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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