3 Reasons Why Chinese Martial Arts Degraded Over Centuries

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…

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

Don’t Fight When You Can Run

by Adeniyi Makinde,

As cowardly as this may sound, it’s a Chinese proverb used by Jackie Chan in his cartoon series JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES. Running does not necessarily mean “taking to your heels”, even though you must if it warrants, but avoiding fights at all costs.

WHY?

Martial arts teachers must have considered many things before teaching this great ethic. consider these two:

  1. You do not know the combatant: you must remember that street fights are different from sparring. In a game with no rules, anything is possible. In a street fight, there is no set of rule that guides you so anything is possible.

 

  1. The law may be against you: if things get messy and bloody and the opponent gets brutally or fatally wounded, the lawsuit follows. Everyone has the notion that you are highly trained and things may go bad.

Most fights come as a result of one’s self-esteem and self-worth being questioned but through martial art training, we hurdle many physical difficulties which increases our confidence. Being confident makes one cool, calm and collected and these are the best weapons that can help one assess difficult situations.

WHAT DO THE MASTERS THINK?

Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, writer, philosopher, and military strategist of the Eastern Zhou era of ancient China, credited for writing the military classic “Art Of War” states in the book, “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Bruce Lee once said, “I learned Kung Fu to know how to fight but I was thought how not to fight.” Now, this is a man that is known to have won many fights and challenges, if not all, all his life. Martial art is knowing how to fight and avoid it, what’s the point of risking injuries and possible death when you can easily avoid them.

Jet LI is known to have been a master of dozens of martial arts since age twelve but when asked about his view of martial art, he said, “I never say to myself I’m the best fighter in the world. If someone learns martial arts solely to pick fights on the street, to lean on it as a keystone weapon in conflicts, to use it to bully and intimidate others – then that person, in my opinion, cannot be considered a true martial artist.”

Jackie Chan is well-versed in Beijing Opera which means he has a high level of skills in acrobatics, martial art, and acting. In his interview with BBC, he said he tried to correct the idea he passed across in Drunken Master 1, which was that he “…taught people how to drink and how to fight.”, by doing Drunken Master 2 he taught that “Don’t drink, don’t fight.”

As martial artists, we face various provocation, fight challenges, and various stupid stuff from people every day but we should be aware of what we carry as we have come a long way in training, learning, and unlearning many things. We shouldn’t be eager to let “the beast” in us out aimlessly except on dire occasions which we must have avoided with every possible tactic we can think of.

Even if we must fight in dire occasions, we must remember this quote from Master Kan on TV’s Kung Fu, 1971, “learn more ways to preserve than destroy. Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious and nor can any be replaced.”

Jackie Chan continued, “When you are learning about a martial art, it is about respect, you have to find a good teacher. If you knock somebody down – stop. Bring them up.”

Jackie Chan Adventures Season 1.

In this episode of Jackie Chan’s adventures, Bullies. Jade is getting bullied in school and after Valmont’s men are able to steal the Dragon Talisman from Jackie, (look out for the double dragon reference) Valmont uses it to steal money from the New York Bank against Shendu’s wishes. Things get worse when Captain Black is hospitalized during Valmont’s robbery, which causes Jackie to develop a personal grudge in taking Valmont down. Jackie must put his anger aside and use his head if he is to stop Valmont from robbing Fort Knox.

 

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.”

Who’s who of Women in BJJ

SMA bloggers

A run down of the current top Female BJJ players in the world inspired by Attack the Back.

Whether the following amazing women and BJJ competitors where motivated by family; fitness; exercise; self-defense; stress relief; or as a transition from more traditional forms of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enrolment for women has increased every year despite it being a traditionally male-dominated sport.

Below is a list of who’s who in the world of female BJJ.

Leticia Ribeiro

Leticia Ribeiro N. Dos Santos is a 4th degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and multiple time world champion in the sport. She is associated with the Gracie Humaita jiu-jitsu school. Wikipedia

Born: February 24, 1979 (age 37), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Residence: San Diego, California, United States

Team: Gracie Humaitá

Kyra Gracie

Kyra Gracie Guimarães is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and grappling world champion and a member of the…

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10 Mistakes Foreign Martial Arts Students Make in China

10 Mistakes Foreign Martial Arts Students Make in China
China awaits! The Great Wall; steamed dumplings, Shaolin monks and Qingdao beer. Already your mind is racing with wild expectations. However, before you leave home, remember this is a chance to immerse yourself in a strange new culture. This is not just any trip. This is a journey! By Studying Martial Arts you will interact with local communities more deeply than a traveler passing through.

