arts are also called Chinese Kungfu. It originated from
primeval society. With the long time developing there appeared many
schools. During Shang and Zhou Dynasties, martial arts evolved to
be a kind of dancing. In Qin and Han Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay,
and martial arts dancing were very popular. It is said the Five-animal-style
exercise was another innovation by Hua Tuo on the development of
Chinese martial arts.
Starting from Tang Dynasty, Kung Fu examination was proposed and
implemented. Excellent candidates would receive titles and awards
through the examination, largely helping the development of martial
arts. By then martial arts had evolved to be an artistic form and
an independent style. It was gradually introduced to many countries
in Southeast Asia. Today Kung Fu was honored as the ancestor of
kickboxing, karate, aikido, and judo. During the succeeding dynasties
Chinese martial arts were well developed. Different martial arts
styles came into being such as the School of Shaolin Temple, The
School of Mt. Wudang and so on. Each of them has a complete set
of skills in boxing or fighting with weapons. Chinese martial arts
were also divided into external martial arts and internal martial
arts. The first emphasizes on physical strength while the latter
emphasizes on internal energy Qi, with muscle strength to produce
power. Chinese external martial arts include Prey Mantis Fist, Chang
Quan (Long Fist), Monkey Fist and so on. Taiji Quan (shadow boxing),
Xingyi Quan (Mind Fist), Bagua Quan(Eight Diagram Fist) are the
best-known Chinese internal martial arts.
In the past, kungfu was developed for the sake of military fighting
and physical training. Kungfu was seen as crucial to a soldier's
survival in the time of barehanded combat. Today, military function
has been faded and people practice marital arts to pursue health,
defense skills, mental training, entertainment, performance and
Chinese martial arts can be practiced by single or with a group,
barehanded or armed with ancient Chinese weapons.
Shadow Boxing (Taiji Quan) Taij Quan is a Taoist
internal martial arts. One account of the history of Taiji Quan
credits its development to the Taoist Zhang Sanfeng in the Ming
Dynasty, who is said to have drawn the inspiration by watching a
fight between a snake and an aggressive eagle. Another different
story goes that during the Emperor Qianlong’s time (1736-1796AD),
Wang Zongdai expounded the principles of Taiji Quan on the basis
of Taiji “ Yin and Yang” theory. But Taijin Quan was introduced
to the general public around 100 years ago. Taiji Quan is a martial
arts, which embodies Taoist philosophy. When Taiji Quan was developed,
the martial arts were very aggressive. One's proficiency was measured
by the strength and aggression of attack, in terms of the Taoist
principle of yin and yang this was a purely "yang" conception
of martial arts. Taiji Quan was the incorporation of the Yin element
to fighting. In Taiji Quan one uses a balance of Yin techniques
with Yang techniques, a balance between concession and attack. It
is for this reason that Taiji Quan is described as "a needle
hidden in cotton" or "hardness concealed in softness".
Taiji Quan is gentle, slow excerise. When practicing, one is required
to concentrate his mind and adjust his breath with gestures. Long
term of practicing Taiji Quan can promote the vital energy, lower
blood pressure, reduce nerve tension, and benefit the immune, digestive,
cardiovascular and respiratory systems. There are many styles of
Taiji Quan. Among them Chen Wangting Style and Yang Luchan Style
are most popular.
Qigong "Qigong" (literally "breath
exercise"), is an important component of Traditional Chinese
Medicine that has its origin in ancient times. The primary aim of
practicing was to prolong life. The records dated to the Shang Dynasty
(16th-11th centuries B.C.) show the exercises to help the "qi"
(the human body's vital energy) circulating freely and to nourish
the internal organs. The actual practice of "qigong" began
in the 4th century A.D. Since then the search by physicians and
patients for better health, good techniques for religious cultivation
and the martial artists' needs for better training methods that
all helped to develop Qigong and enriched its content.
