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Chinese martial arts, often called by the
umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
s
kung fu Chinese martial arts, often named under the umbrella terms kung fu (; ), kuoshu () or wushu (), are several hundred fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common ...
and Thong Fu (; ), kuoshu () or wushu (), are multiple fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in
Greater China "Greater China" is an informal geographical area that shares commercial and cultural ties with the Han Chinese, The notion of "Greater China" refers to the area that usually encompasses mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in East Asia. ...

Greater China
. These fighting styles are often classified according to common traits, identified as "families" of martial arts. Examples of such traits include ''
Shaolinquan
Shaolinquan
'' () physical exercises involving
All Other Animals
All Other Animals
() mimicry or training methods inspired by Old Chinese philosophies, religions and legends. Styles that focus on
qi
qi
manipulation are called ''
internal Internal may refer to: *InternalityAn internality is the long-term benefit or cost to an individual that they do not consider when making the decision to consume a good or service. One way this is related to behavioral economics is by means of the c ...
'' (; ), while others that concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness are called '' external'' (; ). Geographical association, as in ''northern'' (; ) and ''southern'' (; ), is another popular classification method.


Terminology

''Kung fu'' and ''wushu'' are
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (lin ...
s from Cantonese and Mandarin respectively that, in English, are used to refer to Chinese martial arts. However, the
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
terms ''
kung fu Chinese martial arts, often named under the umbrella terms kung fu (; ), kuoshu () or wushu (), are several hundred fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common ...
'' and ''wushu'' (; ) have distinct meanings. The Chinese equivalent of the term "Chinese martial arts" would be ''Zhongguo wushu'' () (
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
). In Chinese, the term ''kung fu'' refers to any skill that is acquired through learning or practice. It is a compound word composed of the words 功 (gōng) meaning "work", "achievement", or "merit", and 夫 (fū) which is a particle or nominal suffix with diverse meanings. ''Wushu'' literally means "
martial art Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended ...

martial art
". It is formed from the two
Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
s : (), meaning "
martial Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has e ...
" or "
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or para ...

military
" and or 术 (), which translates into "
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and i ...
", "
discipline Discipline is Action (philosophy), action or inaction that is regulation, regulated to be in accordance (or to achieve accord) with a particular system of governance. Discipline is commonly applied to regulating human and animal behavior to its ...
", "
skill A skill is the learned ability to perform an action with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into Departmentalization, domain-general and domain-specific skills. ...
" or "
method Method ( grc, μέθοδος, methodos) literally means a pursuit of knowledge, investigation, mode of prosecuting such inquiry, or system. In recent centuries it more often means a prescribed process for completing a task. It may refer to: *Scient ...
". The term ''wushu'' has also become the name for the modern sport of ''wushu'', an exhibition and full-contact sport of bare-handed and weapon forms (), adapted and judged to a set of aesthetic criteria for points developed since 1949 in the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billion ...

People's Republic of China
. ''Quánfǎ'' () is another Chinese term for Chinese martial arts. It means "fist method" or "the law of the fist" (''quán'' means "boxing" or "fist", and ''fǎ'' means "law", "way" or "method"), although as a compound term it usually translates as "boxing" or "fighting technique." The name of the Japanese martial art kempō is represented by the same
hanzi Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Jap ...

hanzi
characters.


History

The genesis of Chinese martial arts has been attributed to the need for
self-defense Self-defense (self-defence in some varieties of English) is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defense The right of self-defense (also called, when ...
, hunting techniques and military training in
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient his ...
.
Hand-to-hand combat Hand-to-hand combat (sometimes abbreviated as HTH or H2H) is a physical confrontation between two or more persons at very short range (grappling distance, or within the physical reach of a handheld weapon) that does not involve the use of ranged w ...
and
weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting Hunting is the practice of see ...
s practice were important in training ancient Chinese
soldiers A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...

soldiers
. Detailed knowledge about the state and development of Chinese martial arts became available from the
Nanjing decade The Nanjing decade (also Nanking decade, ''Nánjīng shí nián'', or The Golden decade, ''Huángjīn shí nián'') is an informal name for the decade from 1927 (or 1928) to 1937 in the Republic of China Taiwan (), officially the Republic ...
(1928–1937), as the
Central Guoshu Institute The Central Guoshu Institute (); was established in Nanjing by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China in 1928 for the propagation of Chinese martial arts, and was an important center of martial arts duri ...
established by the
Kuomintang The Kuomintang (KMT) () is a major political party in Taiwan which originated as a revolutionary political party during the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republican Era on the Chinese mainland, where it is sometimes referred to as the Ch ...
regime made an effort to compile an encyclopedic survey of martial arts schools. Since the 1950s, the People's Republic of China has organized Chinese martial arts as an exhibition and full-contact sport under the heading of '' “wushu”''.


Legendary origins

According to legend, Chinese martial arts originated during the semi-mythical
Xia Dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors, gave the throne to him. In the tra ...
(夏朝) more than 4,000 years ago. It is said the
Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch, or by his Chinese name Huangdi (), is a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (m ...

Yellow Emperor
(Huangdi) (legendary date of ascension 2698 BCE) introduced the earliest fighting systems to China. The Yellow Emperor is described as a famous general who, before becoming China's leader, wrote lengthy treatises on medicine, astrology and the martial arts. One of his main opponents was
Chi You Chiyou () was a tribal leader of the Nine Li tribe () in ancient China. 002(2003) Intelligence press. . p 32. He is best known as a king who lost against the future Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch, or by h ...

Chi You
(蚩尤) who was credited as the creator of
jiao di
jiao di
, a forerunner to the modern art of Chinese wrestling.


