Defining martial arts

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

Defining martial arts

Postby GrahamB on Sat May 02, 2020 10:54 am

For anybody who has ever uttered the words "your shit is fake" ;D

"If you asked someone in Beijing what the most important martial arts were in the year 1770 they would likely have said (in the following order) 1) archery 2) riding 3) strength training. Why? These were the specific skills that were tested on the imperial military service exams. It is often forgotten now, but many working martial artists actually made their living coaching students to pass this exam. Wrestling, fencing, boxing and spear work were also widely taught and had their own specialists. But archery was clearly at the apex of martial culture during much of imperial China’s long history. Many more books seem to have been published about archery than fencing or boxing.

If you were to ask a group of Chinese martial artists the same question two hundred years later, in 1970, you would get an entirely different set of answers. By that point traditional archery was largely forgotten and different styles of unarmed combat were perceived globally as “national arts.” As a field we need concepts that are flexible enough to help us deal with both eras of history, or to understand how one period flows into the next. What is unhelpful are definitions that privileges our current cultural values over those held by people in different places or eras." ... s-studies/
Last edited by GrahamB on Sat May 02, 2020 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
If you don't become the ocean you'll be seasick every day.
Heretics podcast | The Tai Chi Notebook
User avatar
Great Old One
Posts: 12526
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 3:30 pm

Re: Defining martial arts

Postby MaartenSFS on Sat May 02, 2020 11:27 am

Very interesting, but I reckon archery was placed so high because of the Manchurian rulers. According to my Master, spear and other pole-arms were king, which correlates with many other non-nomadic cultures around the world.
User avatar
Posts: 2314
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:22 pm
Location: Lansing, Michigan

Return to Xingyiquan - Baguazhang - Taijiquan

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests