Martial arts equipment can include that used for conditioning, protection and weapons. Specialized conditioning equipment can include breaking boards, dummy partners such as the wooden dummy, and targets such as punching bags and the makiwara. Protective
Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development. Although the term martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. The term is derived from Latin, and means "arts of Mars", the Roman god of war. Some authors have argued that fighting arts or fighting systems would be more appropriate on the basis that many martial arts were never "martial" in the sense of being used or created by professional warriors.
The oldest work of art depicting scenes of battle, dating back 3400 BC, was the Ancient Egyptian paintings showing some form of struggle. Dating back to 3000 BC in Mesopotamia (Babylon), reliefs and the poems depicting struggle were found. In Vietnam, drawings and sketches from 2879 BC describe certain ways of combat using sword, stick, bow, and spears.[better source needed] Chinese martial arts originated during the Xia Dynasty more than 4000 years ago. It is said the Yellow Emperor Huangdi (legendary date of ascension 2698 BC) introduced the earliest fighting systems to China. The Yellow Emperor is described as a famous general who, before becoming China's leader, wrote lengthy treatises on medicine, astrology and the martial arts. One of his main opponents was Chi You who was credited as the creator of jiao di, a forerunner to the modern art of Chinese wrestling. The foundation of modern Asian martial arts is likely a blend of early Chinese and Indian martial arts. During the Warring States period of Chinese history (480-221 BC) extensive development in martial philosophy and strategy emerged, as described by Sun Tzu in The Art of War (c. 350 BC). Legendary accounts link the origin of Shaolinquan to the spread of Buddhism from India during the early 5th century AD, with the figure of Bodhidharma, to China. Pankratiasts fighting under the eyes of a judge. Side B of a Panathenaic prize amphora, c. 500 BC. In Europe, the earliest sources of martial arts traditions date to Ancient Greece. Boxing (pygme, pyx), wrestling (pale) and pankration were represented in the Ancient Olympic Games. The Romans produced gladiatorial combat as a public spectacle. A number of historical combat manuals have survived from the European Middle Ages. This includes such styles as sword and shield, two-handed swordfighting and other types of melee weapons besides unarmed combat. Amongst these are transcriptions of the (possibly apocryphal) Johannes Lichtenauer's mnemonic poem on the longsword dating back to the late fourteenth century. Likewise, Asian martial arts become well-documented during the medieval period, Japanese martial arts beginning with the establishment of the samurai nobility in the 12th century, Chinese martial arts with Ming era treatises such as Ji Xiao Xin Shu, Indian martial arts in medieval texts such as the Agni Purana and the Malla Purana, and Korean martial arts from the Joseon era and texts such as Muyejebo (1598). European swordsmanship always had a sportive component, but the duel was always a possibility until World War I. Modern sport fencing began developing during the 19th century as the French and Italian military academies began codifying instruction. The Olympic games led to standard international rules, with the Féderation Internationale d'Escrime founded in 1913. Modern boxing originates with Jack Broughton's rules in the 18th century, and reaches its present form with the Marquess of Queensberry Rules of 1867. Europe's colonization of Asian countries also brought about a decline in local martial arts, especially with the introduction of firearms. This can clearly be seen in India after the full establishment of British Raj in the 19th century. Similar phenomena occurred in Southeast Asian colonies such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.