“Old Sports” in New China – Reporting the 1953 National Exhibition and Tournament

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      The Source As part of my ongoing research on the role of the traditional martial arts within the creation of China’s public diplomacy strategy, I am reviewing several propaganda sources produced in the 1950s and 1960s.  By… Continue Reading →

From the Journal: Psychological Collectivism in Traditional Martial Arts

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    Greetings!  I am currently traveling for some fieldwork on daunbing (short weapons training).  As someone who spends a lot of time researching the Republic era Chinese martial arts, I am excited to finally have a chance to learn… Continue Reading →

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: February 16th, 2019: All the World’s a Stage

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    Introduction I hope that everyone enjoyed their Lunar New Year.  Its always a time of many public exhibitions and celebrations.  They, in turn, generate an uptick in news coverage of local martial arts practices and well as Lion… Continue Reading →

A Short List of Women Who Shaped the Southern Chinese Martial Arts

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  Introduction Friday morning posts are usually written the day before, and it just so happens that this week’s Thursday falls on Valentine’s Day. That complicates things for reasons that are both understandable and a few which are a little… Continue Reading →

Violence and Peace: Reconsidering the Goals of Martial Arts

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  What is my motivation? Connecting the dots between an individual’s intentions, their actions and subsequent systemic outcomes is more difficult than one might suspect.  Just ask any social scientist. Understanding each of these categories is important if we want… Continue Reading →

Hawkins Cheung and the Making of Modern Wing Chun History

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    Regrets As many readers will already know, Master Hawkins Cheung Hok Jin passed away on Sunday February 3rd 2019, in Los Angeles.  Within the martial arts community regrets take many forms.  One of my great regrets is that I… Continue Reading →

Research Note: A Visit with the Jingwu Association in 1928

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  At the moment I am working on a guest editorial project examining Afro-Caribbean and New World martial arts.  It will pose a number of interesting questions and I hope to discuss some of these practices in greater depth.  Unfortunately,… Continue Reading →

Give Me Those Old Time Kung Fu Villains

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    Introduction Antagonists seem to be the critical ingredient that make the martial arts possible. Yet to understand why that is the case we need to start by unpacking a few things.  An immense range of activities fall within… Continue Reading →

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: January 20th 2019: Jingwu, Chinese Armor and Liberating the Nunchuck

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  Introduction Its been over a month since our last news update, which means that there is no better time to get caught up on recent events! For new readers, this is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we… Continue Reading →

Wang Ziping and the Early Days of Wushu: Two Important Films

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  Introduction Wang Ziping (1881-1973) was an iconic figure within the world of the Republican martial arts.  Having gained fame through his many feats of strength and public fights, the Muslim martial artist from Heibi province went on to hold… Continue Reading →

Play and Learning in the Martial Arts

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  The Problem with Play I have always found TED talks to be a mixed bag. Some are wonderful. Others I find vaguely irritating. But the project itself, which seeks to popularize some of the most important “big ideas,” is deeply… Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (57): The Asian Martial Arts and Modern Primitivism

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    Introduction My ongoing research on the public diplomacy of the Chinese martial arts has taken a decisive turn.  The Second World War is one of those historical calamities that defines an era, and I now find myself venturing… Continue Reading →

Individualism, Art and Craft: Reading Bruce Lee by the Numbers

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      Interpreting Bruce Lee We may debate lists of the 20th century’s most influential martial artists,* but when it comes to written texts, there is simply no question.  “Liberate Yourself from Classical Karate,”  Bruce Lee’s 1971 manifesto, first appearing… Continue Reading →

The Martial Arts Studies Reader: 2018’s Essential Book

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    An Essential Book   This is a time of year to sit back and reflect on our achievements and struggles.  I suspect that within the broader historical record 2018 will be remembered for its calamities.  Yet it has… Continue Reading →

Events and Trends that Shaped the Chinese Martial Arts in 2018

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  This is the time of year when it is only natural to pause and reflect on where we have been and what may be coming next.  2018 has been a busy year in the Chinese martial arts.  Progress has… Continue Reading →

Local Resistance and Guoshu: The Foshan Zhong Yi Martial Arts Athletic Association

