Anime and the Education of a Martial Artist

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Occasionally life takes a turn and one’s personal martial arts training gets moved to the back burner.  The last couple of weeks have been like that as my wife and I have been engulfed in a seemingly unending move.  It certainly could have been worse as on paper it was a just a short hop up the road to a new apartment complex.  Still, one should never underestimate the utter devastation that is unleashed by a stack of cardboard boxes and a U-Haul van.

At times like this I find myself envying Buddhist monks and other individuals who have walked away from the concept of material possessions.  My weakness, unsurprisingly, is books.  And it seems that a very large percentage of these books feature images of martial artists on their covers.

Unfortunately, all of those books are still sitting in neatly labeled, identical, 12 inch by 12 inch moving…

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Research Notes: Kung Fu at the American School in Shanghai, 1936

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A young TY Wong, right, at the 1928 Central Goushu Institute’s national martial arts demonstration in Nanjing, China. Source: From the Collection of Charles Russo.

Martial Arts Exhibitions, Old and New

Earlier today I saw a Facebook notice reminding me that I am about to miss an event with the lightsaber combat group that I am currently doing an ethnography with.  They have been asked to give an exhibition by a local charity.  The entire thing sounds like a lot of fun, and if I was not in the middle of a move into a new apartment, I would certainly be going.

Nevertheless, an experienced martial artist could probably guess what will be on their agenda, even if you have never seen a lightsaber exhibition before.  A few highly dedicated groups specialize in elaborate staged spectacles that include real scripts, extensive combat choreography, stage direction and special effects.  The late…

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An Opportunity to Document the Indian Martial Arts

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Prof. Phillip Zarrilli’s  name will already be familiar to many.  His book, When the Body Becomes All Eyes: Paradigms, Discourses and Practices of Power in Kalarippayattu, a South Indian Martial Art (Oxford UP, 2000) was an important landmark in the development of Martial Arts Studies.  It provided readers with both the first ethnographic study of kalarippayattu and new models for the scholarly study of the physical aspects of the martial arts.  Those wanting to learn more about his body of work may want to check out this paper, or watch his keynote address at last years Martial Arts Studies conference.

Recently, I was asked if I would pass along the following note from Professor Zarrilli, and I have done so below.  This could be a great opportunity for any scholar or filmmaker interested in this martial art.  Please feel free to share this request on social media.

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Chinese Martial Arts News

Introduction Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News!” Its great to be back at the blog. I am happy to report that the conference in Utah went very well and I had a chance to talk with a number of political scientists about the work that we are doing in Martial Arts Studies […]

via Chinese Martial Arts in the News: May 22nd, 2017: Wing Chun, Missing Ninjas and the Viral Fight — Kung Fu Tea

Cheng Zongyou, Shaolin’s Martial Missionary

Introduction Few individuals have influenced our understanding of the martial arts during the late Ming dynasty more than Cheng Zongyou. His manuals provide historians a glimpse into a world of martial arts practice that is at the same time familiar and strange. His works describe an environment that is characterized by a […]

via Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (19): Cheng Zongyou, Shaolin’s Martial Missionary — Kung Fu Tea

A Duandao, Looting, and the Image of the Chinese Boxing in the West — Kung Fu Tea

What is it? The first question seems straight forward. This sword was purchased at auction a few years ago. It is a short saber, often called a duandao by martial artists. Its blade is just under 18 inches (46 cm) long, and its tang (broken at the end where the […]

via Three Questions: A Duandao, Looting, and the Image of the Chinese Boxing in the West — Kung Fu Tea

Jingwu and the Female Martial Artists of 1920 — Kung Fu Tea

Introduction I am interested in the frequent, seemingly unconscious, way in which the word “traditional” is appended to the name “martial arts” in modern speech and writing. One does not simply study “Japanese wrestling” or “Chinese physical culture.” From about the 1970s onward everyone became a student of the “traditional martial […]

via Research Notes: Jingwu and the Female Martial Artists of 1920 — Kung Fu Tea


Aikido master Endō Seishirō shihan stated: “It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shu, ha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows. In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain…


The Boxer Rebellion and Stories We Tell about Chinese Martial Arts

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Vintage postcard showing a “Young Boxer” with sword. Early 20th century. Source: Authors personal collection.

Confronting the Boxers

It is probably an irony that I have written so little on the Boxer Uprising during my casual and academic discussion of the martial arts.  It was a chance encounter with the Boxers some years ago as I was exploring the connection between religiously generated social capital and violence that first convinced me to take a closer look at the Chinese martial arts as a possible research area.  Still, it has been a slow return to a case that first inspired me.

There are multiple reasons for this.  As my research progressed I found myself more drawn to the Republic period.  The ill-fated Boxers of Shandong sit as a perpetual prologue to most of the questions that I ask.  Further, my practical interests in Wing Chun led me to focus on Guangdong…

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