Martial Arts of China

Martial arts,

various systems of martial arts and self-defense of predominantly East Asian origin; developed mainly as means of conducting a melee duel. Nowadays they are practiced in many countries of the world mainly in the form of sports exercises, which aim at physical and spiritual perfection.

Martial Arts of China

Despite the fact that the martial arts initially pursued the goal of self-defense, some of them envisage the use of cold weapons. In this case, the weapon is considered as a “continuation of the hand”. There are also martial arts that assume the possession of a specific type of weapon, such as a sword.
There are many myths around martial arts. As a rule, people believe in these myths, they are mistaken for truth, because they do not know the true state of things. These myths are so ingrained in the mass consciousness that any attempt to disprove them is often perceived with hostility.

Wushu is Chinese gymnastics.

There is a saying: “Do not confuse karate with the sport of the same name that is common in our country.” The same can be said about Wushu. In the literal translation, the word “wushu” means “martial arts”, this word is a common name for all martial arts in China. However, in the XX century, the Chinese government decided to create new sports based on Wushu. So, in particular, there appeared a kind of rhythmic gymnastics, which was officially called “competition for the implementation of Wushu complexes”. This “Wushu gymnastics” was taught in schools and officially propagated throughout the country and abroad. That’s why the opinion was formed that Wushu is, supposedly, gymnastics. In fact, real wushu with a sports wushu (“wushu gymnastics”) has almost nothing in common, these are two different phenomena, called the same word, hence the confusion.

There are two different Chinese martial arts – Wushu and Kung Fu.

The term “kung fu” is a distorted European pronunciation of the Chinese word “gongfu”. The word “gongfu” in China called any kind of activity in which it is possible to improve. That is, the term “gongfu” can be attributed to martial arts, but it can also be attributed to the art of cooking, and to the work of the artist, and to choral singing. The term “wushu” means martial arts. Thus, Wushu and Kunfu are just different well-established names for the same phenomenon.

высо Highly moral sages engaged in martial arts.

A naive humorous refutation of this myth is a reference to the classic Hong Kong movie-kung fu, where in order to kill the death of a single “main reptile”, usually requires two to five positive characters, and then they are barely able to do it. If to speak more seriously, it is necessary to understand the question: why did people in antiquity generally engage in martial arts? It’s not for the sake of winning sports, which simply was not there. And not for the sake of entertainment or health amendments (such trends began to appear only at the end of the XIX century). People were engaged in martial arts because it was necessary for survival. Otherwise, they would simply not spend time – life was hard, no social security programs existed, and it was very, very difficult to make money on food. What categories of the population are seriously engaged in martial arts? Partly an army, but only partly. In talking about the army, you must always take into account the historical period and the specific place of action. On the one hand, officers of the Russian General Staff who traveled in northern China in the second half of the nineteenth century left a lot of sketches of wushu lessons in the army, but on the other hand, in Chinese history, there are periods when the army, for example, was made up mainly of criminals, in the soldiers were exiled as punishment – of course, such people were not seriously taught anything.Without participation in military operations, the army also “stagnated” and began to decay – beautifully depicted the picture of the decay of the elite “eight-figure” army at the end of the Qing Dynasty, the famous Chinese writer Lao She in his unfinished novel “Under Purple Banners”. Who practiced martial arts from civilians? Those whose daily life was associated with a high probability of entering the battle. These are residents of border areas, as well as those who have to travel to places where the risk of assault of bandits is high – professional guards of caravans. This includes bodyguards, as well as the bandits themselves, and those who fought these gangsters. It’s hard to believe that “gorillas” -tools, bandits from a big road or professional shirts from frontier troops, will turn out to be highly moral sages, otherwise where would the contemptuous Confucian culture that has been tested by “civilians” against the “military” come from? Indeed, some Wushu sayings openly say that people who have a high level of martial arts can meet both on one side and on the other side of the barricade, both among loyal citizens of their country, and among bandits and murderers. Some styles, in particular, do not hide the fact that among the masters of some generations there were also robbers who are even included in the official genealogy of the style. So, from the gangster one of the branches of the mantis style deduces his genealogy. The wandering gangster studied military equipment by the famous master Liu Dequan, who left his mark in many well-known styles, up to such a popular one as Baguazhang. Therefore, one should not try to rewrite history, life has both a light and a dark side, and one should strive to adopt a positive even from the strictly negative characters.

