier named Chen Wangting dies. According to tradition, Chen combined General Qi Jiguang’s military conditioning exercises with Daoist (Taoist) breathing exercises, thereby creating the oldest known taijiquan (tai chi ch’uan) practice forms. But Chen’s martial art was called pao chui, not taijiquan. Further, pao chui means “strike like a cannon,” which sounds like something one would name an external art rather than an internal art. Also, the Chen family records do not describe the man as the founder of a system. So some skepticism is perhaps in order.
1664 Morikawa Kozan establishes a Japanese archery style called the Yamato-ryu. While acknowledging that firearms rendered archery obsolete for military purposes, Morikawa believed that bows did a better job of improving the spirit, and so taught archery as a Buddhist exercise.
1666 Iroquois warriors are described as going into battle wearing only loincloths, moccasins, and war paint, firearms having rendered their body armor, shields, and war clubs obsolete.
1666 Hendrik Hamel, a Dutch merchant shipwrecked in Korea for thirteen years, notes that Buddhist monks hired down-on-their-luck laborers to protect monasteries and roads. This suggests a source for subsequent stories about Buddhist monasteries teaching fighting arts.
1669 The Japanese close the only swordsmithy on Okinawa. During the 1930s this fact is used to support the theory that karate was created due to Japanese weapons bans.
About 1670 French fencing masters begin wearing padded waistcoats (plastrons) with their leather fencing jackets. The plastron was decorated with a red heart and provided students with a target against which to practice their lunges and thrusts. The affectation of elegantly elevated sword hands was adopted soon thereafter, apparently as a way of keeping thrusts from accidentally slipping into the face. (Masks were as yet uninvented.)
1671 A Chinese potter named Chen Yuanbin dies in Nagoya, Japan. Chen always enjoyed wrestling and boxing, and according to
1671 cont. tradition his discussions with three ronin (masterless samurai) named Fukuno Hichiroemon, Isogai Jirozaemon, and Miura Yojiemon had significant impact on the development of jujutsu and related Japanese martial arts.
1672 A Japanese swordsman called Nakagawa Shoshunjin advertises himself as a master of ninjutsu, and even offers to teach people to avoid detection by changing themselves into birds or rats. Since Nakagawa studiously avoided matching swords with duelists and only taught children, the truth of his claims is unknown.
1674 According to an eighteenth-century tradition, five Shaolin monks skilled “in the art of war and self-defense” establish the first Chinese Triad, the Hong League, in Fujian province. What these military skills involved is unknown, as the account of them has changed over time. In 1925, for instance, they included praying for rain and making a few magical passes with a sword, while by 1960, they included superhuman prowess in Chinese boxing.
About 1676 A Japanese man named Fujibayashi Yasuyoshi publishes ten hand-bound volumes, known collectively as Bansenshukai (Ten Thousand Rivers Collect in the Sea), that discussed ninja techniques and mysteries in some detail.
1681 The London Protestant Mercury provides the first known description of an English bare-knuckled prizefight.
1688 Following a coup in Siam, women drilled in the use of muskets replace the 600 European mercenaries and Christian samurai who had served the previous government.
About 1690 Female wrestling acts become common in Japanese red-light districts. Although Confucianist officials charged that such acts were harmful to public morals, female wrestling remained popular in Tokyo until the 1890s and in remote areas such as southern Kyushu and the Ryukyus until the 1920s.
About 1692 A man named Gong Xiangzhun introduces a form of Chinese boxing to Okinawa; the Shorin-ryu kata kusanku commemorates his instruction.
1707 The French opera star Julie La Maupin dies at the age of 37; in 1834 novelist Theophile Gautier made her famous as Mademoiselle de Maupin. In her time she was a noted fencer and cross-dresser; her fencing masters included her father, Gaston d’Aubigny, and a lover, a man named Serannes.
1715 A Maistir pionnsa (Gaelic; fencing master) named Alexander Doyle starts teaching Irish fencing in Germany, claiming it develops obedience to orders, quickness of eye, agility, and physical fitness in young men thinking of military careers. (Because British law prohibited Catholic Irish from owning swords, Irish fencing masters normally trained using singlesticks instead of swords.)
1716 The words of Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a provincial samurai turned Buddhist monk, are collected, bound, and titled Ha-gakure (Hidden Among the Leaves). Although obscure during its own time, during the 1930s Hagakure became popular with
1719 Japanese ultranationalists, and the quotation “The Way of the Samurai is found in death” was especially popular. Prince Phra Chao Seua institutionalizes high-stakes prizefighting at Ayudhya, a Thai royal city 53 miles north of modern Bangkok. This may represent the beginnings of Muay Thai (Thai boxing).
About 1720 Despite the Chinese laws prohibiting nonmilitary personnel from owning bows, swords, or firearms, an official named Lan Ding Yuan argues that the crews of merchant ships should be allowed to carry arms to protect themselves from pirates. After considerable deliberation, his government agreed, and in 1728, new laws were passed allowing junks sailing to Japan, the Ryukyus, Siam, or Indonesia to carry eight muskets, ten sets of bows and arrows, and twenty-five pounds of powder.
1727 After his army takes heavy casualties during a slave-raiding expedition against Ouidah, King Agaja of Dahomey creates a female palace guard and arms it with Danish trade muskets. By the nineteenth century this female bodyguard had 5,000 members.
1733 In Charleston, the South Carolina Gazette posts a reward for the return of a runaway slave named Thomas Butler. Butler was said to be a “famous Pushing and Dancing Master,” which suggests a practitioner of an African combative akin to capoeira (Rath 2000).
1734 Jack Broughton introduces new rules to English pugilism, prohibiting hitting below the waist or after the opponent is down, introducing rounds and rest periods, and designating the starting mark as “a square of a yard chalked in the middle of a stage.” However, they say nothing about hip throws or slashing the opponent’s legs with spiked shoes, and they allow seconds to bring their man up to the mark, whether conscious or not.
