Greetings. After a brief layover in New York I am now back in the air and headed for my second conference of the summer (this one focused on Chinese history, report to follow). As such, I thought I would share something special, an article I co-authored with two friends and colleagues, Prof. Swen Koerner and Prof. Mario Staller. In it we take the theoretical arguments on the globalization of Wing Chun, laid out in the Epilogue of my volume with Jon Nielson, and apply them specifically to the German case. Of course this art proved to be especially popular in Germany raising questions as to when and how some martial arts thrive as they enter global markets. Published in Martial Arts Studies this article is free to read or download by anyone with an internet connection. Enjoy!
Ip Man’s immigration to Hong Kong in 1949, followed by Bruce Lee’s sudden fame as a martial arts superstar after 1971, ensured that wing chun kung fu, a previously obscure hand combat style from Guangdong Province, would become one of the most globally popular Chinese martial arts. Yet this success has not been evenly distributed. Despite its cultural and geographic distance from Hong Kong, Germany now boasts a number of wing chun practitioners that is second only to China. The following article draws on the prior work of Judkins and Nielson , as well as on systems theory, to understand possible reasons for why this is the case. Drawing on both local historical sources and various theoretical approaches, we outline which constellations, structures, and semantic strategies proved decisive.