PDA

View Full Version : Preservation of Koryu vs. CMA



Shin Buke
1st September 2004, 18:14
Hello fellow e-budoka,

I just recently moved to Phoenix, Az and have been checking out a bunch of martial art schools around here. I've found a great Aikido place but I've also been looking at various CMA schools out of curiosity. The other day I got to thinking though...

When I check out a school I try to do a good deal of research on it to get a general idea of its history, characteristics, and the like. The other day I was sitting around and pondering some of the information I had mulled over and something hit me. I realised that, for some reason, Chinese martial art seems to have been much better preserved than koryu which led me to ask myself why.

From my limited knowledge it appears that many Chinese systems are either as old or much older than many Japanese koryu and, on average, seem to have a greater number of their forms and techniques intact. A good example is the Twelve Fists of the Lohan (I think that's what it's called) which, as I understad, was the progenetor of all Chinese martial art. Those original forms still remain today and are still being passed down.

On the other hand we have the koryu which are roughly as old. Some systems have been around for several centuries while others date back to almost a thousand years. However, throughout the ages, it would seem that the koryu have lost many of their teachings when compared with various CMA systems. The number of kata that koryu such as TSKSR and Takenouchi-ryu have lost alone could probably fill a reasonably sized book. Many koryu have also become extinct and many others face the sad possibility of extinction.

So, my question is, what is the reason for this? I admit that it's quite possible that my own limited knowledge of both koryu and CMA could be painting the wrong picture for me and causing me to see things in a skewed way. Also, the list of extant CMA, although extensive, might not match up to the number of extant koryu which might actually mean that the reverse is true. Another thing to consider is population. It would seem to me that China, having a much larger population than Japan at any given point in history, would have a greater number of opportunities to pass on their martial art. In addition, much CMA was designed for use by civilians and monks although many systems have been used by military personalities. This would give CMA a much larger base to pull membership from I'd imagine, as well as having greater application than the battlefield or dueling. On the other hand, the Chinese government has always been at odds with its more esoteric elements. The emperor's quest to annihilate the Shaolin comes to mind there. China is also a very confucian land and seems to have been at odds with it's Taoist element during much of its history. Given that much CMA adopts Taoist principles one would think that such currents would seek to be minimized.

As far as koryu goes, it was developed mainly for battlefield application and, as such, was limited to higher echelons of the buke. In addition, as the Sengoku ended and the Tokugawa shogunate rose, it would seem that many of the comprehensive, battlefield arts gave way to more duel-oriented ones which might explain why they seem to have suffered more loss. In addition, as the Pax Tokugawa spread, the perceived necessity of martial training also decreased. It is important to note, however, that the style of transmission was very rigid and structured and great care seems to have been placed on transmission, especially though family lines which could be either a great strength or weakness of individual koryu. Not to mention the fact that the koryu were a heavily supported element of the various feudal governments in Japan and fit quite well with the confucian nature of Japan.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I would like to hear your perception of and theories on this interesting (I hope ^_~) little puzzle.

hyaku
1st September 2004, 23:05
Originally posted by Shin Buke
Hello fellow e-budoka,
Not to mention the fact that the koryu were a heavily supported element of the various feudal governments in Japan and fit quite well with the confucian nature of Japan.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I would like to hear your perception of and theories on this interesting (I hope ^_~) little puzzle.

Well one thing for sure is we dont get any help from the government today. They dont seem to support or help any culture or art form let alone Budo unless it come from another country. A little help would go a long way.

Joseph Svinth
2nd September 2004, 02:03
Invented traditions are not limited solely to Baffling Budo, you know. Thus, much (perhaps most) of the "antiquity" of the Chinese martial arts is nationalist mythology created during the Republican era.

For background on this, see Stanley Henning's article, "The Martial Arts in Chinese Physical Culture 1865-1965," in Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth (ed.) _Martial Arts in the Modern World_ (Greenwood: 2003) and Andrew Morris's "From Martial Arts to National Skills: The Construction of a Modern Indigenous Physical Culture, 1912-37," in his book _Marrow of the Nation: A History of Sport and Physical Culture in Republican China_ (University of California Press: 2004).

As for where it all started, start with Ray Huang's essay on General Qi in _1581: A Year of No Significance_. Then see the books by Naquin on millenarianism in China and Esherick's book on the Boxer Rebellion.

CEB
2nd September 2004, 02:13
Originally posted by Shin Buke
....
I realised that, for some reason, Chinese martial art seems to have been much better preserved than koryu which led me to ask myself why.

