Martial arts truth
Martial arts originated within the majority of countries around the world, it is not limited to one specific country. The majority of martial artists claim martial arts originated in China, this is incorrect. Martial arts was created by many civilizations to protect themselves and their communities from invasion by other villages or countries.
To say martial arts originated in China is false and misleading. All martial arts have same or similar basics, they utilise aspects from nature, they are blended from one common understanding; defend yourself and your community.
Names are given to specific styles and arts pertaining to that particular country. Many traditional styles have their roots from India. It is arrogant to believe all martial arts were birthed in China, no one has the manopoly on ancient arts and traditions.
A martial art style has its traditions according to the culture it is birthed in. There are martial art styles much older than what some claim. Kung-fu was made famous by movies and gained its popularity from hype, we must not ignore the other styles and systems from other cultures and countries.
The term 'Kung Fu' means hard work or to do something, it is not a term utilised for harming or abusing others, it is simply a way of life. It is an art we practice that not only directing/channelling power internally or externally. It is based on skill and ability in whichever your chosen life path is. People today believe Kung-fu originated in China, the facts are in the history books, many countries and origins developed some form of martial arts for health, for defending their communities, villages, cities, homes and families.
The ancient Greeks, Native Americans, Spartans, Egyptians, Mongolians, Vikings, Amazonians to name a few developed their own fighting arts or Kung-fu that was most appropriate for them. The basics of all bare hand and weapon fighting are all the same, it is the skill that separates the individual.
The true origin of Kung-Fu originated in India, within history books and archives some monks from around the world all agree with Si-Jo Dr John Souglides Ph.D. Kung-Fu originated in India. Within ancient times there are records of the Jesuit priest, Pere Amiot, writing of the 'peculiar exercises' practised by the Taoist priests of his region which he called 'Cong Fou'.
Wu Shu is traditionally the term widely used to describe the traditional Chinese martial arts by the People’s Republic of China. There are also other terminologies for this such as Kuo-shu, Kuo-chi, Chien-shu and Tao-fa.
Exactly which era when Kung Fu first sprouted is unknown. Since the dawn of time there have been battles between men, countries, warring tribes, etc. during which conflicts combative techniques were executed and accumulated and passed down from family to family and generation to generation, these originated within various communities, countries and continents.
Various animal styles teach agility, strength, internal power, brutal strength, iron body techniques, mind power, channelling ones energy for healing or hurting, agility, stealth, stalking, blending into your surroundings, skill, timing, coordination, flexibility, flight, grounding, tapping into the infinite power and energy of the universe, accessing and utilising the elements, extra sensory abilities etc.
During the Zhou Dynasty, martial arts began to develop concurrent with the philosophical trends of society at the time, namely Confucianism and Taoism. In Taoism the universal opposites, Ying and Yang, were transposed to fighting systems, resulting in the hard and soft techniques that are existent in Kung-Fu today. The Taoist system of divination, the I-Ching contributed many mystical elements to Kung-Fu philosophy. Meanwhile Tao itself is a cosmic energy, likened to the Chi power that martial artists sought to harness to boost their powers. Confucianism meanwhile included the practice of martial arts as part of its six arts that should be practised in ideal worldly living alongside calligraphy, mathematics and music.
The most influential person in Kung-Fu history was an Indian Monk called Da Mo (or Ta Mo. Da Mo also known as Bodhidarma was a prince from a small tribe in Southern India, he followed the Mahayana school of Buddhism and was revered to as a Bodhisattva. The name Bodhisattva means an enlightened being who had renounced Nirvana so as to save others. It is believed that Da Mo created the 18 posture Chi Kung set.
In the ancient times Kung-Fu training was developed for individuals to reach enlightenment or achieve higher super human abilities. Much later these skills and powers were utilised in fighting arts. Many styles were developed to imitate fighting techniques of animals. As each animal has its strengths and weaknesses many styles were taught thus allowing the practitioners the vast scope of each style, they had the fortune of being versatile in increasing their health and also added varieties of techniques and counterattacks for combat purposes.
The various common styles taught are Tiger, Eagle, Snake, Crane, Leopard, Dragon, Mantis, Bear there are other styles that we also teach such as Northern Long Fist, Wing Chun, Tai-Chi, Long Short Hand. Weapons such as Long Staff, Spear, Broadsword, Butterfly Sword, Kwan Dao, Tri-Sectional Staff, Whip, Straight Sword, Tai-Chi Straight Sword and Double Daggers are taught. Practical self defence weapons utilising short staff/batten, umbrella, and broom stick were also taught.