Unique to China only, Qigong has become an integral part of the
Chinese culture. Qigong exercise can produce many beneficial effects,
of which the most common ones are preventing and curing diseases,
strengthening the body, preventing aging, and prolonging life. Qigong
exercise requires one to relax, to be calm, to be natural and free
from distractions, so that it can dispel tension. Qigong exercise
helps to keep the main and collateral channels in good shape to
establish harmony between vital energy and blood, to balance between
Yin and Yang, and to adjust the nerve system. Qigong exercise helps
to reduce fundamental metabolism, increase the capacity of storing
energy, Qigong exercise is a kind of mental exercise that can enhance
one's self-control. Therefore, it becomes an effective measure to
attain health and longevity through practicing.
Art Show, the Legend of Kongfu
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More about Kung fu Kung fu and wushu are popular terms
that have become synonymous with Chinese martial arts. However the
Chinese terms kung fu and wushu have very different meanings. Wushu
can describe greatly varying martial arts traditions. Kung fu can
be used in a context without any martial arts whatsoever. Colloquially,
kung fu (or gung fu) alludes to any individual accomplishment or
cultivated skill obtained by long time practice. In contrast, wushu
is a more precise term that refers to general martial activities.
The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport similar
to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed
and weapons forms judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria
History The origins of Chinese martial arts are
traced to self-defense needs, hunting activities and military training
in ancient China. Hand to hand combat and weapons practice were
important components in the training of Chinese soldiers. From this
beginning, Chinese martial arts proceeded to different philosophies
and ideas into its practice - expanding its purpose from self-defense
to health and finally as method of self cultivation. In return,
influence of martial arts ideals can be found in poetry, fiction
and film. Chinese martial arts are now an integral part of traditional
According to legend, the reign of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, traditional
date of ascension to the throne, 2698 BC) introduced the earliest
forms of martial arts to China. The Yellow Emperor is described
as a famous general who, before becoming China’s leader, wrote treatises
on medicine, astrology and the martial arts. He allegedly developed
the practice of jiao di or horn-butting and utilized it in war.
Shǒubó kung fu, practiced during the Shang Dynasty (1766-1066 BC),
and Xiang Bo (similar to San da) from the 600s BC,. are just two
examples of ancient Chinese kung fu. In 509 BC, Confucius suggested
to Duke Ding of Lu that people practice the literary arts as well
as the martial arts thus, kung fu was practiced external to the
military and religious sects by ordinary citizens. A combat wrestling
system called jiao li is mentioned in the Classic of Rites (1st
c. BC). This combat system included techniques such as strikes,
throws, joint manipulation, and pressure point attacks. Jiao li
became a sport during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BCE). The Han History
Bibliographies record that, by the Former Han (206 BCE – 8 CE),
there was a distinction between no-holds-barred weaponless fighting,
which it calls shǒubó, for which "how-to" manuals had
already been written, and sportive wrestling, then known as jiǎolì.
Wrestling is also documented in the Shǐ Jì, Records of the Grand
Historian, written by Sima Qian (100 BC).
A hand-to-hand combat theory, including the integration of notions
of "hard" and "soft" techniques, is expounded
in the story of the Maiden of Yue in the Spring and Autumn Annals
of Wu and Yue (5th c. BC).
In the Tang Dynasty, descriptions of sword dances were immortalized
in poems by Li Bai. In the Song and Yuan dynasties, xiangpu (the
earliest form of sumo) contests were sponsored by the imperial courts.
