Welcome to our fourth annual discussion of the top webpages in Chinese martial studies. The purpose of this series is to acknowledge some of the individuals who have made great contributions to our understanding of the traditional martial arts in the last year. We also hope that visitors who are not familiar with these authors will be inspired to go out and discover some of these resources for themselves. Anyone interested in going back and reviewing our previous selection for 2013 or 2014 should click here.
After considering the questions we are ready to announce Kung Fu Tea’s selection’s for “Top Chinese Martial Arts Webpage of 2015.” To be eligible a webpage must have posted regularly in the last year and to have shown excellence in the study and understanding of some aspect of Chinese martial culture. It is also expected to have made a substantial original contribution in its research, journalism, analysis, art or creative writing. Finally, the webpage must be searchable and available on the open internet.
Beyond that everything can (and does) get quite subjective. “Chinese martial culture” is a huge research area with lots of different branches. Better still, there are a great many individuals devoting their time and resources to researching and spreading this information. The pace and quality of this work has grown markedly in the last year. Collectively our community turned out some great work in 2015. Narrowing the field down to a single “winner” was a challenge. There were a number of strong contenders that I looked at, each advancing their own understanding of the arts and unique style of writing.
The winner was the webpage that best responded to both the challenges and opportunities that 2015 presented. Specifically, how can we bring practitioners, students of Chinese popular culture and historians together into a single conversation that advance our understanding of the development and the practice of the traditional fighting styles? How can we best preserve the unique fighting systems of southern China? Is it possible to present a meaningful conversation on these topics that cross regional, cultural and linguistic boundaries?
I am very happy to announce that this years winner is the “International Guoshu Association” Facebook group. This community, run by Hing Chao, has become a critical source for updates, information and news on both the various conservation and awareness projects that the group is undertaking, as well as martial arts related events in Hong Kong more generally. Hing Chao himself will be no stranger to regular readers of Kung Fu Tea. He also made our list of Top News Stories of 2015. Readers will remember his recent work documenting Hung Gar traditions, as well as organizing festivals and promoting awareness of the traditional Hakka martial arts. Those with a slightly longer memory will also remember him as the driving force behind the short lived, but very high quality, English language Journal of Chinese Martial Studies. (If you have not read the back issues of this publication I highly suggest checking it out).
Even within this distinguished lineup, the International Guoshu Association Facebook group continues to stand out. Over the last year it has published a fantastic mix of event reviews, vintage photos, community awareness notes and media reports. Its one of the few webpages that I find myself checking daily. The mixture of Chinese and English language posts is great and the “micro-blogging” format of the Facebook group is well suited to the community’s essential mission at this moment in history. If you have yet to check this group out, please consider doing so.
The Runner Up
At this point I would also like to highlight one more webpage that was launched in 2015 which I expect will have a huge impact on future conversations. It is the new interdisciplinary journal Martial Arts Studies. By way of full disclosure, since I am closely involved with this project (as a founding co-editor) I preemptively disqualified it from consideration for this years prize. “Conflict of interest” and all of that.
Still, as an imprint of Cardiff University Press, and with the backing of an impressive editorial advisory committee of respected academic researchers from around the world, this journal will provide a critical outlet for new scholarly research on the martial arts. Better yet, anyone can read this peer reviewed journal for free on its shiny new webpage. The first issue, released earlier this Fall is available here. This new project had a great first year and we are looking forward to big things in future issues.