The Chinese Martial Arts
Chinese martial arts, also named as Chinese Wushu, is an essential part of Chinese cultural heritage. The origins of martial arts may be traced back to early man and his struggle for survival in the harsh environment thousands of years ago. The struggle led to the development of techniques to defend against both wild animals and other human beings. And gradually with the advancement of weapon production, new fighting techniques were created. In China from the Shang Dynasty through Warring States Period, martial arts further evolved to create specialized armed and unarmed combat methods. During the following Qin and Han Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay and spear skills became well developed and were popular among civilians and troops.
Why did people learn martial arts in ancient China?
The first reason is to become a warrior and join the military force to defend the country. In the Tang Dynasty, Empress Wu Zetian introduced a military examination. Military examination required candidates to have high professional skills of martial arts, and people who passed that examination could be directly appointed to a position in the military.
The second career path for people who mastered martial arts was to join the private security industry. For example, rich families often hired martial arts practitioners to help protect their assets from bandits or to join an armed escort agency to help merchants safely transport their merchandise.
The third choice is obviously becoming a Kung Fu master. If the practitioners are really good, they could run their own school to pass the knowledge and spirit of martial arts to the younger generation.
Art charm of Chinese Martial Arts
Nowadays, with the appearance of modern weapons and the general pursuit of peace, these fierce battles of martial arts are something that belongs to the past, but wushu still has many followers across the globe, which is perhaps more related to the art side of it.
Martial arts fall under the definition of art because it embodies the creativeness of human beings to form and create skills that can be used to protect themselves. It has a unique artistic side because many of these spectacular martial arts techniques require strength, skill, and grace. And these wushu routines are like a beautifully choreographed dance. The basic martial arts training methods are still employed in training dancers, actors, acrobats and gymnasts.
Spirit of Chinese Martial Arts
Wushu is more than just visually pleasing. It is also built on specific philosophies. At its heart, martial art is more than fighting skill. The purpose of learning it has never been to rob, bully or kill others. As a matter of fact, it is a way for practitioners to improve their physical and spiritual selves. Wude emphasizes on integrity, self-discipline, perseverance and self-control.
Different schools of Chinese Martial Arts
Over the centuries of development in China, martial art has become a large system containing various schools. Shaolin, Wudang, Emei, Qingcheng and Kongtong are taken as five most important schools of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin is famous for its warrior monks. Kongcheng adheres to the tenet of “cross-legged sitting and meditating, coping with all motions by remaining motionless”.