Early history

The earliest references to Chinese martial arts are found in the ''
Spring and Autumn Annals The ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' or ''Chunqiu'' is an ancient Chinese chronicle that has been one of the core Chinese classics Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated ...
'' (5th century BCE), where a hand-to-hand combat theory, one that integrates notions of "hard" and "soft" techniques, is mentioned. A combat
wrestling Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throw (grappling), throws and takedown (grappling), takedowns, joint locks, Grappling hold#Pinning hold, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can eithe ...

wrestling
system called ''juélì'' or ''jiǎolì'' () is mentioned in the ''
Classic of Rites The ''Book of Rites'', also known as the ''Liji'', is a collection of texts describing the social forms, administration, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou dynasty as they were understood in the Warring States and the early Han periods. The ''Book ...
''.
Classic of Rites The ''Book of Rites'', also known as the ''Liji'', is a collection of texts describing the social forms, administration, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou dynasty as they were understood in the Warring States and the early Han periods. The ''Book ...
. Chapter 6, Yuèlìng. Line 108.
This combat system included techniques such as strikes, throws,
joint manipulation Joint manipulation is a type of passive movement of a skeletal joint. It is usually aimed at one or more 'target' synovial joints with the aim of achieving a therapeutic effect. Practice of manipulation A modern re-emphasis on manipulative thera ...
, and
pressure point Pressure points (; ja, 急所, kyūsho, literal=tender spot"; si, නිල/මර්ම ස්ථාන, Nila/Marma Sthana (in Angampora); te, మర్మ స్థానం, Marma Sthanam; ml, മര്‍മ്മം, marmam; ta, வ ...
attacks. Jiao Di became a sport during the
Qin Dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...
(221–207 BCE). The '' Han History Bibliographies'' record that, by the Former Han (206 BCE – 8 CE), there was a distinction between no-holds-barred weaponless fighting, which it calls ''shǒubó'' (), for which training manuals had already been written, and sportive wrestling, then known as juélì (). Wrestling is also documented in the Shǐ Jì, ''
Records of the Grand Historian The ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Western Han Dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father ...

Records of the Grand Historian
'', written by
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the H ...

Sima Qian
(ca. 100 BCE). In the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
, descriptions of sword dances were immortalized in poems by
Li Bai Li Bai (, 701–762), also known as Li Bo, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including Chin ...

Li Bai
. In the
Song A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...
and Yuan dynasties, xiangpu contests were sponsored by the imperial courts. The modern concepts of wushu were fully developed by the
Ming#REDIRECT Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...

Ming
and
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
dynasties.


Philosophical influences

The ideas associated with Chinese martial arts changed with the evolution of Chinese society and over time acquired some philosophical bases: Passages in the ''
ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, one of the foundational texts of Daoism **Zhuang Zhou (莊周), the historical figure known as "Master Zhuang" ("Zhuangzi") ...
'' (), a
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
text, pertain to the psychology and practice of martial arts. Zhuang Zi, its eponymous author, is believed to have lived in the 4th century BCE. The ''
Tao Te Ching The ''Tao Te Ching'' (, ; ), is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi, also known as ''Lao Tzu'' or ''Lao-Tze''. The text's authorship, date of composition and date of compilation are debated. The ol ...
'', often credited to Lao Zi, is another Taoist text that contains principles applicable to martial arts. According to one of the classic texts of
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
, '' Zhou Li'' (),
Archery Archery is the art, sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows.Paterson ''Encyclopaedia of Archery'' p. 17 The word comes from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
and
chariot A chariot is a type of carriage driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. The oldest known chariots have been found in burials of the Sintashta culture in modern-day Russia, dated to c. 2000 BC. The critica ...
eering were part of the "six arts" (, including
rite A rite is an established, Ceremony, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories: * rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age, ...
s,
music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pit ...

music
,
calligraphy Calligraphy (from Greek: καλλιγραφία) is a visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "su ...
and
mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It has no generally ...
) of the
Zhou Dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscript ...
(1122–256 BCE). ''
The Art of War ''The Art of War'' is an ancient List of Chinese military texts, Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tz ...
'' (), written during the 6th century BCE by
Sun Tzu Sun Tzu ( ; zh, t=孫子, p=Sūnzǐ) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as ea ...
(), deals directly with military warfare but contains ideas that are used in the Chinese martial arts.
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
practitioners have been practicing
Tao Yin Daoyin, also called Daoist neigong Neigong, also spelled ''nei kung'', ''neigung'', or ''nae gong'', refers to any of a set of China, Chinese qigong, breathing, meditation and spiritual practice disciplines associated with Daoism and especially ...
(physical exercises similar to
Qigong ''Qigong'' (), ''qi gong'', ''chi kung'', ''chi 'ung'', or ''chi gung'' () is a system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training. With roots in C ...
that was one of the progenitors to
T'ai chi ch'uan Tai chi (), short for T'ai chi ch'üan or Tàijí quán (), sometimes colloquially known as " Shadowboxing", is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for defense training, health benefits, and meditation. The term ''taiji'' is a Chinese ...
) from as early as 500 BCE. In 39–92 CE, "Six Chapters of Hand Fighting", were included in the ''Han Shu'' (history of the Former
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
) written by Pan Ku. Also, the noted physician,
Hua Tuo Hua Tuo ( 140–208), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and V ...
, composed the "Five Animals Play"—tiger, deer, monkey, bear, and bird, around 208 CE. Taoist philosophy and their approach to health and exercise have influenced the Chinese martial arts to a certain extent. Direct reference to Taoist concepts can be found in such styles as the "
Eight Immortals The Eight Immortals () are a group of legendary ''xian Xi'an ( , ; Chinese: ), also known as Sian, is the capital of Shaanxi Province. A sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong Plain in Northwest China Northwest China () is a statis ...
," which uses fighting techniques attributed to the characteristics of each immortal.


Southern and Northern dynasties (420–589 AD)


Shaolin temple established

In 495 CE, a Shaolin temple was built in the Song mountain,
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China Provincial-level administrative divisions () or first-level administrative divisions (), are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisio ...

Henan
province. The first monk who preached
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
there was the
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
n monk named Buddhabhadra (), simply called Batuo () by the Chinese. There are historical records that Batuo's first Chinese disciples, Huiguang () and Sengchou (), both had exceptional martial skills. For example, Sengchou's skill with the tin staff is even documented in the
Chinese Buddhist canon The Chinese Buddhist canon refers to the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese, Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, an ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisin ...
. After Buddhabadra, another Indian monk, named
Bodhidharma Bodhidharma was a semi-legendary Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Europe ...
(), also known as Damo () by the Chinese, came to Shaolin in 527 CE. His Chinese disciple, Huike (), was also a highly trained martial arts expert. There are implications that these first three Chinese Shaolin monks, Huiguang, Sengchou, and Huike, may have been military men before entering the monastic life.


Shaolin and temple-based martial arts

The
Shaolin
Shaolin
style of kung fu is regarded as one of the first institutionalized Chinese martial arts. The oldest evidence of Shaolin participation in combat is a stele from 728 CE that attests to two occasions: a defense of the
Shaolin Monastery Shaolin Monastery (少林寺 Shàolínsì), also known as Shaolin Temple, is a renowned temple recognized as the birthplace of Chan Buddhism Chan (; of ), from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, ...
from bandits around 610 CE, and their subsequent role in the defeat of
Wang Shichong Wang Shichong (王世充; 567–621), courtesy name Xingman (行滿), was a general of Sui dynasty who deposed Sui's last emperor Yang Tong and briefly ruled as the emperor of a succeeding state of Zheng. He first became prominent during the reign ...
at the
Battle of Hulao The Battle of Hulao () or Battle of Sishui (汜水之戰, Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, du ...