A lot of Chinese systems have been lost. I think maybe this seems the case to you because number of initial CMA systems in existence were so much larger. As a result of this it seems more survived. Boxers who wanted to preserve old systems had to form athletic associations after the failure of the Boxer's Rebellion because the systems were becoming extinct. Many systems did disappear. Japanese systems have done well as gendai budo. The criteria for what people consider koryu are strict. Around the year 1900 when society began a series of rapid changes in China, boxers who wanted to continue to practice CMA had to make efforts to maintain their traditional boxing methods. In Japan after Meiji when martial arts stopped being controlled by families or Ryuha and started being ruled by commitees, people who wanted to continue to practice martial arts had viable options. Kendo, Judo, etc.....


Originally posted by Shin Buke
... A good example is the Twelve Fists of the Lohan (I think that's what it's called) which, as I understad, was the progenetor of all Chinese martial art. Those original forms still remain today and are still being passed down.[/B]

FWIW I believe it is 18 Lohan fists or 18 Hands of Lohan. The idea of the 18 Lohan comes from the 18 great disciples of Buddha I believe. In Japan they are called Rakan in India they are Arhat I think. Also the number in Japan and India are 16 not 18. The Chinese canonized a couple of other dudes I guess.

Government oppression was one of the reasons for much of the wide spread transmission of old CMA systems. While Goverment action seems to be much of the reason of the decline of koryu. On the surface it seems a little ironic.

Also keep in mind concerning some of the antiquities of Chinese martial arts,...What is more important complete and accurate detailed histories or a fabulous legend that feeds the spirit. :D

wmuromoto
2nd September 2004, 21:17
Anthony wrote (quote):

"... The number of kata that koryu such as TSKSR and Takenouchi-ryu have lost alone could probably fill a reasonably sized book. Many koryu have also become extinct and many others face the sad possibility of extinction."

I think these are not very good examples. The Takeuchi-ryu (Takenouchi-ryu) hasn't lost much. Some, not much. It still has in excess of some 450-odd kata, including the original five kogusoku forms and rope forms by its founder, Hisamori. I would hazard a guess that the TSKSR as well has lost some, but not a very large amount compared to its current curriculum.

As Mr. Svinth also notes, one would have to be wary of claims made by some popular Chinese legends as to the longevity of various CMA. Not to say it may not be possible, but some claims to a long, unbroken (in headmastership and/or unchanging techniques) line may be the stuff of legends and myths.

I am not saying CMA is any worse or better than koryu; I enjoy my tai chi and think it has a lot of merit in terms of really taking apart and analyzing efficient body movement, and I enjoy my koryu. But I'm not sure the original argument is as plain and clear cut as one would wish it to be.

As Mr. Hyakutake also notes, the odd thing about the Japanese government and populace is how little it supports its own martial traditions nowadays. Win a gold medal in judo for Japan and all you get is an "atarimae..." (it's to be expected). Win a gold in gymnastics and you get endorsement contracts up the yin-yang. The government supports all manner of arts and crafts traditions but seems to do very little with supporting the budo, IMHO. Just my opinion, of course. I got friends in the Japanese government. ;-)

Wayne Muromoto

Shin Buke
3rd September 2004, 19:03
My thanks for your replies. The situation has many more layers than I surmised to be sure.

One thing did perk my curiosity though. Mr. Hyakutake and Mr. Muromoto, you both mention that the Japanese government offers little, if any, support to the koryu. Is this a holdover from post-WW2 Japan's anti-military sentiment, is it a result of simple uninterest, is it some other factor?

Also, from the little I do know about koryu, I understand that it is largely passed down by individuals who do not need or seek to gain profit from their koryu instuction as most of them have regular jobs. It seems to be a rather private enterprise. Given this, what type of support would you like to see from the Japanese government? Would funding from the government be helpful and maybe alleviate some of the financial pressure that koryu sensei have to deal with or are you speaking of more intangible support such as publicity for the koryu or the like?

Thanks again!

Mekugi
3rd September 2004, 19:26
A-freakin-men.

The problem is that Koryu practitioners refuse to put huge commercial endorsements as a priority, which is the core of the pitfalls in koryu bujutsu popularity. I was thinking we could just get Amino Suppli and Aquarius to sponsor embu as a start. Perhaps some notable sensei could endorse their keitai company on commercials- to give that "old world" feeling and sensability of culture back to the ancient tradition of blathering on aimlessly about "which kata goes best with avocado green hakama". I was thinking an all out campaign as well, with variety show appearances and getting SMAP to do some cameo photos.


