Traditional Chinese Martial Arts and the “YMCA Consensus”

      ***I am very excited to introduce the following guest post by my friend Scott Phillips.  In this essay Scott draws on his extensive study of modern Chinese religious and social history in an attempt to develop a powerful new concept for describing and theorizing the massive reforms of the Chinese martial arts…

Shaolin Kung Fu and the Paradox of Intangible Cultural Heritage

      Su Xiaoyan. 2016. “Reconstruction of Tradition: Modernity, Tourism and Shaolin Martial Arts in the Shaolin Scenic Area, China.” The International Journal of the History of Sport. Vol. 33 No. 9, 934-950.     Introduction   Both state and local governments across Asia are rushing to designate various practices as examples of “Intangible…

Taoism in Bits

“Taoism in Bits.” A guest post by Paul Bowman [1] ***Xīnnián hǎo.  We are fortunate to have a special guest post this week in honor of the Chinese New Year.  This essay, by Prof. Paul Bowman, will help us to think more systematically about the process by which elements of Chinese culture (specifically Daoism and…

Through a Lens Darkly (41): Three Views of a Young Boxer

      Meeting the Boxer   I recently had the good fortune to meet one of my favorite Chinese Boxers.  I had been stalking him for years. This early 20th century postcard was probably purchased in Beijing and then mailed to Tianjin on February 5th, 1909.  The card itself was published by J.H. Schaefer’s…

Spirituality in the Traditional Martial Arts – Between History and Theory

  “There is a problem with the study of martial arts similar to that identified by Markus Davidson in the case of “spiritual studies”: many of the scholars involved in the topic are themselves practitioners and their work betrays a normative apologetic agenda…As practitioners themselves these scholars have tended to underplay certain historical factors in…

Martial Values, Social Transformation and the Tu Village Dragon Dance

  Introduction The Spring Festival (or “Chinese New Year”) is now upon us. The most important holiday of the Chinese social calendar, this time of year is also significant for students of martial arts studies. It is a busy time for Lion, Qilin and Dragon Dance associations, as well as the martial arts schools and…

Research Notes: Spirit Possession in the Southern Chinese Martial Arts

    Introduction Spirit possession is a fascinating but rarely discussed aspect of the traditional Chinese martial arts.  Reformers in the field of physical culture spent much of the 20th century attempting to erase the national embarrassment of the Boxer Uprising in which young martial artists who practiced a type of “spirit boxing” were seen…