Martial arts were practiced mainly in monasteries and mostly monks.

The monastery always and everywhere (in any country of the world and in any confession) was a place where people retired for the purpose of RELIGIOUS practice. If in any Hollywood or Hong Kong films any monastery is portrayed in the form of a university of martial arts, then this is the only fruit of the film’s authors’ fantasy. In reality, even in the famous monastery of Songshan Shaolin, not all were engaged in martial arts. The Songshan Mountains are a rather deaf place, where many bandits lived, and the Shaolin monastery was attacked more than once – here it was necessary to keep the monastery guard, “monastic troops”. It was the “monks-warriors” from the “monastic troops” who basically practiced martial arts. And it should be noted that very often the “warrior monks” became people who, prior to monastic life, practiced martial arts before monasticism (for example, participants in defeated anti-government organizations hiding from the authorities). The history of Shaolin Wushu also contains many examples of how the level of monastic martial art rose sharply after the “surging of fresh blood” from worldly styles: it was so in the Song Dynasty, when Jueyuan developed a five-step system of training and his famous “72 receptions”, so it was with the dynasty Yuan, when the patriarch of Fujian collected 18 famous masters of the world, enriched the monastic technique.

There is a style of martial art that was studied in the Songshan monastery of Shaolin.

The truth is that Shaolin Wushu is not just one style, but a conglomerate of styles. There were always a lot of teachers in the monastery, each of which taught several students, and each of the teachers taught it in their own way. As a result, it is impossible to speak about a single style. Naturally, during the centuries of joint life and parallel teaching, there was an exchange of technology, some standardization, interpenetration of principles, but no one has ever set the task of bringing everything to a common denominator, the standardization of teaching. And that’s why now people engaged in Shaolin Wushu are usually told that they practice such and such a Shaolin style, because it is impossible to study all Shaolin styles at the same time.

There were two Shaolin monasteries – North and South. Southern was burned by the Manchus for anti-government activities, and from the five surviving monks went southern styles of Wushu.

If there is no doubt about the existence of the Northern Shaolin (Shaolin monastery on Songshan mountain in Dengfeng county of Henan province) – it exists until now – then everything is not so simple with the southern one. In the first half of the 20th century, the famous researcher Wushu Tang Hao from the Central Goshu Institute in Nanjing dedicated a special study to this issue. He went to the province of Fujian, where, according to legend, there was the monastery of South Shaolin, and first of all found that different geographical landmarks (mountains, etc.), next to which according to the legends the monastery stood, are in reality separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers and in some cases even located in different provinces. The study of county documents in which all the temples that had ever stood in these uyezds were recorded, also prevented the discovery of at least one temple with a name resembling Shaolin. But there was an amazing coincidence of the vicissitudes of the legendary history of the temple, the names of the main characters, etc. with the text of the medieval novel “Wan Nian Qing,” which tells of a secret journey to the south of the Manchu emperor and the destruction of the monastery of South Shaolin. On the basis of his research, Tang Hao made an unambiguous conclusion: there was no monastery of South Shaolin, and the whole story is a retelling of the novel of the 18th century, the contents of which, being caught in the peasant environment, began to be passed from mouth to mouth, and as a result was taken for a story about real events.

There is an ancient objective division of Wushu into “internal” and “external” styles. To “internal” are Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, to “outside” – all the rest.

