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Indian martial arts refers to the fighting systems of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia.This includes what are now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and sometimes Sri Lanka and Nepal.
This article will refer to India in the historic sense to include most of southern Asia.A variety of terms are used for the English phrases "Indian martial arts" or "South Asian martial arts", usually deriving from Sanskrit or Dravidian sources.While they may seem to imply specific disciplines (e.g.archery, armed combat), by Classical times they were used generically for all fighting systems.A later term, yuddha kalā, comes from the words yuddha meaning fight or combat and kalā meaning art or skill. weapon art) usually refers specifically to armed disciplines.Another term, yuddha-vidyā or "combat knowledge", refers to the skills used on the battlefield, encompassing not only actual fighting but also battle formations and strategy.
Indian epics contain the earliest accounts of combat, both armed and bare-handed.Most deities of the Hindu-Buddhist pantheon are armed with their own personal weapon, and are revered not only as master martial artists but often as originators of those systems themselves.In Sanskrit literature the term dwandwayuddha referred to a duel, such that it was a battle between only two warriors and not armies.Epics often describe the duels between deities and god-like heroes as lasting a month or more.The malla-yuddha (wrestling match) between Bhima and Jarasandha lasts 27 days.Similarly, the dwandayuddha between Parasurama and Bhishma lasts for 30 days, while that between Krishna and Jambavan lasts for 28 days.