1740 A Confucian memorialist writes that if the people of Henan province “are not studying boxing and cudgels, prizing bravery and fierce fighting, [then] they believe in heterodox sects, worshipping Buddhas and calling on gods.” In other words, to this eighteenth-century scholar, quanfa and religion were not related, but were instead separate paths through a world filled with poverty and injustice (Esherick 1987, fn. 25, 357).
1743 Jack Broughton introduces “mufflers,” or leather gloves padded with ten ounces of horsehair or lamb’s wool, to boxing.
About 1755 Japanese school fencers begin using face and body armor. According to the Shigei enkakuo of 1831, masks designed to protect the eyes came first. Next came padded helmets and arm protectors. Finally bamboo breast protectors were developed. These in turn developed into what are now helmets (men), breast protectors (do), and gauntlets (kote). About the same time, bamboo swords (fukuro-shinai) also came into use. The latter development probably came as the result of peasant participation in fairground battles, but it could also have been motivated by merchants’ sons wanting to make their swordplay as visually exciting as the swordplay seen in Bunraku (Japanese puppet theater).
About 1755 Toward reducing the risk of accidental blinding, metal masks pierced by eyeholes appear in Parisian fencing salles. But according to Richard Burton, “To put on a mask was to show the adversary that you feared the result of his awkwardness; it was a precaution that bordered on the offensive” (Burton 1911, 92-93). As a result, they did not become popular until a more comfortable (and stylish) wire mesh design appeared during the 1780s.
1755 In his famous dictionary, Samuel Johnson defines the English word box. As a noun it meant a blow on the head given with the hand, while as a verb it meant to fight or strike with the fist. A boxer is defined as “a man who fights with the fist.” The word also appeared in Irish Gaelic, where it became bois-cin, and referred to both fighting with the hands and sparring with sticks.
1757 Gamblers and grifters living in Fujian and Gwangdong province create the crime syndicates known to outsiders as Triads, after the three dots that members used as gang signs, and to insiders as the Dian Di Hui, or Heaven-and-Earth Societies. Members were rarely orthodox (zheng) boxers. Instead, in the words of the nineteenth-century Malay triad leader Ho Ah-kay, they were simply gangs in the employ of brothel owners and gamblers.
1758 The Swiss jurist Emmerich de Vattel revises Huigh de Groot’s laws of war, calling the result The Law of Nations. Vattel specifically excludes battles against American Indians, black Africans, and Barbary corsairs from consideration because, in Vattel’s words, right “goes hand in hand with necessity” (Fabell 1980, 202).
1764 To reduce expenses, the members of England’s Royal Company of Archers begin shooting feather-filled glass balls instead of the eyes of live geese buried up to their necks in dirt.
1766 Near Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, a few dozen mountain villagers recite incantations, dance wildly, and invoke the protection of a Tang-dynasty general they learned about by watching stage plays. This makes them China’s first known Spirit Boxers (shenquan).
About 1767 A Thai aristocrat named Nai Khanom Tom defeats a dozen Burmese boxers to secure his release from a Burmese prisoner of war camp. On the one hand, this speaks highly of Tom’s skills, as Burmese boxers were generally both larger than Thai boxers and more skilled in wrestling. On the other hand, it may not be as surprising as it sounds, as the Burmese army relied more on spears and firearms than boxing prowess for its military successes, and its soldiers included more townsmen than skilled pugilists.
1768 During a national sorcery scare, Chinese officials search some sectarian temples and torture some beggars, and then declare the problem solved. Removed from context and combined with stories about concurrent Fujianese lineage feuds, these events may provide a root for the many subsequent stories describing how the Chinese government forced Daoist (Taoist) fighting monks to sack Shaolin Monasteries in Henan and Fujian province.
1768 In the Clerkenwell district of London (perhaps at the London Spa), two female prizefighters mill for a prize of a dress valued at half a crown, while another two women fight against two men for a prize of a guinea apiece. And at Wetherby’s on Little Russell Street, the 19-year-old rake William Hickey saw “two she-devils . . . engaged in a scratching and boxing match, their faces entirely covered with blood, bosoms bare, and the clothes nearly torn from them.” These “she-devils” were singers and prostitutes, and their prefight preparation consisted mostly of drinking more gin than usual (Quennell 1962, 63-66).
1771 A French fencing master named Olivier, whose Fleet Street school is a favorite of British lawyers, publishes a bilingual text called Fencing Familiarised. In it, Olivier encourages civilized behavior from his students. Shouts and exclamations, for instance, are not to be tolerated, as “they serve only to fatigue the stomach, and deafen the spectators” (Conroy n.d.). During the same period in East Asia, shouts and ritual breathing methods were viewed as almost magical keys to success. For example, some nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japanese fencing masters discounted blows that were not accompanied by a shout; the exact phrase they used was kiai wo kakeru (to utter the spirit-shout). Chinese boxers also liked loud war cries and esoteric breathing methods. The White Lotus rebel Wang Lun, for instance, taught his civil students to practice breathing, fasting, and meditation, and his military students to practice boxing and cudgels.
1773 The Tay Son brothers start a Vietnamese civil war that lasts until 1801. Tay Son military training, known as Vo Tay Son, taught eighteen bladed weapons, but was best known for its aggressive swordsmanship. Chinese influence is possible, as the system has been called Vietnamese quanfa (fist law). Another Vietnamese system of the era was Kim Ke (Golden Cock). As the name implies, Kim Ke was based on cockfighting, and as a result featured aggressive high kicks to the head. Here Muay Thai influence is possible, as the Nguyen family that eventually occupied the Vietnamese capital of Hue received considerable military aid from Siam.
1775 Philip Vickers Fithian writes that Easter Monday in Virginia was a general holiday, and that “Negroes now are all disbanded till Wednesday morning & are at Cock Fights through the County” (Gorn and Goldstein 1993, 18-19). Slave owners also gave slaves off the six days between Christmas and the New Year. During this time, the slaves visited friends, played ball games, wrestled, and danced.