For the first time, the term “Neijiaquan” (the “fist of the inner family”) is mentioned in the “Epitaph on the grave stone of Wang Zhennan,” dated 1699. However, it is not about Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang (by the way, Baguazhang did not exist at that time), but a concrete style with the name “Neijiaquan”, which has now disappeared. For the first time, the generalization of the three styles mentioned under the single term “Neijiaquan” arose at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when the master Xingyiquan Sun Lutan and several other Peking masters opened a martial arts hall where they began teaching Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua. This room was named “The Hall of Styles of the Inner Family”. Initially, the master of four styles gathered there, decided to combine their knowledge into a single style, but then the master of the north-eastern Tunbeiquan, Zhang Tse, quarreled with Sun Lutan and left the company, and there were only three styles of masters left. Non-divine people began to call the styles taught there “internal”. The books of Sun Lutan, where he spoke about the essence of Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, in fact, alone (like all other styles) only exacerbated this misunderstanding: people began to say that, allegedly, Sun Lutan claimed that these styles INSIDE. As a rule, Sun Lutan himself usually did not read this claim, for in one of his most famous articles written in 1929, Sun Lutan devoted the first quarter of his article to stigmatizing those who are trying to divide Wushu styles into “internal” and “external”, and the remaining three-quarters tells about his conversation with the old master Soon Shijun, who expressed exactly the same thoughts, and that “internal” and “external” are not styles, but methods of mastery, and that in any style can be either “internal” or “outward” no “methods. However, everything was useless. In Chinese culture, the “internal” has always been valued higher than the “external”, so in the Chinese sense “internal” styles are a priori better than “external” styles.But does any style recognize itself as worse than others? Let’s pay attention to the fact that the division into “internal” and “external” originated among those engaged in “internal styles”, and those engaged in “external styles” never called themselves “external” styles – it would be tantamount to declaring themselves the worst. Yet attempts to purportedly objectively substantiate the difference between “internal” styles and “external” styles usually showed only a poor familiarity of the “founders” with styles that they considered “external”. Obviously, for a truly objective justification of the difference, it is necessary for the researcher to get to know a high level with at least a few dozen styles of Chinese wushu, which is higher than the strength of an ordinary person; the same ascetics who, like Sun Lutan, really got acquainted with many styles, opinions about the division of styles into “internal” and “external” did not support. Thus, the division of styles into “internal” and “external” is an advertising slogan adopted by an uncritical mind for someone of proven truth.

Wushu basically consists of imitative styles.

This myth is refuted even by viewing any more or less solid handbook on Wushu (for example, the famous “Great Dictionary of Chinese Wushu” edited by Ma Xianda), writing out the styles mentioned there and determining which percentage of them will be imitative (if the styles are mentioned at least a few dozen, it is unlikely that at least ten of them will be imitative). The myth of the “imitation” wushu is formed by Hong Kong cinema and Chinese sports competitions in Wushu. The purpose of martial arts was victory in battle. Therefore, the movements in them were selected in terms of combat effectiveness, and not in terms of similarity to anything. In this case, individual things could indeed be described by comparison with any animal, but this comparison was mainly for the sake of convenience of understanding, and did not play any determining role. Thus, the creator of the mantis style placed the emphasis on continuous attack and defense with both hands at the same time, and compared the interceptions of the opponent’s hands with the way the mantis clings something with his paws. However, although the slow creeping of the mantis was absolutely not suitable for combat, the creator of the style did not at all embarrass: he calmly introduced normal rapid movements into the style, and compared them not with the mantis, but with how quickly and deftly the ape moves. In Xingyiquan, some basic techniques are compared with the movements of individual animals – a bear, a snake, a crocodile, etc., but the comparison each time refers to one particular movement or type of movement. In the popular tiger style in Fujian, the idea of ​​fierce pressure was taken as a basis, and not at all running on all fours and biting the enemy. In some styles, complexes in which the technique of fighting from the ground was encrypted and, accordingly, there were many movements associated with falls and acrobatics, they were called “drunk” complexes. In the Middle Ages, ordering the technique of Shaolin Wushu, Jueyuan and his comrades broke the tricks into five groups and conditionally designated each group as the name of one animal, arguing that the techniques of this group are somewhat like the character of this animal. In the XX century, those who did not study them themselves began to speak about martial arts, and the vector changed to the opposite: now they began to go not from the essence, but from the external form. Heard in Hong Kong about the fact that the Shaolin style was divided into five areas related to animals – and began to appear films about the “five animal styles of Shaolin.” It was necessary to remove something and invented a “drunkard style”. Further – more “snake style”, “sleeper style”, “style of chess pieces” … In China, we walked about the same way, only there the main defining idea of ​​inventing new imitative styles was the spectacle of sports. From the style of eagle claws, the combat component was removed, but they added movements simulating the eagle whirling in flight.The frontal hail of strokes of the mantis style was replaced by rocking with a hull in a low squat, imitating the swinging of a mantis sitting on a branch. It took more people to surprise, remembered about the novel “Journey to the West” and came up with a complex “monkey with a pole.” Well, the okolosportivnye functionaries, as soon as necessary, invented the ancient genealogy: the “sword of the drunk”, it turns out, from the medieval poet Li Bo occurs, who, having drunk, loved to exercise with the sword (although he actually got up, nobody knows , and it is unlikely that he taught anything to anyone), and references to the “style of the monkey” in historical documents are found (that usually in the documents it is a question of other styles that exist up to now but with demonstrated in the competition styles are not connected in any way , Thus prefer to keep silent), and even – honestly fulfill his salary.

