Martial arts of China

Martial arts of China

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Martial arts, various systems of martial arts and self-defense, predominantly of East Asian origin; developed mainly as a means of hand-to-hand combat. Currently, they are practiced in many countries of the world mainly in the form of sports exercises, with the aim of physical and spiritual improvement.

Despite the fact that the martial arts initially pursued the goal of self-defense, some of them provide for the use of knives. In this case, the weapon is considered an "extension of the hand". There are also martial arts that involve wielding a specific type of weapon, such as a sword.
There are many myths surrounding the martial arts. These myths are so deeply rooted in the mass consciousness that any attempt to refute them is often received with hostility.

Wushu is Chinese gymnastics. There is a saying: "Do not confuse karate with the sport of the same name widespread in our country." The same can be said about wushu. Literally translated, the word "wushu" means "martial arts", this word is a common name for all martial arts in China. However, in the 20th century, the Chinese government decided to create new sports based on wushu. So, in particular, a kind of rhythmic gymnastics appeared, which was officially called "competitions in the performance of wushu complexes". This "wushu gymnastics" began to be taught in schools and officially promoted throughout the country and abroad. That is why the opinion was formed that wushu is supposedly gymnastics. In fact, real wushu has practically nothing in common with sports wushu ("gymnastics wushu"), these are two different phenomena, called by the same word, hence the confusion.

There are two different Chinese martial arts - "wushu" and "kungfu". The term "kung fu" is a distorted European pronunciation of the Chinese word gong fu. The word "gongfu" in China was used to describe any kind of activity in which one can improve. That is, the term "gongfu" can be attributed to martial arts, but it can also be attributed to the art of cooking, and to the work of an artist, and to choral singing. The term "wushu" refers to martial arts. Thus, "wushu" and "kungfu" are just different established names for the same phenomenon.

Highly moral sages were engaged in martial arts. A naively humorous refutation of this myth is a reference to the classic Hong Kong action films-kung fu, where it usually takes two to five positive characters to beat a single "main bastard" to death, and even then they barely succeed. If we speak more seriously, then we need to deal with the question: why did people in ancient times practice martial arts at all? Not for the sake of victories in sports, which simply did not exist. And not for the sake of entertainment or health improvement (such trends began to appear only at the end of the 19th century). People practiced martial arts because it was necessary for survival. Otherwise, no one would just waste time on them - life was hard, there were no social security programs, and it was very, very difficult to earn money for food. Which populations were seriously involved in martial arts? Partly an army, but only partly. When talking about the army, it is imperative to take into account the historical period and the specific place of action. On the one hand, the officers of the Russian General Staff who traveled in northern China in the second half of the 19th century left a lot of sketches of wushu classes in the army, but on the other hand, there are periods in Chinese history when the army, for example, was composed mainly of criminals, in the soldiers were exiled as punishment - naturally, such people were not seriously trained in anything. Without participation in hostilities, the army also "stagnated" and began to decompose - the famous Chinese writer Lao She beautifully portrayed the decay of the elite "eight-banner" army at the end of the Qing dynasty in his unfinished novel Under the Purple Banners. Who was the civilian practicing martial arts? Those whose daily life was associated with a high probability of joining the battle. These are residents of border areas, as well as those who have to travel to places where the risk of attack by bandits is high - professional caravan guards. This also includes bodyguards, as well as the bandits themselves, and those who fought with these bandits. It is hard to believe that "gorillas" - bodyguards, bandits from the high road or professional grunts from the border troops will turn out to be highly moral sages, otherwise where would the contempt that "civilians" have for the "military", which permeates the entire Confucian culture, come from? Indeed, some wushu sayings openly say that people with a high level of martial arts can meet both on one side and on the other side of the barricade, both among loyal citizens of their country and among bandits and assassins. Some styles especially do not hide the fact that among the masters of some generations there were also robbers, who are even included in the official genealogy of the style. So, one of the branches of the praying mantis style derives its genealogy from the bandit. The famous master Liu Dekuan studied combat techniques from a wandering bandit, who left his mark in many famous styles, up to such a popular one as Baguazhang. Therefore, there is no need to try to rewrite history, life has both light and dark sides, and we must strive to adopt the positive even from purely negative characters.