About 1776 According to tradition, a Buddhist nun named Wu Mei (Ng Mui) creates a Southern Shaolin Boxing style known in Cantonese as yongchun (wing chun; Beautiful Springtime). The tradition has never been proven, and twentieth-century stylistic leaders such as Yip Chun believe that a Cantonese actor named Ng Cheung created the style during the 1730s.
1780 A Tyrolean clock maker named Bartolomeo Girandoni manufactures some twenty-shot air rifles for the Austrians. Even
1780 cont. though they worked well, these technologically advanced .56 caliber weapons were withdrawn from service in 1801 and banned outright in 1802. In theory, this was because the weapons were fragile, but in practice it was more probably because the roar of a flintlock musket was too thrilling to give up for mere range and accuracy.
1781 Turkic-speaking Chinese Muslims living in Gansu province brawl in the streets over matters of Islamic ritual; the men fight using long poles, short sticks, and whips, while the women throw garbage. Martial art training took place in mosques, and combined Sufistic spirit possession and trance dancing with xingyiquan (hsing i ch’uan; mind and will boxing) and other martial arts commonly practiced by caravan guards.
1786 The publication of the Treatise of Ancient Armour and Weapons by Francis Grose stirs English interest in antique arms and armor. This said, scholarly investigations only date to 1824 and the publication of the appropriately titled Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour by Samuel Rush Meyrick.
1790 The Chinese establish a National Theater in Beijing, with the purpose, of course, of showcasing the Chinese theatricals commonly (but imprecisely) known in English as the Chinese opera. To make these performances work, schools were established for children as young as 4 years of age, and because a star could make a good living, standards for admission were very high. Physical training for the students included daily practice in bodybuilding, gymnastics, and sword handling, while concurrent academic training involved memorizing long passages from Chinese classical literature. Thus National Theater-level martial art students operated at an entirely different level of proficiency than those of the Shandong wushu (martial art) teacher of 1900 who promised his students that they would be bulletproof following just one day of study.
1793 The Saxon educator Johann Guts Muths publishes Gymnastics for the Young. Three years later, he follows up with another book called Games. The idea of both books was that every minute of a schoolboy’s day should be filled with purposeful, directed activity.
About 1794 A Korean official named Yi Dok-mu compiles a manual of the martial art techniques used by the Korean army. Known as the Mu Yei Do Bo Tong Ji (Illustrated Manual of Martial Arts), it was written in classical Chinese, perhaps to keep it from being easily understood by merchants and wives.
1799 With the support of the Crown Prince of Denmark, Franz Nachtigal establishes a Prussian-style gymnasium in Copenhagen. Nachtigal, like Guts Muths in Germany, believed that fun was overrated. Therefore schoolchildren and soldiers needed to do exercises that made them respond quickly to their superiors rather than play the games that they enjoyed. Furthermore, they needed to be graded in everything they did, and their performances needed to show measurable improvement over time. In other words, physical training was something that children and soldiers did for the nation, not for fun.
1803 The word amateur enters the English language. Originally it referred solely to literary dilettantes, but during the 1860s people changed the meaning of the word to refer to athletes who followed the rules designed to keep working-class athletes from competing with middle-class athletes.
About 1809 Incursions by British and Russian naval forces into Japanese waters cause the Japanese government to regain an interest in manufacturing cannons and other militarily useful weapons. This said, it was the entirely unrelated threat of gang warfare along the Tokaido Highway between Edo and Yokohama that lay behind the era’s revived interest in sword fighting, wrestling, and other traditional martial arts.
1811 A Prussian schoolmaster named Friedrich Ludwig Jahn establishes a Turnverein (gymnastics club) at Hasenheide, a park just outside Berlin. A strict moralist, Jahn saw Turnen (the term means more than just gymnastics, as it originally included weight lifting and wrestling, too) as a means of building character in boys. He was an ardent patriot, and his club soon became a hotbed of muscular pan-Germanism. As this pan-Germanism frightened the conservative Prussian government, it persecuted both Turners and Jahn from 1819 until 1842.
About 1815 Hung gar (Red Boxing) wushu appears in Fujian province. The nineteenth-century Chinese used such arts to improve fitness or health, make money for gamblers or reputation for prizefighters, and attract new members to esoteric religious cults.
1819 The publication of Ivanhoe by the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott helps create the Romantic perception of gallant knights in shining armor; Scott’s chivalric ideal proves especially popular in the American South. As a result, equestrian tournaments were held in Charlottesville, Virginia, as late as 1863. (The latter was a Confederate hospital town, and that particular tournament featured one-armed knights who held the reins in their teeth.)
1825 Jem Ward of London becomes the first British prizefighter to receive a championship belt. (Although English wrestlers had received championship belts for years, boxers usually preferred cash prizes.) Similar belts were introduced into the United States around 1885, mostly as a way of generating interest in prizefights.
1827 On a sandbar outside Vidalia, Mississippi, a Louisiana slave-smuggler and sugar merchant named James Bowie uses a large knife to kill a local banker named Norris Wright; colorful newspaper accounts of their fight start a journalistic tradition in which all large single-edged knives are called Bowie knives. Newspaper accounts aside, the big knives’ more usual uses included shaving kindling, butchering game, and holding the meat over the fire.
About 1830 An Italian woman named Rosa Baglioni is described as perhaps the finest stage fencer in Weimar, Germany. German students start fighting with the blunt-tipped swords known as Schlager (blow) around the same time, perhaps because they are heavy weapons less likely to be carried by women.
About 1830 Irish immigrants introduce collar-and-elbow wrestling into New England. The style was often used by the Irish to settle arguments, and was known as “collar-and-elbow” after the initial stances taken as defenses against kicking, punching, and rushing. The style became widely known during the American Civil War and formed the basis for the American professional wrestling techniques of the 1870s and 1880s.
