Chinese Martial Arts

Chinese martial arts are just a small part of overall China's contribution in the development of human civilization on the Planet Earth that quiet difficult to overestimate. Printing, firearms, oil drilling just to name a few without mentioning philosophical and literature achievements.

Martial arts embedded deeply into the fabric of Chinese culture as we see it on the West (witch sure differ substantially from its internal self-assessment).

As China been dominant cultural power on the Asian subcontinent, Chinese tradition contributed greatly to the development of Martial Arts in Far East region, including Japan (that for hundreds of years looked at China for inspiration in various ways of life).

Even as Dr. Kano disputed China rooted jujutsu foundation legend (as traditional jujutsu throwing techniques have no equivalent in any Chinese tradition; traditional shuai jiao shows no diversity and dynamics displayed by jujutsu and Judo), but he saw as beyond any question the Chinese influence on its development. Needless to say that other modern major Japanese martial art of karate tracing it roots directly to Chinese kenpo (Karate-do is development of Okinawa originated rue styles, but it became wildly known only after it was adapted in Japan proper).

By beginning of 20thcentury Meiji Japan by-pass its contemporary China on the way to industrial modernization. Creation of Judo was one of “by-products” of this process.

By-and-around year 1910, when China's move toward modernization become apparent and shortly before it overturn the Imperial rule and become a republic, some prominent Chinese martial artists realized that, if nothing will be done, they'll follow the declining path of old Japanese jujutsu and in search for solution they turned to experience of Judo, witch by that time had about 30 years of history and enjoyed wide national recognition with almost complete dominance in Japanese military, police, and educational institutions.

The long story short, the Jingwu martial arts school has been established that has become the first modern Chinese Martial Arts civil instructional institution with open enrollment. It created a new social image of traditional arts (especially in the staunch contrast to yet still fresh memories of short, but brutal “boxer rebellion”) and made it possible to preserve those traditions till nowadays.

Following Chinese own internal cultural diversity the current official listing of Chinese martial art styles surpass 300 mark.

Without going into details on those diverse styles, which I'm not qualified to enter, I see the need to address the difference between internal and external styles and its applicability to Judo.

When terms internal (neijia) and external (waijia) in Martial Arts applied only to Chinese styles, the key notion of Chi (Ki in Japanese) known in all Eastern cultures.

When external styles (and this is by far the formal majority of all styles) relying on physical attributes in achieving combat efficiency, the internal styles relying on “internal energy” – Chi. I don't want to go into discussion of mystical Taoist roots of Chi and specifics of internal Chinese martial arts in particular. However, I would like briefly to address the more rational understanding of Chi/Ki as it playing significant role in practice of Judo.

Leaving aside all the fascinating stories about Great Masters defeating their enemies by just looking at them (I'm not going to dismiss it outright – display of a confidence and projection of power are important part of hostile confrontation that absolutely can define the outcome before any bloodshed; see this link for Western view on it) and not paying attention to various charlatans, what constitutes internal energy training in martial arts?

I see two distinct, but tightly coupled technical elements:

  • Technical relaxation with explosive power bursts

  • High level technical coordination with natural movement tendency/appearance

Those are highly advanced technical skills that require years of training. They can be demonstrated by truly top level masters. I'll discuss it more on other pages of this site.


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