The term ‘martial arts’ is often associated with some popular forms such as Kung-Fu, Judo, Karate, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu. While the popularity of these forms of martial art is quite extensive, they remain to be fairly young in the history of martial arts. As much as it might be impossible to come up with an accurate chronology on the development of martial arts, there are quite a number of martial arts that enjoy a history dating back to the earliest human civilizations.

Here are some of the oldest forms of martial arts that are still practiced today.


This is probably one of the oldest forms of martial arts. Although the exact origins of boxing remain unknown, a good number of ancient human civilizations such as Sumerian and Ancient Greece depict boxing as their art. Today, it enjoys a huge following and it is one of the most paying forms of martial art.

Shuai Jiao

Also known as Chinese Wrestling, Shuai Jiao is considered one of the oldest forms of martial art practiced in ancient China. It was improved and rebranded to Jiao Ti and later Jiao Li. Jiao Li is currently the combat system taught in Chinese police and military institutions.


An ancient martial art from Greece, Pankration is considered an assortment of boxing, wrestling, and also allows kicking. According to Greek mythology, Hercules was the first person to practice this form of martial arts. Modern Pankration, though not an Olympic event, is regarded as a form of Mixed Martial Art.


Malla-Yuddha is an ancient form of martial art from South Asia. The earliest records of this sport are revealed in old folktales about Malay Heroes who practiced this sport. As much as its popularity has diminished over the years, it is still a staple of some communities from South Asia.