1832 Jean Antoine Charles Lecour combines English prizefighting with French savate to create Boxe Frangaise (French boxing). Lecour’s brother Hubert starts introducing the methods into the French music halls, often to the accompaniment of comic songs and similar acts.
1834 Johann Werner introduces Turnen to his School for Female Children in Germany; girls in Magdeburg begin to be taught gymnastics in 1843, as are adult women in Mannheim in 1847. Competition was discouraged as “unwomanly,” and exercises such as the horizontal bar and the balance beam were prohibited as indecent.
1835 James Gordon Bennett stimulates sales for the New York Herald by adding coverage of footraces and prizefights.
1837 The Highland Games are introduced at Braemar, Scotland. These games were the progenitors of modern track-and-field, and of professional sports in general. They also helped popularize Cumberland wrestling, which previously had been popular mainly in northern England.
1837 Japanese soldiers use gunfire to prevent a United States ship from landing missionaries at Naha, Okinawa. This said, it took the naval bombardment of some Satsuma and Choshu forts in 1863 to start the Japanese thinking about reorganizing their forces after European models. Armed with rifles and drilled as disciplined tactical units, the Choshu armies defeated much larger shogunate forces in pitched battle in 1866, which in turn led the shogunate to seek French military assistance in 1867. In other words, it was internal politics, not Commodore Perry’s Black Ships, that caused the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent militarization of Japan.
1838 Wealthy New Yorkers begin frequenting “concert saloons,” the first modern nightclubs, where the entertainment includes dance revues, comedy acts, and prizefights.
1838 London Prize Ring Rules replace Broughton’s Rules in English prizefighting.
1842 According to tradition, a Chinese man named Gou Zi creates Da Xing Quan (Monkey Boxing) after spending several months watching monkeys cavorting outside his prison cell. Romance aside, the name probably refers to the dramatic sword dances done by Shandong peasants possessed by the spirit of the Monkey King, a Chinese literary hero renowned for always being one step ahead of his adversaries. The word the Chinese used for this spirit possession, ma bi, means “horse,” and the phenomenon probably bears comparison to the similar spirit-possessions reported in the Haitian vodou religion.
1842 A prizefight between Charles Freeman and William Perry on December 6 becomes the first to use the railway as a means of transporting spectators. (The prefight agreements stipulated that the fight had to take place halfway between Tipton and London, thus necessitating a special for the Eastern Counties Railway.) But as the police could also ride the rails, the illegal mill was rescheduled several times, and in the end the fans ended up going to the fight by riverboat.
1844 In London, an English shop assistant named George Williams establishes the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Williams’s dream was to provide middle-class Protestant men such as himself with social clubs that encouraged Bible study rather than tobacco and gin. And the early YMCAs did this. But when the YMCA moved into the United States and Canada during the 1850s, its leaders found that Bible study did not attract as many young men as the gymnasiums of the Swiss and German Turners. To overcome this problem, most YMCA buildings built after 1880 included weight rooms, gymnasiums, and swimming pools.
1846 In Singapore, members of triad-affiliated gangs are reported fighting each other using wooden sticks and iron pipes. But by 1867, the gangsters were using muskets and small cannon, and by 1921 they were carrying pistols. Unarmed martial arts, meanwhile, were taught and used mostly as a form of militant nationalism.
1852 Harvard and Yale hold their first informal sporting competition, a rowing regatta in Boston; the ties between American sport and business are already clear, as a local railroad pays all expenses in exchange for free advertising.
1853 The YMCA opens a “Colored” branch in Washington, DC. By 1869 Colored YMCAs existed throughout the United States. By training hundreds of African American coaches, administrators, and officials, these YMCAs made sport part of African American cultural pride.
1854 Chinese miners wave American-made spears and swords at one another during a mining dispute in Trinity County, California. This is the first known display of Asian martial arts in the Americas.
1855 The United States Navy replaces its flintlock single-shot pistols with .36 caliber Model 1851 Colt revolvers; the navy also orders some full-flap sheaths to accompany these revolvers, which in turn makes it the first military to issue belt holsters with its pistols. (Military holster design reached fruition four years later with the development of the British Sam Browne rigs.)
1857 An anonymous notice in the Saturday Review coins the phrase Muscular Christianity. The phrase described the philosophy that a perfect Christian gentleman should be able to fear God, play sports, and doctor a horse with equal skill. (“The object of education,” said an editorial in Spirit of the Times, “is to make men out of boys. Real live men, not bookworms, not smart fellows, but manly fellows.”) (Gorn and Goldstein 1993, 94).
1858 On October 13, an Austin, Texas, newspaper called the Southern Intelligencer reports that “it is a common thing here to see boys from 10 to 14 years of age carrying about their persons Bowie knives and pistols” (Hollon 1974, 54). The model for the statement was probably Ben Thompson, a 16-year-old typesetter for the newspaper who fancied himself quite the thug. In Thompson’s case, the weapons were somewhat ornamental: Although Thompson once fired a shotgun from ambush at a black youth, he did not actually kill anyone until 1865. Texas gunslingers were much more likely to shoot unarmed blacks and Mexicans than armed anything. John Wesley Hardin, for instance, was 15 when he shot and killed a black man for shaking a stick at him. William Preston Longley was similarly 15 when he shot and killed two black men for dancing in the street. These youthful Texas gunmen somehow always managed to avoid meeting equally notorious black or Mexican gunslingers. The most notorious black gunslinger was probably Jim Kelly, a rider with the Print Olive outfit in Kansas and Nebraska during the 1870s. The Olive outfit was truly mean, and known for shooting, hanging, and then burning rustlers it found on its range.
1858 As part of their post-Crimean War reforms, the British introduce Swiss calisthenics into their recruit training programs.
1859 New York State bans prizefights, and places severe restrictions on sparring matches. The goal was to stop working-class men from traveling around the state watching prizefights.
1859 A Greek grain merchant named Evangelios Zappas convinces King Otto of Greece to host an Olympic festival at Athens in order to inspire Greek patriotism and promote international trade. Besides running and jumping, the events held at this festival include both standing and ground wrestling.