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      Guoshu in the Pearl River Delta In a recent post I attempted to move away from the triumphalist rhetoric that accompanies many popular discussions of the Guoshu movement and ask how its institutional limitations (rather than its… Continue Reading →

Bringing Northern Styles South: A Brief History of the Lianguang Guoshu Institute

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    Transforming Southern Martial Culture   How did Taijiquan, now ubiquitous, establish itself in Southern China?  What about the other northern Shaolin systems? I would think that the lion’s share of the credit must go to the Jingwu Association… Continue Reading →

Varieties of “Tradition”: Work, Play and Leisure in Martial Arts

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  A Different Kind of Race Horse races are strongholds of pageantry and tradition, but when it comes to medieval texture, few can compare with the Palio di Siena. Oddly, any footage of the event reminds me of a critical… Continue Reading →

2018 Christmas Shopping List: Martial Arts Equipment and Long Reads to Get You Through the Winter Months

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  I am not going to lie. The annual Christmas list is my favorite post of the year. So welcome to Kung Fu Tea’s seventh annual holiday shopping list!  Not only are we going to find some cool gift ideas, but hopefully… Continue Reading →

Bruce Lee: Memory, Philosophy and the Tao of Gung Fu

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  ***I am off visiting family over the holiday weekend, so we are headed back to the archives. Since our (American) readers have just celebrated Thanksgiving, I though it would be appropriate to revisit an essay that asks what we… Continue Reading →

Research Notes: Judo’s Triple Transformation in The China Press (1932)

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  Doing the Homework Students of Martial Arts Studies are the fortunate few.  As research areas go, ours is pretty interesting. Yet as I review the literature (even recent publications from big name academic presses), it is clear that many… Continue Reading →

Swords, Visuality and the Construction of China

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  Deciphering an Icon Recently I came across a few of Harrison Forman’s wartime photos, probably taken in the early 1930s, but circulated to newspapers and (re)published in 1938.  While his photos of militia groups following the 8th Route Army (discussed… Continue Reading →

The Last Shall be First: Finding Meaning in the Martial Arts

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    Barnum’s Daughter   I was recently watching the news when I saw a brief segment on “the last” Japanese swordsmith.  The whole things is a little overwrought as there are lots of individuals making swords in Japan today,… Continue Reading →

Of Pens and Swords: Jin Yong’s Journey

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    The Loss of Heroes The Chinese martial arts community has lost two giants.  The death of Rey Chow (who was instrumental in jumpstarting Bruce Lee’s martial arts films) and Louis Cha (who wrote under the name Jin Yong)… Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (56): New York City’s Kung Fu and the Roaring 1920s

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    Introduction While I have a few connections in New York City’s TCMA community, it has always been my experience that one turns up different sorts of insights by getting out and exploring the terrain on one’s own.  It… Continue Reading →

Martial Classics: The Complete Fist Cannon in Verse

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  Translator’s Note Here is the full translation of the Qi Jiguang’s Fist Method as it appears in the Wubei Zhi, offered as a follow-up to my initial discussion of the challenges of translating this text into English verse. If… Continue Reading →

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: Oct. 22 2018: Archery, Kung Fu Villages and the Lives of Detective Dee

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    Introduction It has been a busy weekend, so this news update will be brief. Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on some of the more interesting stories that have been floating around. For new readers, this is a semi-regular feature here… Continue Reading →

Who “Killed” Kung Fu: Habermas and the Legitimization Crisis within Traditional Martial Arts

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  Zombies The air is distinctly crisp, the end of October is upon us, and Halloween rapidly approaches. Clearly, it is time to talk about zombies.  We seem to go through periods of collective fascination with the image of empty human… Continue Reading →

Salvaging History and Saving the Martial Arts

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  This weekend has been a blur of activity. Friday evening was consumed by the first “open mat” sparring night at the Central Lightsaber Academy (which was a blast), Saturday was devoted to a day-long seminar on Sicilian knife fighting… Continue Reading →

Seeking Identity with a T-Shirt: Uniforms in the Martial Arts

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  The Varieties of Uniformity   My Monday evening study-group just passes a milestone. Somehow it never even occurred to me that this was on the horizon, though I was the one who (inadvertently) set things in motion.  An acquaintance… Continue Reading →

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