CMA are NOT religious practices and do not carry religious affiliations. There are no Buddhist, Daoist, or Muslim martial arts, just arts that may or may not be practiced by people who subscribe to those religious beliefs. Get over it!!!
Shaolin gongfu is not Buddhist. Practicing it will not bring you any closer to enlightenment. There are reams and reams of very detailed writings concerning the practice of Buddhism and Dahongquan is just not part of it.
IMA are not Daoist. The concepts of the Yijing, bagua, five elements, etc. are just part of the general Chinese worldview and historically have been commonly accepted by people of all religious affiliations. Practice of these arts will not make you immortal or win you an office in the Celestial court. Yes, we all know about Zhuan tianzun, it has no similarities to baguazhang except that it involves circular movement.
Jiaomen arts are not Muslim, practicing them will not bring you closer to Allah or get you into Heaven. There are five core practices in Islam and doing Tantui or Chaquan is not one of them.
It is only religious practice when it is aligned with the soteriological goals of that religion. Just because someone of a particular religious affiliation practices some kind of martial art does not make that martial art a religious practice.
As for baguazhang's circular stepping, many styles of martial arts have some kind of circular footwork, including non-Chinese styles. It is an effective way of stepping in a fight. It does not all have to come from one point of origin and it is not at all mystical.
Last edited by beiquan; 09-05-2006 at 12:47 PM.
As promised, the name of Tung Hai Chuan's student was Sha Hui Tzu. He was a bodyguard of a royal family member named Su Chin Wang. Chi Lung Feng (Hsing I) is the oldest traceable master of Hsing I with documents and history in the Ming Era. His student, Ma Hsueh Li was a Muslim. He founded the Honan branch of Hsing I.
Internal martial arts were pioneered by Taoists, so how you can say that they "are not Taoist" I don't know. Perhaps the application of Taoist yogic forms into fist/fighting forms won't inherently help one to acheive immortality, but it could indeed lead to that if that is one's goal.
The same can, and has been, be said of Shaolin martial arts. While the mere practice of Shaolin kung fu won't lead one to become a Buddha... it could enable one to have more endurance to meditate to achieve that goal. Hence why DaMo formulated the earliest roots of Shaolin chuan. It is a martial art unique to Chan Buddhists... so technically, yes it is Buddhist.
Thank you to Zenshiite for the clarity and focus.
Our friend beiquan seems to be looking for conflict, or at least an argument.
Let's set the record straight.
We are talking about the fascinating thread of Muslim Boxing (in CHINA!) because it is not a common topic. We are not pushing any religious beliefs or spiritual doctrine. We are not trying to pigeon hole, define or categorize the arts into any "neat boxes". We are trying to discuss/learn or gain insight into this unique thread of Chinese martial history and tradition. Interesting that the Communist government, when considering the formulation of a "national martial art" (Wushu), they chose as the foundation: Tam Tui or Spring Leg and Cha Quan. Their belief was that the Muslim lineage was less "corrupted" or more "pure" that the other martial lines in Mainland China at that time. Obviously, other arts contributed to this effort and to Wushu. But most are only aware of the obvious Northern arts: Fanzi, Mantis, Eagle Claw and Long Fist (Chang Quan). Actually, Chang Quan is yet another attempt at "national art" or Kuoshu, taken on by the Republican government in Nanjing in the 1920's. My point, we hear alot about Buddhist and Taoist martial tradition in China. We hear some about rare family styles. But, until recently (90's) we heard very little about the Hui tradition of Jiao Men in China. Yet, Shang Dong Sheng, the great Shuai Chiao master in Taiwan, was Muslim. We are talking about tradition and art, religion is the social thread that may help to maintain or spread it certain communities. Nothing more. The Sufi/Taoist connection is an observation based on subjective (similar philosophical ideas) and objective (walking the circle) evidence that is a point of discussion designed to broaden perspective beyond the limited scope of this and that. Let's not miss the forrest, for the trees. Does it really matter if an art is Taoist or Muslim, of course not! For interest: the black dragon symbol was purported to be the flag flow by Chagamir, the famous Hui military/martial hero (Cha Quan's Founder(?) ) who fought Japanese pirates at sea.
Supposedly the Muslims were isolated from a lot of the population. They might have had an easier time practicing wherever they were. Supposedly the Commies cracked down a lot on martial arts and artists especially in the big temples. Practicing MA could get you into big trouble.
Last edited by lunghushan; 09-05-2006 at 07:03 PM.
Yes, practicing tan tui is not one of the five pillars of Islam, but some Hui practitioners tie their practice to a Hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet or early prominant Muslims) of the Prophet saying that you should practice wrestling, among other physcial arts. It is a weak Hadith (one who'se authenticity is not 100% accepted), but it is a way to frame their practice in religious terms.
There are a lot of guidelines that people follow in their every day life as part of their understanding of what it means to be a Muslim that aren't among the five pillars, and aren't even from the Koran. Hadith and Islamic law, among other sources.