Whether you experience a culture shock or not, there will be moments when you realize you’re doing something “wrong”. It might be small things like explaining you’re learning to sleep (Shuìjiào) instead of Chinese Wrestling (Shuāijiāo) or raising your glass higher than your elders when toasting. Then of course there are the obvious blunders like behaving like an ass on weekends away from your kung fu school or incessantly bitching about the fact things aren’t the same as they are back home.

China is a country made up of 22 provinces and 56 ethnic minority groups many of which have very different cultures, languages, dialects, customs and peoples. It has a population equivalent to the population of North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and all of Western Europe combined. Its bigger than an entire continent, so its not surprising that its developed differently to other counties you may be more accustomed to.

Each province and city will have its own speciality that you’ll learn along the way. You’ll make mistakes and discoveries but its all part of learning, but there are some no-no’s that foreigners before you have commonly committed. Learn from their blunders and avoid these common mistakes made by foreign martial arts students who head of to study martial arts in China month after month, year after year.

SMA bloggers

China awaits! The Great Wall; steamed dumplings, Shaolin monks and Qingdao beer. Already your mind is racing with wild expectations. However, before you leave home, remember this is a chance to immerse yourself in a strange new culture. This is not just any trip. This is a journey! By Studying Martial Arts you will interact with local communities more deeply than a traveler passing through.

Whether you experience a culture shock or not, there will be moments when you realize you’re doing something “wrong”. It might be small things like explaining you’re learning to sleep (Shuìjiào) instead of Chinese Wrestling (Shuāijiāo) or raising your glass higher than your elders when toasting. Then of course there are the obvious blunders like behaving like an ass on weekends away from your kung fu school or incessantly bitching about the fact things aren’t the same as they are back home.

China…

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The punch you didn’t see coming — The Tai Chi Notebook

I’ve already talked about how we use jin (planet force) all the time. I think there’s a good example from MMA and boxing that sheds some more light on this. When boxers or MMA practitioners get knocked out by a punch it’s usually from one they didn’t see coming. The counterpunch is a deadly strike […]

via The punch you didn’t see coming — The Tai Chi Notebook

Failed Transformations: Peloton, Master Ken and Traditional Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea

Fitness and Agency Rose clippers are a key symbol within Judkins family folklore. When I was about ten my mother bought my father, who does not garden, a set of rose clippers. These have lived, unused, in a cup of pens kept in their kitchen for over three decades. A “rose-clipper gift” quickly […]

via Failed Transformations: Peloton, Master Ken and Traditional Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea

CONSTITUTION OF THE JINGWU ASSOCIATION — Brennan Translation

– 課卷彙刊 補編 EXTRA JINGWU COMPOSITIONS, SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTS [including the Jingwu Constitution and the details of the Jingwu Movie] [Appendices to 精武本紀 The Annals of Jingwu, published Dec, 1919] [translation by Paul Brennan, Dec, 2019] – 課卷彙刊 [APPENDIX ONE] A COLLECTION OF WRITING EXERCISES – ☉女子與技擊之關係 黃畹香 [1] THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WOMEN & MARTIAL ARTS by Huang […]

via CONSTITUTION OF THE JINGWU ASSOCIATION — Brennan Translation

Best Kung fu Schools in China during Winter

I often get bookings from people keen to take advantage of their winter holiday, get fit and experience a life less ordinary. Their questions will often be, where is the best training options during winter? What’s it going to be like? How is the heating?

In this article I focus on a few kung fu schools where training is less likely to be affected by the cold. Therefore you can get the most out of your time and the experience in general. When asked these questions I often have to explain its not training in the cold thats uncomfortable, its having down time in the cold that tends to gets to people more. Heating in generally is non-existent making many of the kung fu schools in Northern China not the most attractive option if you’ve only a few weeks or 1-3 months between December and February.