Martial arts were practiced mainly in monasteries and mostly by monks. The monastery always and everywhere (in any country of the world and in any confession) was a place where people retired for the purpose of RELIGIOUS practice. If in any Hollywood or Hong Kong films any monastery is portrayed as a martial arts university, then this is exclusively a figment of the imagination of the filmmakers. In reality, even in the famous Songshan Shaolin Monastery, not everyone practiced martial arts. The Songshan Mountains are a rather remote place where many bandits lived, and the Shaolin Monastery was attacked more than once - so the monastery had to maintain guards, "monastic troops." It was the "warrior monks" from the "monastic troops" who mainly practiced martial arts. Moreover, it should be noted that very often the "monks-warriors" were people who in worldly life before monasticism were engaged in martial arts (for example, members of the defeated anti-government organizations, hiding from the authorities). The history of Shaolin wushu also contains many examples of how the level of monastic martial art rose sharply after the "rush of fresh blood" from the secular styles: this was the case during the Song dynasty, when Jueyuan developed a five-stage training system and his famous "72 techniques", so it was during the dynasty Yuan, when the patriarch Fuju gathered 18 famous secular masters who enriched the monastic technique.

There is a style of martial art that was studied at Songshan Shaolin Monastery. The truth is that Shaolin Wushu is not one style, but a conglomerate of styles. There were always many teachers in the monastery, each of whom taught several students, and each of the teachers taught in his own way and in his own way. As a result, it is impossible to talk about a uniform style. Naturally, over the centuries of living together and parallel teaching, there has been an exchange of technology, a certain standardization, interpenetration of principles, but no one has ever set the task of bringing everything to a single denominator, standardizing teaching. And so now Shaolin wushu practitioners usually specify that they practice such and such a Shaolin style, because it is impossible to practice all Shaolin styles at the same time.

There were two Shaolin monasteries - North and South. The southern one was burned by the Manchus for anti-government activities, and the southern styles of wushu came from the five surviving monks. If there is no doubt about the existence of the Northern Shaolin (Shaolin Monastery on Songshan Mountain in Dengfeng County, Henan Province) - it still exists - then the southern one is not so simple. In the first half of the 20th century, the famous wushu researcher Tang Hao from the Central Goshu Institute in Nanjing devoted a special study to this issue. He went to Fujian province, where, according to legend, the South Shaolin monastery was located, and first of all he discovered that different geographical landmarks (mountains, etc.), next to which, according to legends, the monastery was located, in reality are separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers and in some cases are even located in different provinces. The study of county documents, in which all the temples that have ever stood in these counties were recorded, also did not allow to find at least one temple with a name similar to "Shaolin". But an amazing coincidence of the twists and turns of the legendary history of the temple, the names of the main characters, etc. with the text of the medieval novel "Wan nian qing", which tells about the secret journey to the south of the Manchu emperor and the destruction of the Southern Shaolin monastery. Based on his research, Tang Hao made an unambiguous conclusion: there was no Southern Shaolin monastery, and the whole story is a retelling of an 18th century novel, the content of which, once in the peasant environment, began to be passed from mouth to mouth, and as a result was taken as a story about real events.

