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Thread: Blasphemous questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    S.E. Texas, USA

    Blasphemous questions

    Don't anybody take offense to this. It's just some questions.

    Did Shaolin and WuDan practices exist as martial arts before the popularization of TouDi? Or were they simply exercise sequences?

    Did the Chinese develop "martial arts" after seeing what Kamo and Funakoshi were up to?

    Allen Pittman has observed that there are similarities between BaGua and some Orissa Dances from India.

    Patrick McCarthy referes to Boxing, Wrestling, forms (I'm assuming animal frolics or Yoga) and arresting holds as parent disciplines of TouDi.

    It makes me wonder if the Chinese forms before the 20th century had any practical hand to hand combat content or if they were simply exercises and dances that were repackaged to compete with karate and judo.

  2. #2
    Chinese martial arts as a functional fighting method go back about 4000-5000 years, and probably before even that.

    In recent years, it's become more form and choreography oriented in a good number of lines, but the old combat stuff is still plentifull if you now what t look for.

    Karate comes from Okinawa, which got it from Southern China Via the Five Ancestor's Fist style. China's Southern Five Ancestor's fist is made up of 5 styles, two of which are very ancient White Crane, and Southern Tai Tzu Quan. Both are close to a 1000 years old, or even more.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Vancouver, B.C. Canada

    Smile Pugilistic Traditions ...

    IMHO there are 2 main pugilistic traditions in China. These traditions were used in training military and para-military (ie militia, militant cult, etc...) I am sure there are many others that go under the radar; however, the two traditions that I am putting forward are better documented than most. So we will have to bear in mind that we do not disregard oral traditions but we need more that just that to draw a more accurate picture of early martial arts.

    It is believed that Tongbi (through the arms), which is also known as Changquan (Long fist) methodology, has a long history going back to the times of Spring-Autuum and Warring-States period. There are some evidences to suggest that it was the preferred method for training the troops during Song dynasty (960 - 1279 CE). Tongbi and Changquan are interchangeable designations IMHO since it is common in Chinese culture to call one thing with different names. Tongbi would have been a more formal or academic name; while Changquan would have been a popular usage amongst martial artists (ie Song Taizu and his peers) in my mind. This tradition has a strong base in Shangxi, Hebei and Szechuan provinces. Note that these provinces are north western and south western locations. Much of the physcial confrontations of China with foreign powers prior to Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644) happened mainly from the western fronts.

    It is say that in the travels of Jue Yuan, during Jin Yuan period, he visited mainly the western territories until he reached Lanzhou, Xianxi where he met Li Shou who has a friend Bai Yufeng that is originally from Shanxi Taiyuan. While it is logical to think that Bai Yufeng could have "Tongbi" or rather some kind of boxing training when he was in Shanxi, it is also possible that the boxing style that he's brought with him to Shaolin is more in line with Xin Yi Liu He or some type of animal based arts that is also quite old and western terrritory based. We also need to note that Yuan dynasty builded a few more Shaolin temples throughout China. One of them happens to be in Shanxi Taiyuan. Yuan dynasty also restricted martial arts practices by Chinese civilians.

    IMHO Tongbi as a term would have been like modern day term boxing in the western territories of China during and throughout Song, Yuan and Ming periods. So to distinguish one style from another you would have to add another designation such as Hong Dong, Bai Yuan, liang Yi, Du Liu, Wu Xing, etc... Note that Hong Dong is pretty much the only one that is named after a specific region in Shanxi. The other designation that are more "attribute" inclined didn't come out until Qing dynasty.

    So the question is why Shanxi Hong Dong is so important to Tongbi that a style is named after it?

    It so happened that Shanxi, during the chaotic period between Song and Jin Yuan times, was relatively better economics wise. Harvesting was good in Shanxi even during the Yuan dynasty. This provided stability and drew immigrants and refugees from other areas. When Zhu Yuanzhang (Ming Taizu) reunited the country he made some important policies that made a great impact in Chinese psyche that we can found traces of them in our folklores and pop culture even today. One of these policies was massive relocation of the populace. He made an edict to relocate people (mainly from the Shanxi region) to other places in China. The centre for carrying out of this edict is Hong Dong in Shanxi. There is an old tree in front of a temple that marks the beginning of the forced march of the legislated migrantion to repopulate the "poorer" regions of China during the early Ming dynasty. Hong Dong Tongbi is likely a folk response to help those who emigrated to other regions (Henan province is a possible location) to cope and to never forget their roots.

    In the Luohan Xinggong Duanda, a pugilistic manuscript dated around mid-1700s CE that is closely related to Shandong Praying Mantis system, Taizu Changquan and Han Tong Tongbi in my mind are used to bring out, highlight or emphasize the section containing Lian Quan (linked fist) which is the main entry method of the "style" in the book. Just as Wang Lang Tanglang is to bring out the "Shou Fa Zhong Lun" (Discour of Hand Method) section that is meant to be mid to close range techniques after the gap is breached. The 18 family sonnet is not meant to be a legend IMHO rather its function in the book is to bring out different technical sections of the book.