Here is my list of the best kung fu schools in China during winter that offer intensive training. At these schools you can focus on your training, and for the most part avoid the bitter cold, rain and snow.

6 Productive Reasons to Show MMA Training Is Not Just A Workout

When you join the MMA training class, most of you have similar aims like becoming stronger, getting fitter, shedding kilograms of fat, etc. Surprisingly, MMA training is going to offer you many other advantages even beyond the physical benefits that we are mostly interested in. Don’t consider an MMA class just as an activity to become physically strong, as it is not just a workout. I’ve come up with 7 exciting reasons to show that MMA training is not just a workout.

Decrease Your Stress Level

You must already know that working out releases stress in you because the body reduces adrenaline and cortisol which are stress hormones. However, this phenomenon goes quite far when we talk about MMA. MMA gives you a chance to release your aggression through intense training. It is best to pent-up all your aggression on a bag and become calm. This is the reason; every day you take your stress out and feel much calmer after MMA class. Furthermore, it tends to bring positivity in your life and in your precious relationships due to your reduced stress. Other aspects associated with reducing stress through MMA include socialization, wearing comfortable workout clothes, achievement of fitness goals, and enhanced self-confidence.

Makes You Disciplined

MMA is mostly about intense physical training which requires great dedication and efforts. From time management for finding time for training to eating healthy food timely, MMA teaches you discipline. This way, your life becomes more organized as you train MMA. Preparing your MMA gear for the class and wearing workout clothes, cleaning them, and learning all tips and tricks to become more efficient teaches you discipline. Similarly, the hard work you do to maintain such a lifestyle to become more efficient in MMA training prepares you well for the other aspects of life as well. You will notice that with time, your life will become more disciplined which will enhance productivity in all the aspects of life. Along with improved fitness, becoming disciplined is a bonus that MMA offers.

Socialization

When you join an MMA class, you might not know anybody but within a few weeks, you would definitely be a friend of everybody. The reason behind this fact is the type of training MMA offers. The MMA training requires pairing up with different mates to learn how to fight and hence with time you get to know everybody. Once you become friends with other mates, your MMA training becomes a fun part of the day. This way, it reduces your stress level, allowing you to have a fun time while forgetting the tough realities of life.

MMA class helps you to socialize and spend time with likeminded people having the same goals. Imagine, how good it would be when you won’t have to fight for not having junk food with your friends. Your mates will have the same eating preferences when you go out and that’s the reason you will feel great. Furthermore, you can talk about what is best for your training such as food, sleeping time, what to wear, etc. So, this time you don’t have to be worried about dressing upright for the winter workouts.

Enhances the Confidence Level

Undoubtedly, when you know you’re strong enough to save yourself from dangers, you feel confident. MMA class teaches you skills and techniques that can be applied to have self-defense and hence it gives you self-confidence. Furthermore, as you train a lot, you become physically fit and attractive. Anyone who looks at you will praise you for your fit physique and such an appreciation brings confidence in you.

Makes You Aware of Other Cultures

As people from different backgrounds join the same MMA class, you get to learn a lot about their cultures. When you socialize and spend time with your mates, it would give you exposure to other cultures as well. Moreover, you learn different forms of martial arts in your class such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai and learning their cultural history will make you aware of different cultures and their origins. You can say that MMA class is not just a physical activity but it enhances your knowledge as well.

Can Be Made A Family Time

If you’re spending a lot of time at work and then at MMA class, it does not mean that you have to neglect your family. In fact, it is even more productive if your family members join the MMA class with you. This way, the MMA class can become a family time where you can enjoy as well while having other MMA benefits. This will lead to having more consistency, as your family members will have the same goal as you.

The Transformation of Chinese Martial Arts During the Song Dynasty — Kung Fu Tea

Introduction I have always wondered about the Song period (960-1279) and its connection to the modern Chinese martial arts (let’s say 1850 to the present). One could be forgiven for placing the genesis of our current systems sometime in the final century of the Ming. Afterall, this is when we see the very first […]

via The Transformation of Chinese Martial Arts During the Song Dynasty — Kung Fu Tea