the origins of CMA

ggg214

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the opinion accepted by most of practitioners is that shaolin is the origin of CMA.
is that true?
 

Xue Sheng

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the opinion accepted by most of practitioners is that shaolin is the origin of CMA.
is that true?

No 否

Look for the book

The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts - 5000 years. Professor Kang Ge-Wu

There are also I am told many in Chinese on the topic that are not yet translated

Look into the history of 摔跤 or 摔角; Shuāijiāo
 

clfsean

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the opinion accepted by most of practitioners is that shaolin is the origin of CMA.
is that true?

Nope... not me anyway. Shaolin had an influence, but it's not "the source" by any stretch of the imagination.
 

exile

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the opinion accepted by most of practitioners is that shaolin is the origin of CMA.
is that true?

I don't know what practitioners themselves think or accept, but so far as MA historians concerned with what the documentary record shows, as vs. recycled school folklore, the answer is a very loud NO! See here for the state-of-the-art view.

The article is well worth reading in its entirety. When you realize that, as Henning points out, the whole Bodhidharma myth originated as the result of a work of fiction, a novel, written in the early 1920s—and that it is now taken as gospel by a huge number of people for no better reason than that they heard it from someone who believed it because s/he heard it from someone—you can see just how much nonsense is out there and how demanding you have to be about sources for this stuff!
 

punisher73

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Xue Sheng is definately more well read on this subject as me, but the last I had read the more reasonable story was this.

Kung Fu (martial arts) had existed in China long before the establishment of the Shaolin Temple. Many people came to the temple for asylum, some of these happened to know kung fu and they may have practiced and exchanged ideas. At some point the temple became associated with kung fu though and that has carried on until today. But, at no time did the "temple" develop it's own style or create kung fu.
 

exile

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Xue Sheng is definately more well read on this subject as me, but the last I had read the more reasonable story was this.

Kung Fu (martial arts) had existed in China long before the establishment of the Shaolin Temple. Many people came to the temple for asylum, some of these happened to know kung fu and they may have practiced and exchanged ideas. At some point the temple became associated with kung fu though and that has carried on until today. But, at no time did the "temple" develop it's own style or create kung fu.

Yup, and that seems to be the consensus among those who's looked into the historical records with the skills necessary to make sense of them. 'Shaolin' in the CMAs is kind of like 'taekkyon' in the KMAs: something that has taken on major symbolic value, but which has only had a relatively marginal input to the development of the arts over time.

Symbols are very powerful things, thoughmore than facts are, apparently! :rolleyes:
 

bowser666

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No it isn't but I would strongly suggest using the search thread function before a post liek this as this topic has been touched numerous times in this forum. Just a heads up. :)
 

exile

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No it isn't but I would strongly suggest using the search thread function before a post liek this as this topic has been touched numerous times in this forum. Just a heads up. :)

I agree, b., this is a very good strategy to follow in general... MT's been going long enough, with a high enough level of input from serious MAists, that almost anything you can think of has been covered, particularly a lot of these historical sacred cows. I think it's just something that doesn't occur to people to do. But those vaults are full of great (if sometimes overheated) discussions!
 
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ggg214

ggg214

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thanks for your replies.
i still wonder why and how the shaolin temple become this symbol or gain the reputation as the source of CMA.
 

exile

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thanks for your replies.
i still wonder why and how the shaolin temple become this symbol or gain the reputation as the source of CMA.

It's a good question. I'm pretty sure I have an idea of why taekkyon got that role in the KMAs, but for Shaolin, you need someone with a lot more detailed knowledge of the history of Chinese cultural attitudes. My guess is, it's tied to other aspects of the Shaolin legend independent of its MA role... the monastery as a a center of resistance to the central government, maybe, or similar symbolic associations. What you really want to know, I suspect, is where the whole legendary package of Shaolin came from, why that particular monastery gained the unique symbolic place it has in popular Chinese culture as an icon (which then diffused to the rest of the world)...
 

Xue Sheng

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thanks for your replies.
i still wonder why and how the shaolin temple become this symbol or gain the reputation as the source of CMA.

Stage plays, books, TV and movies in China and TV and movies outside of China. David Carradine went a long way to propagate this idea (albeit unintentionally) here in the west.

It's a good question. I'm pretty sure I have an idea of why taekkyon got that role in the KMAs, but for Shaolin, you need someone with a lot more detailed knowledge of the history of Chinese cultural attitudes. My guess is, it's tied to other aspects of the Shaolin legend independent of its MA role... the monastery as a a center of resistance to the central government, maybe, or similar symbolic associations. What you really want to know, I suspect, is where the whole legendary package of Shaolin came from, why that particular monastery gained the unique symbolic place it has in popular Chinese culture as an icon (which then diffused to the rest of the world)...

That sure has something to do with it as well also some of the past feats demonstrated by the Monks of Shaolin, some real some not that you will find in more than a few Chinese martial Arts Novels.