    Regarding the southern methodology:

    However, this doesn't mean that there's nothing happening in the south. Ming dynasty encountered major Japanese pirate raids along the eastern coastal regions and also southern regions (ie Fujian and surrounded area and as far north as Shandong). There is a strong martial tradition in southern areas such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Nanjing, etc. This tradition is known as Duanda (short strikes) and is indigenous to the southern countries in China.

    It is of note that Zhejiang area used to be the ancient fief of Yue during the Warring States period. So people there are no strangers to warfare and their indigenous martial arts caught the attention of mid to late Ming (1500s and onwards) Generals including Tang Shunzhi, Yu Dayou and Qi Jiguang. I believe even the Daosit Zhuangzi (369-286 BCE) mentioned a tale about a lady of Yue and her sword fighting ability. I am of the opinion that Kung Fu (not equivalent to traditional or modern Wushu) as a discipline is really based in an ancient believe system and philosophy since Xia dynasty (Neolithic and Early Civilsations periods) that is inherited mainly in the south. This means Zhejiang could have been the source of this tradition. Fujian beginning a transit; while, Jiangxi is the hub and Guangdong being the end zone, where there is always a strong Daoist contingent and following.

    The Daoist Neigong stuff is quite evident in the 18 Luohan Gong that is an integral part of the Luohan Xinggong Duanda.

    The following is more geared towards praying mantis:

    This system usually goes under two different designations in the past, one is Xing Quan (phase fist) and the other is Fanziquan (flip and turn fist). When the longfist and short strikes traditions met in Shangdon roughly beginning to mid-Ming dynasty (1368 - 1500s CE) due to migrations of refugees and redeployment of troops, there began a fusion that later came to known as Luohan Xinggong Duanda which became one of the indigenous pugilistic styles of Shangdong that inspired modern day Shandong Tanglang especially of the Liang Xuexiang (1810-? CE) lines that I would call Greater Meihwa Line. Unfortunately, we have but a book with numerous versions that is called Luohan Xinggong Duanda Tupu (A.K.A Shaolin Authentic) as a possible source of origin to work with and not much physcially reminence of its existence is available. BTW, this is where the legend of Wang Lang came from. However, there's little doubt in my mind about the southern connection especially with the 18 Luohan Gong portion of LHXGDD for I believe that particular portion as well as some hands/fighting combinations with strategies survived (might have been modified) in the GML as San Hui Jiu Zhuan Luohan Gong and Tanglang Shou (loose hands not the form).

    I'd say the following with a caveat (there really isn't substantial phyiscal proof of connections or relationships other than similarity found in training protocols) that Xing Quan as it went north to Jiangsu and Henan from Zhejiang, it became Huaquan and Hongquan. As it went south to Fujian, Jiangxi, and Guangdong, it became White Crane (Fujian), Hung Gar or Wing Chun in Guandong, and Hakka styles (Southern Mantis, Lung Ying, Bak Mei, etc) in the East River region of Guangdong. Hakka/Kejia (guest people) are mainly migrants from the north. Migrations happened in phases as early as Han dynasty (approx. 200 BC). Hakka spirtual or religious practices are generally in line with Shamanistic Daoism especially those sects there are found in the south Such as Jiangxi Long Hu Shan or Juerong Miao Shan. Their loyality to the family, which is the backbone of traditional Chinese culture, is unquestionably strong. We must understand that traditional Chinese sociology is in fact expressed in a chain such as individual + family + country + world (nations). When you are a "guest" people to survive in a rather hostile (pun intended) "country" you must rely on the kinship of the family in order to make it through. This is why Men Pai (system and style) as well as lineage is so important to them. Their spirtual believes also help them to cope with the otherwise hopeless situation. When the going is tough the tough goes to breathing. This is why San Zhan (3 battle) forms is so important to these arts because the only thing that you would have left with sometime really is your own breaths.

    We could built a circumstantial case of a connection base on evidences between virtually any and all styles of Kung Fu but we can't possibly prove it or disprove it due to a lack of unfallible solid proof IMHO.

    Just some thoughts that I have shared before. Martial traditions in China happened long before Buddhism was imported (but we can't exclude Hinduism though) to China. Japanese Katana sword was based on the Tang dynasty saber or cutlass (Tang Dao). My mentor has recently commissioned a replicate of the Tang Dao forged by a famous century old company from the Longquan area. Okinawa Naha-te (?) has major influence from Fujian martial arts such as White Crane and Tiger. Japanese Karate took elements of Okinawan arts and added some ideas of their own (ie calisthenics).

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    There has always been a distinction between "civilian" MA and "military" MA.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Commerce City, Colorado
    LOL! "Animal frolics." I love it!

    And I wouldn't call this topic blasphemous. A touch irreverant, maybe...
    Quote Originally Posted by Oso View Post
    you're kidding? i would love to drink that beer just BECAUSE it's in a dead animal...i may even pick up the next dead squirrel i see and stuff a budweiser in it

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