1861 Under the influence of the physical culture movement, Amherst becomes the first United States college to have a physical education department.
1861 Feng Guifen introduces zi qiang (self-strengthening) into the Chinese political lexicon. Although the phrase originally meant using European arms and manufacturing methods to defend traditional Chinese values, by 1935 it also meant using foreign calisthenics to strengthen Chinese bodies and spirits for military service.
1862 With the help of Henry Fugner, Dr. Miroslav Tyrs creates the Sokol (Falcon) system of national gymnastics in Bohemia. This system offered women a greater part than did German gymnastics, and also supported Czech nationalism better than Prussian Turnverein. Sokol methods influenced czarist Russian sport during the 1890s and Soviet sport after 1918.
1864 In volume 1 of a text called Principles of Biology, the English philosopher Herbert Spencer coins the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Spencer sees nature as a state of pitiless warfare, with the elimination of the weak and unfit as its goal. People who did not read him closely soon applied this theory to social dynamics, and called the result Social Darwinism.
1865 With the publication of a book called Researches into the History of Early Mankind, the English anthropologist Edward B. Tylor becomes the first important prophet of cultural diffusion. Tylor’s premise is that ideas are only invented once, and that cultures grow by borrowing these ideas from one another. These ideas have subsequently been applied to the martial arts. Europeans, for instance, have often insisted that Greeks or Romans were the source of some particular invention, while the Chinese and Indians argued about whether Bodhidharma was the inventor.
1867 Under the patronage of John Sholto Douglas, the eccentric eighth Marquis of Queensberry, new rules are developed for amateur boxing. The new rules helped pugilism recover its lost popularity, as they reduced the visible injuries and subjected fighters to the constraints of the clock, something important to workingmen who needed to catch the last train home.
1871 Japan’s first modern police force is formed, the organizer and first chief a former Satsuma samurai named Kawaji Toshiyoshi. (About two-thirds of early Tokyo police were former Satsuma samurai.) A trained swordsman of the Chiba school, Kawaji believed that martial arts training developed superior policemen. Many Japanese agreed with him, and to this day training in kendo, judo, and jodo (singlestick) continues to play an important role in Japanese police training.
1875 The Russian mystic Helene Blavatsky and the American lawyer Henry Olcott establish the Theosophical Society in New York and London. Although Blavatsky was something of a charlatan and Olcott important mainly for supporting Sri Lankan Buddhism during a time of profound Christian oppression, together they were among the first Europeans or Americans to systematically mine Vedic and Buddhist philosophies for religious truths.
1876 Inspired by the success of the YMCA at providing urban youth with an attractive alternative to saloons, the Wilson Mission establishes the Boys Club of the City of New York; to attract Catholic and Jewish youths, the club keeps active Protestant proselytizing. Sponsors, including railroad baron E. H. Harri-man, supported such organizations because they were believed to reduce street crime.
1879 An Anglo-Irish philologist named John Mahaffy invents the myth of ancient Greek amateur sports. The invention was designed to keep white-collar workers and their children from having to compete against working-class workers and their children. Mahaffy also invented the idea of the intrinsic pleasure of sport for its own sake, again as a way of preventing working-class athletes from competing with middle- and upper-class athletes. In fairness to Mahaffy, he was a man of his times, and his ideas were an outgrowth of late Victorian philosophy rather than eccentric bigotry.
1880 To encourage newspaper sales (the more controversial or anticipated the bouts, the more papers sold), Richard Kyle Fox’s National Police Gazette begins ranking boxers.
1881 The Japanese army replaces neo-Confucian bushido with tokuho, a Prussian-inspired “Soldiers’ Code.” (Although trained by the French, the Japanese liked imperial German and Austrian political philosophy.) After making some additional changes that emphasized the primacy of the emperor, the Soldiers’ Code was renamed bushido (the way of the warrior) in 1909. The brutal excesses of the Greater East Asian War, as the Japanese call World War II, are therefore owed to early-twentieth-century military codes rather than the neo-Confucian bushido of the Tokugawa-era samurai.
About 1883 Kano Jigoro decides to divide his judo students into two separate groups, ungraded (mudansha) and graded (yudansha). This ranking system was innovative, as Japanese martial art schools previously awarded rank using scrolls (menkyo) rather than colored belts.
1884 Britain’s Edgerton Castle publishes a history of European swordsmanship called Schools and Masters of Fence. Probably the most influential swordsmanship history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it presents theories that came under savage attack during the 1990s. Particularly contentious aspects include the following: first, that Renaissance Italy was the birthplace of systematic European fencing; second, that older German swordsmanship was mere rough and untutored fighting; and finally, that nineteenth-century sport fencing represented linear evolution toward final perfection.
1889 Hooks become common in Australian and North American boxing, as do corkscrew punches and combinations of three to five punches thrown in rapid succession. Queensberry-rules boxing with padded gloves was the reason—padded gloves protected knuckles and thumbs from breaking on the opponent’s head, while ten-second knockouts and rounds that did not end when a player fell to the ground encouraged boxers to throw flurries rather than carefully aimed single shots.
1889 Female boxing becomes popular throughout the United States. Champions included Nellie Stewart of Norfolk, Virginia; Ann Lewis of Cleveland, Ohio; and Hattie Leslie of New York. The audiences were male, and the fighters sometimes stripped to their drawers like men. Savate fights in which kicking was allowed were also popular. Girls as young as 12 years headed the bills.
1896 The First International Games are held in Athens, Greece; these are subsequently renamed the first modern Olympics.
1896 The Spanish close a Manila fencing academy known as the Tanghalan ng Sandata (Gallery of Weapons) because its active students include the rebel leader Jose Rizal y Mercado. The master of the Gallery of Weapons was Don Jose de Azes, and his academy was located at a Jesuit private school known as Ateneo de Manila. Since de Azes taught both rapier fencing and Filipino nationalism, either he or his students are probably the creators of the theory that Spanish fencing influenced the development of arnis.