Battle of Hulao
in 621 CE. From the 8th to the 15th centuries, there are no extant documents that provide evidence of Shaolin participation in combat. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, at least forty sources exist to provide evidence both that monks of Shaolin practiced martial arts, and that martial practice became an integral element of Shaolin monastic life. The earliest appearance of the frequently cited legend concerning Bodhidharma's supposed foundation of
Shaolin Kung Fu Shaolin Kung Fu (), also called Shaolin Wushu (), or Shaolin quan (), is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous styles of wushu, or kung fu. It combines Ch'an philosophy and martial arts and originated and was developed in the Shaolin te ...

Shaolin Kung Fu
dates to this period. The origin of this legend has been traced to the
Ming period
Ming period
's ''
Yijin Jing The ''Yijin Jing'' () is a manual containing a series of exercises, coordinated with breathing, said to enhance physical health dramatically when practiced consistently. In Chinese yi means "change", jin means "tendons and sinews", while jing mean ...
'' or "Muscle Change Classic", a text written in 1624 attributed to Bodhidharma. References of martial arts practice in Shaolin appear in various literary genres of the late Ming: the epitaphs of Shaolin warrior monks, martial-arts manuals, military encyclopedias, historical writings, travelogues, fiction, and poetry. However, these sources do not point out any specific style that originated in Shaolin. These sources, in contrast to those from the Tang period, refer to Shaolin methods of armed combat. These include a skill for which Shaolin monks became famous: the
staff Staff may refer to: Pole * Staff, a weapon used in stick-fighting ** Quarterstaff, a European pole weapon * Staff of office, a pole that indicates a position * Staff (railway signalling), a token authorizing a locomotive driver to use a particular ...
(''gùn'', Cantonese ''gwan''). The Ming General
Qi Jiguang Qi Jiguang (, November 12, 1528 – January 17, 1588), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, ...

Qi Jiguang
included a description of Shaolin Quan Fa (;
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
: Shorin Kempo) and staff techniques in his book, '' Ji Xiao Xin Shu'' (), which can translate as ''New Book Recording Effective Techniques''. When this book spread across East Asia, it had a great influence on the development of martial arts in regions such as Okinawa and Korea.


Modern history


Republican period

Most fighting styles that are being practiced as traditional Chinese martial arts today reached their popularity within the 20th century. Some of these include
Baguazhang Baguazhang or Pakua chang () is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school, the other two being Taijiquan, T'ai chi and Xing Yi Quan. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice (or neijia, neijia quan). ''Bāguà zh ...
, Drunken Boxing,
Eagle Claw Eagle Claw (; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard ...
,
Five Animals In the Chinese martial arts, imagery of the Five Animals, Ng Ying Kung Fu (Chinese: 五形功夫) )—Tiger The tiger (''Panthera tigris'') is the largest extant taxon, living Felidae, cat species and a member of the genus ''Panthera'' ...
, Xingyi,
Hung Gar Hung Ga (), Hung Kuen (), or Hung Ga Kuen () is a southern Chinese martial art belonging to the southern Shaolin Kung Fu, shaolin styles. It is associated with the Cantonese people, Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a Hung Ga master. The hallmar ...
,
Monkey Monkey is a common name that may refer to certain groups or species of simian mammals of infraorder Simiiformes. The term is applied descriptively to groups of primates, such as families of New World monkeys and Old World monkeys. Many monk ...

Monkey
, Bak Mei Pai, Northern Praying Mantis,
Southern Praying Mantis Southern Praying Mantis () is a Chinese martial art originating with the Hakka people The Hakka (), sometimes Hakka Han, are a Han Chinese subgroup whose ancestral homes are chiefly in the Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, F ...
,
Fujian White Crane White Crane Style () is a Southern Chinese martial art that originated in Yongchun County, Fujian () province. According to oral tradition, the style was developed by Fang Qiniang (方七娘; Amoy dialect, Amoy Min Nan: Hng Chhit-niâ), a fema ...
, Jow Ga,
Wing Chun Wing Chun Kuen (), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), is a concept-based Nanquan (martial art), traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu (sport), wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to d ...

Wing Chun
and
Taijiquan Tai chi (), short for T'ai chi ch'üan or Tàijí quán (), sometimes colloquially known as " Shadowboxing", is an neijia, internal Chinese martial art practiced for defense training, health benefits, and meditation. The term Taiji (philosophy ...
. The increase in the popularity of those styles is a result of the dramatic changes occurring within the Chinese society. In 1900–01, the Righteous and Harmonious Fists rose against foreign occupiers and Christian missionaries in China. This uprising is known in the West as the
Boxer Rebellion The Boxer Rebellion, Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement, was an armed and violent xenophobic, Persecution of Christians#China, anti-Christian, and anti-imperialist insurrection in China between 1899 and 1901, towards the end of the Qing dyna ...

Boxer Rebellion
due to the martial arts and calisthenics practiced by the rebels.
Empress Dowager Cixi Empress Dowager Cixi, (29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908) was a Chinese empress dowager Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) () is the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic lan ...

Empress Dowager Cixi
gained control of the rebellion and tried to use it against the foreign powers. The failure of the rebellion led ten years later to the fall of the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
and the creation of the Chinese Republic. The present view of Chinese martial arts is strongly influenced by the events of the Republican Period (1912–1949). In the transition period between the fall of the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
as well as the turmoil of the Japanese invasion and the Chinese Civil War, Chinese martial arts became more accessible to the general public as many martial artists were encouraged to openly teach their art. At that time, some considered martial arts as a means to promote national pride and build a strong nation. As a result, many training manuals (拳譜) were published, a training academy was created, two national examinations were organized and demonstration teams traveled overseas. Numerous martial arts associations were formed throughout China and in various overseas Chinese communities. The Central Guoshu Academy (Zhongyang Guoshuguan, 中央國術館) established by the National Government in 1928 and the
Jing Wu Athletic Association Chin Woo Athletic Association (also Jing Wu Athletic Association) is an international martial arts organisation founded in Shanghai, China, on July 7, 1910, but some sources cite dates in 1909. Its name is also spelled in many other ways throughou ...
(精武體育會) founded by
Huo Yuanjia Huo Yuanjia (18 January 1868 – 9 August 1910),wushu.org.cn
states that the Chin Woo Athletic Association w ...

