Since ancient times, some observant people have made the revered Book of Change (Yijing) their lifelong study. Change is the fundamental principle found in every aspect of our lives. Change is the Way of the universe. Confucian and Daoist texts are filled with anecdotal and philosophic discourse related to this theme. There is little wonder why we find the concept of change in the diverse Chinese martial traditions.
This anthology presents articles from the Journal of Asian Martial Arts that are related to the theme of change. This does not mean that the authors are writing solely about philosophic ideas such as yin-yang, taiji, five phases (wuxing), or the eight hexagrams (bagua). From the content of these articles you will see how the views, needs, purposes and understandings of Chinese martial arts have changed over the centuries. By expounding on these themes, each author demonstrates how the actual practice of martial arts has changed in tandem with these fluctuating views.
Supported by in depth research, interviews, and field experience, the nine articles included here offer us a view of Chinese martial arts from many angles. Of course effectiveness is one of the criteria for skills that are valued as being truely martial. To improve the effectiveness, some leading practitioners gained insights from nature, particularly from the animal kingdom. Also, in both ancient and modern times, Chinese practitioners borrowed from other styles. The concept of “mixed martial arts” is nothing new.
There have been spinoffs to the warrior arts. Even centuries ago the martial arts were utilized in entertaining “flowery’ performances, as in Peking opera. The variety of martial movements were certainly conducive for good health so there is a long tradition of incorporating these in exercises practices solely for health and longevity. In the early twentieth century, martial arts became a political tool for boosting the spirit of country, vitalizing the “sick man of Asia.”Perhaps the most notable change in Chinese martial arts can be seen in the modern sportification of it. Motivated by rank, trophies, and money, the combative elements have been forsaken in favor of competition and show. Orignally practical, techniques have been transformed into pure acrobatics.
This special anthology provides an encompassing overview of the development and variety of Chinese martial arts. You will come to appreciate the ancient roots and the forces that have influenced how and why these arts are practiced today.