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According to Wikipedia's Martial Arts Timeline the oldest martial art identified is Ancient Egyptian. There are murals in the Beni Hasan tomb depicting wrestling that date back to 20th Century BCE. If you want the very first martial art, that's probably going to be "pointy stick". That Wikipedia link is pretty good. It shows approximate dates of ...


Heracles is a good start. He was the patron of Palaestra (παλαίστρα) which had rules, competitions, and training schools. I guess we are talking about a few hundred years BC -- I could not find an example of earliest primary sources. If you are going with the legends, 776BC were the first Olympic games. From the IEP: The very name palaestra derives ...

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