"The Temple is ancient, Kai Lian," the Grandmaster lectured. "Things remain much as they were during the Wei Dynasty."

Kai nodded. "Yes, sifu."

"The theft of the Five Tigers Jade Buddha dishonors every monk who has lived and trained here over the past 14 centuries."

"Go to America and find the thieves." "As sifu wishes."

"These devils do not respect our history because they have none of their own."

"Your wisdom illuminates their weakness, sifu." "When you find them, deal them a blow for each dynasty that the Temple has seen fall. Even a fool should respect the Temple's long and honorable past after such a lesson." "Ishall, as the Americans say, learn 'em, sifu."

The martial arts are as old as history. Ancient tomb carvings show men fighting with sticks and shields, and wrestling with holds still used in modern fighting arts. The oldest texts tell of warriors with great skill at arms, demonstrating their strength and technique.

There's no one "origin" of the martial arts - no single founding culture or style from which all systematic combat training sprung. The martial-arts world is nevertheless full of claims of antiquity, each style maintaining that it's older than the next. Martial Arts makes no attempt to settle such debates. it takes the stance that all cultures have their own martial-arts styles and that although they've often influenced each other, no one culture or style can truly claim to be the wellspring of all martial arts. There are only so many ways to use hands, feet, and weapons to defeat a rival, after all. (In a cinematic or mythic game, of course, all martial arts might truly have a common genesis; see Ultimate Styles, p. 144.)

Still, the world's many cultures have trained and continue to train in ways fascinating as much for their similarities as for their differences.

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