There is no evidence of hand-to-hand combat techniques being used in India before the Arian invasions of the twelfth to tenth centuries BC. Before this time, the people probably only practiced "meditation under trees," which is the supposed origin of Yoga. One cannot definitely say that Yoga was a part of a combat regime, but its meditation and breathing disciplines, along with the principles of Zen Buddhism, made important contributions to the development of all the Oriental martial arts.
The Arians codified Yoga in the Upanishads, in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The first records of Indian combat techniques were written during this same period. Later, Indian combat techniques were categorized in the famous Buddhist chronicle Lotus Sutra as either joint locks, fist strikes, grapples, or throws. During the fifth and fourth centuries BC, these categories gained firm standing and developed separately.
When Gautama Siddartha, the Buddha, lived on earth, the Bhramin religious group held sway over much of India. They believed the duty of every man was to become an itinerant priest. Combat training was of great importance to these wandering priests who had only a staff to defend themselves against wild animals, robbers, and villagers of different religious faiths. Their hardships were intensified by the constant warring of all sixteen principalities of India.