There is an ancient objective division of Wushu into "internal" and "external" styles. Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan are "internal", and all the rest are "external". For the first time, the term "neijiaquan" ("fist of the inner family") was mentioned in the "Epitaph on the gravestone of Wang Zhengnan" dated 1699. However, it is not at all about taijiquan, xingyiquan and baguazhang (by the way, baguazhang did not exist then), but about a specific style with the name "neijiaquan", which has now disappeared. For the first time, the generalization of the three mentioned styles under the single term "neijiaquan" arose at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, when the Xingyiquan master Sun Lutan, fraternized with several other Beijing masters, opened a martial arts hall, where they began to teach Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua. This hall was called "The Hall of Inner Family Styles". Initially, masters of four styles gathered there, who decided to combine their knowledge into a single style, but then the master of the northeastern Tongbei Quan Zhang Tse quarreled with Sun Lutang and left this company, and only three styles remained there. Ignorant people began to call the styles taught there "internal". Sun Lutang's books, where he said that the essence of Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan is actually the same (like all other styles) only exacerbated this misunderstanding: people began to say that, allegedly, Sun Lutang argued that these styles ARE INTERNAL. At the same time, those who usually state this, as a rule, did not read Sun Lutang themselves, because in one of his most famous articles, written in 1929, Sun Lutang devoted the first quarter of the article to stigmatizing those who are trying to divide Wushu styles into "internal" and "external", and the other three quarters tells about his conversation with the old master Sun Shijun, who expressed exactly the same thoughts, and that there are not styles that are "internal" and "external", but methods of mastering skills, and that in any style can have both "internal" and "external" methods. However, everything was useless. In Chinese culture, "internal" has always been valued higher than "external", therefore, in the Chinese understanding, "internal" styles are a priori better than "external". However, does any style recognize itself as worse than others? Note that the division into "internal" and "external" arose precisely among those engaged in "internal styles", and those engaged in "external styles" never called themselves representatives of "external" styles - after all, this would be tantamount to recognizing themselves as the worst. All the same, attempts to ostensibly objectively substantiate the difference between "internal" styles from "external" ones usually demonstrated only a poor acquaintance of the "justifiers" with the styles that they considered "external". Obviously, for a truly objective substantiation of the difference, it is necessary for the researcher to get acquainted at a high level with at least several dozen styles of Chinese wushu - and this is beyond the strength of an ordinary person; the same ascetics who, like Sun Lutang, really seriously got acquainted with many styles, did not support the opinion about the division of styles into "internal" and "external". Thus, the division of styles into "internal" and "external" is an advertising slogan, taken by an uncritical mind for a proven truth.

Wushu is mainly composed of imitative styles. This myth is refuted at least by looking at any more or less solid reference book on wushu (for example, the famous "Large Dictionary of Chinese Wushu" edited by Ma Xianda), writing out the styles mentioned there and establishing what percentage of them will be imitative (if styles are mentioned though would be several dozen, then it is unlikely that at least ten of them will be imitative). The myth of the "imitation" of wushu is formed by Hong Kong cinema and Chinese wushu sports competitions. The goal of martial arts training was to win the battle. Therefore, the movements in them were selected from the point of view of combat effectiveness, and not from the point of view of similarity to anything. At the same time, individual things could really be described by comparison with any animal, but this comparison was mainly for the sake of convenience of understanding, and did not play any determining role. So, the creator of the praying mantis style put a continuous attack and defense with both hands at the forefront, and compared the interceptions of the opponent's hands used at the same time with how tightly the mantis clings to something with its paws. However, although the slow crawling of the praying mantis was absolutely not suitable for combat, the creator of the style was not at all embarrassed: he calmly introduced normal fast movements into the style, and began to compare them not with the praying mantis, but with how quickly and dexterously the monkey moves. In Xingyiquan, certain basic techniques are compared with the movements of individual animals - a bear, a snake, a crocodile, etc., but the comparison each time concerns one specific movement or type of movement. The tiger style prevalent in Fujian province is based on the idea of ​​fierce pressure, rather than running on all fours and biting the enemy. In some styles, the complexes in which the technique of fighting from the ground was encrypted and, accordingly, there were many movements associated with falls and acrobatics, were called "drunken" complexes. In the Middle Ages, ordering the Shaolin wushu technique, Jueyuan and his comrades divided the techniques into five groups and conditionally designated each group with the name of one animal, claiming that the techniques of this group were somewhat similar to the character of this animal. In the 20th century, those who did not practice them themselves began to talk about martial arts, and the vector changed to the opposite: now they began to go not from the essence, but from the external form. We heard in Hong Kong that the Shaolin style was divided into five directions related to animals - and films about "five animal styles of Shaolin" began to appear. It took more to shoot something and came up with a "drunkard style". Further - more "snake style", "sleeper style", "chess pieces style" ...In the PRC, we went approximately along the same path, only there the main defining idea of ​​inventing new imitative styles was the entertainment of sports. The combat component was removed from the eagle's claw style, but movements were added that imitate an eagle circling in flight. The frontal hail of praying mantis-style kicks was replaced with low-squat body swinging simulating the swinging of a mantis sitting on a branch. It was still necessary to surprise the people, they remembered about the novel "Journey to the West" and came up with the "monkey with a pole" complex. Well, near-sports functionaries, as necessary, immediately invented the ancient genealogy for styles: and the "drunken sword", it turns out, comes from the medieval poet Li Bo, who, drunk, loved to exercise with a sword (although what he actually did at the same time, no one knows , and it is unlikely that he taught anyone anything), and mentions of the "monkey style" in historical documents are found (that usually in the documents we are talking about completely different styles that still exist but with demonstrated at competitions styles are not connected in any way, while they prefer to remain silent), and in general - honestly work out their salary.