There is nothing in the bible about putting lights on a tree on December 25th, for some people it is very Christian, and for others it isn't Christian at all.
Sure, the five elements, and various other theories found in the IMA are not exclusive to any school of Daoism. Daoist is probably one of the most vague and contradictory words out there. Definitions range from belonging to a specific established Daoist sect, relating to the five elements, yin and yang and related concepts in Chinese culture and 1,001 other things. So, if something is Daoist or not depends on what you mean by "Daoist".
The connection between Bagua stepping and Daoist circle walking meditation practice is the best researched version of where it came from that I've found. I can see you arguing that the connection hasn't been proved, but how can you conclusively say that its not true? Based on what?
This concern with lineages, as you can see, breeds conflict.. that is the nature of ideologies that separate rather than unite.. although i find Taoist philosophy sound and unifying, i am not concerned with its realtionship to the Arts.. Now, before you go off on me, if there is a benefit to the arts by utilizing a particular aspect of a belief system, then it is utilized, but.. without transferring religious trappings or philosophical contrivances.. The Art will survive and flourish without assigning religious conotations.. Religions breed conflict, that is their nature. Whether Bagua originated in China or the Middle East does not alter its effectiveness.. and, time spent conjuring lineages and researching histories distracts us from the practice the Art requires.. People can meet and practice their Bagua or any Art without ideological conflict, but.. start a lineage discussion and watch the mess develop..
There are very few Arts that can "prove" their ancestry.. but, each Art can demonstrate its effectiveness.. that, is the issue.. whether it is the "authentic" art or not has no bearing on the effectiveness of the discipline.. it works, or it don't..
TaiChiBob.. "the teacher that is not also a student is neither"
Thank You Tai Chi Bob for your philosophical attempt to qwell the troubled waters of human interaction.
Again, is religion in the martial arts important? Probably not! Does it find its way into almost ever aspect of social life? Yes!
The reason we discuss this is in regard to transmission and the social fabric of different periods in the evolution of the arts. I might add, that in all arts, the mental focus of "will" or "intent" or "force of mind", is viewed as important. It is considered a critical part of IMA. In the past, such training was not widely available, except through the offices of a "school" specializing in such training. Most of them were religious organizations, teaching mental discipline, meditation and contemplation. Dr Phil was not yet invented. Only now, are we beginning to fully explore this without the "hint" of religious dogma, so that we may access these "skills" without indoctrination. I might add the no one has mentioned or observed that Sufi is not Islam or, in fact Moslem! To be in the world, but not of it. It is the way of presence, without dogma. Sufi lives within the "shell" of Islam. But it is at home in many places and times. The only "way" that has presented this training without dogma or religious taint, is Sufi.
Now we move on to a couple of interesting bits that I touched on briefly.
ChaShagmir (fully name) was a Hui military/martial hero of the Ming Era. He is credited with creating both Tan Tui and Cha Quan. Other arts have a great presence or tradition in the Hui community, but this appears to be the only art that was "invented" solely by members of the Hui, for the Hui. Originally Tan Tui had 28 routines or sets, one for each character in the Arabic alphabet. As the art gained popularity and moved outside the Hui community, it was condensed to ten steps(the 28 routines were combined to form 10 steps) There as 10 step, 12 step and 14 step Tan Tui (spring leg) routines. They are found in virtually all Northern Styles of Long Fist or Wushu (Eagle Claw/Fanzi, Mantis, Northern Crane, MiTzong, etc.). They are all derived from the same source.
Many of the masters I trained with in Mainland China, were Moslem. Many masters were imprisoned or killed during the Cultural Revolution, regardless of their religion. Much was lost. Many of these masters were told that if they "helped" the Government to "create" Wushu, they would be pardoned and released. This is the dirty little secret of Wushu. It is why I have no traffic with it, or the People's Republic anymore. The main reason (I believe) that I was taught these arts was to carry on the tradition, separate from what was "given" to Wushu. I am not Moslem, but as many of my masters said; it's what's in your heart that matters! The same with masters of other arts with Buddhist, Taoist or no religious background at all! I was given tuition not because of any particular religion or belief, but because of my individual merits as a man.
Finally, for those interested. We can discuss the Hui influence and presence in Hsing-I, Bagua and the Tongbei/Baji/Pigua arts. There is also a Hui strain of wrestling or Shuai Chiao, separate from the other noted schools (Mongolian, etc.) of Chinese wrestling. Lastly, the meditative quality of walking the circle in Bagua always raises controversy. Is it just to condition the legs and train footwork? Some people argue about the existance of CHI, and its value or merit. What you choose to believe is your business and your right. But, your rights end at the tip of my nose. I have my rights as well. So long as they do not interfere with yours! Please then, observe this with all people, so we may live in harmony and respect!
Hi Bak Sing,
You are not adding much to your original statement: that Bagua may be of Muslim origin. You are going all over the place.