The Japanese government cannot afford to spend any more money than already does on Koryu, bottom line. Their offices have tripled the amount of money spent in the past years and cannot seem to find where the funds have gone and why it is not helping. Some savvy politicians, however, are making some progress and have recently discovered what I believe is a direct link to this dilemma:
no matter how many times you multiply a number by zero, it comes up zero.


Originally posted by wmuromoto

As Mr. Hyakutake also notes, the odd thing about the Japanese government and populace is how little it supports its own martial traditions nowadays. Wayne Muromoto

Joseph Svinth
5th September 2004, 20:29
Since Meiji times, the primary financial patrons of kendo and judo have been the Ministry of Education and the police. Both the police and the Ministry of Education sponsored local, regional, and national tournaments, paid fulltime instructors, and arranged teacher training programs. Postwar, karate has also enjoyed financial patronage from the yakuza, assorted rightwing organizations, and the US military.

Koryu never enjoyed any of this financial patronage, even in the halcyon days of Dai Nippon Butokukai. A DNBK statement on such things, sent to GHQ in 1947 (archival source: Records Group 331, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland; online source: http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinth_1202.htm ):

QUOTE

As stated before, owing to the gradual increase in the members since the establishment of the Butokukai in 1895, the branches were operated by the members by prefectures through contributions of members and enthusiasts. In the local districts the martial arts were cultivated and maintained, apart from a few enthusiasts, by police officers from the nature of their duties and the Butokukai was operated with the police officers as the central figures. Its enterprise consisted in the erection of a Butoku Hall and in perfecting the martial arts and confined itself to holding exhibitions once or twice a year for the training of the body and the mind. The branches were independent financially of the central headquarters and possessed independent capital and the leading members thereof were appointed by the branch chiefs. Thus apart from the granting of high gradings which was controlled by the central headquarters, the activities of the branches were not bound in anyway by headquarters, and they were operated on a self-regulatory basis.

END QUOTE

***

And, FWIW, a transcript of a letter sent by a koryu group to MacArthur's GHQ in 1948, from the same source:


QUOTE

Invitation to the Acting Meeting of the Ancient Japanese Knight Arts, 28 May 1948

To: Director of physical section, educational department G.H.Q.

1. We take the liverty (sic) of inviting you to the acting meeting of the ancient Japanese knight arts which will be held to display the late instructors excellent arts as follows:

Time and date: From noon to 5.00 P.M. ____ Saturday June 1948.
Meeting place: Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo (If this place is changed, new place will be notified).

Kind of Japanese knight art:

a) Kyu-Jutsu (Archery)

b) Hobaku-Jutsu (Art of arrest)

c) Shiriken-Jutsu (Art of handy sword)

d) Joh-Jutsu (Art of stick)

e) Kusarigama-Jutsu (Art of chain-sickle)

f) Jingai-Jutsu (Art of shell used in camp)

g) Naginata-Jutsu (Art of long handled sword)

h) Jitte-Jutsu (Art of metal truncheon)

i) Kodachi-Jutsu (Art of short sword)

j) Sou-Jutsu (Art of spear)

k) Ju-Jutsu (Art of self-defence)

l) Kenjutsu (Art of Japanese fencing)

m) Bou-Joutsu (Art of long stick)

2. Explanation

The ancient Japanese knight arts are quite different from these at present. Because these arts were always performed for them in order to cultivate their merits of coutesy (sic), modesty, morality and affection. Through these arts they loved peace as their Japanese letters are showing their meaning "stop war".

The ancient Japanese knight pursuits the gentlemanship. They are strickly (sic) prohibited from use their sowrds (sic) and spears at rnadom (sic). Cosequently (sic) it is evident that these instructors were gentlemen and always looked up to by people then contributed to that times.

Now, we, niheritors (sic), will get together and hold this meeting for the purpose of thinking of past.

We shall be much pleased if you will kindly come to this meeting with your family, many officers, enlisted men and civilians.

/s/ Tetsusaburo Kawauchi, Member of the inheritors gathering of the ancient Japanese knight arts

END QUOTE

Mekugi
6th September 2004, 11:07
To add to this, it is my understanding that the Kyoto Butokukai also ran some sort of a "graduate" program for martial arts before and just after WWII. Studies were composed of various disciplines with a "major", for instance Kodokan Judo being one of them I know of directly.


Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
[B]Koryu never enjoyed any of this financial patronage, even in the halcyon days of Dai Nippon Butokukai. A DNBK statement on such things, sent to GHQ in 1947 (archival source: Records Group 331, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland; online source: http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinth_1202.htm ):

QUOTE

As stated before, owing to the gradual increase in the members since the establishment of the Butokukai in 1895, the branches were operated by the members by prefectures through contributions of members and enthusiasts. In the local districts the martial arts were cultivated and maintained, apart from a few enthusiasts, by police officers from the nature of their duties and the Butokukai was operated with the police officers as the central figures. Its enterprise consisted in the erection of a Butoku Hall and in perfecting the martial arts and confined itself to holding exhibitions once or twice a year for the training of the body and the mind. The branches were independent financially of the central headquarters and possessed independent capital and the leading members thereof were appointed by the branch chiefs. Thus apart from the granting of high gradings which was controlled by the central headquarters, the activities of the branches were not bound in anyway by headquarters, and they were operated on a self-regulatory basis.

Joseph Svinth
6th September 2004, 19:39
You're probably thinking of the Budo Senmon Gakko, also called Busen, which was in Kyoto. Rod Omoto trained there before the Pacific War. See http://www.furyu.com/archives/issue8/Omoto.html .

See also http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=87 (Minoru Hirai).

Also see Endnote 3 at http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_abe_0600.htm , which states:

EN3. In 1914 a Japanese police official named Hiromichi Nishikubo published a series of articles arguing that the Japanese martial arts should be called budo ("martial ways") rather than bujutsu ("martial techniques"), and used primarily to teach schoolchildren to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the Emperor. In 1919, Nishibuko became head of a major martial art college (Bujutsu Senmon Gakko) and immediately ordered its name changed to Budo Senmon Gakko, and subsequently Dai Nippon Butokukai publications began talking about budo, kendo, judo, and kyudo rather than bujutsu, gekken, jujutsu, and kyujutsu. The Ministry of Education followed suit in 1926, and in 1931 the word budo began to refer to compulsory ideological instruction in the Japanese public schools. For more on this topic, see Tamio Nakamura, Kendo jiten: gijutsu to bunka no rekishi (Kendo Gazeteer: A Technical and Cultural History) (Tokyo: Shimatsu Shobo, 1994); my thanks to Professor William Bodiford of UCLA for the citation and translation.

Mekugi
7th September 2004, 12:46
I'm fairly sure these were two different programs. I've seen a few references to the Nippon Butokukai and to the Busen Budo College as different entities, so it would appear that way. For example, the Kyoto University has noted them as constituents separate from one another:

Kyoto University Judo Club was founded by Mr. HIROSE Etsutaro in Meiji 33 (1900). In those days there was Butokukai (the Martial Arts Association) in Kyoto. Mr. KOJIMA Tomojiro was a student of Kyoto University as well as associate professor of Butokukai and Budo Senmon Gakko (abbreviated as Busen, Budo College). Dojo of Kyoto University was so sophisticated that it was filled with many students of Kyoto University and Butokukai.

http://www.kusu.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~judo/history-e.htm



Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
You're probably thinking of the Budo Senmon Gakko, also called Busen, which was in Kyoto. Rod Omoto trained there before the Pacific War.

Mekugi
7th September 2004, 13:41
大日本柦徳会柦?専門埦柡碑
?????ん??????????んもん?????


大日本柦徳会?,桓柦天皇(737~806)?平安京柦徳殿?柦技を奨励????? 囟ん?,明治28(1895)年平安神宮創訟を機?訟立?れ?。明治38年,??地? 柦術教員養?所?開訟?れ,??柦?専門埦柡????。星和21(1946)年敗 ?伴?閉鎖?れ?。??石標????跡を示?も???る。


DAINIPPON BUTOKUKAI BUDO SEMMON GAKKOU HI
The Stele of Dai Nippon Butokukai / Budo Semmon Gakko

At the same time that the Heian Jingu was established in Meiji year 28 (1895), the Dai Nippon Butokukai was established at the prompting of Emperor Kammu (737-806) who promoted Bugi (martial techniques) at the Heian kyo Butokuden. In Meiji year 38(1905), "Budo Kyoin Youseijo (Budo Instructors' school)" was established at the Butokukai grounds, which later evolved into "Budo Semmon gakko." This school was closed in Showa year 21 (1946) after Japan lost WWII.A stele was then created indicating the existence of the school and it's location.