Taijiquan and Baguazhang are Taoist styles. The myth that Taijiquan is a Taoist style apparently comes from the legend of Zhang Sanfeng. In general, there are currently two different versions of the origin of Taijiquan. According to the one that is now official, Taijiquan is a martial art of the Chen family from the village of Chenjiagou, Wenxian county, Henan province, and it was developed either by Chen Bu, thanks to which the family moved to Chenjiagou in the 14th century (before that, members of this family lived in Dahuayshu county Hongdong, Shanxi Province), or Chen Wangting (Zouting), who lived in the 17th century. In any case, the "Chen" version does not smell of any Taoism; the members of the Chen clan were ordinary people. The competing version derives Taijiquan either from Han Gongyue, who lived in the Epoch of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (6th century), or from Zhang Sanfeng from the Wudang Mountains. The study of this version was started in the 1930s by the famous Taijiquan master Wu Tongan, and his students have continued to this day. Let's consider the results of their research in more detail. They found that the style that Han Gongyue may have created was lost in the Middle Ages, and it would be wrong to associate it with modern Taijiquan. Zhang Sanfeng is mentioned in historical documents two, their names were written in different hieroglyphs, they lived at different times, and in historical documents there is no mention of the connection of these Taoist hermits with martial arts. That Zhang Sanfeng, who lived during the Southern Song dynasty, is considered a representative of the style that can be conventionally called the "southern branch of Taijiquan"; This style may have been practiced by such people mentioned in the chronicles as Wang Zhengnan and Zhang Songxi; this style has now been lost and nothing is known for certain about it. The currently widespread version of Taijiquan can be conventionally called the "northern branch of Taijiquan" and can be traced back to Zhang Sanfeng, who lived at the junction of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. He created the so-called. "Taijiquan of thirteen forms" based on the neo-Confucian teaching on the Great Limit and the Taoist "development of the Great Limit". Thus, even in this version, the basis of Taijiquan is not purely Taoist, and the subsequent successors of the tradition were not Taoists at all. This means that there is no reason to consider Taijiquan a "Taoist style". The version that Baguazhang is a Taoist style, apparently, comes from the legend that, allegedly, the first teacher of Baguazhang Dong Haichuan learned something from a Taoist on Mount Jiuhuashan in Anhui Province, and also on the basis that the concept of " the eight trigrams "people usually associate with the" Canon of Change ", which is considered to be related to Taoist literature. In this logical chain, practically no link passes a serious critical test. First, the I Ching is not a Taoist book. Chinese tradition traces the origin of trigrams to the activities of the first emperor Fu-hsi. The integral philosophical concept of trigrams was first formulated in the commentary part of the I Ching attributed to Confucius. "Canon of Changes" ranks first among the classic books of Confucianism, is included in the "Penticanon" and "Thirteen Canon". Secondly, the concept of "eight trigrams" in the name of a style or complex of wushu is not necessarily caused by parallels with the "Canon of Changes". The symbolism of eight trigrams was very widespread in China, they were usually drawn in a circle, and therefore the concept of "eight trigrams" could mean, for example, "all cardinal directions" or "circular movement". So, in the widely known southern style of wushu hongjiaquan there is a complex "bagua gun" ("six eight trigrams"), which is so named because the techniques are held on all eight cardinal directions. One of the versions of the origin of the name "baguazhang" claims that Dong Haichuan named his style that way because he wanted to emphasize the predominantly circular nature of the movements. Thirdly, we absolutely do not know what, where and from whom Dong Haichuan studied. It is known that in the best traditions of his era, he went on foot to many provinces, looking for masters who had taken refuge from the world and trying to learn from them the best. He adopted Taoist methods of self-development, but he also adopted Buddhist methods, and methods of self-improvement of individuals not related to any religious and philosophical concept, studied a variety of methods of combat. A variety of people studied with him, including representatives of the Manchu and Mongol military classes, who were definitely not Taoists. It is known that (again in the traditions of his era) Dong Haichuan did not teach each of his students a specific style, he taught a person to fight and survive in battle, guided by the individual characteristics of the student (Yin Fu trained the imperial bodyguards and already possessed martial skills, Cheng Tinghua was the best fighter of their county, etc.), therefore, when the students began to pass on what they studied further, teaching as they themselves taught, then the branches of Baguazhang that were not quite similar to each other turned out. Thus, to claim that Baguazhang is supposedly a "Taoist style" would be at least unfounded.

