A 1918 Account of Traditional Martial Arts in the Chinese Labor Corps

    Introduction Co-authorship of today’s post is shared with Joseph Svinth, the editor of the EJMAS and multiple other important works on martial arts studies.   He brought the following account and historic photographs to my attention, and we both agreed that they were worth sharing here. It seemed as though the events of WWI…

Martial Mythology (1): Yim Wing Chun and the Hero’s Journey

  Introduction For someone who doesn’t read classical Chinese, I spend a lot of time in seminars listening to presentations on ancient texts.  Cornell regularly invites visiting scholars to discuss their work.  While none of these individuals has ever given a talk on a martial arts related project, they almost always suggest points worth thinking…

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: September 11th, 2017: The Back to School Edition!

  Introduction   Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News!”  This is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we review media stories that mention or affect the traditional fighting arts.  In addition to discussing important events, this column also considers how the Asian hand combat systems are portrayed in the mainstream media. While…

Do Martial Arts Create Just Societies?

For ten years I have been polishing this sword; Its frosty edge has never been put to the test. Now I am holding it and showing it to you, sir: Is there anyone suffering from injustice? -“The Swordsman” by Jia Dao (Tang dynasty).  Trans. Liu, 1967.   “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt…

Research Notes: The Big Knife and Ma Liang’s Attempted Comeback

  Given that it is a holiday weekend, I will be keeping this research note brief.  Still, the subject matter is quite interesting.  China’s Republic era dadao, or big knives, generate a good deal of interest among both historians and practical martial artists.  They also played a role in the development of General Ma Liang’s…

State, Education and Ma Liang’s New Wushu

  The Nation and the Sword Seki Juroji may be one of the most important pioneers of the traditional Asian martial arts who no one has ever heard of.  Gainty (2013) notes that Seki was a successful farmer and swordsmanship instructor from Nagano.  Like many other individuals from his generation, Seki seemed to have been…

Chinese “Martial Arts” and the Problem of Presentism

  Introduction   I would like to begin today’s post by noting that Joseph Svinth (whom most of you will already know from his many contributions to Martial Arts Studies) really deserves to be listed as a co-author on this piece. Joe was kind enough to bring Thomas Handforth’s many prints to my attention and…

How Jiu-Jitsu Became a Traditional German Martial Art

    Introduction One of my on-going projects is a co-authored study of Wing Chun’s history (and social meaning) within the German martial arts community.  I will admit that in the crush of competing papers and presentations this topic, while fascinating, has slipped to the back burner.  Still, I believe that it is a critical…