Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

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

Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Scott P. Phillips on Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:22 pm

Thank you for all the love.
I love a good fight.
And I have poured myself a shot of whiskey.

First off let me say how much I admire the high level of discourse you have going here. People are making statements and backing them up with references and reasoned experience.

For me, this is a moral fight. Be forewarned, if you publish a book about Chinese martial arts history and you don't know what you are talking about, expect to feel the cold steel of my typepad.
Tom, Josh and a few others raised the idea that perhaps Rovere was not trying to write a book about history, and thus his book shouldn't be judged on this basis. That's a good defense, however, the very first paragraph of the book reads:
"Throughout Chinese History, vast numbers of books have been written on every aspect of human life. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of them have been translated into Western languages. Because of this many misconceptions regarding Chinese culture are promulgated in the West, both wittingly and unwittingly. Even the most superficial of readings of Chinese literature would dispel these fictions, but the language barrier has blocked the Western reader.
In no field is this sad state of affairs more apparent than in the history of Chinese martial arts." (from the Forward p. xv)
Then we have on page. xxvii, two pages titled "Objective of the Book," in which the original author of the manual, Huang Bo Nian, drops this piece of historic revisionism:
"All of the bayonet methods [in the book] derive from famous ancient and current spear experts. These techniques all come from years of practice, teaching, and practical combat experience. If you practice with a bayonet, you will increase your efficiency."
During the Boxer Uprising (1900) the one Chinese fighting force that was even capable of putting up a feeble resistance to American, Japanese, French, Russian, and British troops, was a force of 10,000 men who had been trained and drilled by Western advisers, they were Western style troops. The Bayonet training shown in this book came from two generations of Western teachers. Heck, Chang Kai-shek was a Methodist who studied in Military Science in Communist Moscow!
The martial artists of this time were caught up in a swirl of martial prowess and humiliation. They were trying to defend themselves from attacks on the value of martial arts. The publication of "pure" military fighting manuals, which claimed an ancient pedigree, were part of their feeble defense.
The truth is, Chinese culture does not fit in boxes.
----------------

As for my African Bagua Videos 1 & 2. I have changed my opinion some in the last year, as you can see if you read posts in the Baguazhang or History categories. But the basic premise still stands. Africa and China have much in common religiously, and there is a meaningful parallel between African martial dances and Chinese martial arts.
Chinese martial arts is a theatrical performing religious tradition, interwoven with ritual healing, exorcism, and trance-possession which can actually be used for fighting. A religious-dance culture can be found in Africa which has these same attributes.
Prior to the 20th Century there may have been some part of China, or some Chinese military force somewhere, in which pure martial arts were practiced. It's possible. Nearly all Chinese scholarship in the 20th Century has pursued this line of reasoning. China had the highest literacy rate of any country in the world for 2000 years, yet almost nothing written about pure martial arts. They have mined the storehouses of knowledge digging everywhere for scrolls and of the few they have found, even some of those are fakes.
It's time to give up on that idea. Martial arts, Opera, Religion, and healing arts have all suffered great losses because of it. The truth may hurt, but the richness of Daoist, martial, ritual theater is worth trying to recover. And you guys have a role to play in that.

________

As for my "Pure Internal," video, I would have thought that the part criticizing long and short power would have been the controversial part. Is shaking really that controversial? I'd be surprised if any famous master disagreed. Perhaps my wild eyed display deserves some constructive criticism, or a humorous video response. I welcome it.

__________
Naturally, all of your criticisms are appropriate. I took a dig at Rovere's credentials and that was barbaric of me. (What was he teaching those UN soldiers? How to say please and thank you to Hezbollah? Excuse me if I have a little contempt for the UN.) Shame on me. Shame. Shame.
Still, reading his book one might wonder if he has the 10,000 hours of Xingyi practice most of us would consider minimum for a teacher.

Blind Sage said, "Read [Scott's] bio, he's about performance.... well that and apparently showing the rest of us how we don't really understand IMA, while smiling and wishing us a happy day." Thank you for reading my bio, it was the most respectful thing you could have done-- I feel so....understood.