Taijiquan and Baguazhan are Taoist styles.

The myth that taijiquan is a Taoist style obviously comes from the legend of Zhang Sanfeng. In general, there are currently two different versions of the origin of Taijiquan. According to the one that is now official, Taijiquan is the martial art of the Chen family from the Chenjiagou village of Wenxian County, Henan Province, and was developed by either Chen Bu, thanks to whom in the XIV century the family moved to Chenjiagou (previously members of this family lived in Dahuishu County Hundun of Shanxi province), or Chen Wanting (Zouhtin), who lived in the XVII century. In any case, there is no smell of Taoism in the “Chen” version; members of the genus Chen were the most ordinary people. The competing version deduces Taijiquan either from Han Gongyue, who lived in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (6th century), or from Zhang Sanfeng from the Wudang Mountains. The study of this version began in the 1930s by the famous Taijiquan master Wu Tongan, and his students continued at the present time. Let’s consider the results of their research in more detail. They found that the style that could possibly have been created by Han Gongyue was lost in the Middle Ages, and it would be wrong to link it to modern Taijiquan. Zhang Sanfen in the historical documents mentioned two, their names were recorded in different hieroglyphs, they lived at different times, and in historical documents there is no mention of the connection of these Taoist hermits with martial arts. That Zhang Sanfeng, who lived under the Southern Song Dynasty, is considered a representative of the style, which can be conditionally called “the southern branch of Taijiquan”; This style may have been dealt with by such people mentioned in the chronicles as Wang Zhengnan and Zhang Sunsi; This style has now been lost and nothing is known about it reliably. The current version of Taijiquan can be conditionally called the “northern branch of Taijiquan” and can be traced back to Zhang Sanfeng, who lived at the junction of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. He created the so-called. “taijiquan of thirteen forms” on the basis of the neo-Confucian doctrine of the Great Limit and the Taoist “working time of the Great Limit.” Thus, even in this version, the basis of Taijiquan is not purely Taoist, and the subsequent successors of the tradition were not Taoists at all. Hence, there is no reason to think of Taijiquan as a “Taoist style”. The version that the Baguazhang is a Taoist style obviously derives from the legend that, supposedly, the first teacher of the Baguazhan, Dong Haichuan, learned something from a certain Taoist in Jiuhuashan Mountain in Anhui Province, and also on the grounds that the concept of ” eight trigrams “people are usually associated with the” canon of change “, which is considered related to the Taoist literature. In this logical chain, not a single link can withstand a serious critical test. First, “I Ching” is not a Taoist book. The Chinese tradition raises the origin of trigrams to the activities of the first Emperor Fu-si. The holistic philosophical concept of trigrams was first formulated in the commenting part of the I Ching attributed to Confucius.”The canon of change” is in the first place among the classical books of Confucianism, it is included in the “Pentacanon” and “Thirteen-Cannonium”. Secondly, the concept of “eight trigrams” in the name of the style or complex of wushu is not necessarily caused by parallels with the “Canon of Changes”. The symbolism of the eight trigrams was very common in China, they were usually drawn in a circle, and therefore the concept of “eight trigrams” could mean, for example, “all sides of the world” or “circular movement”. So, in the well-known southern style of Wushu Hongqiaquan, there is the “Bagua Gun” complex (“six eight trigrams”), which is so named because receptions are held on all eight sides of the world. One version of the origin of the name “Baguazhang” claims that Dong Haichuan called his style this way because he wanted to emphasize the predominantly circular nature of the movements. Third, we absolutely do not know what, where and who studied Dong Haichuan. It is known that, in the best traditions of his time, he proceeded on foot many provinces, searching for the masters who had escaped from the world and trying to learn from them the best. He adopted the Taoist methods of self-development, but he also adopted Buddhist methods, and methods of self-improvement of individuals that did not relate to any religious philosophical concept, studied a variety of methods of combat. He studied all kinds of people, including representatives of the Manchu and Mongolian military classes, who were not exactly Taoists. It is known that (again in the traditions of his era) of each of his disciples Dong Haichuan did not teach a certain style, he taught a person to fight and survive in battle, guided by the individual characteristics of the student (Yin Fu coached the imperial bodyguards and already possessed combat skills, Cheng Tinghua was the best wrestler of his county, etc.), so when the students began to pass on what they learned further, teaching as they taught themselves, then the Baguazhang branches were not quite the same. Thus, it would be at least unreasonable to make a statement that the Baguazhang, allegedly, is a “Taoist style”.

