• Jason Tsang

Originality in Chinese martial arts


China is known for many styles of martial arts. There are styles that are unique to certain regions in China. Styles like Wing Chun (or Ving Chun), Hung Gar and Choi Li Fut are well known and are represent of gong fu in Canton Province (Guangdong). There are also the many styles of Hakka fighting styles in Canton, such as Hakka Mantis and Bak Mei. To the west is Fujian Province and they too have a rich martial tradition, such as the various styles of White Crane gong fu. All of these styles have similar techniques, methods and many are associated with the Southern Shaolin Temple (the Southern offshoot of the well known Shaolin Temple you know from the movies, also known as Northern Shaolin).


The unique flavour of a style is reflected on the environment and the historical background from which they are formed. In South China, not many people ride horses, so there isn't much of a need for mounted combat. Cavalry are expensive to keep and therefore there is a greater emphasis on infantry. In the past, it is the coastal areas that provided sailors and hence the skills needed to fight on rivers and on sea. The styles that work in urban areas are different from those who are from open countryside. For that reason, there is less emphasis on polearms and more on shorter weapons. There's no right or wrong, it just depends on where you are. When the Mongols invaded China in the 13th Century, they found that cavalry did not do well in mountainous areas and therefore, they had to dismount. When the Mongols reached the coastal regions, they found they couldn't sail or fight on sea. All things being equal, we all have their strengths. The Mongolians eventually took control of South China. They gained the capability to fight the Chinese by using manpower and skilled craftsmen they captured along the way.


The basics of of Chinese martial arts are much the same. The local environment will shape the local martial traditions. Local cultures will overlap and neighbouring areas will learn from each other. Southern Chinese styles learned from their Northern counterparts, e.g. Choi Li Fut has upper body that is Southern and a lower body that is Northern. Unique styles from Emei (one of the spiritual mountains in China) and Tibet have influenced styles in other parts of China. Northern Shaolin staff techniques benefited from the work of Yu Dayou, a general who fought the Japanese with Qi JiGuang during the Ming Dynasty. One branch of Chinese martial arts that rarely gets a mention is Shuai Jiao, or Chinese wrestling. Shuai Jiao is usually found in Northern China and has been influenced by the Mongolians and Manchurians. Shuai Jiao techniques feature in many styles, but it isn't always spoken about. Beyond punching and kicking is grappling and throwing. Shuai Jiao techniques are very important and they feature in the style of Tai Chi I teach.


There are very few styles of Chinese martial arts that uniquely pure of any outside influences. If that was the case, they would never grow or become relevant in an ever changing world. It is acceptable to learn from others, but make sure you do a good job of it. Furthermore, to pay respect to those you learned from. A carbon copy isn't acceptable. It's pretty much plagiarism and what's to say my techniques suit you or vice-versa.


Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

© 2018 by White Horse Tai Chi. Proudly created with Wix.com