I have now finished the whiskey.
Scott P. Phillips

 

Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby klonk on Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:47 pm

Have another.
Last edited by klonk on Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Kevin_Wallbridge on Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:49 pm

Welcome to the fist
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Tom on Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:10 pm

Scott P. Phillips wrote:Thank you for all the love.
I love a good fight.
And I have poured myself a shot of whiskey.

I feel so....understood.

I have now finished the whiskey.


The preferred drink is rum. More . . . well, African, you know. Uisge is . . . more convulsive, perhaps.

Welcome on board. This seems to be the season for inviting energies from alternate realities onto RSF. How are you at hurling Olde (actually Middle) English invective at people?
Ku jin gan lai (苦尽甘来).
After bitter, the sweet comes.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby BruceP on Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:16 pm

Scott, l really liked the videos that were posted on this thread. I totally get it. Thanks for taking the time to make em.

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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Doc Stier on Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:47 pm

Hell, if you're gonna shake, you may as well rattle and roll, too! ;)

Last edited by Doc Stier on Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Chris Fleming on Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:54 pm

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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby blindsage on Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:53 am

Scott P. Phillips wrote:As for my African Bagua Videos 1 & 2. I have changed my opinion some in the last year, as you can see if you read posts in the Baguazhang or History categories. But the basic premise still stands. Africa and China have much in common religiously, and there is a meaningful parallel between African martial dances and Chinese martial arts.
Chinese martial arts is a theatrical performing religious tradition, interwoven with ritual healing, exorcism, and trance-possession which can actually be used for fighting. A religious-dance culture can be found in Africa which has these same attributes.
Prior to the 20th Century there may have been some part of China, or some Chinese military force somewhere, in which pure martial arts were practiced. It's possible. Nearly all Chinese scholarship in the 20th Century has pursued this line of reasoning. China had the highest literacy rate of any country in the world for 2000 years, yet almost nothing written about pure martial arts. They have mined the storehouses of knowledge digging everywhere for scrolls and of the few they have found, even some of those are fakes.
It's time to give up on that idea. Martial arts, Opera, Religion, and healing arts have all suffered great losses because of it. The truth may hurt, but the richness of Daoist, martial, ritual theater is worth trying to recover. And you guys have a role to play in that.

What truth? This is all conjecture based on observation and connections you claim, but aren't backed with anything. You're calling other people to set aside delusions? Religious dance culture's exist EVERYWHERE: various parts of Africa, Europe, North and South America, China, Japan, South East Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Australia, the Pacific, how is this a revelatory concept? Do you have any actual evidence of direct connection between African (and which African btw) traditions and Chinese, aside from your own conjecture? And how is it that you've just stumbled on this contrarian notion and every other person who's studied Chinese MA hasn't?

Blind Sage said, "Read [Scott's] bio, he's about performance.... well that and apparently showing the rest of us how we don't really understand IMA, while smiling and wishing us a happy day." Thank you for reading my bio, it was the most respectful thing you could have done-- I feel so....understood.

I'm glad you feel understood. But aside from the sarcasm, you put out videos with all kinds of passive aggressive, and not so passive criticisms of most of the rest of the IMA community and then put on a smiley face at the end of everything. Expect criticism back.
Last edited by blindsage on Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby cerebus on Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:56 am

blindsage wrote:What truth? This is all conjecture based on observation and connections you claim, but aren't backed with anything. You're calling other people to set aside delusions? Religious dance culture's exist EVERYWHERE: various parts of Africa, Europe, North and South America, China, Japan, South East Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Australia, the Pacific, how is this a revelatory concept? Do you have any actual evidence of direct connection between African (and which African btw) traditions and Chinese, aside from your own conjecture? And how is it that you've just stumbled on this contrarian notion and every other person who's studied Chinese MA hasn't?

Blind Sage said, "Read [Scott's] bio, he's about performance.... well that and apparently showing the rest of us how we don't really understand IMA, while smiling and wishing us a happy day." Thank you for reading my bio, it was the most respectful thing you could have done-- I feel so....understood.

I'm glad you feel understood. But aside from the sarcasm, you put out videos with all kinds of passive aggressive, and not so passive criticisms of most of the rest of the IMA community and then put on a smiley face at the end of everything. Expect criticism back.

I have now finished the whiskey.