The modern concepts of wushu were fully developed by the Ming and
Martial arts are also mentioned in Chinese philosophy. Passages
in the Zhuangzi, a Daoist text, pertain to the psychology and practice
of martial arts. Zhuangzi, its eponymous author, is believed to
have lived in the 4th century BCE. The Tao Te Ching, often credited
to Lao Zi, is another Daoist text that contains principles applicable
to martial arts. According to one of the classic texts of Confucianism,
Zhou Li, Archery and charioteering were part of the "six arts"
including rites, music, calligraphy and mathematics of the Zhou
Dynasty (1122-256 BCE). The Art of War, written during the 6th century
BCE by Sun Tzu, deals directly with military warfare but contains
ideas that are used in the Chinese martial arts. Those examples
shows that over time, the ideas associated with Chinese martial
arts changed with the evolving Chinese society and over time acquired
Taoist practitioners have been practicing Tao Yin, physical exercises
similar to Qigong that was one of the progenitors to Tai Chi Chuan,
at least as early as 500 BCE. In 39-92 CE, "Six Chapters of
Hand Fighting", were included in the Han Shu (history of the
Former Han Dynasty) written by Pan Ku. Also, the noted physician,
Hua Tuo, composed the "Five Animals Play" - tiger, deer,
monkey, bear, and bird, around 220 BCE Taoist philosophy and their
approach to health and exercise might have influenced to certain
extent the Chinese martial arts.
With regards to the Shaolin style of martial arts, the oldest evidence
of Shaolin participation in combat is a style from 728 CE that attests
to two occasions: a defense of the Shaolin Monastery from bandits
around 610 CE, and their subsequent role in the defeat of Wang Shichong
at the Battle of Hulao in 621 CE From the 8th to the 15th centuries,
there are no extant documents that provide evidence of Shaolin participation
in combat. However, between the 16th and 17th centuries there are
at least forty extant sources which provided evidence that, not
only did monks of Shaolin practice martial arts, but martial practice
had become such an integral element of Shaolin monastic life that
the monks felt the need to justify it by creating new Buddhist lore.
References of martial arts practice in Shaolin appear in various
literary genres of the late Ming: the epitaphs of Shaolin warrior
monks, martial-arts manuals, military encyclopedias, historical
writings, travelogues, fiction, and even poetry. However these sources
do not point out to any specific style originated in Shaolin. These
sources, in contrast to those from the Tang period, refer to Shaolin
methods of armed combat. This include the forte of Shaolin monks
and for which they had become famous — the staff; General Qi Jiquan
included these techniques in his book, Treatise of Effective Discipline.
Despite the fact that others criticized the techniques, Ming General
Yu Dayou visited the Temple and was not impressed with what he saw,
he recruited three monks who he would train for few years after
which they returned to the temple to train his fellow monks.
The fighting styles that are practiced today were developed over
the centuries, after having incorporated forms that came into existence
later. Some of these include Bagua, Drunken Boxing, Eagle Claw,
Five Animals, Xingyiquan Monkey, Tiger, Praying Mantis, Fujian White
Crane, Changquan Tai Chi Chuan.
The present view of Chinese martial arts are strongly influenced
by the events of the Republican Period (1912-1949). In the transition
period between the fall of the Qing Dynasty as well as the turmoil
of the Japanese invasion and the Chinese Civil War, Chinese martial
arts became more accessible to the general public as many martial
artists were encouraged to openly teach their art. At that time,
some considered martial arts as a means to promote national pride
and build a strong nation. As a result, many martial arts training
manuals were published, a training academy was created, 2 National
examinations were organized as well as demonstration teams travelled
overseas and numerous martial arts associations were formed throughout
China and in various oversea Chinese communities. The Central Guoshu
Academy established by the National Government in 1928 and the Jing
Wu Athletic Association founded by Huo Yuanjia in 1910 are examples
of organizations that promoted a systematic approach for training
in Chinese martial arts. A series of provincial and national competitions
were organized by the Republican government starting in 1932 to
promote Chinese martial arts. In 1936, at the 11th Olympic Games
in Berlin, a group of Chinese martial artists demonstrated their
art to an international audience for the first time. Eventually,
those events lead to the popular view of martial arts as a sport.
Chinese martial arts started to spread internationally with the
end of the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People's Republic
of China on October 1, 1949. Many well known martial art practitioners
chose to escape from the PRC's rule and migrate to Taiwan, Hong
Kong, and other parts of the world. Those masters started to teach
within the overseas Chinese communities but eventually they expanded
their teachings to include people from other cultures.
Within China, the practice of traditional martial arts was discouraged
during the turbulent years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1969-1976).