1899 An English engineer named Edward W. Barton-Wright pub-
lishes an article called “The New Art of Self Defence” in Pearson’s Magazine. Barton-Wright had studied jujutsu while living in Japan, and his “New Art,” which he immodestly called “Bartitsu,” combined jujutsu with boxing and savate.
1901 An elderly Ryukyuan aristocrat named Itosu Anko campaigns for the introduction of a simplified form of Shorin-ryu Karate into the Okinawan public schools.
1902 A London dentist named Jack Marles invents the first mouth guards for boxers. The devices were originally designed for use during training, and the English welterweight Ted “Kid” Lewis, who reigned from 1915 to 1919, was the first professional to regularly wear one in the prize ring.
1902 Alan Calvert establishes the Milo Bar-Bell Company, the first company to manufacture plate-loading iron barbells for amateur use, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1902 An editorial in Baltimore’s Afro-American Ledger complains that professional boxer Joe Gans “gets more space in the white papers than all the respectable colored people in the state.” This was not to take anything away from Gans, but to wonder why illiterate prizefighters should be more influential role models than “respectable colored people” such as Booker T. Washington or W. E. B. Dubois (Ashe 1988, 16).
1904 The word kokugi (national sport) is coined in Japan to describe sumo; at the same time, Japanese school gymnastics (heishiki taiso) are renamed “military drills” (heishiki kyoren), as this puts the emphasis on discipline and obedience.
1904 Xu Fulin and his coworkers Xu Yiping and Xu Chenglie open the Chinese Physical Training School (Zhingguo Ticao Xuexiao) in Shanghai. Between 1926 and 1931 novelist Xiang Kairan wrote some fictionalized popular accounts of this organization’s leaders beating Russians, British, and Japanese in weight lifting, boxing, and judo contests.
1905 “It is a good thing for a girl to learn to box,” says an article in the beauty column of the February 27 issue of the New York Evening World, because “poise, grace and buoyancy of movement result from this exercise.”
1905 A pro-Japanese karate teacher named Hanagusuku Nagashige creates the modern ideograms for karate, the ones that mean “empty hands” instead of “Tang dynasty [i.e., Chinese] boxing.”
1906 Erich Rahn of Berlin opens Germany’s first jujutsu school; the style taught is (probably) Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu.
1908 Robert Baden-Powell establishes the Boy Scouts of England. Stated goals of the organization include preparing working-class youth for future military service.
About 1911 Yabiku Moden establishes the Ryukyu Ancient Research Association, the first school to publicly teach kobudo (ancient weapons arts) on Okinawa.
1911 Under pressure from the Diet, Japan’s Ministry of Education decides to require schoolboys to learn jujutsu and shinai kyogi (flexible stick competition), as judo and kendo were known until 1926; the idea, says the ministry in its reports, is to ensure that “students above middle school should be trained to be a
1911 cont. soldier with patriotic conformity, martial spirit, obedience, and toughness of mind and body.”
1912 Xu Yusheng, the vice-director of the Beijing Physical Education Research Association, introduces studio-style martial art instruction to north China. Although Hsu taught taijiquan (tai chi ch’uan) and had studied with Yang Jianhou, Song Shuming, and other famous boxers of his day, he was an intellectual. Therefore he taught taijiquan as national gymnastics, rather than as training in pugilism or self-defense.
1912 The Shanghai Chinese YMCA organizes a course in quanfa, since the youths who come for self-defense lessons usually discover that they like the foreign games of volleyball, basketball, and baseball even better, and thus are more amenable to Protestant proselytizing.
1913 A Japanese police official named Nishikubo Hiromichi publishes a series of articles arguing that the Japanese martial arts should be called budo (martial ways) rather than bujutsu (martial techniques), as their purpose is to teach loyalty to the emperor rather than practical combatives. In 1919, Nishibuko became head of a major martial art college (Bujutsu Senmon Gakko) and immediately ordered its name changed to Budo Senmon Gakko, and subsequently Dainippon Butokukai publications began talking about budo, kendo, judo, and kyudo rather than bujutsu, gekken, jujutsu, and kyujutsu.
1917 Funakoshi Gichen, a 53-year-old Okinawan schoolteacher, demonstrates Naihanchi kata during the First National Athletic Exhibition in Kyoto. Although this introduced karate into Japan, no one there expressed much interest until 1921, when Kano Jigoro added atemi-waza (vital point techniques) to the curriculum of Kodokan Judo.
1918 Believing that physical exercises will create healthier workers and fitter soldiers, Bolshevik leaders encourage their workers and soldiers to exercise; because few Russians have access to gyms or swimming pools, wrestling is encouraged.
1919 Huo Yuanjia of Tianjin establishes the Jin Wu Athletic Association in Shanghai. Although organized along the same lines as a YMCA, the nationalism of its founders was Chinese rather than North American or European. Therefore its instruction included training in the Chinese martial arts rather than Swedish gymnastics or Canadian basketball.
1919 In order to give a cut over his eye time to heal, Jack Dempsey starts wearing padded headgear while training for a world championship fight in Toledo, Ohio. Because Dempsey won that fight in three rounds, the practice quickly became standard during professional training and amateur boxing.
About 1920 Romantic fantasies in which Chinese heroes overcome foreign invaders through military prowess become popular in China. Their plotting was subsequently a staple of Chinese martial arts films.
About 1920 Three competent professional wrestlers (Joseph “Toots” Mondt, Billy Sandow, and Ed “Strangler” Lewis) associated with the 101 Ranch Show invent “Slam Bang Western Style
Wrestling.” This was a carefully choreographed act designed to return more of the gate profits to the wrestlers than the promoters.
1921 Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of aikido, opens his first dojo in Tokyo.
1929 The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore arranges for a Japanese named Takagaki Shinzo to teach judo at Calcutta’s Bengal University (modern Visvabharati University). Tagore’s hope was that the judo instruction would spread Japanese-style nationalism through British India. But few Indian college students were particularly interested in physical culture, and when they were, they preferred American barbells to Japanese judo.