However I am not so sure that this view of Shaolin being the origin of all CMA is all that prevalent in places like China and Taiwan. But then I can only go by the people I talk to that are from those areas and many of those are interested in Martial Arts. However my wife is not all that interested in martial arts but she knows that not all, actually she says most, CMA styles did not come from Shaolin.
 

bowser666

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No 否

Look for the book

The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts - 5000 years. Professor Kang Ge-Wu

There are also I am told many in Chinese on the topic that are not yet translated

Look into the history of 摔跤 or 摔角; Shuāijiāo

Instead of speculating and continuing to ask the questions you are asking, take Xue's advice and read that book. It will most likely answer all of your questions.
 

Rabu

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Henning is a good source.

Check for him at this web location: www.seinenkai.com

A Hawaii website preserving as much real history as it can. Many of his articles are there for you to read.

There is a lot of money to be made by emphasizing specific history, regardless of whether its true or not.

I am fairly certain there are no translations of the works of Tung Hao, a pioneer in Chinese martial arts history. Henning refers to him specifically as having pioneered fact based approaches inside china.

No, sadly the Shaw brothers made great, fun and spirited movies; but they are not always accurate at all.
 

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The reason shaolin is associated with the birth of CMA is that the temple was at the center of developing bare-handed fighting styles that flourished in the 17th century. Before that, CMA was almost all weapon based as it would have needed to be. Sure there was some shuaijiao, etc. floating around but not many bare hand styles existed before then.

The Ming dynasty saw more syncretism than earlier dynasties, allowing a mixing of taoist daoyin, shaolin staff arts, and traditional weapons. The empty hand styles that came out of it (pretty much all the current styles) were the result of that Ming syncretism.

The new book by Meir Shahar -- Shaolin Monastery -- lays it out. This is a landmark book BTW. It will change how people look at CMA.
 

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Stage plays, books, TV and movies in China and TV and movies outside of China. David Carradine went a long way to propagate this idea (albeit unintentionally) here in the west.

I'm pretty sure all martial arts started in Brazil. Didn't they?
 

bowser666

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I'm pretty sure all martial arts started in Brazil. Didn't they?

ROFL spoken like a true BJJ artist !!! HAHA Nice one. Honestly who knows where it started and who cares. I am jsut glad I get to train in it!!
 

Rabu

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Maier Shahar's book is...interesting...

If you have read it, then you can note that many of the scrolls, writing on walls and pictures from the Temple were supplied to him by Stanley Henning. (note again, read some Henning, its worth it)

The book is very enthusiastic, says it will not address modern practice or controversy, then spends almost its entirety discussing how the current, modern shaolin temple has a direct and unbroken chain of physical martial arts practice for almost its entirety of existence.

The Shao Lin temple was founded to make buddhist texts in Chinese languages.
 

exile

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Maier Shahar's book is...interesting...

If you have read it, then you can note that many of the scrolls, writing on walls and pictures from the Temple were supplied to him by Stanley Henning. (note again, read some Henning, its worth it)

The book is very enthusiastic, says it will not address modern practice or controversy, then spends almost its entirety discussing how the current, modern shaolin temple has a direct and unbroken chain of physical martial arts practice for almost its entirety of existence.

The Shao Lin temple was founded to make buddhist texts in Chinese languages.

That's so weird... because Henning's own opinion (which I agree is founded on very careful and detailed research with absolutely zero mythmongering) is quite different. He's very unimpressed with the idea of the Shaolin Temple as one of the 'hot spots' of Asian MAs, or as a vehicle for the promotion of ancient combat secrets, or even as a repository of MA techniques from generation to generation. His article in Classical Fighting Arts that I mentioned above makes it clear that the historical evidence, including the testimony of Chinese military professionals, suggest a pretty uneven record for the Temple in any of these respects.
 

Xue Sheng

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Maier Shahar's book is...interesting...

If you have read it, then you can note that many of the scrolls, writing on walls and pictures from the Temple were supplied to him by Stanley Henning. (note again, read some Henning, its worth it)

The book is very enthusiastic, says it will not address modern practice or controversy, then spends almost its entirety discussing how the current, modern shaolin temple has a direct and unbroken chain of physical martial arts practice for almost its entirety of existence.

The Shao Lin temple was founded to make buddhist texts in Chinese languages.

Bud sadly not the same martial intent or arts for that matter.

But regardless it is still not the origin of CMA
 

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In this case, Henning's material was used as a source, since its so clear and well documented.

I believe there is a review of the book out there written by Henning, I am not sure.

I perhaps was a bit subtle in my critique of the book, and also too coy. I simply think the author was far too enthusiastic and pushed his theories farther than the material strung together supported.

I also agree with Hennings writings, and find them clear and without prejudice. If there was a giant with a flaming staff out there, I am sure he would be first to note it and show how he was able to prove the story. Sadly for the myths...he accomplishes quite the opposite.

Rob
 
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