From: The Kyoto City Museum website at the location:
http://www.city.kyoto.jp/somu/rekishi/ishibumi/html/sa056.html

Michael Wert
7th September 2004, 22:53
This is an interesting topic

Ok, during my teaching at UC Irvine this summer ("Violence in East Asia: 12th-19th Centuries") I discovered one thing: that in early modern China there are just as many, if not more, styles/organiztions/groups/individuals practicing and selling their martial arts skills than in Tokugawa Japan. In addition to Naquin and Esherick who've written on the subject some time ago, there's Violence in China by SUNY press, Disorder Under Heaven: Collective Violence in Ming China, Bandits, Eunuchs and the Son of Heaven , Like Froth Floating on the Sea (about piracy in Qing China but has much on fighting and violence), Brotherhoods and Secret Societies in early and mid-Qing China , plus other books on the boxers, the white lotus, the red spears, etc. These all talk about the number of martial artists as mercenaries, bandits, pirates, local toughs, protesters etc wandering about in Ming and Qing China. Sure these people are creating and changing their arts along the way, and adding legends to support their agendas, but they're using martial arts. And these arts weren't created in a vaccum, there were antecedents. Policing Shanghai has a good bit on the Chinese trying to create a national martial art in the Republican era. And an article in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies "Ming Period Evidence of Shaolin Martial Practice" (v61#2 2001) by Meir Shahar (who is also writing a book (a scholarly work) on the Shaolin temple) is an interesting read.

As for Japanese koryu, we really need to understand the agenda behind koryu styles claiming to be old/legitimate (and the difference between those claims made by Westerns and Japanese), be aware of the drawbacks on reading (believing) texts, and problems with accepting what budo teachers have to say about history (a kendo teacher does not a social-political historian make...).

What purpose did it serve in early modern society to say one practiced budo? Do you think it was all about getting ready for the next battle? Were there hordes of warriors fighting on the battle field using their shinto/shinkage etc ryu skills? Or do we hear more about individuals and their exploits?

That's not to say fighting didn't happen in Tokugawa Japan. The number of commoners practicing martial arts was on the rise in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. People not only imitated their social betters and created social networks through martial arts practice, but also dealt with the increasing number of trouble makers wandering throughout the countryside with martial art skills. Not much in English on this yet (at the village level) but in Japanese there's
Fuse, Kenji Bakumatsuki Kawagoehan ni okeru Kenjutsu Ryuha Kaikaku in Nihon Rekishi #640 Sept. Or something for the popular audience would be Takahashi's Kunisada no jidai: yomi, kaki, to kenjutsu. Even with peasant uprsings in Tokugawa Japan you have to remember that humans were rarely the targets of peasant action, and only ringleaders were punished--after officials waited for the violence to subside (and when they did make a move they paid burakumin and other commoners to do the arresting/fighting). The scale and variety of groups involved in fighting in Qing China is much greater.

Just some thoughts

Mekugi
7th September 2004, 23:24
Then why did the peasantry arm themselves with bamboo spears?

Originally posted by Michael Wert
Even with peasant uprsings in Tokugawa Japan you have to remember that humans were rarely the targets of peasant action, and only ringleaders were punished--after officials waited for the violence to subside (and when they did make a move they paid burakumin and other commoners to do the arresting/fighting). The scale and variety of groups involved in fighting in Qing China is much greater.

Just some thoughts

Ummm...

The beheading of 37,000 peasant/rebels at the end of the Shimabara Rebellion in 1638 doesn't sound like punishing ringleaders to me.

Furthermore, those "non-human-targeting" peasants managed to slaughter the Hirataka army on Akasuka, with some 2,000+ bushi being killed out of an army of 3,000+ (memory here, grain of salt.)
That's only to be topped by another 12,000 Hizen bushi being killed throughout the campaign. To me this this sounds as though those pesky peasants were after blood and not last years rice stock.

Of course those casulaty numbers are nowhere near British Regulars gunning down people who thought themselves bullet-proof by the droves but they do regard merit.

Edo..peaceful....yeah, right.

Michael Wert
7th September 2004, 23:44
I'm talking late 18th early 19th, not moments after Tokugawa was established.

Michael Wert
8th September 2004, 00:06
AND I would agree that the Tokugawa Period is not as peaceful as people think it is. But the hundreds of uprisings that happen even in the last ten years of the bakufu aren't killing people. They're smashing and destroying (uchikowashi) but there's no fighting per se.

Armed with bamboo spears yes, fighting with them is another issue.

Mekugi
8th September 2004, 02:25
Well, if you wanted compare China with Japanese casualties as a guide here, then you will most definately have to leave out the Chinese tendency of democide and genocide and focus on war, dontcha think?
;)


Originally posted by Michael Wert
I'm talking late 18th early 19th, not moments after Tokugawa was established.