1929 Vasilij Sergevich Oshchepkov introduces judo to Moscow. In 1932 Oshchepkov organized Russia’s first judo tournament, and the following year he published judo’s first Russian-language rules. Then, in 1936, the Leningrad Sport Committee prohibited a competition between the Moscow and Leningrad teams, causing an angry Oshchepkov to write protests to various government offices. This in turn led to his being arrested on the charge of being a Japanese spy, and in October 1937 he died from what the NKVD termed a “fit of angina.” His students took the hint, and in November 1938 Anatolij Ar-cadievich Kharlampiev announced the invention of “Soviet freestyle wrestling,” which coincidentally looked a lot like Russian-rules judo. Following World War II, Stalin decided that the USSR would compete in the Olympics, which already had international freestyle wrestling, so in 1946 Soviet freestyle wrestling was officially renamed sambo, which was an acronym for “self-defense without weapons” (Samozashcita Bez Oruzhiya). Present-day sambo has diverged significantly from judo. Technical differences include sambo players wearing tight jackets, shorts, and shoes; using mats instead of tatami (which in turn causes sambo coaches to stress groundwork and submission holds rather than high throws); and a philosophy that emphasizes sport and self-defense rather than character development.
1930 Thai boxing adopts Queensberry rules; although the introduction of gloves and timed rounds reduce the visible bloodshed, they also increase the death rate from subdural hemorrhage. (Recent estimates have put the death rate at one per 1,500 bouts.)
1930 Following a year in which nine professional boxing matches ended in fouls, the New York State Athletic Commission starts requiring professional boxers to wear protective groin cups.
1931 After the Japanese seize Mukden, the Chinese government orders its schoolchildren to undertake two to three hours of physical training a week. In 1934, the Chinese Ministry of Education published a formal fitness program designed by a YMCA director named Charles McCloy, and with slight modifications, this program remained the Chinese standard into the 1970s. The designer of the taijiquan (tai chi ch’uan) forms used in the Guomindang program was a physician named Zheng Manqing.
1932 An El Paso saddler named Sam Myres produces the first commercial quick-draw holsters, with a design following the ideas of an Oklahoma lawman named Tom Threepersons. Custom quick-draw rigs had been available for several years. See, for instance, William D. Frazier’s 1929 book, American Pistol Shooting, and J. Henry Fitzgerald’s 1930 book, Shooting.
1934 Otsuka Hironori of the All-Japan Collegiate Karate Association publishes rules for yakusoku kumite (noncontact free sparring).
1934 Twenty-seven-year-old Charles Kenn of Honolulu organizes a theatrical event featuring ancient Hawaiian games and sports, with the goal of replicating a mahahiki festival, including replicating Lua and other combative sports virtually extinct since the arrival of missionaries and smallpox during the 1840s.
1935 Kawaishi Mikonosuke introduces Butokukai Judo to Paris. (Although a separate licensing body, the Butokukai’s judo differed from Kodokan Judo mostly because the former put more emphasis on groundwork than the latter.) At the front of Kawaishi’s school was a blackboard. On this board, Kawaishi wrote the names of his techniques. In front of each name was a number:

Ashi-waza (Leg technique)

1. Osoto-gari (“Major Outer Reaping Throw”)

2. De-ashi-barai (“Advanced Foot Sweep”)

3. Hiza-guruma (“Knee Wheel”)

Kawaishi would then say, “I will teach you the first movement,” and the students would follow along. As the numbers were in French, the students thus “learned by the numbers” (personal communication with Henry Plee, October 8, 1995). Kawaishi’s inspiration was probably American self-defense instruction, as by 1935, New York wrestling instructor Will Bing-ham had been teaching women “to dispose of a masher with neatness and dispatch [using] grip No. 7 followed by hold No. 9″ for at least twenty years (New York World, January 30, 1916, Sunday Magazine, 3).

1940 The Hon Hsing Athletic Club is established in Vancouver, British Columbia, and its quanfa (fist law) classes are (probably) the first organized Chinese martial art classes in Canada. There were, however, no non-Chinese students allowed until the 1960s. “It used to be that the Chinese instructors wouldn’t teach Westerners,” Raymond Leung told Ramona Mar in 1986. “But it’s wrong to think that if we teach them, they’ll use it to beat us. With every new student, I think we make one new friend” (Yee 1988, 148).
1940 In Montreal, 19-year-old Joe Weider publishes the first issue of Your Physique, the first magazine to seriously tout bodybuilding. In 1947 Weider started the International Federation of Body Builders. The chief difference between bodybuilding and weight lifting is that the former is semierotic muscular theater while the latter is nationalistic athletic competition.
1941 Bob Hoffman of York Barbell introduces the idea of women’s weight lifting and bodybuilding to the United States.
1942 The Japanese replace the Dutch colonial government of Indone-
sia with an Islamic nationalist government, whose leaders of the new government include Achmed Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta; with Japanese approval, these Indonesian nationalists then use the dancelike Indonesian martial art of silat as a method for uniting ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse peoples.
About 1944 In Pernambuco, Brazil, Paulino Aloisio Andrade teaches a stick-fighting game called maculele to a group of local children, and then has the children participate in various regional festivals and folklore shows. Machetes were later added to the act for the sparks that flew when the players’ blades hit.
1947 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin decides that the Soviets should participate in the Olympics, thus making the games a battleground in the Cold War. Stalin wanted his athletes to enter the 1948 Olympics, but could not be guaranteed a large number of gold medals. Since the Soviets had virtually no athletic facilities, coaches started having players swim during the summer, run in the spring and fall, and do cross-country skiing in the winter. In other words, they invented cross-training.
1947 A Japanese named Doshin So incorporates his martial art school as a Kongo Zen Buddhist religious order. So said that he taught martial arts mostly as a way of attracting young people to Buddhism, and that it was the Buddhism, not the martial arts, that would make them better people.
