Earliest examples of wrestling
Wrestling has been a part of most societies since time-immemorial:
Fresco in tomb 15 at Beni Hasan, Egypt ca. 2,000 BC.
The earliest known historical European descriptions of wrestling techniques are from classical antiquity: Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 466 (c. 200 CE, Greece).
And the earliest known manuals are from Chinese classics:
- Wrestling how-to manuals of the Western Han (2nd Century BCE)1
- Six Chapters of Hand Fighting, Book of Han (1st Century BCE)
However there are illustrations of and references to existing traditions dating much much earlier, with the oldest recorded example of Chinese wrestling (jǐao dǐ) from a military clash in 2679 BCE.
Convergent techniques in independent styles
There are only so many ways one can off-balance and throw an opponent, and so there is a lot of overlap in techniques in various independent styles of folk wrestling and martial grappling.
For example, there are many throws similar to judo/jujutsu techniques in Historical European Martial Arts manuals. The following techniques are from the German unarmed combat tradition, Ringen:
Talhoffer Fechtbuch (MS Thott.290.2º), 1459
Note that this isn't limited to throwing. Joint-lock and strangling techniques also appear in other historical traditions:
Khmer bas relief depicting a rear-naked-choke (with hooks) and a figure-four armlock, ca. 800
Black figure pottery depicting an arm-triangle, guillotine
Sculpture depicting an armlock.
1. Referenced in Records of the Grand Historian, c. 100 BCE