Jackie Cheng is fluent in all the existing Wushu styles.

Jackie Cheng studied at the theater school, where he was taught the techniques of stage combat. Martial arts, he did not teach at all. Doubters refer to his autobiographical book “I am Jackie Chang” (Russian translation – “I, Jackie Chan”, published by the publishing house “Sofia”). All that he shows in the films is theater and acrobatics. He invented some Wushu styles especially for films.

Bruce Lee is the best wushu fighter of all time.

Bruce Lee’s image is heavily blown. An unbiased analysis of his biography shows that “a lot of street fights held in childhood” are called ordinary boyish fights, that the fight of two 20-year-old guys in the US is called “a fight with a representative of the Chinese diaspora, who did not want Bruce Lee to teach the secrets of Chinese martial arts to representatives of other nationalities “(although Wong Jack Man himself, the opponent of Bruce in that battle, is still alive, and according to him no one chose him by any representative, just Bruce in public speaking stated that it was so good a fight that he will beat anyone in America, and who does not believe – let him try to refute it, and Wong volunteered to try, and the result of the bout in favor of Bruce is treated only by his wife, according to all other witnesses, the fight ended in a draw, and her move Bruce’s wife in her book greatly distorted, trying to present her husband in a favorable light).It does not stand up to the verification and the assertion that Bruce perfectly mastered the style of the Yunchun (according to the reviews trained with Bruce, of course, he was not the last one, but he was not listed in the nearest students, and Huang Chunlian, who led him to the teacher E Wen, Bruce in friendly encounters, both during the study of the one from E Wen, and during Bruce’s subsequent visits to Hong Kong) and that he studied many other styles (it is known that he took several mantis lessons from a Hong Kong master, but preserved cinema demonstration Bruce mantis style yvzyvaet have only an ironic smile style masters). Everyone agrees that Bruce Lee really possessed outstanding physical data by nature, but in the end he is not alone in the world (and not even one in China). Simply in the late 1960s, China needed a national hero, and it became Bruce Lee, successfully “promoted” by the press and the film industry. In addition, Bruce Lee became the first who popularized Wushu in the US, and since Americans traditionally confuse their own problems with the global ones (how can any Chinese guy from Hebei or Heilongjiang be considered a good fighter if he was not in the West Coast Championship in San Francisco? Never about this championship heard or had no money to come?), then gradually the American view of Bruce Lee was established in popular literature as an allegedly objective point of view.

