The Boxer Rebellion

Sifu David Ross

The Boxer Rebellion

One of the most famous branch sects was the Yihequan (Fists of Righteousness and Harmony), popularly known as the Boxers. The Boxer Rebellion began in North China in 1898 as a popular peasant protest movement. Unlike the Taiping, the Boxer Uprising was opposed to Christian activity within China, particularly missionary evangelism in the countryside.

Shuaijiao_masters_tianjin_1930

Joseph W. Esherick has argued, rather successfully, that the “boxers” were not in fact martial artists, but rather followers of a variety of protection rituals; they took part in certain rituals, believing spirits would possess them making them impervious to foreigners’ bullets. These rituals were easily learned by the young, uneducated peasants of the Yellow River floodplain, and transmitted from village to village.

“The two elements, martial arts and heterodox beliefs, are clearly alternatives, not linked elements of a single tradition.”
– Joseph W. Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising

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