by Adeniyi Makinde
If one reads or hears the classics, history, or even stories of the martial arts and the martial artists of old, one would conclude that, when compared with those of nowadays, there is a huge gap in the authenticity.
From the heroics of Shaolin Warrior monks in defending the Shaolin Temple from bandits around the year 610 and helping Li Shimin defeat Wang Shichong at the Battle of Hualao around 621 to the time of the Boxers’ Rebellion, one would know that martial arts was way beyond feeble and fancy movements aimed to show off acrobatic skills and flair.
Here are my three reasons as to why Chinese Martial arts degraded over the years…
- Back In The Day, Martial Arts Were Mainly practiced to Protect Lives And Properties
Just like most present-day practitioners, many martial artists learned for self-defense in the streets. However, In the imperial days of China, robberies, raping and killings by bandits were common so most people sought after learning martial arts and those who could not practice sought for protection in monasteries protected by warrior monks. Moreover, they knew that they could get killed if they weren’t proficient enough so they learned with absolute dedication.
Wars, back in the day, were fought in close combat positions which made most generals fierce martial artists. Men fought for land, power and even women, but in the absence of these dire situations, the sense of dedication will be lacking.
What happens if these dire occasions are absent?
- Changes in cultural practices
Martial arts students of old worshipped the masters, they were lords and fathers to their students. Masters take them as their children and even sometimes go as far as changing the student’s last name to his’; we can see this in Jackie Chan’s case in paying homage to his master, Yu Jim Yuen, during his days in Peking Opera, although he had the name Chan Kong Sang, he took stage name, Yuen Lo. Although he later changed back to his biological last name, some of his fellow students didn’t e.g. Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah.
This happened because students took martial arts like life. They didn’t have many ambitions, the martial art was everything.
Nowadays, no student can stand being a puppet to someone all for the sake of martial arts.
- Lack of Patience in Learning
Nowadays, most martial arts students want to become masters overnight and martial art teachers are not helping matters. They want to learn quickly thereby creating bunches of “half-baked” martial arts practitioners. Martial art takes time and intense practice. To learn and perfect a form may take more than a year before moving to the next as this is the ethic of martial arts but patience is lacking in most learners of today.
A Chinese martial art classic says, ”Shoulders match hips, elbows match knees, and hands match feet. Capturing is rigid, seizing is flexible. One moves onto weapons after forms. A weapon is an extension of the limbs. When man merges with the weapon, the heart merges with the mind, the mind merges with energy and energy merges with strength. Yin on the inside, yang on the outside. Energy is created from the inside out. You can’t move on without mastering the previous form.”
Take note of the last line in the quote above…
Note: These are reasons that occurred to me. You can add yours in the comment section.
by Adeniyi Makinde, freelance writer
”Adeniyi is both a martial artist and a writer. He was influenced by Jet Li, and grew up loving Chinese martial arts though he didn’t get the chance and opportunity to learn from childhood. He luckily met a kindhearted teacher who saw his passion and love for the art and has been teaching him for the past seven years till date.”