Northern vs Southern arts

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Northern vs Southern arts

Postby GrahamB on Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:38 am

Really enjoyed this article. Good quote:

"Buddhism and Daoist Thought in Modern Wing Chun

For the most part “orthodox” Wing Chun schools in the Ip Man tradition don’t deal all that explicitly with religion or spirituality. The Wing Chun creation story mentions the Shaolin Temple, but so does every other martial art practiced by the Cantonese speaking minority of southern China in the 20th century. There is no evidence that Ip Man, Chan Wah Shun or Leung Jan were devoted Buddhists. While a few non-Ip Man lineages have tried to make Buddhism central to their identity, this trend has never caught on with even a substantial minority of Wing Chun practitioners. To the extent that Buddhist stories or ideas are discussed they seemed to be used as metaphor to illuminate some aspect of physical practice rather than as an actual Dharma to structure spiritual devotion.

Much the same can be said for Daoism. Of course in Hong Kong and Taiwan Daoism, as a folk religion, is deeply tied to the world of “rivers and lakes” and has a certain amount of overlap with martial arts schools. Occasionally local temples sponsor demonstration troops who perform on festival days. But this is not what anyone in America thinks of when they hear “Daoism.” In the west we give a lot of priority to the ancient Daoist philosophical tradition.

This strain of Daoist thought is probably most common in the “internal” arts of northern China. In my experience it is not really seen all that much in most southern schools of Kung Fu. It did have an important impact on individuals like Sun Tzu and General Qi Jiguang, and so its basic insights filtered into the modern martial arts through the classic works written by these earlier strategists. Yet when I see Daoism being referenced it is generally as a metaphor to help explain modern practice (e.g., how the footwork in Pak Mei corresponds to the ‘five elements’) rather than as a subject for life-long dedicated study.

In some ways I think that this is a southern vs. northern thing. I am about to do the most dangerous thing you can imagine when writing about Chinese martial arts. I am going to make a sweeping generalization. I know there are some obvious exceptions here, but just follow me for a moment.

Northern arts seem more likely to attempt to offer a complete system of theory and practice that can structure most elements of a practitioner’s personal life, if they so wish.

Xingyiquan has a fascinating theoretical basis, Taijiquan actually has a corpus of ‘classics’ and as near as I can tell it is impossible to Master Shaolin kung fu if you start after 8 years of age and don’t go to a dedicated boarding school. To be really authentic the boarding school also needs to have dodgy plumbing and limited heating in the winter.

Judged by this standard the boxing systems of Guangdong might look unimpressive. That is certainly what R. W. Smith concluded. He was wrong. For all of his experience he never seemed to grasp that arts like White Crane, Pak Mei or Wing Chun have fundamentally different goals and different strategies for achieving them. Rather than being the sprawling life-ways that he was exposed to in Taiwan, these arts are small and compact. They are simple by design. In the southern martial arts beauty often presents itself as an exercise in parsimony.

The southern arts are like the game of golf; one bag, a box of balls and no more than 14 clubs. Your job is to put the ball in the hole. It is all so simple. But the joy of golf comes from a lifetime of practice and refinement. Likewise, with the southern martial arts your job is to hit the guy. Just hit him. Don’t drop-kick him off a moving horse. Don’t spend the first two years of training “cultivating your qi.” Just punch him as hard as you can. The sophistication of these arts comes from doing simple things really well. It rarely looks impressive, but it takes years of practice.

While Taiji has a corpus of ‘classics’ and the internal arts have benefited from the erudition of students like Sun Lutang, I am not sure that its really necessary to import a complex philosophical system into something like Wing Chun. At best you would make it more like the northern “internal” arts, but that misunderstands its basic nature on a fundamental level.

Importing such a system might distract from the essential beauty of the art. The southern fighting systems are beautiful, multifaceted arts small enough to fit into a jewelry box. And the great thing about that is they can also fit into one’s life without taking it over. It makes them very compatible with the modern world, but this idea was also there from the very beginning."

https://chinesemartialstudies.com/2012/ ... fucianism/
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Formosa Neijia on Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:26 pm

GrahamB wrote:The southern arts are like the game of golf; one bag, a box of balls and no more than 14 clubs. Your job is to put the ball in the hole. It is all so simple. But the joy of golf comes from a lifetime of practice and refinement. Likewise, with the southern martial arts your job is to hit the guy. Just hit him. Don’t drop-kick him off a moving horse. Don’t spend the first two years of training “cultivating your qi.” Just punch him as hard as you can. The sophistication of these arts comes from doing simple things really well. It rarely looks impressive, but it takes years of practice.