Well said...
Last edited by cerebus on Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby rovere on Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:37 am

Since Scott Phillip’s review is all about ‘fun’ then I guess it’s my turn to have some.

First of all let me say that constructive criticism is part of academic discourse. Unfortunately, Mr. Phillips has neither an academic background nor one iota of an understanding about discourse. He certainly has little understanding of Chinese culture, as he claims, or even an ability to read or write beyond a minimal level of comprehension in English. But I digress – more about that later.

As for the review of my book, I had to read it several times to try and understand the points he was trying to make and my conclusion is he doesn’t make any.

1. “The book is a translation of a short manual about xingyi training in the 1920’s, supposedly used by Chiang Kai sheik’s army and the KMT.”

The book is a translation of Huang Bo Nien’s manual written in 1928. As a Chinese scholar Mr. Phillips’ use of the word “supposedly” makes no sense. Historically Huang:

• Wrote the book we translated
• Taught it at the Nanjing Zhong Yong Guo Shu Guan
• Was invited to teach his method at several military academy’s – including Zhong Jing

So why use the word “supposedly”? I think it’s because Mr. Phillip’s either can’t do research doesn’t know anything about Chinese Republican history or xingyi or dismisses points that don’t support his convoluted argument.

2. He thinks my commentaries are useless – Ok but why? Do they detract from his modern dance interpretation of shaking power? or sugar-plum fairy xingyi ballet? Or is it because it exposes and verifies that what he pretends to know is pure shit. At least I give clear reasons why the commentaries are in there. Oh yes, almost all of the old manuals do not show applications so this in one way my book differs from all the others.

3. ‘Dennis Rovere doesn’t seem to know why Huang’s manual was published in the first place.’

Well, that’s not true and I don’t recall any correspondence from Mr. Phillips or anyone else asking me that question. Maybe shaking power also gives him long distance mind-reading skills too? Or maybe his dance movements put him in a trance like state that allows him to answer on behalf of the person he is criticizing?

Given the social and political climate in the late 1920’s I have several theories regarding this:

• Chinese martial arts are, Chinese. Promoting those arts was intended to help to reestablish national pride at a time when China was emerging as a nation and still under foreign dominance.
• Ideologically Chiang and others saw the impending war with Japan as a clash between bushido and Confucianism.
• Martial arts are good for building fighting spirit. Even today all modern armies have some form of hand to hand combat training – regardless of technological advancement.

There are several other reasons I think but I’m trying to keep this brief – but in short, I do know why the manual was written.

Reading most of the comments on this forum, I can tell that none of you really think my book was intended as a socio-political commentary on the early Chinese Republic. It’s a translation with the addition of first hand information


4. Mr. Phillips use of snippets of information quoted out of context or not even stated for refuting the validity of the manual in general and bayonet fighting in specific really demonstrates a lack of academic rigor in his research. (Of course if he had rigor he couldn’t shake.)

He juxtaposes a commentary on the boxer rebellion of 1900 (Ch’ing dynasty) with bayonet training in a Western modeled military academy in Republican China of 1928. That’s like discussing Han dynasty chariot warfare with AK 47 armed infantry.

Huang’s claim of xingyi being a spear based art is a theory held by many historians. Since it is a translation of Huang’s own words and not mine, what more can I say? Perhaps Mr. Phillips can use his African bagua trance-like state to resurrect Huang and have him explain it in more detail?

5. Mr. Phillips makes a big-to-do about Western bayonet methods. He completely ignores several factors:

• The Japanese by all accounts were more adept at the bayonet than Western forces in China at the time. In fact the British had to rethink their approach to training after being beaten by the Japanese in a friendly competition in Shanghai.
• Tang Hao and others studied Japanese arts to compare, develop, improve Chinese military close combat weapon fighting (i.e., know your enemy).
• The Chinese had a long history of warfare. To say they had no weapon techniques of any value before the Westerners taught them is like saying the pyramids were built by aliens because the Egyptians weren’t smart enough to do it themselves. For a person who expresses a ‘love’ of Chinese culture, Mr. Phillips’ statements border on racism.

