Northern Vs Southern
Amongst Chinese people, we can be at times, very protective over our culture. To most Westerners, the first thing one might think of is Chinese martial arts. Pretty much everybody has seen a Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan film. So what people see first, becomes their benchmark of what Chinese martial arts actually is. So when people first encounter Tai Chi, it was perceived that it was something else.
The truth is, a lot of Chinese think like that too. Television and films have made the country smaller. A lot of people have become exposed to something they have not seen or possible heard of. Every region of China has it's own flavour and and styles. I will cover that in a bit more detail, another day. The general impression is that in Northern China, people kick more and have emphasis on kicking. The general impression in the South, is that there are more punching techniques. The truth is that there is kicking and punching in both. It is just done differently. So you might wonder which where the North begins and the South ends. A lot of people in China cannot answer that question. Its all about where you're from and how you see the rest of the country. To me, a Southerner from Hong Kong. The north is anywhere north of the Provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian. To people from Beijing, thats probably everybody south of city. The proper answer is that North and South is divided by the Yangtse River. So you may consider people from Sichuan southerners and people from Shanghai definitely consider themselves to be southern. So the South is very diverse, though it is usually Cantonese people who like to emphasise being Southern.
Mount Wudang, the spiritual home of the internal arts in the South, though few think of it as such. Northern Chinese martial arts have absorbed the martial cultures of the people who live in that region. The Muslim martial arts culture stretch from Xian to Hubei, archery and wrestling (shuai jiao) from the nomadic people of the steppes. In return, they learned and absorbed Chinese Han culture. So everybody learned from everybody. Shaolin is based in the North, but actually had branch temples in other parts of China. The most famous being in Fujian. The so called Southern Shaolin. Southern Shaolin is is actually very influential, it that they are not only linked to various Southern martial styles such as Hakka Southern Mantis, but also also to White Crane. Who in turn influenced Karate in Japan. So the relationship between North and South are quite blurred and there is no need to ponder too much into the matter.