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Kung Fu Tea

Martial Arts History, Wing Chun and Chinese Martial Studies.

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Through a Lens Darkly (7): Selling Swords and Printed Martial Arts Training Manuals in a 19th century Guangzhou Market.

  ***Recently I was having a discussion about the state of Kung Fu in China with a friend.  (You can see his detailed post on the topic here).  He was lamenting the general decline of interest in the arts and... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (13): The Dadao and the Militarization of the Chinese Martial Arts

  ***One of the questions that I have been attempting to tackle in my more recent writing is the degree to which we should be thinking about the "traditional" Chinese martial arts as a quintessentially modern activity.  From the perspective... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (21): Chinese Archery’s Troubled Republic Era Revival.

Introduction Given the current growth of interest in all types of archery, it is not hard to understand the explosion of interest in Late Imperial Chinese bows and techniques.  During both the Ming and Qing periods China was renowned for... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (17): “Selling the Art”: Martial Artists in the Marketplace, 1900-1930

  Introduction: Informants and the Problem of Reliability   The study of the traditional martial arts has tended to rely rather heavily on interviews with “participant informants.”  Cultivating relationships with informants and learning about their worldview consumes much of a... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (16): Capturing the Chinese Martial Arts Before the Camera, 1750-1850.

Introduction One of the most important, though often overlooked, events of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was the creation and growth of the "Canton Trade System."  This highly regulated trade, carried out between Chinese and European merchants in... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (15): How Fr. Michel de Maynard Captured Chinese Martial Culture in a Moment of Transition (1906-1912).

Introduction The old adage states that a picture is worth a thousand words.  After having reviewed hundreds of potential images for this series of posts, and writing over a dozen entries, I can now state with some certainty that this... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (13): The Dadao and the Militarization of the Chinese Martial Arts

Introduction It is dangerous to make sweeping statements about the development of the traditional Chinese martial arts during the early 20th century.  This was an important period for the hand combat community.  Between 1900 and 1949 the complex of behaviors... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (11): Japanese Martial Artists in China.

Introduction: Addressing a Difficult Subject No topic is more difficult to approach than the varied roles that traditional Asian fighting systems have played in defining and strengthening nationalism during the 20th century.  Governments in Japan, China and later Korea all... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (10): “They have a cannon?” Chinese Martial Arts Schools as Local Militia Units, 1896-1940.

Introduction I recently came across a very interesting photograph.  It was taken by the important (if under-appreciated) combat photographer Sha Fei sometime between 1938 and 1940.  At that point in time he was documenting the progress of the 8th Route... Continue Reading →

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