Jackie Cheng is fluent in all existing styles of wushu. Jackie Cheng studied at drama school, where he was taught the techniques of stage combat. He did not teach martial arts at all. Doubters refer to his autobiographical book "I am Jackie Chang" (Russian translation - "I, Jackie Chan", published by the publishing house "Sofia"). All that he shows in films is theater and acrobatics. He invented some styles of wushu specifically for films.

Bruce Lee is the best wushu fighter of all time. Bruce Lee's image is overblown. An unbiased analysis of his biography shows that ordinary boy fights are called "many street fights in childhood", that a fight between two 20-year-old guys in the United States is called "a fight with a representative of the Chinese diaspora, who did not want Bruce Lee to teach the secrets of Chinese martial arts to representatives of others. nationalities "(although Wong Jack Man himself, Bruce's opponent in that fight, is still alive, and according to him no one elected him as any representative, Bruce simply stated in a public speech that he was such a good fighter that he would beat anyone in America, and who does not believe - let him try to refute it, and Wong volunteered to try; while the result of the fight in favor of Bruce is interpreted only by his wife, according to all other witnesses, the fight ended in a draw, and Bruce's wife greatly distorted her move in her book, trying to represent her husband in a favorable light). The statement that Bruce perfectly mastered the yunchun style also does not stand up to the test (according to the reviews of those who studied with Bruce, he was, of course, not one of the last, but he was not among the closest students, and Huang Chunlian, who brought him to teacher Ye Wen, constantly beat Bruce in friendly fights both during his studies with Ye Wen and during Bruce's subsequent visits to Hong Kong) and that he learned many other styles (it is only known for certain that he took several lessons of the praying mantis style from a Hong Kong master, but the surviving film recording of Bruce's demonstration of the mantis style evokes only an ironic grin from the style masters). Everyone agrees that Bruce Lee really had outstanding physical characteristics by nature, but in the end he is not the only one in the world (and not even the only one in China). Just in the late 1960s, China needed a national hero, and Bruce Lee, who was successfully promoted by the press and the film industry, became that hero. In addition, Bruce Lee became the first to popularize wushu in the United States, and since Americans traditionally confuse their own problems with global ones (how can any Chinese guy from Hebei or Heilongjiang be considered a good fighter if he has not been to the West Coast Championship in San Francisco? Never heard of this championship or there was no money to come?), then gradually the American view of Bruce Lee became established in popular literature as an allegedly objective point of view.