Joseph Svinth
8th September 2004, 02:27
Regarding Shaolin-ssu, see also
http://www.aasianst.org/absts/1999abst/china/c-177.htm :

QUOTE

Did Shaolin Monks Imitate Lu Da? Buddhist Staff-Fighting Methods in Fiction and Practice During the Late Imperial Period

Meir Shahar, Tel Aviv University

The origins of the Shaolin Buddhist martial arts need to be investigated. When, and why, did monks at this renowned Buddhist center start practicing martial arts? This paper will address this question from the perspective of the relation between the Buddhist fighting methods as performed in practice, and as depicted in works of fiction and drama, during the late imperial period.

The earliest surviving detailed accounts of the Shaolin martial arts date from the late sixteenth century. These accounts reveal that the martial arts developed at this monastery were methods for fighting with a staff (gun or zhang). A rich body of popular lore, which predates these sixteenth-century accounts, depicts monks who, likewise, rely upon the Buddhist staff for fighting. The most notable examples are those of Lu Da, the clerical protagonist of the early Ming novel, Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan), and its oral and dramatic antecedents, and Huiming, the fighting monk of Wang Shifus (ca. 12501300) play, The Story of the Western Wing (Xixiang ji). Should these fictional and dramatic accounts be taken as evidence that Buddhist staff-fighting methods existed earlier than the late Ming, at which time they first figured in the available historical documents? Or, could it be the case that the staff-wielding clerics in fiction and drama inspired real monks to imitate them and to develop the Buddhist staff-fighting arts? This paper will address these complex relations between fiction and practice in the evolution of the Chinese Buddhist martial arts.

END QUOTE

Personally, I'd suggest taking a look at Ta Er records, too, as the monastery there *has* the mirrors and swords, which isn't too surprising since the abbot was usually related to the Golden Horde's Great Khan.

charlesl
8th September 2004, 17:27
Russ, I've gotta ask, what's "democide?"

Shin Buke
8th September 2004, 21:30
Democide: "The murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder."

From http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/rummel/dbg.chap2.htm

Also at the same site and extended defenition: "Any murder by government--by officials acting under the authority of government. That is, they act according to explicit or implicit government policy or with the implicit or explicit approval of the highest officials."

From http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/rummel/genocide.htm for reference.

In simplified terms, death by government.

Just thought I'd add that ya'll are providing some fantastic information and sources of information for further study. My thanks to you.

Nanban Bushi
20th September 2004, 04:08
An extremely interesting thread...

Nanban Bushi
20th September 2004, 04:25
Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
Regarding Shaolin-ssu, see also
http://www.aasianst.org/absts/1999abst/china/c-177.htm :

QUOTE

Did Shaolin Monks Imitate Lu Da? Buddhist Staff-Fighting Methods in Fiction and Practice During the Late Imperial Period

Meir Shahar, Tel Aviv University

The origins of the Shaolin Buddhist martial arts need to be investigated. When, and why, did monks at this renowned Buddhist center start practicing martial arts? This paper will address this question from the perspective of the relation between the Buddhist fighting methods as performed in practice, and as depicted in works of fiction and drama, during the late imperial period.

The earliest surviving detailed accounts of the Shaolin martial arts date from the late sixteenth century. These accounts reveal that the martial arts developed at this monastery were methods for fighting with a staff (gun or zhang). A rich body of popular lore, which predates these sixteenth-century accounts, depicts monks who, likewise, rely upon the Buddhist staff for fighting. The most notable examples are those of Lu Da, the clerical protagonist of the early Ming novel, Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan), and its oral and dramatic antecedents, and Huiming, the fighting monk of Wang Shifus (ca. 12501300) play, The Story of the Western Wing (Xixiang ji). Should these fictional and dramatic accounts be taken as evidence that Buddhist staff-fighting methods existed earlier than the late Ming, at which time they first figured in the available historical documents? Or, could it be the case that the staff-wielding clerics in fiction and drama inspired real monks to imitate them and to develop the Buddhist staff-fighting arts? This paper will address these complex relations between fiction and practice in the evolution of the Chinese Buddhist martial arts.

END QUOTE

Personally, I'd suggest taking a look at Ta Er records, too, as the monastery there *has* the mirrors and swords, which isn't too surprising since the abbot was usually related to the Golden Horde's Great Khan.

