The Evolution of Oriental Martial Arts
Extract from TAI CHI CHUAN TREASURE OF MANKIND by
Soon Tuan They
Most Martial Arts teachers
claim that their art was created or passed down by an Indian monk called
Bodhidharma who came to China
in 525 A.D. This belief is based on a preface written by Li Chin for a book
called "Yee Chin Ching" which has been dated at circa 628 A.D. He
claimed that these arts were passed down by "Bodhidharma", the
founder of Wushu.
The earliest known
edition of this book was in fact printed in 1827, a period when many books
were written in the names of certain gods, heroes or influential people. No
statement of Bodhidharma on the arts of "Yee Chin Ching" can be
traced in the original Martial Arts texts (inside or outside) of the Shaolin
Temple (the temple in which Bodhidharma was claimed to settled) and yet many
texts, techniques and pictures have been created based on this misleading
Arts are the product of a complex society, where no single individual can be
accredited as their creator. China
is a country formed from over fifty different races. People fought and killed
each other as one culture struggled for precedence over another, or because
justice was then a matter for each individual. Techniques were collected and
passed down by the survivors and perfected by their successors throughout
history. During the thousands of years
of warring history, China
has made Wushu a profound form of art.
the many chapters of the "Book of Han" written by Pan Ku (32-92
AD), thirty chapters describe bare hand, kicking and weapon combat
techniques, etc. Some stone carvings of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-22 AD) have
recently been discovered, which illustrate a well developed system of Wushu
present in the Nanyang region of the Honan Province
during that period.
flow of Chinese culture, most especially of Wushu from China to Japan, took place a long way back
in history. In 238 AD two "five foot long swords" were
given as a gift to Japan.
These are believed to have been modified and developed into the present
sophisticated Japanese Katana. In 1962 a Chinese sword made between 184-189
AD was found in a grave in Japan.
During the beginning of the
Ching Dynasty, in about 1558, Chen Yen Pin went to Japan at the age of thirty-one to
teach Martial Arts at the Shyo-koku Monastery. Three of his students, Miura Yoshitatsu,
Fukuno Masakatsu and Isokai Jino Saemon, formulated the arts they learnt into
Jujitsu, which in 1882 was further modified by the Founder of Kodo-Kwan,
Jigoro Kano into Judo. Morihei Uyeshiba a practioner of Jujitsu , fencing and
spear fighting, incorporated his martial arts understanding with the
philosophy of Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism and Buddhism. He aroused a
great interest when he began teaching in Tokyo in 1927.
This art, developed by
Morihei Uyeshiba, has similar principles to the art of Tai Chi Chuan with a
heavy emphasis on the use of the centre and lever principles, and is named
forms of Karate were developed from the martial arts practised in the Shuri
(called Shurite), Naha (called Nahate) and
Tomari (called Tomarite) areas of the Okinawan Islands.
Karate "the way of Tang Chinese hand" was later changed to
"the way of empty hand" by the Gichin Funakoshi, the first person
who brought karate from Okinawa to teach in Japan. The Nahate is now
presented as Goju Ryu Karate. Goju Ryu Karate was brought over to the Islands by Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1916). As a boy Kanryo
Higaonna was fascinated with the stories of China. In 1874 Higaonna went to
stay in the Hokkien Province of China for fourteen years. He studied the
White Crane System from Master Ryu Ryu
Ko (Liu Liu Ko). "San
Chin", an advanced kata of Karate, is still the foundation set for the
White Crane, Wu Chu, Tai Chu and Chu Kar systems.
the Japanese arts, the Korean Martial Arts were also greatly influenced by
the Wushu of China.
Korea is situated in North
East China and in 108 B.C. the Han Chinese Emperor, Han Wu-ti, successfully
sent his army to take over Korea.
The natives quickly adopted Han Chinese Culture but due to the natural cycle
of birth, growth, maturity and decay, which has always followed the
inauguration of new dynasties in China,
Korea broke away and
reunited with China
several times over the millenia. During the Sui Dynasty (581-617) Korea was divided into three separate kingdoms
which not only refused to submit to Han rule but also attempted to expand
their territories into China
itself. In 650 A.D. the Tang Dynasty Emperor sent 100,000 soldiers into Korea, thus reclaiming it for China. In
fact, some Koreans still called their Martial Arts "Tang Soo Do"
meaning the way of Tang (Chinese) Hands.
1895, China was forced to
sign an unfair treaty with Japan
which included relinquishing all her interests over Korea. During
the thirty-seven years of Japanese occupation, the Koreans were forced to
practise only the Japanese Martial Arts.
1937, General Choi Hong Hi, the father of TaeKwon Do, went to Japan, to
further his education. During this time he began to study Karate, under Mr
Kim. In 1954 he consolidated the art he had learned as a child, with Karate
and Kung Fu, forming the base of modern day Tae Kwon Do. In 1965, he was
posted as the Korean ambassador to my country, where he recommended to his
government that the name of Korean Martial Arts be changed from Taesoodo to
to the differences in physical, environmental and cultural conditions, these
techniques of fighting developed into systems with individual style and
flavours. Today there are 129 styles still practised in China. Some
appear to be brutal and hard. Some are simple and linear. Some are more
sophisticated, graceful and artistic. These are categorised into northern and
southern systems, each capable of working as an effective combat system.
we are now living in a much more stable environment where to kill each other
is no longer necessary and certainly frowned upon. A more modern way of
practising these arts is to adapt them as sporting hobbies where the main
object is to encourage healthy living and harmonious society to hand down to