The traditional martial arts are an aspect of Burmese culture that has been virtually ignored by Burma scholars. Yet these martial arts have a rich heritage dating back to the early days of Burma. Historic events, religion, political necessities, and, more have shaped them recently into economic realities. The traditional martial art came close to extinction during the British colonial period, but was revived during the Japanese occupation. In past times, they were utilized for warfare and self-defense. Today the self-defense element remains, while the combat element has been transformed into sports and artistic cultural expression. The present economic conditions and the spread of foreign martial arts pose a current threat to the survival of the Burmese traditional martial arts and require the attention of Burma scholars to document this important component of the historic cultural identity of Burma.