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Did Ip Man Invent the Story of Yim Wing Chun?

Many of the debates in the Wing Chun world today focus on the question of lineage.  People want to know which expression of Wing Chun best captures its essential essence?  Which is truly “authentic”?  Often it is assumed that authenticity must be expressed in terms of history.  Some individuals then conclude that the branch of … Continue reading

What can Morihei Ueshiba teach us about researching Chinese martial culture?

I have a long standing interest in the biographies of martial artists and am constantly amazed to see the different ways in which these practices are manifest in an individual’s life.  It is also the case that their stories are rarely dull, especially when reading about Chinese or Japanese masters of the early 20th century.  … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (2): Images of the Boxer Uprising

One of my projects for the next couple of weeks is to revise a conference paper I wrote a few years ago and submit it to a journal.  I have been meaning to get to this one for a while but book manuscript stuff keeps taking priority.  Outside of Chinese martial studies I am interested … Continue reading

Traditional Training Equipment in the Chinese Martial Arts (Part II): Attack of the Wooden Dummies!

One of the most iconic images in the annals of Kung Fu training is that of the lone student, lost in the zen-like practice of his wooden dummy routine.  Dummies of various sorts and sizes have a long history in Chinese boxing.  Kang, in his timeline of the development of the Chinese martial arts, notes … Continue reading

Traditional Training Equipment in the Chinese Martial Arts (Part I): Legacy of the Long Pole.

Defining Your Space In addition to researching the martial arts, I also practice Wing Chun (Ip Man/Ip Ching lineage for those who are interested).  I recently started to teach a couple of people and things have been going well enough that I purchased a few pieces of training equipment to make it a bit easier.  … Continue reading

Chinese Martial Arts in the News, August 20, 2012: The Steampunk Edition

  It is time for another quick roundup of news articles dealing with the Chinese martial arts, and martial studies more generally.  This week there a clear theme emerged as I was looking at the news, steampunk!  I know right, two great tastes that taste great together.  For those of you who may be out … Continue reading

How “Common Sense” Warps our Perceptions of Wing Chun and its Origins.

We have an issue in the field of Chinese martial studies, and it tends to be more concentrated in the historical arguments.  Our problem is “common sense.”  It seems that in our discussions what “everyone says” quickly becomes “what no one ever critically examines.” I think this must be at least partially a function of … Continue reading

Reevaluating Jingwu: Would Bruce Lee have existed without it?

Jingwu (sometimes romanized as Chinwoo) is one of the greatest movements to emerge in the modern (post-1850) history of the traditional Chinese martial arts.  Casual observers will likely be aware of at least the broad outlines of the organization’s foundation myth centering around the death (1910) of the talented, if somewhat enigmatic, Huo Yuanjia.  Promoters … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly: Images of China’s Martial Culture (1)

This is the first entry in what I hope will be a periodic series where we examine and discuss period ephemera (1850-1970) relating to Chinese martial studies.  Ephemera is very interesting to me as it is closely tied to questions of class, identity and popular culture.  It’s a valuable source of evidence as to what … Continue reading

Wing Chun and the Problem of Origins: Why does it have to come from anywhere?

The 1850s were a bad time to live in Guangdong.  As a matter of fact, it would have been better for one to avoid the entire second half of the 19th century if one could arrange it.  Multiple rounds of the conflict with the UK, the Red Turban Revolt, the lingering effect of the Taiping … Continue reading

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