Like many other aspects of traditional Chinese life, martial arts
was subjected to a radical transformation by the People's Republic
of China in order to align it with Maoist revolutionary doctrine.
The PRC promoted the committee-regulated sport of Wushu as a replacement
to independent schools of martial arts. This new competition sport
was disassociated from what was seen as the potentially subversive
self-defense aspects and family lineages of Chinese martial arts
previously exhibited by the Boxer Rebellion Rhetorically, they also
encouraged the use of the term "Guoshu" meaning "the
arts of the nation", rather than the colloquial term gongfu,
in an effort to more closely associate Chinese martial arts with
national pride rather than individual accomplishment. In 1958, the
government established the All-China Wushu Association as an umbrella
organization to regulate martial arts training. The Chinese State
Commission for Physical Culture and Sports took the lead in creating
standardized forms for most of the major arts. During this period,
a national Wushu system that included standard forms, teaching curriculum,
and instructor grading was established. Wushu was introduced at
both the high school and university level. The suppression of traditional
teaching was relaxed during the Era of Reconstruction (1976-1989),
as Communist ideology became more accommodating to alternative viewpoints.
In 1979, the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports created
a special task force to reevaluate the teaching and practice of
Wushu. In 1986, the Chinese National Research Institute of Wushu
was established as the central authority for the research and administration
of Wushu activities in the People's Republic of China. Changing
government policies and attitudes towards sports in general lead
to the closing of the State Sports Commission (the central sports
authority) in 1998. This closure is viewed as an attempt to partially
de-politicize organized sports and move Chinese sport policies towards
a more market-driven approach. As a result of these changing sociological
factors within China, both traditional styles and modern Wushu approaches
are being promoted by the Chinese government.
Style China has one of the longest histories of
continuously recorded martial arts tradition of any society in the
world, and with hundreds of styles probably the most varied. Over
the past two to four thousand years, many distinctive styles have
been developed, each with its own set of techniques and ideas. There
are also common themes to the different styles, which are often
classified by "families", "sects" or "schools"
of martial art styles. There are styles that mimic movements from
animals and others that gather inspiration from various Chinese
philosophies, myths and legends. Some styles put most of their focus
into the harnessing of qi energy, while others concentrate solely
on competition and exhibition. Each style offers a different approach
to the common problems of self-defense, health and self-cultivation.
Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories to differentiate
them: For example, external and internal. Chinese martial arts can
also be categorized by location, as in northern and southern as
well, referring to what part of China the styles originated from,
separated by the Yangtze River; Chinese martial arts may even be
classified according to their province or city.The main perceived
difference about northern and southern styles is that the northern
styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and
generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern styles focus
more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances
and fast footwork. Examples of the northern styles include Changquan
and Xingyiquan. Examples of the southern styles include Nanquan
and Wing Chun. Chinese martial arts can also be divided according
to religion, imitative-styles, and more. There are distinctive differences
in the training between different groups of Chinese martial arts
regardless of the type of classification.
Training Chinese martial arts training consists
of the following components: basics, forms, applications and weapons.
Each style has its own unique training system with varying emphasis
on each of those components. In addition, philosophy, ethics and
even medical practice are highly regarded by most Chinese martial
arts. A complete training system should also provide insight into
Chinese attitudes and culture.
Basics Basics are a vital part of the training,
as a student cannot progress to the more advanced stages without
them; without strong and flexible muscles including the management
of the concept of "Chi" (breath, or energy) and proper
body mechanics, many movements of Chinese martial arts are simply
impossible to perform correctly. Basics training may involve a series
of simple movements that are performed repeatedly over a short interval;
examples of basics training include stretching, stance work, rudimentary
conditioning, meditation and basic kicking and punching techniques.
A common saying concerning basic training in Chinese martial arts
is as follows: Train both Internal and External. External training
includes the hands, the eyes, the body and stances. Internal training
includes the heart, the mind, the spirit, breathing and strength.