Taijiquan is a health-improving gymnastics that has nothing to do with martial arts. To understand the reason for this myth, you need to briefly familiarize yourself with the history of the spread of Taijiquan. There are many legends about the origin of the style, but they all converge at one point in space and time: in the first half of the 19th century, Yang Fukui, nicknamed Luchan, in the village of Chenjiagou, Wenxian County, Henan Province, studied a martial art called Taijiquan from the Chen family. With the help of this martial art, he became such a powerful fighter that he earned the nickname "Yang Wudi" - "Yang Has No Opponents". Thus, in the 19th century, Taijiquan was fully recognized as a martial art. What happened next? From Chenjiagou, Yang Luchan returned to his homeland, to Yunnian county in the same province. There, his fellow countryman Wu Heqing, nicknamed Yuxiang, studied with him. Then something happened, and Yang Luchan, with the help of representatives of the Wu family, moved to live and teach in Beijing. Some legends claim that Yang killed a man and was forced to seek high protection. Since the elder brother of Wu Heqing held a high position in the Department of Punishment (in modern terms, in one of the six main ministries of China), and the second brother was the governor of one of the counties, they had rich connections at the top, and Yang Luchan was able to teach at the imperial court. Other legends claim that colleagues admired Wu Heqing's high martial skills and pressured his older brothers to move to the capital to teach, but Heqing was very busy looking after his mother and recommended Yang Luchan instead. Since Yang began to rotate in the palace not only among the guards and guards (who, as a rule, were the main "consumers" of martial arts), but also among the nobility and high-ranking officials, he had to adjust teaching to their needs. And they did not need the fierce training that is characteristic of teaching martial arts, they heard that martial arts training helps to improve health and prolong life - and this is exactly what they were looking for. And Yang managed to satisfy everyone: he taught three sons to the full program - and they grew up to be his worthy successors; the Manchus from the Life Guards taught as much as they could perceive - and from them subsequently new directions of Taijiquan began; for the bulk of the bureaucracy and nobility, he simplified the movements and created a health-improving version of Taijiquan. After the 1911 revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy, in the wake of the rise in the national consciousness of the Chinese, interest in national martial arts increased sharply. In 1916, Xu Zhongsheng founded the Association for the Study of Physical Culture in Beijing, one of the main elements of the program of which was Taijiquan. This is how the mass spread of Taijiquan began, and it went about in the same vein: whoever could - mastered the martial art in full, but whoever could not - did it just for health. In 1928, when the civil war ended and Nanjing became the capital of the ROC, many Taijiquan masters were invited to teach south to Nanjing, Shanghai and other cities. After the communist party came to power in the country and the formation of the People's Republic of China, the new government faced the task of taking the situation with the martial arts in the country under ideological control. And in order, on the one hand, to give those who wish the opportunity to "blow off steam", on the other hand, to do something to occupy the many people familiar with Taijiquan, and on the third hand, to help people improve their health (and, which was important, with the help of "relatives", "Chinese "rather than externally borrowed techniques), a simplified 24-movement Taijiquan complex was developed in the 1950s. The movements were taken as a basis, which were taught by the master Yang Chengfu when he was already in old age, that is, in which the emphasis was placed not on the fighting, but on the health aspect. It was this option that was introduced to the masses, this is what millions of Chinese are now doing in the mornings, this is what foreign tourists who come to China see, this is what was published in books and brochures translated into foreign languages, and it is this Taijiquan health gymnastics that is confused with martial art taijiquan. Against this huge background of those involved in health, as well as entire generations of coaches who grew up on a purely health-improving version and who do not know anything else (and, frankly, not particularly willing), those who practice Taijiquan precisely as a martial one are simply lost. art.

Watch the video: Best Kung Fu Fight Scenes: Bruce Lee (July 2022).


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