of course, all tribes of humans developed some self defense locally.
China is called the "root" of asian martial arts, because it was the first country in the area to develop a highly sophisticated society and martial arts styles, complete with detailed theory. Historically, China was called "central country" by all the surrounding nations, for that reason.
Watch this free video of Dr yang explaining martial arts history:http://ymaa.com/netcasts/episode4
And in this one, he explains the terminologyhttp://ymaa.com/netcasts/episode1