The Shaolin Temple in Henan Province were responsible for spreading Chinese martial arts to Japan. In 1312 AD the Japanese monk Da Zhi arrived at the Shaolin Temple where was taught bare hand and staff for 13 years, he returned to his home land to spread his teachings. In 1335 AD another Japanese monk named Shao Yuan arrived to study Gong-fu/Kung-Fu at the Shaolin Temple, he returned to Japan in 1347AD.
Due to the Manchuria takeover of China the golden era of the Shaolin Temple ended, the Qing dynasty emerged. Martial Arts were outlawed between 1644 and 1911 AD. The Shaolin ways were preserved and passed on in secrecy and taught to layman and society. In 1911 the Qing dynasty fell, the arts were taught to the public.
Up until the early 20th century, Kung-Fu continued to be something practised by the elite, be the military elite, learned men, warrior monks or the members of a particular family. The negative effects of European interference in China had brought Chinese national self esteem to an all time low.
First of all, China had been brought to its knees by a mass opium drug trade, perpetrated mainly by Britain and France in the two Opium Wars, 1839 - 1842 and between 1856 - 1860. The Boxer Rebellion of 1899 was an attempt by the Righteous Harmony Society, previously known as the Righteous Fist Society, to expel foreign elements and reclaim China for the Chinese.
The Boxers believed that their Chi Gung expertise would allow them to repel bullets, as it did swords and clubs. They soon discovered the limitations of internal Chi power were quickly revealed as many boxers died among the insurmountable hail of gunfire from their enemies.
The failed rebellion only saw more concessions given to the occupying powers, as the Chinese government were unable to protect their thousand year old traditions against the humiliation of European colonialists. In an attempt to recapture their cultural and traditional ways that were essentially Chinese and boost national pride (and health), the government encouraged martial artists to open up their doors to the (Chinese) general public.
Much of the mythology surrounding the Chinese martial arts was also created around this time, serialised in popular novels. At this point, many Kung-Fu organisations were established that are still in existence today. The Chin Woo Athletic Association was founded in 1910 and a central governing body for Kung-Fu was established in 1928. By 1932 National Kung-Fu competitions were being held throughout China and in 1936 Kung-Fu was put on the world stage at the Berlin Olympic Games.
In 1966 Mao Zedong, the creator of China's unique brand of Communism, launched the Cultural Revolution. His aim was to rid China of all remnants of traditional thought so that it could radically modernise into a fully functioning Communist State. 80 million speakers communicated Mao's revolutionary doctrine to some 400,000 Chinese through the Central Peoples Broadcasting Station. In a kind of nationwide hysteria, millions of revolutionary youngsters, entitled Red Guards, marauder through the provinces, destroying ancient buildings and artefacts, and torturing and killing people as they saw fit.
Persecution of Chinese traditions hit Kung-Fu hard and no one was safe. Even the venerated Shaolin Temple was subject to revolutionary purges and the abbots were made to parade in public with paint slashed on their robes. Books and ancient martial arts manuscripts were looted from the monastery and burnt. The extent of the damage wreaked in the turbulent years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was on a scale never seen by the world before and the physical losses can never be repaired.
Those Kung-Fu masters that could flee fled overseas, whilst the remainder went into hiding or suffered harsh reprisals. Kung-Fu continued to flourish in its overseas setting and many famous masters set up Kung-Fu schools in Hong-Kong and Taiwan. A lesser number moved to the United States and Europe. Chinese cultural traditions became stronger in expat Chinese communities than back home in mainland China. After the tumult caused by the Red Guards had settled down, China began to rethink its policy toward Chinese martial arts as a sport.
After the Communist Party of China (CPC) took leadership of China in 1949, Kung-Fu had to be brought into line with Communist party doctrine. The old Confucian traditions of family and ancestor worship needed to be replaced with loyalty to the CPC above all else. Buddhist and Taoist lore also had to go, as Communist thought does not tolerate religious beliefs.
Traditional Kung-Fu was standardised into a sportive version called Wushu and centrally regulated by the All China Wushu Association, founded in 1958. Wushu was introduced as a national sport at High School and University levels across China. Standardised forms were created to represent many of the most popular styles of Traditional Kung-Fu such as monkey pole, Tai Chi Chuan and both Northern and Southern Kung-Fu styles. Finally in 1998, the CPC decided to decentralise the regulation of Wushu and by this point had severely relaxed its attitude towards traditional Kung-Fu. The new market-driven form of Communism saw the government promoting traditional forms of Chinese Martial Arts as well as Wushu.