Huo Yuanjia
in 1910 are examples of organizations that promoted a systematic approach for training in Chinese martial arts. A series of provincial and national competitions were organized by the Republican government starting in 1932 to promote Chinese martial arts. In 1936, at the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin, a group of Chinese martial artists demonstrated their art to an international audience for the first time. The term ''kuoshu'' (or ''guoshu'', meaning "national art"), rather than the colloquial term gongfu was introduced by the Kuomintang in an effort to more closely associate Chinese martial arts with national pride rather than individual accomplishment.


People's Republic

Chinese martial arts experienced rapid international dissemination with the end of the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Nationalist government, government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lastin ...
and the founding of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billion ...

People's Republic of China
on October 1, 1949. Many well known martial artists chose to escape from the PRC's rule and migrate to
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
,
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
, and other parts of the world. Those
masters Master or masters may refer to: Ranks or titles *Ascended master, a term used in the Theosophical religious tradition to refer to spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans *Grandmaster (chess), National Master, I ...
started to teach within the
overseas Chinese Overseas Chinese () are people of ethnic Han Chinese, Chinese birth who reside outside the territories of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC), its special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the Taiwan, Republ ...

overseas Chinese
communities but eventually they expanded their teachings to include people from other ethnic groups. Within China, the practice of traditional martial arts was discouraged during the turbulent years of the
Chinese Cultural Revolution The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a violent Political sociology, sociopolitical purge Social movement, movement in China from 1966 until 1976. Launched by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Commu ...
(1969–1976). Like many other aspects of traditional Chinese life, martial arts were subjected to a radical transformation by the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billion ...

People's Republic of China
to align them with
Maoist Maoism, officially called Mao Zedong Thought () by the Chinese Communist Party ) , anthem = "The Internationale" , seats1_title = National People's Congress (13th National People's Congress, 13th) , seats1 = , s ...
revolutionary doctrine. The
PRC China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, East ...

PRC
promoted the committee-regulated sport of
Wushu Wushu may refer to: Sports * Chinese martial arts Chinese martial arts, often named under the umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lang ...
as a replacement for independent schools of martial arts. This new competition sport was disassociated from what was seen as the potentially
subversive Subversion (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...
self-defense aspects and family lineages of Chinese martial arts. In 1958, the government established the All-China Wushu Association as an umbrella organization to regulate martial arts training. The Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports took the lead in creating standardized forms for most of the major arts. During this period, a national Wushu system that included standard forms, teaching curriculum, and instructor grading was established. Wushu was introduced at both the high school and university level. The suppression of traditional teaching was relaxed during the Era of Reconstruction (1976–1989), as Communist ideology became more accommodating to alternative viewpoints. In 1979, the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports created a special task force to reevaluate the teaching and practice of Wushu. In 1986, the Chinese National Research Institute of Wushu was established as the central authority for the research and administration of Wushu activities in the People's Republic of China. Changing government policies and attitudes towards sports, in general, led to the closing of the State Sports Commission (the central sports authority) in 1998. This closure is viewed as an attempt to partially de-politicize organized sports and move Chinese sport policies towards a more
market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *Market (1965 film), ''Market'' (1965 ...
-driven approach. As a result of these changing sociological factors within China, both traditional styles and modern Wushu approaches are being promoted by the Chinese government. Chinese martial arts are an integral element of 20th-century Chinese popular culture.
Wuxia ( ), which literally means "martial heroes", is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artist Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; militar ...
or "martial arts fiction" is a popular genre that emerged in the early 20th century and peaked in popularity during the 1960s to 1980s.
Wuxia films ( ), which literally means "martial heroes", is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Although is traditionally a form of fantasy literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to dive ...
were produced from the 1920s. The Kuomintang suppressed wuxia, accusing it of promoting superstition and violent anarchy. Because of this, wuxia came to flourish in
British Hong Kong Hong Kong, now referred to as British Hong Kong, was a colony and dependent territory A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence upright=1.0, Pedro I of Br ...
, and the genre of kung fu movie in
Hong Kong action cinemaHong Kong action cinema is the principal source of the Hong Kong film industry's global fame. Action films from Hong Kong combined elements of Cinema of the United States, Hollywood with Chinese culture, Chinese and Culture of Hong Kong, Hong Kong cu ...
became wildly popular, coming to international attention from the 1970s. The genre underwent a drastic decline in the late 1990s as the
Hong Kong film industry The cinema of Hong Kong ( zh, t=香港電影) is one of the three major threads in the history of Chinese language cinema, alongside the cinema of China, and the cinema of Taiwan. As a former British colony, British Hong Kong, Hong Kong had a gre ...
was crushed by economic depression. In the wake of
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's ''
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'' () is a 2000 '' wuxia'' film directed by Ang Lee and written by Wang Hui-ling, James Schamus and Kuo Jung Tsai. The film features an international cast of actors of Chinese people, Chinese ethnicity, includi ...
'' (2000), there has been somewhat of a revival of Chinese-produced wuxia films aimed at an international audience, including
Zhang Yimou Zhang Yimou (; born 14 November 1951) is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer.Tasker, Yvonne (2002). "Zhang Yimou" i''Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers'' Routledge Publishing, p. 412. . Google Book Search. ...
's ''
Hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through f ...
'' (2002), ''
House of Flying Daggers ''House of Flying Daggers'' ( Chinese: 十面埋伏) is a 2004 ''wuxia ( ), which literally means "martial heroes", is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Although is traditionally ...
'' (2004) and ''
Curse of the Golden Flower ''Curse of the Golden Flower'' () is a 2006 Chinese epic wuxia Drama (film and television), drama film written and directed by Zhang Yimou. The Mandarin Chinese title of the movie is taken from the last line of the :zh:齊 (黃巢), Qi Dynasty poem ...
'' (2006), as well as Su Chao-pin and
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's ''
Reign of Assassins ''Reign of Assassins'' is a 2010 ''wuxia'' film directed by Su Chao-pin and co-directed by John Woo. The film is shot in China and set during the Ming Dynasty. The film stars Michelle Yeoh, who plays an assassin who tries to return to a normal life ...
'' (2010).


