The history of Indian martial arts is quite interesting. Early martial traditions go back to the 2nd millennium BC. It got due mentioning in Indian Vedic literature like the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. It described how to improve a warrior`s individual artistry and kill enemies using various different methods in warfare, whether a warrior went to war in chariots, elephants, horses, or on foot. Among varied Indian martial arts, Malla-yuddha was regarded as a prominent martial art in that era. It is a form of combat wrestling codified into four forms, which is described, in the ancient Indian epics as the fighting style of warriors such as Bhima. Innumerable references of Indian martial arts are found in almost every lines of Mahabharata. For example in the prolonged battle between Arjuna and Karna using bows, swords, trees and rocks, and fists, in unarmed battle where two fighters boxing with clenched fists and fighting with kicks, finger strikes, knee strikes and headbutts. Other boxing fights too are enumerated in Mahabharata and Ramayana. Apart from these the references of Indian martial arts too are found in various literary works. The martial art of Vajra Mushti was described in the Buddharata Sutra, written down by the 5th century. Indian military accounts of the Gupta Empire gave a vivid description of more than 130 different classes of weapons. Even in Vatsyayana`s Kama Sutra throw light on the fact that women would often "practice with sword, single-stick, quarter-staff, and bow and arrow." Indian works of art, particularly in temple sculptures show warriors in positions related to the martial arts.
In the British era, Indian martial arts got a face-lift. The British Raj eventually banned Kalarippayattu in 1804 in response to a series of revolts. However, 1920s is the era of rediscovering and preserving the traditional arts of South India and once again Kalarippayattu gained public attention.
Indian martial arts throws light on the Indian tradition of fight and self-defense and in the process revived as the superior art form