Stances Stances (steps) are structural postures
employed in Chinese martial arts training . They represent the foundation
and exaggerated form of a fighter's base. Each style has different
names and variations for each stance. Stances may be differentiated
by foot position, weight distribution, body alignment, etc. Stance
training can be practiced statically, the goal of which is to maintain
the structure of the stance through a set time period, or dynamically,
in which case a series of movements is performed repeatedly. The
horse riding stance and the bow stance are examples of a stances
found in many styles of Chinese martial arts.
Meditation In many Chinese Martial Art systems,
meditation is considered to be an important component of basic training.
Meditation can be used to develop focus, mental clarity and can
act as a basis for qigong training.
Forms Forms or taolu in Chinese are series of predetermined
movements combined so they can be practiced as one linear set of
movements. Forms were originally intended to preserve the lineage
of a particular style branch, and were often taught to advanced
students who were selected to preserve the art's lineage. Forms
were designed to contain both literal, representative and exercise-oriented
forms of applicable techniques which would be extracted, tested
and trained by students through sparring sessions. Many believe
that Kung Fu form needs to be both practical, usable, and applicable
as well as promoting flow, meditation, flexibility, balance and
coordination. Often kung fu teachers are heard to say "train
your form as if you were sparring and spar as if it were a form."
Types of Forms There are two general types of forms
in Chinese Martial Arts. Most common are "solo forms"
which are performed by a single student. There are also "sparring"
forms, which are choreographed fighting sets performed by two or
more people. Sparring forms were designed both to acquaint beginning
fighters with basic measures and concepts of combat, and to serve
as performance pieces for the school. Sparring forms which utilize
weapons are especially useful for teaching students the extension,
range and technique required to manage a weapon. Today many styles
of Kung Fu, as well as styles of Wushu, consider forms to be one
of the most important practices in Chinese Martial Arts. Traditionally,
forms played a smaller role in training combat application, and
were eclipsed by sparring, drilling and conditioning. Forms gradually
build up a practitioner's flexibility, internal and external strength,
speed and stamina, and teach balance and coordination. Many styles
contain forms using a wide range of weapons of various length and
type, utilizing one or two hands. There are also styles which focus
on a certain type of weapon.
Controversy of Modern Form Work
Even though forms in Chinese martial arts are intended to depict
realistic martial techniques, the movements are not always identical
to how techniques would be applied in combat. Many forms have been
elaborated upon, on the one hand to provide better combat preparedness,
and on the other hand to look more aesthetically pleasing. One manifestation
of this tendency toward elaboration which goes beyond combat application
is the use of lower stances and higher, stretching kicks. These
two maneuvers are unrealistic in combat and are utilized in forms
for exercise purposes. Many modern schools have replaced practical
defense or offense movements with acrobatic feats that are more
spectacular to watch, thereby gaining favor during exhibitions and
competitions.This has led to criticisms by traditionalists for endorsing
the more acrobatic, show-oriented Wushu competition.
Appearance has always been important in many traditional forms as
well; forms were often performed for entertainment purposes long
before the advent of modern Wushu. Throughout the history of Chinese
Martial Arts, practitioners have looked for supplementary income
by performing on the streets or in theaters.
Many traditional Chinese Martial Artists, as well as practitioners
of modern sport combat, have become critical of the perception that
forms work is more relevant to the art than sparring and drill application.
Another reason why the martial techniques often appear different
in forms when contrasted with sparring application is thought by
some to come from the concealment of the actual functions of the
techniques from outsiders, namely rival schools or the authorities,
since China has been ruled by foreign powers in the past.
Modern Forms: Wushu As forms have grown in complexity
and quantity over the years, and many forms alone could be practiced
for a lifetime, styles of modern Chinese martial arts have developed
that concentrate solely on forms, and do not practice application
at all. These styles are primarily aimed at exhibition and competition,
and often include more acrobatic jumps and movements added for enhanced
visual effect compared to the traditional styles. Those who generally
prefer to practice traditional styles, focused less on exhibition,
are often referred to as traditionalists. Many traditionalists consider
the evolution of today's Chinese martial arts as undesirable, saying
that much of its original value is lost.