Styles

China has a long history of martial arts traditions that includes hundreds of different styles. Over the past two thousand years, many distinctive styles have been developed, each with its own set of techniques and ideas. There are also common themes to the different styles, which are often classified by "families" (; ), "sects" (; ) or "schools" (; ). There are styles that mimic movements from animals and others that gather inspiration from various
Chinese philosophies Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from th ...
, myths and legends. Some styles put most of their focus into the harnessing of , while others concentrate on competition. Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories to differentiate them: For example, ''external'' () and ''
internal Internal may refer to: *InternalityAn internality is the long-term benefit or cost to an individual that they do not consider when making the decision to consume a good or service. One way this is related to behavioral economics is by means of the c ...
'' (). Chinese martial arts can also be categorized by location, as in ''northern'' () and ''southern'' () as well, referring to what part of China the styles originated from, separated by the
Yangtze River along the Yangtze River. in Hubei Hubei (; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name of the provinc ...
(長江); Chinese martial arts may even be classified according to their province or city. The main perceived difference between northern and southern styles is that the northern styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern styles focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances and fast footwork. Examples of the northern styles include
changquan Chángquán () refers to a family of external (as opposed to internal) martial arts Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military A military, also known coll ...
and
xingyiquan Xing Yi Quan is classified as one of the internal styles of Chinese martial arts. The name of the art translates approximately to "Form-Intention Fist", or "Shape-Will Fist". Xing Yi is characterized by aggressive, seemingly linear movements ...
. Examples of the southern styles include
Bak Mei Bak Mei () is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders In Southern China, Chinese folklore, the Five Elders of Shaolin (), also known as the Five Generals are the survivors of one of the destructions of the Shaolin Monastery, Shao ...
,
Wuzuquan Five Ancestors Fist (''Wuzuquan'' or ''Ngo-cho Kun'') is a Southern Chinese martial arts, Chinese martial art that consists of principles and techniques from five styles: * the breathing methods and Iron Shirt, iron body of Bodhidharma (達 ...
,
Choy Li Fut Choy Lee Fut is a Chinese martial art and Chinese martial arts, wushu style, founded in 1836 by Chan Heung (陳享). Choy Li Fut was named to honor the Buddhist monk Choy Fook (蔡褔, Cai Fu) who taught him Choi ga, Choy Gar, and Li Yau-San ( ...
, and
Wing Chun Wing Chun Kuen (), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), is a concept-based Nanquan (martial art), traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu (sport), wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to d ...

Wing Chun
. Chinese martial arts can also be divided according to religion, imitative-styles (), and family styles such as
Hung Gar Hung Ga (), Hung Kuen (), or Hung Ga Kuen () is a southern Chinese martial art belonging to the southern Shaolin Kung Fu, shaolin styles. It is associated with the Cantonese people, Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a Hung Ga master. The hallmar ...
(). There are distinctive differences in the training between different groups of the Chinese martial arts regardless of the type of classification. However, few experienced martial artists make a clear distinction between internal and external styles, or subscribe to the idea of northern systems being predominantly kick-based and southern systems relying more heavily on upper-body techniques. Most styles contain both hard and soft elements, regardless of their internal nomenclature. Analyzing the difference in accordance with yin and yang principles, philosophers would assert that the absence of either one would render the practitioner's skills unbalanced or deficient, as yin and yang alone are each only half of a whole. If such differences did once exist, they have since been blurred.


Training

Chinese martial arts training consists of the following components: basics, forms, applications and weapons; different styles place varying emphasis on each component. In addition, philosophy, ethics and even medical practice are highly regarded by most Chinese martial arts. A complete training system should also provide insight into Chinese attitudes and culture.


Basics

The ''Basics'' () are a vital part of any martial training, as a student cannot progress to the more advanced stages without them. Basics are usually made up of rudimentary techniques, conditioning exercises, including stances. Basic training may involve simple movements that are performed repeatedly; other examples of basic training are stretching, meditation, Strike (attack), striking, throw (grappling), throwing, or jumping. Without strong and flexible muscles, management of Qi or breath, and proper body mechanics, it is impossible for a student to progress in the Chinese martial arts. A common saying concerning basic training in Chinese martial arts is as follows: Which translates as:


Stances

Stances (steps or 步法) are structural postures employed in Chinese martial arts training. They represent the foundation and the form of a fighter's base. Each style has different names and variations for each stance. Stances may be differentiated by foot position, weight distribution, body alignment, etc. Stance training can be practiced statically, the goal of which is to maintain the structure of the stance through a set time period, or dynamically, in which case a series of movements is performed repeatedly. The Horse stance (; ) and the Wushu stances#Gōng Bù (弓步), bow stance are examples of stances found in many styles of Chinese martial arts.


Meditation

In many Chinese martial arts, meditation is considered to be an important component of basic training. Meditation can be used to develop focus, mental clarity and can act as a basis for qigong training.


Use of ''qi''

The concept of '''' or ''ch'i'' () is encountered in a number of Chinese martial arts. ''Qi'' is variously defined as an inner energy or "life force" that is said to animate living beings; as a term for proper skeletal alignment and efficient use of musculature (sometimes also known as ''fa jin'' or ''jin''); or as a shorthand for concepts that the martial arts student might not yet be ready to understand in full. These meanings are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The existence of ''qi'' as a measurable form of energy as discussed in traditional Chinese medicine has no basis in the scientific understanding of physics, medicine, biology or human physiology. There are many ideas regarding the control of one's qi energy to such an extent that it can be used for healing oneself or others. Some styles believe in focusing ''qi'' into a single point when attacking and aim at specific areas of the human body. Such techniques are known as Touch of death, dim mak and have principles that are similar to acupressure.


Weapons training

Most Chinese styles also make use of training in the broad arsenal of List of martial arts weapons, Chinese weapons for conditioning the body as well as coordination and strategy drills. Weapons training (; ) is generally carried out after the student becomes proficient with the basic forms and applications training. The basic theory for weapons training is to consider the weapon as an extension of the body. It has the same requirements for footwork and body coordination as the basics. The process of weapon training proceeds with forms, forms with partners and then applications. Most systems have training methods for each of the Eighteen Arms of Wushu(; ) in addition to specialized instruments specific to the system.