Joseph,

What's your opinion of claims about shuai jiao being the "oldest kung-fu style"? With all the revived interest in grappling arts via BJJ, one now often sees articles on Chinese wrestling in mainstream MA mags, but Robert W. Smith commented in both Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts and Martial Musings that, to him, it simply appeared to be similar to judo, but with the all-too-noticable omission of groundwork.

Also, where do Chinese military arts fit into this discussion? I always found it interesting that the noted Ming commander, General Qi Jiguang, was responsible for (re?)introducing the use of long, two-handed sabers, which was supposedly a reaction to piratical raids by the wako, who used similar weapons. General Qi supposedly even incorporated Japanese sword techniques into his Ji Xiao Xin Shu. An interesting article on this appears here:

http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/article/2hand/ming.html

What's your opinion on this?

Thanks,

David

cxt
20th September 2004, 20:04
Nanban

For what its worth I also have read in numerous other articles that Shuai Jiao is the titular "oldest extent" empty hand fighting art.

The name at least is exceptionally old.

The problem I see is that there is simply no way to establish if the art currently practiced and "called" shuai jiao is the same art mentioned in all those old stories.

Does not seem to be all that much info on its training practices that goes back all that far.

At least not as far as the claims.

Then again it might be pretty much the same art as was practiced 1000 years ago.

I would love to get some more in-depth information on this.

Additionally I think it might be a mistake to label it as a "grappling" art.

Clear that grappling plays a fundamental role in the art--but it seems that striking is an important component as well.

So it may be a question of what aspects of the art are/were focused upon rather than a hard and fast rule.

Chris Thomas

Joseph Svinth
21st September 2004, 01:38
David --

The oldest reasonably reliable documentation is mid-16th century, and General Qi is in the middle of it.

Wrestling and fencing are of course far older than that, but proving (rather than speculating, or claiming) who begat whom is trickier, especially inasmuch as lots of the "history" was subsequently fiddled by teachers who didn't know any better, nationalists and businessmen with agendas, and the assorted self-inflating balloons.

For more on General Qi, see Ray Huang's "1587: A Year of No Significance."

Nanban Bushi
21st September 2004, 02:18
Chris,


Originally posted by cxt
Nanban

For what its worth I also have read in numerous other articles that Shuai Jiao is the titular "oldest extent" empty hand fighting art.

The name at least is exceptionally old.

For shuai jiao exponents to claim that their art is the "oldest extant empty hand fighting art" is probably a bit of a stretch, but it wouldn't surprise me if some wrestling form was at least the oldest type of kung-fu, if only because it is thought by many that wrestling in general is the oldest form of unarmed fighting. Animals wrestle. Virtually every culture has some form of wrestling. The tomb paintings at Beni Hassan in Egypt date from 2000 B.C./B.C.E., and they contain many techniques that are recognizable to any modern-day grappler. In an interview conducted by Mark V. Wiley for his book Martial Arts Talk, Bill Wallace claimed that "The very first martial art was grappling". And, Robert W. Smith suggested that wrestling was older than boxing, in his Western Boxing and World Wrestling book, which was published under his "John F. Gilbey psuedonymn.


The problem I see is that there is simply no way to establish if the art currently practiced and "called" shuai jiao is the same art mentioned in all those old stories.

Does not seem to be all that much info on its training practices that goes back all that far.

At least not as far as the claims.

I totally agree, and that is why I personally feel somewhat skeptical about the "oldest extant empty hand fighting art" claim.


Then again it might be pretty much the same art as was practiced 1000 years ago.

Perhaps.


I would love to get some more in-depth information on this.

You and me both!


Additionally I think it might be a mistake to label it as a "grappling" art.

Clear that grappling plays a fundamental role in the art--but it seems that striking is an important component as well.

So it may be a question of what aspects of the art are/were focused upon rather than a hard and fast rule.

I'm admittedly no Chinese linguist, but AFAIK, shuai jiao literally means "wrestling". The way it is generally practiced today is as an upright form of wrestling--a throwing art--that seems to bear some resemblance to Mongolian wrestling (boke). However, I also understand that there are alternate versions of shuai jiao which do include striking techniques. I'm not entirely clear on the subject, but perhaps it can be compared to, say, sport sambo and military sambo, or judo and jujutsu.

As far as labels go, I don't have a problem with using either "grappling" or "wrestling" to describe any form of shuai jiao. Don't get me wrong--I see your point about such terms being typically related by most people to arts that don't include strikes (ie., the terms may sound misleading or not properly descriptive), but, historically speaking, "wrestling" has been used not only to describe pure grappling arts, but also the "all-in" forms of military combat, that utilize strikes. For example, in the Medieval German context, ringen ("wrestling") can refer to either a predominantly sport form of grappling, as shown in Fabian von Auerswald's 1539 treatise, or it can refer to a NHB adjunct to knightly battlefield combat, as shown in Hans Talhoffer's fechtbuch of 1467.

