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The Value of a Comparative Case: Jean-Marc de Grave discusses “The Training of Perception in Javanese Martial Arts.”

Introduction: A drift on the sea of knowledge. Let me ask you a question.  Do you ever feel like you have too much to read, study or research?  Are you familiar with that creeping feeling that you will never, ever, get through “all of this stuff”?  Perhaps it would be better to narrow your focus, … Continue reading

Tools of the Trade: The Use of Firearms and Traditional Weapons among the Tongs of San Francisco, 1877-1878.

  Introduction: The Evolving Relationship between Firearms and the Martial Arts. In a number of previous posts we have examined the complex, often hidden, relationship between the development of the modern Chinese martial arts and firearms.  It is frequently stated that the traditional schools of hand combat represent an ancient body of military knowledge, meant … Continue reading

Aaron Cantrell, owner of Everything Wing Chun, talks to Kung Fu Tea about the Future of the art.

Introduction When discussing the Chinese martial arts, there is a tendency to focus obsessively on their distant roots and ancient origins.  One of the things that I have always found interesting about Wing Chun is that its more recent history is equally fascinating.  In 1900 only a handful of individuals practiced the style, today it … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (9): Swords, Knives and other Traditional Weapons Encountered by the Shanghai Police Department, 1925.

  Introduction: Practical Martial Arts in the Age of the Gun As I have mentioned elsewhere, when thinking about the traditional Chinese martial arts we have a tendency to assume that these systems were created in an era without firearms.  With the coming of the almighty gun they either became obsolete or were preserved for … Continue reading

David Palmer on writing better martial arts history and understanding the sources of “Qi Cultivation” in modern Chinese popular culture.

  Catching Qigong Fever. I have read my fair share of books on religion in late imperial and modern China.  Unfortunately I had been neglecting a classic.  In 2007 David Palmer released a volume titled Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China through the well-respected Columbia University Press.  I am not sure why it … Continue reading

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: March 11th, 2013: Bruce Lee, the Legacy of Film and Child Abuse in China’s Wushu Boarding Schools.

Introduction: Chinese Martial Arts in the News. Welcome!  In this semi-regular feature I present a roundup of some of the most interesting news stories to emerge over the last four weeks.  Each of these stories either focuses on the Chinese martial arts or other issues that effects them.  If you know about a breaking or … Continue reading

Bruce Lee, Globalization and the Case of Wing Chun: Why do Some Chinese Martial Arts Grow?

Introduction: Wing Chun and the Haters You do not have to be involved with the Chinese martial arts for very long to discover that Wing Chun has the potential to be a highly polarizing topic of conversation.  Those within in the Wing Chun community have an almost evangelical zeal for their art and are generally … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (8): Butterfly Swords, Dadaos and the Local Militias of Guangdong, 1840 vs. 1940.

Introduction:  The Butterfly Swords and Southern Martial Arts Defend the Nation I recently ran across two photographs that I think students of the southern Chinese martial arts may find very enlightening.  They speak to interesting tactical and cultural questions.  On the one hand they provide a record of how individuals fought and the specific weapons … Continue reading

What Can the Opera Rebellion Teach us about the Social Toleration of Violence (and the Martial Arts) in Late Imperial China?

The Logic of Violence and its Relationship with the State My academic background and doctorate is in political science where I specialize in a sub-field called “international political economy.”  That is where I have focused most of my teaching and writing over the years.  I have never really been an “area studies” person.  I actually … Continue reading

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