Application

''Application'' refers to the Aliveness (martial arts), practical use of combative techniques. Chinese martial arts techniques are ideally based on efficiency and effectiveness. Application includes non-compliant drills, such as Pushing Hands in many internal martial arts, and sparring, which occurs within a variety of contact levels and rule sets. When and how applications are taught varies from style to style. Today, many styles begin to teach new students by focusing on exercises in which each student knows a prescribed range of combat and technique to drill on. These drills are often semi-compliant, meaning one student does not offer active resistance to a technique, in order to allow its demonstrative, clean execution. In more resisting drills, fewer rules apply, and students practice how to react and respond. 'Sparring' refers to a more advanced format, which simulates a combat situation while including rules that reduce the chance of serious injury. Competitive sparring disciplines include Chinese kickboxing Sanshou, Sǎnshǒu () and Chinese folk wrestling Shuai jiao, Shuāijiāo (), which were traditionally contested on a raised platform arena, or Lei tai, Lèitái (). Lèitái were used in public challenge matches first appeared in the Song Dynasty. The objective for those contests was to knock the opponent from a raised platform by any means necessary. San Shou represents the modern development of Lei Tai contests, but with rules in place to reduce the chance of serious injury. Many Chinese martial art schools teach or work within the rule sets of Sanshou, working to incorporate the movements, characteristics, and theory of their style. Chinese martial artists also compete in non-Chinese or mixed Combat sport, including boxing, kickboxing and Mixed martial arts.


Forms

''Forms'' or ''taolu'' () in Chinese are series of predetermined movements combined so they can be practiced as a continuous set of movements. Forms were originally intended to preserve the lineage of a particular style branch, and were often taught to advanced students selected for that purpose. Forms contained both literal, representative and exercise-oriented forms of applicable techniques that students could extract, test, and train in through sparring sessions. Today, many consider ''taolu'' to be one of the most important practices in Chinese martial arts. Traditionally, they played a smaller role in training for combat application and took a back seat to sparring, drilling, and conditioning. Forms gradually build up a practitioner's flexibility, internal and external strength, speed and stamina, and they teach balance and coordination. Many styles contain forms that use weapons of various lengths and types, using one or two hands. Some styles focus on a certain type of weapon. Forms are meant to be both practical, usable, and applicable as well as to promote fluid motion, meditation, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Students are encouraged to visualize an attacker while training the form. There are two general types of ''taolu'' in Chinese martial arts. Most common are ''solo forms'' performed by a single student. There are also ''sparring'' forms — choreographed fighting sets performed by two or more people. Sparring forms were designed both to acquaint beginning fighters with basic measures and concepts of combat and to serve as performance pieces for the school. Weapons-based sparring forms are especially useful for teaching students the extension, range, and technique required to manage a weapon.


Forms in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

The term ''taolu (套路)'' is a shortened version of ''Tao Lu Yun Dong (套路運動)'', an expression introduced only recently with the popularity of modern wushu. This expression refers to "exercise sets" and used in the context of athletics or sport. In contrast, in traditional Chinese martial arts alternative terminologies for the training (練) of 'sets or forms ''are:'' * lian quan tao (練拳套) – practicing a sequence of fists. * lian quan jiao (練拳腳) – practicing fists and feet. * lian bing qi (練兵器) – practicing weapons. * dui da (對打) and dui lian (對練) – fighting sets. Traditional "sparring" sets, called ''dui da'' (對打) or ''dui lian'' (對練), were an essential part of Chinese martial arts for centuries. ''Dui lian'' means, to train by a pair of combatants opposing each other—the character ''lian'' (練), refers to practice; to train; to perfect one's skill; to drill. As well, often one of these terms are also included in the name of fighting sets (雙演; ''shuang yan''), "paired practice" (掙勝; ''zheng sheng''), "to struggle with strength for victory" (敵; ''di''), match – the character suggests to strike an enemy; and "to break" (破; ''po''). Generally, there are 21, 18, 12, 9 or 5 drills or 'exchanges/groupings' of attacks and counterattacks, in each ''dui lian'' set. These drills were considered only generic patterns and never meant to be considered inflexible 'tricks'. Students practiced smaller parts/exchanges, individually with opponents switching sides in a continuous flow. ''Dui lian'' were not only sophisticated and effective methods of passing on the fighting knowledge of the older generation, but they were also essential and effective training methods. The relationship between single sets and contact sets is complicated, in that some skills cannot be developed with solo 'sets', and, conversely, with ''dui lian''. Unfortunately, it appears that most traditional combat oriented ''dui lian'' and their training methodology have disappeared, especially those concerning weapons. There are several reasons for this. In modern Chinese martial arts, most of the ''dui lian'' are recent inventions designed for light props resembling weapons, with safety and drama in mind. The role of this kind of training has degenerated to the point of being useless in a practical sense, and, at best, is just performance. By the early Song period, sets were not so much "individual isolated technique strung together" but rather were composed of techniques and counter technique groupings. It is quite clear that "sets" and "fighting (two-person) sets" have been instrumental in traditional Chinese martial arts for many hundreds of years—even before the Song Dynasty. There are images of two-person weapon training in Chinese stone painting going back at least to the Eastern Han Dynasty. According to what has been passed on by the older generations, the approximate ratio of contact sets to single sets was approximately 1:3. In other words, about 30% of the 'sets' practiced at Shaolin were contact sets, ''dui lian'', and two-person drill training. This ratio is, in part, evidenced by the Qing Dynasty mural at Shaolin. For most of its history, Shaolin martial arts was mostly weapon-focused: staves were used to defend the monastery, not bare hands. Even the more recent military exploits of Shaolin during the Ming and Qing Dynasties involved weapons. According to some traditions, monks first studied basics for one year and were then taught staff fighting so that they could protect the monastery. Although wrestling has been as sport in China for centuries, weapons have been an essential part of Chinese wushu since ancient times. If one wants to talk about recent or 'modern' developments in Chinese martial arts (including Shaolin for that matter), it is the over-emphasis on bare hand fighting. During the Northern Song Dynasty (976- 997 A.D) when platform fighting is known as ''Da Laitai'' (Title Fights Challenge on Platform) first appeared, these fights were with only swords and staves. Although later, when bare hand fights appeared as well, it was the weapons events that became the most famous. These open-ring competitions had regulations and were organized by government organizations; the public also organized some. The government competitions, held in the capital and prefectures, resulted in appointments for winners, to military posts.