Application Application training refers to the
training of putting the martial techniques to use. Chinese martial
arts usually contain a large arsenal of techniques and make use
of the whole body; efficiency and effectiveness is what the techniques
are based on. When and how applications are taught varies from style
to style; in the early stages of a student's training, most styles
focus on drills in which each student knows what range of combat
is being practiced and what attack to expect. Gradually, fewer and
fewer rules are applied, and the students learn how to react and
utilize technique. 'Sparring' refers to the major aspect of application
training, which simulates a combat situation but usually includes
rules and regulations to reduce the chance of serious injury to
The subject of application training is a controversial one, and
is the subject of a raging debate between the Neo-Traditional Martial
Artists and Sports and traditional martial artists. In the neo-traditionalist
view, martial arts training should eventually lead to and be proven
by actual combat as well as being governed by a moral philosophy;
neo-traditionalists often believe sparring to test techniques is
either irrelevant because of their disbelief in the validity of
a regulated test setting, or because the system's techniques are
supposedly too dangerous to use outside of a real combat situation.
In contrast, the sport-competition and traditionalist view suggests
that all of the techniques in Chinese Martial Arts should be repeatedly
time-tested through sparring to insure their effectiveness. An example
of this approach in the Chinese Martial Arts is the tradition of
Lei tai ( raised platform fighting) and Sanda. Lèitái represents
public challenge matches that first appeared in the Song Dynasty.
The objective for those contests was to knock the opponent from
a raised platform by any means necessary. San Shou and Sanda represents
the modern development of Lei Tai contests, but with rules in place
to reduce the chance of serious injury. Many Chinese martial arts
schools teach or work within the rulesets of San Shou and Sanda,
working to incorporate the movements, characteristics, and theory
of their style.
Weapons training Most Chinese styles also make
use of training the broad arsenal of Chinese weapons for conditioning
the body as well as coordination and strategy drills. Weapons training
are generally carried out after the student is proficient in the
basics, forms and applications training. The basic theory for weapons
training is to consider the weapon as an extension of your body.
The same requirements for footwork and body coordination is required.
The process of weapon training proceed with forms, forms with partners
and then applications. Most systems have training methods for each
of the Eighteen Arms of Wushu in addition to specialized instruments
specific to the system.
Martial arts and morality Traditional Chinese schools
of martial arts, such as the famed Shaolin monks, often dealt with
the study of martial arts not just as a means of self-defense or
mental training, but as a system of ethics. Wude can be translated
as "martial morality" and is constructed from two Chinese
characters, "wu" which means martial and "de"
which means morality. Wude deals with two aspects; "morality
of deed" and "morality of mind". Morality of deed
concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate
the inner harmony between the emotional mind and the wisdom mind.
The ultimate goal is reaching no extremity (Wuji,) (closely related
to the Taoist concept of wu wei), where both wisdom & emotions
are in harmony with each other.Morality of deed includes humility,
loyalty, respect, righteousness, and trust. Morality of mind includes
courage,endurance,patience perseverance,and Will.
Use of qi The concept of (qì), the inner energy
or "life force" that is said to animate living beings,
is encountered in almost all styles of Chinese martial art.Internal
styles are reputed to cultivate its use differently than external
styles. One's qi can be improved and strengthened through the regular
practice of various physical and mental exercises known as qigong.
Though qigong is not a martial art itself, it is often incorporated
in Chinese martial arts and, thus, practiced as an integral part
to strengthen one's internal abilities.There are many ideas regarding
controlling one's qi energy to such an extent that it can be used
for healing oneself or others: the goal of medical qigong. Some
styles believe in focusing qi into a single point when attacking
and aim at specific areas of the human body. Such techniques are
known as Dim mak and have principles that are similar to acupressure.
Some suggest that by practicing qigong to an advanced level it is
possible to cause a physical reaction to an opponent without even
touching the opponent. This is a popular concept in Chinese martial
arts movies but is rarely seen in the everyday world.