6. Mr. Phillips dismisses my statements on xingyi rifle and bayonet and ignores, or rather conveniently leaves out, the basic principle – use of the reinforcing step; as being absurd. (In the true spirit of “Crabtree’s Bludgeon” ignoring information that detracts from your theory is important.)

He then goes on to not to give any historical proof but rather simply pulls a picture off the internet of a PLA soldier doing a deep lunge (which is, by the way, one of the things that xingyi doesn’t do.). Since the PLA does not use xingyi, like I’ve mentioned in the past, Mr. Phillips in the end actually supported my comments.

Mr. Phillips’ claims that all those techniques described by Huang appear in every bayonet book is simply false.

7. Mr. Phillips’ statement on my mention of Sun Lutang and Wang Xiangzhai teaching xingyi in the army makes little sense.

He refers to the KMT as a place – “the question is not who taught there, but what was being taught”. I suppose it’s just poor sentence structure on his part but given his strict literal interpretation (usually, of course out of context) I prefer to believe he really does think the KMT is a place.

His reference to Marrow of the Nation is confusing. He acknowledges in passing that xingyi was taught at the Nanjing Guoshu Guan but avoids mentioning bayonet training there (which is also stated in the ‘Marrow’ book). He then jumbles that comment with a reference to the military academy? Does he not understand that they are two different places? (Oh and BTW Sun taught for the army in Beijing)

His whole tirade about modern warfare, military strategy, etc. is outside the scope of Huang’s and my book. My teacher was both a graduate and instructor at the Military Academy and taught military strategy there. Of course the emphasis was on modern warfare – which is why the air force academy soon followed. Actually bayonet training at the academy was not emphasized that much, so the main point of Mr. Phillips’ argument is??

(When Mr. Phillips says “besides the point” I see it as a simple way of dismissing facts that don’t fit his argument or; hiding the fact he hasn’t done any real research.)

8. I suppose I should address his comments about my credentials. He is especially interested in what an architect can teach the army. First of all let me say that my accomplishments are all documented and a matter of record – unlike Mr. Phillips’ dubious background. Just because I’m an architect (actually I am retired) doesn’t mean I was always an architect or didn’t do anything else. For the Canadian army I taught:

• Military VIP Protection (escort, counter-ambush, vehicle search)
• Military training courses in close combat, sentry/counter-sentry training, and weapon retention
• Armed tactical deployment for building clearing and search
• Close combat courses for 1 Canadian Brigade, Combat Support, Military Police, PPCLI Reconnaissance, and Signals
• Armed arrest in control. (Including handling multiple prisoners and team approach of arms suspects)

I have several awards including an Award of appreciation for pre-deployment training from 1 CMBG HQ & Signals, Canadian military. This training included methods of safely handling prisoners during peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. One of the reasons I was chosen to teach this course was my extensive background as a court qualified expert witness in physical intervention and training standards. (I know Mr. Phillips will have a negative comment about that but since he has no qualifications in that area he should save his breath.)

I also find his lack of respect for the men and women in the military who undertake dangerous peacekeeping assignments in hostile environments to be rather just another ignorant display of his selfish behavior.

Looking at Mr. Phillips’ qualifications I see none – unless you count his Chinese cooking course. He claims to be on the staff at an acupuncture college but unlike the other staff members I noticed he has no academic qualifications listed. I suppose the college needs janitors too.

I have been doing xingyi for almost 40 years. I know that it doesn’t meet Mr. Phillips’ high standards for being a teacher. However, by my reckoning it’s approximately 50 years more training in xingyi than he has.

I’ve wasted enough time on the subject and do not plan on posting again. I have deleted my Chinese comments as per nianfong's request.
Last edited by rovere on Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby blindsage on Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:09 am

Um....ouch.
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby GrahamB on Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:11 pm

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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby cerebus on Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:39 pm

Heh, heh. Mr. Rovere's response was like a well-timed Beng Chuan to the solar plexus.... :D
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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby Chris Fleming on Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:57 pm

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Re: Xingyiquan of the Chinese army reviewed

Postby nianfong on Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:05 pm

Mr. Rovere,
please remove your section in chinese at the end. those are serious outright personal attacks and will not be tolerated here, and detract from any rational discourse, as well as your own respectability.
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