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An Account of Regional Folk Opera and Martial Performances in Southern China during the 1850s.

Introduction This is the third entry in my short series on the local opera traditions of southern China, particularly as they relate to the development of modern martial culture.  The first essay addressed the persistent (but poorly understood) relationship between local opera troops and radical politics in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong province.  … Continue reading

Chinese Martial Arts in the News, November 25th, 2013: New Books, Martial Arts in the Public Sphere and Snubbing a “Grandmaster.”

Introduction “Chinese Martial Arts in the News” is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea.  In these posts I attempt to round-up and briefly discuss the major stories affecting the Chinese hand combat systems.  I always pay special attention to what is being said about the martial arts in the main stream media and … Continue reading

Do the Chinese Martial Arts have One “Martial Culture” or Many?

The impact of the Boxer Uprising was truly global.  The political context for the uprising was significantly influenced by national trends.  But in the end, the Boxers were really a regional movement.  With the exception of a few officially inspired Boxer “militia” in such places as Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, and the Northeastern provinces of Manchuria … Continue reading

Essential Kung Fu Cinema (2): The Shaolin Temple

***I am very happy to welcome Rob Argent back to Kung Fu Tea.  This is the second post in his ongoing series introducing some of the essential Kung Fu films which have helped to define the genera.  In his previous post he discussed a film that helped to launch Bruce Lee onto the global stage. … Continue reading

Understanding the Red Boats of the Cantonese Opera: Economics, Social Structure and Violence 1850-1950.

Introduction No subject has been more romanticized among students of Guangdong’s martial arts (and Wing Chun practitioners in particular) than the “Red Boat” companies of the Cantonese regional opera tradition.  Late 19th and early 20th century martial arts folklore claimed that remnants of the Southern Shaolin Temple (including the Abbot Jee Shin) found refuge among … Continue reading

Through a Lens Darkly (18): Chinese Martial Arts and Early 20th Century Cigarette Cards: Building the Global Image of Kung Fu.

Introduction: Why do we study ephemera? In many respects the study of the history of the traditional martial arts is the study of Chinese popular culture.  Sometimes we approach the subject from the perspective of political or military history, and that may be fruitful when addressing specific questions.  Yet the traditional hand combat systems (as … Continue reading

Tung Ying-chieh and the Public Perception of the Chinese Martial Arts in Post-War Hong Kong.

Introduction The first half of the 20th century was a time of rapid transformation for the traditional Chinese martial arts.  Early in the era these fighting systems tended to be associated with practical pursuits such as military or militia training, the armed-escort trade or working as a public performer.  During the 1920s and 30s various … Continue reading

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: November 4th, 2013: New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai

Introduction “Chinese Martial Arts in the News” is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea.  In these posts I attempt to round-up and briefly discuss the major stories affecting the world of the traditional Chinese fighting systems.  I always pay special attention to what is being said about the martial arts in the main … Continue reading

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