Practice forms vs. kung fu in combat

Even though forms in Chinese martial arts are intended to depict realistic martial techniques, the movements are not always identical to how techniques would be applied in combat. Many forms have been elaborated upon, on the one hand, to provide better combat preparedness, and on the other hand to look more aesthetically pleasing. One manifestation of this tendency toward elaboration beyond combat application is the use of lower stances and higher, stretching kicks. These two maneuvers are unrealistic in combat and are used in forms for exercise purposes. Many modern schools have replaced practical defense or offense movements with acrobatic feats that are more spectacular to watch, thereby gaining favor during exhibitions and competitions. This has led to criticisms by traditionalists of the endorsement of the more acrobatic, show-oriented Wushu competition. Historically forms were often performed for entertainment purposes long before the advent of modern Wushu as practitioners have looked for supplementary income by performing on the streets or in theaters. Documentation in ancient literature during the Tang Dynasty (618–907) and the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1279) suggests some sets, (including two + person sets: ''dui da'' also called ''dui lian'') became very elaborate and 'flowery', many mainly concerned with aesthetics. During this time, some martial arts systems devolved to the point that they became popular forms of martial art storytelling entertainment shows. This created an entire category of martial arts known as ''Hua Fa Wuyi''. During the Northern Song period, it was noted by historians this type of training had a negative influence on training in the military. Many traditional Chinese martial artists, as well as practitioners of modern sport combat, have become critical of the perception that forms work is more relevant to the art than sparring and drill application, while most continue to see traditional forms practice within the traditional context—as vital to both proper combat execution, the Shaolin aesthetic as an art form, as well as upholding the meditative function of the physical art form. Another reason why techniques often appear different in forms when contrasted with sparring application is thought by some to come from the concealment of the actual functions of the techniques from outsiders. Forms practice is mostly known for teaching combat techniques yet when practicing forms, the practitioner focuses on posture, breathing, and performing the techniques of both right and left sides of the body.


Wushu

The word ''wu'' (; ') means "martial". Its Chinese character is made of two parts; the first meaning "walk" or "stop" (; ') and the second meaning "lance" (; '). This implies that "wu 武" is a defensive use of combat. The term "wushu 武術" meaning "martial arts" goes back as far as the Liang Dynasty (502–557) in an anthology compiled by Xiao Tong (), (Prince Zhaoming; d. 531), called ''Selected Literature'' (; '). The term is found in the second verse of a poem by Yan Yanzhi titled: 皇太子釋奠會作詩 "Huang Taizi Shidian Hui Zuoshi".
"The great man grows the many myriad things . . . Breaking away from the military arts, He promotes fully the cultural mandates."
: (Translation from: ''Echoes of the Past'' by Yan Yanzhi (384–456)) The term ''wushu'' is also found in a poem by Cheng Shao (1626–1644) from the Ming Dynasty. The earliest term for 'martial arts' can be found in the Han History (206BC-23AD) was "military fighting techniques" (; '). During the Song period (c.960) the name changed to "martial arts" (; '). In 1928 the name was changed to "national arts" (; ') when the Central Guoshu Institute, National Martial Arts Academy was established in Nanjing. The term reverted to ''wǔshù'' under the People's Republic of China during the early 1950s. As forms have grown in complexity and quantity over the years, and many forms alone could be practiced for a lifetime, modern styles of Chinese martial arts have developed that concentrate solely on forms, and do not practice application at all. These styles are primarily aimed at exhibition and competition, and often include more acrobatic jumps and movements added for enhanced visual effect compared to the traditional styles. Those who generally prefer to practice traditional styles, focused less on exhibition, are often referred to as traditionalists. Some traditionalists consider the competition forms of today's Chinese martial arts as too commercialized and losing much of their original values.


"Martial morality"

Traditional Chinese schools of martial arts, such as the famed Shaolin Monastery, Shaolin monks, often dealt with the study of martial arts not just as a means of self-defense or mental training, but as a system of ethics. ''Wude'' () can be translated as "martial morality" and is constructed from the words ''wu'' (), which means martial, and ''de'' (), which means morality. ''Wude'' deals with two aspects; "Virtue of deed" and "Virtue of mind". Virtue of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind (; ) and the wisdom mind (; ). The ultimate goal is reaching "no extremity" (; ) – closely related to the
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
concept of wu wei – where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other. Virtues:


Notable practitioners

Examples of well-known practitioners () throughout history: * Yue Fei (1103–1142 CE) was a famous Chinese general and patriot of the Song Dynasty. Styles such as Eagle Claw and Xingyiquan attribute their creation to Yue. However, there is no historical evidence to support the claim he created these styles. * Ng Mui (late 17th century) was the legendary female founder of many Southern martial arts such as
Wing Chun Wing Chun Kuen (), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), is a concept-based Nanquan (martial art), traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu (sport), wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to d ...

Wing Chun
, and
Fujian White Crane White Crane Style () is a Southern Chinese martial art that originated in Yongchun County, Fujian () province. According to oral tradition, the style was developed by Fang Qiniang (方七娘; Amoy dialect, Amoy Min Nan: Hng Chhit-niâ), a fema ...
. She is often considered one of the legendary Five Elders who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Temple during the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
. * Yang Luchan (1799–1872) was an important teacher of the Neijia, internal
martial art Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended ...

martial art
known as t'ai chi ch'uan in Beijing during the second half of the 19th century. Yang is known as the founder of Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan, as well as transmitting the art to the Wu (Hao)-style t'ai chi ch'uan, Wu/Hao, Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan, Wu and Sun-style t'ai chi ch'uan, Sun t'ai chi families. * Ten Tigers of Canton (late 19th century) was a group of ten of the top Chinese martial arts masters in Guangdong (Canton) towards the end of the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
(1644–1912). Wong Kei-Ying, Wong Fei Hung's father, was a member of this group. * Wong Fei Hung (1847–1924) was considered a Chinese folk hero during the Republican period. More than one hundred Hong Kong movies were made about his life. Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have all portrayed his character in Blockbuster (entertainment), blockbuster pictures. *
Huo Yuanjia Huo Yuanjia (18 January 1868 – 9 August 1910),wushu.org.cn
states that the Chin Woo Athletic Association w ...

Huo Yuanjia
(1867–1910) was the founder of Chin Woo Athletic Association who was known for his highly publicized matches with foreigners. His biography was recently portrayed in the movie ''Fearless (2006 film), Fearless'' (2006). * Ip Man (1893–1972) was a master of the
Wing Chun Wing Chun Kuen (), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), is a concept-based Nanquan (martial art), traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu (sport), wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to d ...

Wing Chun
and the first to teach this style openly. Yip Man was the teacher of Bruce Lee. Most major branches of Wing Chun taught in the West today were developed and promoted by students of Yip Man. * Gu Ruzhang (1894–1952) was a Chinese martial artist who disseminated the Northern Shaolin (martial art), Bak Siu Lum (Northern Shaolin) martial arts system across southern China in the early 20th century. Gu was known for his expertise in Iron Palm hand conditioning among other Chinese martial art training exercises. * Bruce Lee (1940–1973) was a Chinese-American martial artist and actor who was considered an important icon in the 20th century. He practiced
Wing Chun Wing Chun Kuen (), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), is a concept-based Nanquan (martial art), traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu (sport), wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to d ...

