Chinese martial art is also referred to as Kung fu. This is a collection of fighting techniques that have been perfected and performed and studied by the Chinese people for centuries. According to the Chinese culture, the martial techniques have been classified into families according to the techniques or trait. Most of the Kung fu techniques are physical exercises that mimic animal traits or behavior or physical exercises that follow some Chinese philosophies, legends, and religion. Some techniques or styles include improving cardiovascular and muscle fitness, which is the external while others focus on improving the qi, which is the internal.
According to the manuscripts found at the Central Guoshu institute martial arts originated and begun during the Xia Dynasty, which was regarded as a semi-mythical era that is over 4,000 years ago. According to the records, a man named the Yellow emperor introduced some of the earliest techniques to china. The Yellow Emperor was a general then a leader in China. There was another martial arts master who was the Yellow Emperors main rival; he was called Chi You. Chi You is thought to have invented a style known as Jio di, a technique that became popular amongst Chinese wrestlers. Records from as early as the 5th century BCE found in the Spring Autumn Annals shows a lot of hand to hand techniques amongst them is a technique known as Jueli. According to the records, the techniques included joint manipulation, strikes, pressure point attacks, and throws (Liu, 2014). During the Qin Dynasty, Chinese martial arts seemed to come to live. The Chinese begun practicing martial arts as a sport, several individuals join martial arts masters and were thought some of the ancient techniques (Van de Ven, 2000).
In Sichuan before and during the Qin dynasty, martial arts had been mostly been practiced by soldiers training for combat and several few individuals. During 206 BCE eight CE some training manuals where written. The manual describes different techniques mainly weaponless fighting and sportive wrestling. Teachers of the martial arts sport during the Qin Dynasty used the manuals references to teach some of the techniques. Some other references were some manuals written by an historian known as Sima Qian, the records dated back to 100 BCE. The Tang dynasty saw the rise of sword dances that exhibited some martial arts techniques but were performed as dances to some poems and dances. The performances took place mainly during ceremonies and they were sponsored by the imperial courts (Judkins et al. 2015). The performances including the poems and songs that were Sang along with them were learned through oral lessons and as mentioned above some of them were recorded. The study aims at finding and going through these records. However, it is not just written sources that can be sources of the information. The research can also focus on oral history, which includes interviewing diverse groups of Chinese people, like local artists of martial arts, folklorists, scholars on Chinese martial arts, and related historians, anthropologists, etc.
The study is aimed at studying martial arts in rural areas of Sichuan province, how has its existence affected the culture and the historical process in the province and in China as whole? Martial has played a significant role on China especially culturally. Martial arts started off as merely self-defense techniques but slowly ended up becoming deeply rooted in the culture of Chinese. As mentioned above the techniques are mainly made up of mimicry of some animals behavior. Ancient Chinese individuals who mainly focused on religion and other traditional believes found out that they can develop fighting techniques that could be effective for self-defense. The Taoist for instance developed some martial arts techniques for instance the Dao De Jing thought to be invented by the Lao zi. Archery and charioteering are examples of some arts that are traced back to ancient Chinese traditions. Moreover, some ideas contained in the Art of War, which are writings dated back to the 6th century BCE by a writer named Sun Tzu sees some techniques of martial arts that have were learned and performed by the Chinese decades after. Studying these and other tradition will enable the research gain the required information and hence the desired goal (Wei-liang, 2010).
This is going to be an extensive research. Most of the sources to be researched are written materials. Some of the known materials are scattered all over the country and may not be found in Sichuan province. Most of the materials are treasured historical artifacts and can be found in national achieves. Therefore, the research will need a period of one month to conduct extensive research. Furthermore, the researchers may need to refer to other sources such as the oral historical records. Oral sources could be found in the remaining monasteries in China and also elders of the society who could have some background information about martial arts.
In this research study visiting multiply levels of archives, including rural, municipal, provincial and even national ones, to collect primary archival sources on martial arts and culture around Sichuan Province this is mainly because most of the Chinese martial arts materials were stored in texts. For instance according to the records it is not just the Taoist who practiced martial arts, Daoist practitioners are also known to have performed martial arts known as the Tao Yin. Tao Yin includes physical techniques similar to the ones referred to as Qigong. Hua Tuo who was a Daoist composed a play that consisted of five animals. These five animals exhibit some martial arts techniques. Another writer named Pan ku wrote six chapters of fighting techniques including one called the Han Shu (Boretz and Avron, 2011). The earliest text on martial arts dates back to as early as the 6th BCE, most of these information are found in written materials in the Chinese achieves.