As far as Tan Tui is concerned the 10 line versions do not have the technical complexity as the 12 line Chin Woo version. The most complex 10 line version I have seen is the one published by Ma ZhenBang: 10 Routine Spring Leg. And that version still does not come close to the Chin Woo version. That book was the first to link the Chasangir/Cha Chuan origin to Tan Tui.
Unless you have documents produced by the PRC that state this explicitly, you are simply expressing your own opinion as objective fact.Their belief was that the Muslim lineage was less "corrupted" or more "pure" that the other martial lines in Mainland China at that time.
Yes, and all of this stuff about "Buddhist" and "Daoist" martial tradition is made up. There are martial arts and there are religions, and they are not the same thing. This whole idea of Buddhist or Daoist martial arts was invented by wuxia authors based on false hagiographies and latched onto by Orientalizing Westerners who are only interested in the exotic, esoteric, etc.My point, we hear alot about Buddhist and Taoist martial tradition in China. We hear some about rare family styles. But, until recently (90's) we heard very little about the Hui tradition of Jiao Men in China.
It used to be that only those with access to Chinese-language scholarship on the history of CMA could read the works of those scholars who have worked hard to disprove these myths, but nowadays Western scholars are beginning to work on these issues too. Brian Kennedy's recent book on martial arts manuals has an excellent summary of such scholarship.
Point taken. Yes, in both religious traditions there is some kind of practice that involves circular movement. In Buddhist monasteries it is common to practice walking meditation done while circumambulating an altar, why do you not argue that Bagua stepping has Buddhist roots? My point is that you are grasping at straws trying to posit some kind of grand connection. As far as similar philosophical ideas... this is not the forum to discuss thatThe Sufi/Taoist connection is an observation based on subjective (similar philosophical ideas) and objective (walking the circle) evidence that is a point of discussion designed to broaden perspective beyond the limited scope of this and that.
Last edited by beiquan; 09-06-2006 at 07:42 PM.
If this is true, then it is very interesting. I personally have never seen such an explanation. I have spent time in China, I have known Hui people, and I have never heard of this before.Yes, practicing tan tui is not one of the five pillars of Islam, but some Hui practitioners tie their practice to a Hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet or early prominant Muslims) of the Prophet saying that you should practice wrestling, among other physcial arts. It is a weak Hadith (one who'se authenticity is not 100% accepted), but it is a way to frame their practice in religious terms.
Again, if you want to argue about the definition of "Daoist" then this is a separate topic. I'm currently writing my doctoral thesis on medieval Daoist practice, I have spent a great deal of time reading both primary and secondary sources on Daoist beliefs and practices and have furthered my studies in both Taiwan and mainland China. When I use the word "Daoist" I know exactly what I am talking about and in my opinion these concepts, not being exclusive to (and in fact predating) the Daoist religious tradition, should not be labelled "Daoist."Sure, the five elements, and various other theories found in the IMA are not exclusive to any school of Daoism. Daoist is probably one of the most vague and contradictory words out there. Definitions range from belonging to a specific established Daoist sect, relating to the five elements, yin and yang and related concepts in Chinese culture and 1,001 other things. So, if something is Daoist or not depends on what you mean by "Daoist".
Based on my own research into this practice and my own study of baguazhang. Zhuan tianzun is a type of ritualized stepping (common in Daoist ritual practice, the most famous being the Yubu or Steps of Yu), specifically a ritual practice of circumambulation while chanting hymns that occurs during specific stages of the zhai ritual. Having studied baguazhang myself, I just don't see any connection whatsoever between the two except for the circularity; circumambulation is common in many religious traditions. I would love to be proven wrong, I never said that it is impossible that baguazhang stepping was perhaps inspired by this; however, I personally prefer the simpler explanation that circular stepping is an effective combative technique. Personally I believe that the only reason that a connection was made between the Zhuan tianzun practice and bagua stepping is that historians were attempting to justify the original myth that Dong learned bagua from some mysterious Daoists. This (the shadowy Daoist teacher) is a common device in Chinese popular hagiography and I personally believe it to be hyperbole.The connection between Bagua stepping and Daoist circle walking meditation practice is the best researched version of where it came from that I've found. I can see you arguing that the connection hasn't been proved, but how can you conclusively say that its not true? Based on what?
Last edited by beiquan; 09-06-2006 at 07:35 PM.
how about this:
As I learned it, baguazhang circle walking is a training method, most CMA styles have basic methods of training stances and footwork. Circle walking develops various skills that are important in the overall development of baguazhang shenfa, such as where/how to step, balance, postural alignment, rooting, etc.
What does any of this have to do with Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, or any other religion?
There is also a Spanish swordsmanship school, I think frpm the late Renaissance, that used circle walking. I can't find the treatise in my paperwork. If I can relocate it I will post the name.
FAITH: "The perfect way to be, is to do" ~ Me