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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

The Castles of our Youth

This weekend my wife and I attended the renaissance fair in Sterling NY.  It’s a pretty large and impressive event as these things go.  I visited it a couple of times when younger but, having been away from NY for decades, I had not seen the fair in years.  I quite enjoy renaissance fairs.  The…