Wing Chun
and made it famous. Using Wing Chun as his base and learning from the influences of other martial arts his experience exposed him to, he later developed his own martial arts philosophy that evolved into what is now called Jeet Kune Do. * Jackie Chan (b. 1954) is the famous
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
martial artist, film actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director and producer, and a global pop culture icon, widely known for injecting physical comedy into his martial arts performances, and for performing complex stunts in many of his films. * Jet Li (b. 1963) is the five-time sport wushu (sport), wushu champion of China, later demonstrating his skills in cinema. * Donnie Yen (b. 1963) is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and world wushu (sport), wushu tournament medalist. * Wu Jing (actor), Wu Jing (b. 1974) is a Chinese actor, director, and martial artist. He was a member of the Beijing wushu (sport), wushu team. He started his career as action choreographer and later as an actor.


In popular culture

References to the concepts and use of Chinese martial arts can be found in popular culture. Historically, the influence of Chinese martial arts can be found in books and in the performance arts specific to Asia. Recently, those influences have extended to the movies and television that targets a much wider audience. As a result, Chinese martial arts have spread beyond its ethnic roots and have a global appeal. Martial arts play a prominent role in the literature genre known as wuxia (). This type of fiction is based on Chinese concepts of chivalry, a separate martial arts society (; ) and a central theme involving martial arts. Wuxia stories can be traced as far back as 2nd and 3rd century BCE, becoming popular by the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
and evolving into novel form by the Ming Dynasty. This genre is still extremely popular in much of Asia and provides a major influence for the public perception of the martial arts. Martial arts influences can also be found in dance, theater and especially Chinese opera, of which Beijing opera is one of the best-known examples. This popular form of drama dates back to the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
and continues to be an example of Chinese culture. Some martial arts movements can be found in Chinese opera and some martial artists can be found as performers in Chinese operas. In modern times, Chinese martial arts have spawned the genre of cinema known as the Kung fu film. The films of Bruce Lee were instrumental in the initial burst of Chinese martial arts' popularity in the West in the 1970s. Bruce Lee was the iconic international superstar that popularized Chinese martial arts in the West with his own variation of Chinese martial arts called ''Jeet Kune Do''. It is a hybrid style of martial art that Bruce Lee practiced and mastered. ''Jeet Kune Do'' is his very own unique style of martial art that uses little to minimum movement but maximizes the effect to his opponents. The influence of Chinese martial art have been widely recognized and have a global appeal in Western cinemas starting off with Bruce Lee. Martial artists and actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have continued the appeal of movies of this genre. Jackie Chan successfully brought in a sense of humour in his fighting style in his movies. Martial arts films from China are often referred to as "kung fu movies" (), or "wire-fu" if extensive wire work is performed for special effects, and are still best known as part of the tradition of kung fu theater. (see also: wuxia,
Hong Kong action cinemaHong Kong action cinema is the principal source of the Hong Kong film industry's global fame. Action films from Hong Kong combined elements of Cinema of the United States, Hollywood with Chinese culture, Chinese and Culture of Hong Kong, Hong Kong cu ...
). The talent of these individuals have broadened Hong Kong's cinematography production and rose to popularity overseas, influencing Western cinemas. In the west, kung fu has become a regular action staple, and makes appearances in many films that would not generally be considered "Martial Arts" films. These films include but are not limited to The Matrix (franchise), ''The Matrix'' franchise, ''Kill Bill'', and ''The Transporter''. Martial arts themes can also be found on television networks. A United States, U.S. network TV western television series, series of the early 1970s called ''Kung Fu (TV series), Kung Fu'' also served to popularize the Chinese martial arts on television. With 60 episodes over a three-year span, it was one of the first North American TV shows that tried to convey the philosophy and practice in Chinese martial arts. The use of Chinese martial arts techniques can now be found in most TV action series, although the philosophy of Chinese martial arts is seldom portrayed in depth.


Influence on hip hop

In the 1970s, Bruce Lee was beginning to gain popularity in Hollywood for his martial arts movies. The fact that he was a non-white male who portrayed self-reliance and righteous self-discipline resonated with black audiences and made him an important figure in this community. Around 1973, Kung Fu movies became a hit in America across all backgrounds; however, black audiences maintained the films’ popularity well after the general public lost interest. Urban youth in New York City were still going from every borough to Time Square every night to watch the latest movies.Wisdom B
"Know Your Hip-Hop History: The B-Boy"
''Throwback Magazine''
Amongst these individuals were those coming from the Bronx where, during this time, hip-hop was beginning to take form. One of the pioneers responsible for the development of the foundational aspects of hip-hop was DJ Kool Herc, who began creating this new form of music by taking rhythmic breakdowns of songs and looping them. From the new music came a new form of dance known as b-boying or breakdancing, a style of street dance consisting of improvised acrobatic moves. The pioneers of this dance credit kung fu as one of its influences. Moves such as the crouching low leg sweep and “up rocking” (standing combat moves) are influenced by choreographed kung-fu fights.Chris Friedman
"Kung Fu Influences Aspects of Hip Hop Culture Like Break Dancing"
/ref> The dancers’ ability to improvise these moves led way to battles, which were dance competitions between two dancers or crews judged on their creativity, skills, and musicality. In a documentary, Crazy Legs, a member of breakdancing group Rock Steady Crew, described the breakdancing battle being like an old kung fu movie, “where the one kung fu master says something along the lines of ‘hun your kung fu is good, but mine is better,’ then a fight erupts.” Hip hop group Wu Tang Clan were prominently influenced by kung fu cinema. The name "Wu Tang" itself is a reference to the 1983 film ''Shaolin and Wu Tang''. Subsequent albums by the group (especially their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)) are rich with references to kung fu films of the 1970s and 1980s, which group members grew up watching. Several group members (Ghostface Killah, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, and Masta Killa) had also taken their stage names from kung fu cinema. Several music videos, promotional photos, etc. feature group members posing or engaging with kung fu regalia and action sequences.


See also

* Eighteen Arms of Wushu * Hard and soft (martial arts) * Kung fu (disambiguation) * List of Chinese martial arts * Wushu (sport) * Kwoon * Weapons and armor in Chinese mythology


Notes


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Chinese Martial Arts Chinese martial arts, Sports originating in China