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Biography

This category contains 45 posts

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (20): General Li Jinglin, the “Sword Saint” of Wudang

    Who was China’s “Number One Sword?”   Few individuals come to be known as both a warlord and a “sword saint.”  Even by the standards of China’s tumultuous 1920s, the carving out of two such notable public personas was an impressive achievement.  Yet General Li Jinglin managed to leave his stamp on both … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (19): Cheng Zongyou, Shaolin’s Martial Missionary

    Introduction   Few individuals have influenced our understanding of the martial arts during the late Ming dynasty more than Cheng Zongyou.  His manuals provide historians a glimpse into a world of martial arts practice that is at the same time familiar and strange.  His works describe an environment that is characterized by a … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (13): Zhao San-duo—19th Century Plum Flower Master and Reluctant Rebel

  The Yellow River Breaches its Course. Water Album by Ma Yuan. Source: Wikimedia.   ***I am happy to report that the book chapter that I have been working is going well and that I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.  Once I have time to get back to regular … Continue reading

Recovering Alfred Lister: The Noble Art of Self-Defense in China (Part II)

Introduction This is the second half of our two part series on the life and writings of Alfred Lister.  A civil servant in Hong Kong during the second half of the 19th century, Lister provided his readers with some of the most detailed English language discussions of the Chinese martial arts to emerge during the … Continue reading

Recovering Alfred Lister: A Forgotten Observer of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts (Part I)

    ***While never discussed within the Chinese martial studies literature, Alfred Lister may have been the single most important western observer of the Chinese martial arts in the second half of the 19th century.  Over a period of four years he produced four different statements (two relatively brief, and two much more detailed) that … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (18): Xiang Kairan – Imagining the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

  “When the Nanjing Martial Arts Institute was opened, I was in Hankou [in eastern Hubei], where I noticed in a newspaper that they were dividing their curriculum into two schools – Wudang and Shaolin – and appointing specialists for each of them. For “Wudang” to be isolated like this in the promotion of our … Continue reading

From the Archives: Ming Tales of Female Warriors – Searching for the Origins of Yim Wing Chun and Ng Moy.

  ***We are currently in the final push to prepare and release the second issue of the interdisciplinary journal Martial Arts Studies.  This will be a themed issue examining different aspects of the “invention of the martial arts” in a wide variety of settings and time periods.   Paul Bowman and I are very excited about … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (17): Chu Minyi – Physician, Politician and Taijiquan Addict

      Introduction: The Architects of Kung Fu Diplomacy   I recently had the opportunity to examine a very interesting series of magazine articles, produced in 1920, discussing the efforts of the (in)famous General Ma Liang to promote the study of the traditional martial arts throughout both the Chinese military and state.   The most … Continue reading

Doing Research (6): Working the Beat – One Journalist’s Efforts at Perfecting the Fine Art of Hanging Out

  Introduction   Welcome to the sixth entry in our series of guest posts titled “Doing Research.”  If you missed the first essay by D. S. Farrer (which provides a global overview of the subject), the second by Daniel Mroz (how to select a school or teacher for research purposes), the third by  Jared Miracle … Continue reading

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (16): Yu Chenghui – Realizing Swordsmanship in an Era of Restoration

    Introduction: The Shadow of History   None of the short, English language, biographies of the respected martial artist and actor Yu Chenghui (1939-2015) have much to say about his struggles or activities during the Cultural Revolution.  Yet even a brief glimpse at the timeline of his career suggests that these events had a … Continue reading

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