Taijiquan – it’s health gymnastics, nothing to do with martial arts does not have.

To understand the cause of this myth, it is necessary to briefly read the history of the spread of Taijiquan. There are many legends about the origin of the style, but they all converge in one space-time point: in the first half of the 19th century, Yan Fukui, nicknamed Luchan in the Chenjiagou village of Wensian County, Henan Province, studied martial art from the Chen family, called Tai Chi Chuan. With the help of this martial art, he became such a powerful fighter that he received the nickname “Jan Udi” – “Ian Having No Opponents”. Thus, in the XIX century, Taijiquan was fully recognized as a martial art. What happened next? From Chenjiagou, Yang Luchan returned to his homeland, to Yunnyan county in the same province. There, he studied with his fellow countryman Wu Hecin, nicknamed Yuxiang. Then something happened, and Yang Luchan, using the help of the Wu family, moved to live and teach in Beijing. Some legends claim that Yang killed a man, and was forced to seek high protection. Since the elder brother of Wu Hetqing held a high post in the Office of Punishment (in modern terms, in one of the six main ministries of China), and the second brother was the governor of one of the counties, the connections at the top were rich, and Ian Luchan was able to teach at the imperial court. Other legends say that his colleagues admired the high fighting skills of Wu Hecin, and pressured his older brothers to move to teach in the capital, but Hezin was very busy taking care of his mother, and Yan Luchanya was recommended instead. Since Ian began to rotate in the palace not only among guards and guards (who, usually, were the main “consumers” of martial arts), but also among the nobility and officials of high ranks, then he had to adjust the teaching to their requests. And they did not need brutal training, which is typical for teaching martial art, they heard that martial arts help to strengthen health and prolong life – and that’s exactly what they were looking for. And Ian managed to satisfy everyone: he taught the three sons in full, and they grew up as worthy successors; Manchus from the Life Guards trained as much as they could perceive – and from them later new directions of Taijiquan were sent; for the bulk of the bureaucracy and the nobility, he simplified the movement and created a recovery version of Taijiquan.After the revolution of 1911 and the overthrow of the monarchy, the interest in the national martial arts has sharply increased in the wake of the rise of the national self-awareness of the Chinese. In 1916, Xu Zhongsheng founded in Beijing an Association for the Study of Physical Culture, one of the main elements of the program which became exactly Tai Chi Chuan. So began the massive spread of Taijiquan, and it went about the same way: who could – mastered the martial art in full, but who could not – was engaged simply for health. In 1928, when the civil war was over and Nanjing became the capital of the Republic of China, many Taijiquan masters were invited to teach to the south – to Nanjing, Shanghai and other cities. After coming to power in the country of the Communist Party and the formation of the Chinese People’s Republic, the new government faced the task of taking under the ideological control the situation with martial arts in the country. And on the one hand, to give those who want an opportunity to “let go of steam,” on the other – to take on a lot of people familiar with Taijiquan, and from the third – to help people improve their health (and, importantly, with the help of “relatives”, “Chinese “, and not borrowed from the outside methods), in the 1950s a simplified complex of Taijiquan of 24 movements was developed. As a basis, the movements that Master Yang Chengfu taught were already at an advanced age, that is, in which emphasis was already being placed not on the combat, but on the health aspect. It was this option that was introduced to the masses, this is what millions of Chinese people are doing in the morning, which is what foreign tourists coming to China see, it was published in books and brochures translated into foreign languages, and it’s this health-improving gymnastics of Taijiquan that is confused with martial arts Taijiquan. On this huge background of health-minded people, as well as generations of coaches who have grown up on a purely health-improving version, and who know nothing else (and, frankly speaking, not particularly willing to know), they simply lose those who are engaged in Taijiquan as fighting art.

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