Peace,

David

Nanban Bushi
21st September 2004, 02:23
Joseph,


Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
David --

The oldest reasonably reliable documentation is mid-16th century, and General Qi is in the middle of it.

Wrestling and fencing are of course far older than that, but proving (rather than speculating, or claiming) who begat whom is trickier, especially inasmuch as lots of the "history" was subsequently fiddled by teachers who didn't know any better, nationalists and businessmen with agendas, and the assorted self-inflating balloons.

I understand.


For more on General Qi, see Ray Huang's "1587: A Year of No Significance."

Thanks, I'll check it out.

BTW, your "Kronos" material is really fascinating stuff! :)

Peace,

David

cxt
21st September 2004, 19:10
Nanban

The reason that I asked about the strikeing aspects was I seem to recall (from Smiths book I think) a story in which the the Shuai Jiao guy (ok his name escapes me at the right now) won a national match by what I seem to recall as "clouting him with his elbow."

I also seem to recall the same guy-different article (Black belt mag-early 80's) as seeking out a number of teachers and gathering their "special" techniques.

One guy that taught a special form of wrapping and sweeping--more of a what I would call a strike than a simple sweep.

The other reason is that if the art is anywhere as old as claimed then it would be more possible that it was more well rounded than just simple grappling.

I would conclude that the farther back you go, the less "sport" an art becomes--thinking of english boxing here, at one time it was pretty well-rounded with stikes and grappling and even weapons work.

In addition I have seen mention in other books about shuai jiao and the same generic stikes as other forms of CMA.

Bottom line, I really don't know much at all about the art, what I do know is no-where near first hand.

Would like to learn more--maybe there is someone here that might be better informed??

Chris Thomas

Nanban Bushi
22nd September 2004, 17:58
Chris,


Originally posted by cxt
Nanban

The reason that I asked about the strikeing aspects was I seem to recall (from Smiths book I think) a story in which the the Shuai Jiao guy (ok his name escapes me at the right now) won a national match by what I seem to recall as "clouting him with his elbow."

I suspect you're thinking of the great Shang Dongsheng.


I also seem to recall the same guy-different article (Black belt mag-early 80's) as seeking out a number of teachers and gathering their "special" techniques.

Well, in Martial Musings, Smith mentioned that Shang Dongsheng "added Shaolin strikes and kicks" to the wrestling.


One guy that taught a special form of wrapping and sweeping--more of a what I would call a strike than a simple sweep.

Sometimes the line between "grappling" and "striking" can be fine one. Is Greco-Roman wrestling's back suplex a throw, a strike, or both? Ask the guy who just got dumped on his head...


The other reason is that if the art is anywhere as old as claimed then it would be more possible that it was more well rounded than just simple grappling.

It depends upon what the art was used for at any given period.


I would conclude that the farther back you go, the less "sport" an art becomes--thinking of english boxing here, at one time it was pretty well-rounded with stikes and grappling and even weapons work.

The less "sport" in the modern sense, perhaps, but the fact remains that pugilism was still seen as a "sport" at that time (then again, so was dogfighting and bullbaiting). I think folks in general were tougher back then, and their ideas about what was and what was not acceptable in "sport" competition differed considerably from what one finds today. We can't judge 18th century people by 20th-21st century standards.


In addition I have seen mention in other books about shuai jiao and the same generic stikes as other forms of CMA.

Like I said, I have also heard of various references to strikes used in shuai jiao, aside from Smith's comment above. However, Smith himself didn't seem particularly impressed with shuai jiao--he wrote:

"I went against all his [Sheng Dongsheng's] best wrestlers and prevailed even using their rules. No groundwork, chokes, or locks were allowed. And came to view that judo, the offspring, had evolved better than Chinese wrestling and was superior to it in every way."

In regards to my mentioning of the resemblance between shuai jiao and Mongolian wrestling, Smith points out that there are apparently 4 major styles of shuai jiao--"Baoding" (Sheng Dongsheng's style), "Beijing", "Tianjin", and "Mongolian".


Bottom line, I really don't know much at all about the art, what I do know is no-where near first hand.

I can make the exact same declaration. :)


Would like to learn more--maybe there is someone here that might be better informed??

I am curious as well.

Peace,

David