Through information in manuscripts found in places such in Central Guoshu institute, the Sichuan soldiers were able to learn various types of martial arts. Martial arts played a major significant role in training of the soldiers. With martial arts the soldiers were able to fight crime and most importantly defend the country. Through learning martial arts individual entities were able to defend themselves from enemies and also protect others. The fact that the art was widespread there was a sense of peace whereby the Chinese knew that almost one in ten people knew to fight and hence the tranquility within the people however that does not mean that attacks in China ceased, in fact in some occasions battles for supremacy would arise from time to time. Besides the defense, aspect of martial art is the sport and entertainment (Pi-xiang, 2004). As mentioned above there were information about martial arts techniques that were mainly for sport and entertainment. These techniques were learned by the Chinese and were performed in ceremonies for entertainment. Performances such as sword fights and wrestling were thought and practiced also for entertainment and sport. During some ceremonies, there were fighting competitions whereby individual entities could perform in front of leaders and the general public and winners were awarded different kinds of awards. It was not fighting that was used for entertainment, some martial arts including plays and dances exhibited some martial arts. Dancers could perform some martial arts techniques during their acts. In plays such as Hua Tuos five animals play could see the five animals performing martial arts techniques during the play (Liu, 2014).
Chinese martial arts have been studied by a lot of scholars in various academic fields of culture, literature, history and philosophy. However, there are still numerous arcane places should be explored. This study will examine the role of martial arts in the specific region-rural area of Sichuan Province to provide a new angel to observe the history, culture and society in modern China from the Late Qing Dynasty to the early years of Republican China. As seen in most rural areas including Sichuan province martial arts influenced the community in a major way. During the Qin dynasty, martial arts developed a group of highly skilled fighters for the kingdom. Sicuans military consisted of soldiers who had been trained on hand to hand to hand martial arts techniques (Henning, 1981). With this the kingdom was able to win several battles which saw the province expand through the acquisition of neighboring territories such as the kingdoms of Shu and Ba in 316 BC. If there were no martial arts then Sichuans province could not be the way it is now. Having a military made of soldiers who have mastered martial arts techniques during the early decades of China was a big and determinant factor. Kingdoms were able to expand and defend their territories through being better in fighting. The kingdoms that had a big and skilled military were able to expand territories and hence affect the village structures and the general make of the country. Martial arts also played an important role in the nurturing of disciplined youth. Even though martial arts included use of violence, martial arts required of the performers to uphold discipline so that they can be respected. With martial arts the youth who learned martial arts became disciplined members of the society not mentioning how they also became instrumental members of the society. Most contributions are widely known and mentioned by scholars, the study however aims at going down to Sichuan province and the Chinese achieves to establish if they are true (Bowman, 2014).
Role of Martial Arts in the History, Culture, Religion and Society in traditional China
Martial art is a very significant element in the history of China. China is what it is today because of the struggles of the past. China went through a lot of battles, within and without. The study and performance of martial arts saw the rise of individuals who later became the shapers of history. The art did not only provide the skill for defense but also provided a skill to entertain. Poets, songwriters, and performers also learned the arts and also made their mark in the history. The culture of martial arts became the main area of study in ancient China with the rise of monasteries and monks. A province such as Sichuan attributes its wide territory and rich history to the arts. Socially the art created a sense of culture that has been preserved to date. Even in the modern day China Kung fu is still influence and widespread. Foreigners attend classes in schools to try and learn one or two techniques for self-defense. Other fighting techniques by other communities like the Japanese are greatly similar to some Kung fu techniques showing how influential the art has been. More importantly the study and performance of the art today has helped conserve the history of China the techniques that were invented as early the 6th BCE are still being studied today making the research easier and the goals of the study achievable (CHEN and HU 2009).
Contribution of Martial Arts to the Society
Chinas practice and study of martial arts earned it a reputation whereby foreign individuals continue to be interested in the techniques as some schools set up even in the foreign countries. In historical Sichuan martial arts was very influential and significant that schools and monasteries begun teaching and mastering the martial arts. In the schools and monasteries masters of martial arts could have students who they could take through each step of martial arts to a sta...
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