1947 A Shotokan karate club known as the Oh Do Kwan is established at a Korean army signals school at Yong Dae Ri. The original instructor was a signal officer named Nam Tae Hi. In 1955, during a demonstration for the South Korean President Rhee Seung Man, Nam broke thirteen roofing tiles with a single blow. This so impressed Rhee that he told Colonel Choi Hong Hi, who was Nam’s commander and an honorary fourth dan (fourth degree black belt), to start a training program for the entire Korean military. As Nam always insisted that trainees shout “Tae Kwon!” (Fists and Feet), his karate style soon became known as taekwondo (the way of fists and feet).
1947 The Ikatan Penchak Silat Indonesia (Indonesian Pentjak Silat Association) is established in Jakarta. Although its leaders said that the association was meant to encourage the development of the Indonesian martial arts, it was actually used to further the spread of militant Islamic (and anti-Dutch) nationalism.
1949 Feng Wenpin, president of the All-China Athletic Federation, describes the purpose of Communist Chinese physical education as developing sports for health, nationalism, and national defense; to accomplish this with a minimum of time, space, or equipment, workers are encouraged to practice martial art practice forms.
1950 The U.S. Air Force introduces Japanese martial arts into its physical training programs; this in turn introduces them to middle America.
1952 Although Mao Zedong’s motto was “Keep fit, study well, work well,” the chairman also believed that secret societies, like capitalism and ancient religions, undermined the race and retarded
1952 cont. progress. Therefore the China Wushu Association was created, under the aegis of the All-China Athletic Federation, and tasked with removing all “feudal comprador fascist thought” from the Chinese martial arts.
1953 Arvo Ojala introduces metal-lined, forward-raked pistol holsters to Hollywood; Ojala’s rigs appear in most subsequent cinematic gunfights and contribute to the establishment of quickdraw pistol competitions in 1956.
1953 Tohei Koichi introduces aikido to Hawaii; on Maui, a policeman named Shunichi Suzuki helps him arrange demonstrations, and due to Tohei’s good work (and returning to Hawaii during 1955-1956 and 1957-1958), aikido soon becomes popular with U.S. policemen.
1959 With the publication of Goldfinger, British novelist Ian Fleming introduces European and North American readers to karate.
1959 Bruce Lee starts teaching yongchun (wing chun) in the covered parking lot of a Blue Cross clinic in Seattle, Washington.
1961 After a woman named Rusty Glickman defeats a male opponent during an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)-sanctioned judo meet in New York City, the AAU bans women from participating in judo tournaments. (The reason was not that the male-dominated AAU leadership believed that women couldn’t wrestle, but that women shouldn’t wrestle.) Under pressure from women’s groups (including one led by the by-then Rusty Glick-man Kanokogi) the AAU finally relented in 1971 and allowed women to compete against women using special “women’s rules.” The women kept pushing for equality, and women were allowed to compete using standard rules in 1973.
1963 The massive muscle bulk of the Soviet national judo team causes the French national judo team to start demanding weight divisions.
1964 Angel Cabales of Stockton, California, opens the first commercial school to teach Filipino martial arts to non-Filipinos.
1966 History students at the University of California-Berkeley establish the Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA. The original purpose of the SCA was to re-create life in medieval times. Many members liked sword-and-buckler play. Early weapons and armor were crude and tended to build a high tolerance for pain.
1966 Bruce Lee appears on a short-lived American television series called The Green Hornet. Because some influential producers refused to believe that North American audiences would ever like an Asian hero, Lee could not get starring roles. Outraged, he returned to Hong Kong, where he met Raymond Chow of Golden Harvest, who was starting to use hand-to-hand fights in his action films instead of swordplay. The result was a series of low-budget chop-socky flicks, including The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon. Even though the fighting shown in these movies was more spectacular than practical, the scripts’ antiau-thoritarian themes appealed to working-class audiences everywhere, and the result was incredible box-office success.
1970 While watching full-contact karate star Joe Lewis defeat a San
Jose kenpo stylist called Black Militant Ohm, a ringside announcer invents the term kickboxing.
1974 Mike Anderson, a taekwondo instructor from Texas, introduces brightly colored uniforms to North American tournament karate, so as to add visual excitement to the sport; previously karate uniforms were black, white, or a combination of black and white.
1980 Stephen Hayes introduces the Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu of Hat-sumi Masaaki into the United States. While Togakure-ryu is a relatively mainstream Japanese martial art, its popularity in the United States is owed mainly to the unrelated (but nearly simultaneous) publication of The Ninja, a novel by fantasy writer Eric van Lustbader that portrays the ninja as bulletproof, black-clad sadists.
1981 Due to the commercial success of chop-socky movies, the People’s Republic of China repairs the damage to the exterior of the Shaolin Temple at Changzhou and replaces its four aged monks with dozens of politically reliable martial art teachers. From a commercial standpoint, the move was wildly successful, and by 1996, there were nearly 10,000 Chinese and foreign students attending wushu academies in the Shaolin valley (Smith 1996, A1, A16).
1981 Park Jung Tae, a senior instructor of the International Tae-kwondo Federation living in Canada, introduces taekwondo into North Korea. The South Korean government is outraged.
1986 In Tokyo, the Ministry of Education proposes allowing kendo and judo to be termed budo (native Japanese techniques that constitute martial ways) rather than kakugi (combative technique).
1991 In California and New York, “karate aerobics” and “executive boxing” become the rage among working women looking for a new form of aerobic exercise.
1993 New York music promoter Robert Meyrowitz organizes a pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship™ (UFC) in which competitors are free to punch, kick, or wrestle their opponents. At first, most participants were trained in styles that emphasized either striking (e.g., punching or kicking) or grappling but not both, and during such contests, Gracie Jiu-jitsu, which emphasized groundwork, proved most successful. Then both strikers and grapplers began cross-training, and within a few years champions had to be competent at both striking and grappling.

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