Notable practitioners Yue Fei (1103-42 CE) - was
a famous Chinese general and patriot of the Song Dynasty. Martial
arts styles such as Eagle Claw and Xingyi attribute their creation
to Yue. However, there is no historical evidence to support the
claim he created these styles. Wumeidashi (late 1600s) - was the
legendary female founder of many Southern martial arts such as Wing
Chun Kuen, Dragon style and Fujian White Crane. She is often considered
one of the legendary Five Elders who survived the destruction of
the Shaolin Temple during the Qing Dynasty. Yang Luchan (1799-1872)
- was an important teacher of the soft style martial art known as
tai chi chuan in Beijing during the second half of the 19th century.
Yang is known as the founder of Yang style tai chi chuan, as well
as transmitting the art to the Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun tai chi families.
Ten Tigers of Canton (late 1800s) - was a group of ten of the top
Chinese martial arts masters in Guangdong (Canton) towards the end
of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912). Huang Fei Hung (1847-1924) -
was considered a Chinese folk hero during the Republican period.
More than one hundred Hong Kong movies were made about his life.
Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have all portrayed his character
in blockbuster pictures. Huo Yuanjia (1867-1910) - was the founder
of Chin Woo Athletic Association who was known for his highly publicized
matches with foreigners. His biography was recently portrayed in
the movie Fearless (2006). Yip Man (1893-1972) - was a master of
the Southern martial art of Wing Chun and the first to teach this
style openly. Yip Man was the teacher of Bruce Lee. Most major branches
of Wing Chun that exist today were developed and promoted by students
of Yip Man. Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973) - was a Chinese American martial
artist and actor who was considered an important icon in the 20th
century. He practiced the Southern martial art of Wing Chun and
made it famous. Using Wing Chun as his base, he later developed
his own martial arts methodology under the name Jeet Kune Do. Jackie
Chan (B.1954) - is a Hong Kong martial artist and actor widely known
for injecting physical comedy into his martial arts performances,
and for performing complex stunts in many of his films. Jet Li (B.
1963) - is the five-time sport wushu champion of China, later demonstrating
his skills in cinema.
References to the concepts and use of Chinese martial arts can be
found in popular culture. Historically, the influence of Chinese
martial arts can be found in books and in the performance arts specific
to Asia. Recently, those influences have extended to the movies
and television that targets a much wider audience. As a result,
Chinese martial arts have spread beyond its ethnic roots and have
a global appeal.
Martial arts plays a prominent role in the literature genre known
as wuxia. This type of fiction is based on a Chinese concepts of
chivalry, a separate martial arts society (Wulin) and a central
theme involving martial arts. Wuxia stories can be traced as far
back as 2nd and 3rd century BC, becoming popular by the Tang Dynasty
and evolving into novel form by the Ming Dynasty. This genre is
still extremely popular throughout East Asia and provides a major
influence for the public perception of the martial arts.
Martial arts influences can also be found in Chinese opera of which
Beijing opera is one of the best-known examples. This popular form
of drama dates back to the Tang Dynasty and continues to be an example
of Chinese culture. Some martial arts movements can be found in
Chinese opera and some martial artists can be found as performers
in Chinese operas.
In modern times, Chinese martial arts have spawned the genre of
cinema known as the martial arts film. The films of Bruce Lee were
instrumental in the initial burst of Chinese martial arts' popularity
in the West in the 1970s. A U.S. network TV western series of the
early 1970s called Kung Fu also served to popularize the Chinese
martial arts on television. With 60 episodes over a three-year span,
it was one of the first North American TV shows that tried to convey
the philosophy and practice of Chinese martial arts.
Martial artists and actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have continued
the appeal of movies of this genre. Martial arts films from China
are often referred to as "Kung Fu movies", or "Wire
Fu" if extensive wire work is performed for special effects,
and are still best known as part of the tradition of Kung Fu Theater.
The use of Chinese martial arts techniques can now be found in most
TV action series, although the philosophy of Chinese martial arts
are seldom portrayed in depth.
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