Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.


Over the past 50 years, I have read numerous books and article on how successive Chinese governments, in the wake of the disastrous ‘Boxer Rebellion’ 1899 – 1901 {so-called due to the fact that it expanded out from Kung Fu Schools}, began systematically changing China’s self-image, its belief systems and political ideologies.

Their favourite method was to re-write history.

Firstly with the nationalists, the K.M.T. and then later with the Chinese Communist Party.

Growing up in the west through the 60s the NEWS was constantly calling China out for the destruction of Temples, the burning of records, in short, the ‘re-education’ policies that essentially gave non-party members the choice of ‘Change or Die’.

Many did just that, and sadly so did historical truth.

Due to this, trying to gather accurate historic information about any style of Kung Fu is difficult bordering on possible.

I do realise that there is a lot of documented so-called historic information out there but we must take all of this with a pinch of salt.

Re-written means just that, re-written.

As Martial Artists we are well aware that the C.C.P. removed all of the ‘Fighting Aspects’ out of Kung Fu and replaced them with movement patterns from ballet and acrobatics and relabeled it Wushu, and then invented/reinvented the modern IDEA of Qigong, here is a link to an interesting article make of it what you wish.

Chairman Mao was well aware that the Tong system, something he saw as akin to a cult or at least a secret society, that allowed the Boxers {Kung Fu organisations as secret societies} to organise and combine to fight the Europeans would be a real threat to his hold on the people and banned all ‘Tongs’ and all meetings with regards to these organisations.

There are those in the M.A. community that claim this is why Hong Kong and Taiwan are the true centres of Kung Fu, but it was the Nationalists, the K.M.T. that began this transformation and re-writing of history and it was these same K.M.T. and Nationalists that fled to Hong Kong and Taiwan after the Civil War taking their ideas of the New China with them.

Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.

Where does leave us, westerners, when we wish to know where our style comes from and why it was created in the first place because it is only by knowing the answer to these two questions that we can truly understand what we do.

One thing we can look at is the history of China as recorded by the Europeans that traded with China, I am not saying for one minute that these are of any more accurate because to be expected they were observed through the lens of European agenda, and measured by European values.

The picture that those histories paint is relatively accurate when it comes to the general mood of the people and the way society interacted, the very thing we wish to know about as Martial Artists.

From 1600 up to 1960 there was an almost constant state of Militaristic conflict, province against province, village against village, ethnicity against ethnicity, religion against religion.

Violence was everywhere and every day, shortage of food was a constant cause of this violence, squabbles over the rightful ownership of fertile land escalated into full-blown conflicts so often that villages had their private militias, the problem was so widespread that temples had warrior monks and no one travelled without highly trained and armed caravan guards.

Politics aside hundreds of years of violence created a country where defending yourself and your property was as essential as breathing, every man in every village was armed to the teeth and ready to rumble at the first sign of trouble.

Except for that guy, the Kung Fu guy.

Why do we think this guy was fighting un-armed when even the monks used weapons?

As a thought exercise, this can be an interesting question.

Had he lost his weapon?

Had he been disarmed?

Was he caught out at a place that he considered safe and as such was unarmed?

As interesting as this is something that this line of thinking misses is that if Mr.K. Fu is unarmed his attacker is unlikely to be.

Empty hand styles did not materialise so that people could engage in a game of ‘fisty cuffs’, they came about as a way to deal with an armed assailant when you were for some reason unarmed.

If we look at how Kung Fu, and from my perspective Wing Chun, interacts with an attacker it makes more sense once we add a weapon to the scenario, Chi Sau looks more like a way of disarming or controlling a weapon arm than just a sensitivity exercise and it shines a fresh light on our stances, guards and footwork.

It also ends once and for all the Kung Fu v M.M.A. argument which I will go into later, but for now, these are just my musings, I have no way to prove any of this but it feels a great deal more “REAL” than most of the accepted history.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s