Importing such a system might distract from the essential beauty of the art. The southern fighting systems are beautiful, multifaceted arts small enough to fit into a jewelry box. And the great thing about that is they can also fit into one’s life without taking it over. It makes them very compatible with the modern world, but this idea was also there from the very beginning."


Nice quote. Thanks for sharing this. Well worth reading.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby wayne hansen on Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:32 pm

Where do you get the idea smith wasn't exposed to southern systems in taiwan
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Trick on Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:22 pm

academic study of the Chinese martial arts..phew..this is more heavy than eating bitter.....And yeah what was that about about Smith
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby GrahamB on Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:18 am

wayne hansen wrote:Where do you get the idea smith wasn't exposed to southern systems in taiwan


That’s not what he actually wrote - read it again.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby willie on Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:45 am

GrahamB wrote:

Hong Kong and Taiwan Daoism, as a folk religion

has a certain amount of overlap with martial arts schools.

local temples sponsor demonstration

But this is not what anyone in America thinks of when they hear “Daoism.”



JITONG

Last edited by willie on Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:06 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Bao on Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:46 am

GrahamB wrote:The southern arts are like the game of golf; one bag, a box of balls and no more than 14 clubs. Your job is to put the ball in the hole. It is all so simple. But the joy of golf comes from a lifetime of practice and refinement. Likewise, with the southern martial arts your job is to hit the guy. Just hit him. Don’t drop-kick him off a moving horse. Don’t spend the first two years of training “cultivating your qi.” Just punch him as hard as you can. The sophistication of these arts comes from doing simple things really well. It rarely looks impressive, but it takes years of practice.


Interesting analogy with the golf. It might be more true for Choy Li Fut, Hung Gar and Mok gar, but it's still too generalized. I think he misses the mark. The school environment played a big part in the south. Big schools where people practiced to develop their strength and health. In some styes, practice often started from this and the "internal stuff" came later in the practice. But styles like Bak Mei and Southern Dragon blend external practice and internal principle right from the start. This is true for several wing chun lineages as well. Even Hunggar has a level where you practice very soft and relaxed, where movements are refined and where there is no apparent effort on delivery of the strikes. There are just few people in the top who show these things in public. This stuff is not very impressive for show and demonstrations, mostly only for the person at the recieving end. ;)
Last edited by Bao on Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Trick on Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:23 am

Well it's a academic study of MA so yeah I can understand why referring to golf :)
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Yeung on Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:15 am

From the conclusion of Benjamin N. Judkins:
In the final analysis Wing Chun no more needs a spiritual center than does an auto mechanic or a computer programmer.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby Ozguorui on Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:11 pm

If we are telling Northern vs Southern stories, What was that story about Xing Yi and Beng Quan......
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby wayne hansen on Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:04 pm

North /south seen good and bad in both
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby taiwandeutscher on Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:55 am

I really love academic researchers who neither speak nor read Chinese, but quote English HKK papers, omg!
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby GrahamB on Sun Mar 25, 2018 1:21 am

Fucksake.
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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby RobP3 on Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:04 am

willie wrote:
JITONG



:)

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Re: Northern vs Southern arts

Postby willie on Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:23 am

[quote="RobP3"][quote="willie"]

JITONG


:)

A while back I got into it on Chinese turf. I embarrassed a couple higher level players in Chinatown by throwing them on the
ground. Chinese dudes weren't happy about it. So they sent some Chinese guy to kick my ass...

So this Chinese dude comes out of nowhere and squares off with me. Kind of a big dude too.
There was a big crowd of Chinese there. someone punched me from behind.

Anyways, we went at it, The Chinese dude fight in a trance, like a zombie. No matter what happened he never changed, Zombie.
luckily I have seen something like this before or I would have been Totally freaked out.

So anyways I had told what had happened in Chinatown to a couple Chinese friends that I have. They are from Taiwan.
They told me that what I saw that day was most likely someone who practiced Jitong. That's how I heard about it.
Last edited by willie on Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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