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The history of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Martial Arts in China

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Раздел Боевые исскусства
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The development of martial arts in China is inextricably linked with the development of Chinese medicine, and of the major religious and philosophical systems which underpin all aspects of life in historical China.
The martial and healing arts have always had a close relationship, of necessity when the wounds resulting from combat required healing, and in the use of medical knowledge to develop more effective targeting and striking techniques. Martial arts through the ages were practiced as much for health and longevity as they were for aggression and defence, and indeed the Shaolin arts were based on movements originally developed for health reasons.
Nearly five thousand years ago, the three legendary emperors laid the ground work for a nationalised system of Chinese medicine for the populace. Emperor Fu Hsi first proposed such a system; Emperor Shun Nung developed a classification of herbs for use in healing; and Huang-Ti, the Yellow Emperor, sent healers out to care for the people. The “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” a book on the principles of Chinese medicine, attributed to Huang-Ti but more likely written by others much later, is still regarded as a standard text by many contemporary schools of acupuncture and Oriental healing.
Around this time, mention is made of a form of ritualised wrestling called Go-Ti, in which two men wore horns on their heads and attempted to gore each other. The sport became popular, and spread throughout the land, and was passed down through generations. Go-Ti is performed today, with less blood spilled, traditionally at festivals in Honan and Manchuria. It is theorised also that Go-Ti was exported to Japan during the Tang Dynasty (610-907 AD), and evolved into the modern sport of Sumo; this would be the earliest documented export of Chinese martial arts.
The originators of the great Chinese philosophies all lived around the same time. Lao Tzu, the developer of Taoism, was born in Honan around 604 BC. Confucius was born around 550 BC, and the Buddha around 506 BC.
Legend has it that Lao Tzu worked in the imperial palace during the Chou Dynasty as custodian of the imperial archives. Like many of his compatriots, he became disillusioned by the existing political tyranny, and at age 160 (according to legend) he left the kingdom on a wagon drawn by a black ox. When he reached Han-Ku pass, the gatekeeper, Yin-Hsi, asked him to leave a record of his teachings. The result was a short but enormously profound and influential document of 5,280 Chinese words called the Tao Te Ching (The Way and the Power). It taught a philosophy of living harmoniously with the ways of nature, returning to one’s essence and of acting only in accordance with the Way.
(The philosophical basis of the teachings of Lao Tzu, and those of Confucius and the Buddha, will be discussed more fully in a later section.)
Confucius was born to a noble family in the state of Lu in what is now Shantung. His father died when Confucius was three, and the family fell on hard times. Though self-educated, he devoted himself to teaching and a quest to eliminate illiteracy; however, his major purpose in education was to teach and develop a way of harmonious living and interaction with one’s fellows, through rules and standards of propriety and behaviour. At age 51, he became Minister for Justice in Lu, but his attempts to spread his doctrines were met with indifference or distain by his superiors, resulting in his starting a thirteen year ministry attempting to disseminate his political, social, and philosophical beliefs. At age 68, unsuccessful, he began to write the classic documents such as the Spring and Autumn annals, the I Ching (book of Changes) and the Analects, which were to have a huge impact on Chinese culture.
Some historians dispute the authorship of these documents (i.e. maybe Confucius didn’t write all or any of them), but their fundamental role in Chinese culture is indisputable.
The Buddha, also called Guatama or Siddhartha, was an Indian Prince, born approximately 506 BC As a youth, he lived a rich and pampered life in the splendour of palaces and courtyards, surrounded by the luxuries of the time, unaware of the often desperate and miserable circumstances in which the vast majority of his subjects dwelt.
One day he ventured into the city, and was confronted with the disease, starvation, suffering and death which filled his kingdom. The streets were filled with starving beggars and littered with the bodies of the dead or dying.
Shocked to the bone by what he saw, he spent days alone (five days beneath the Bodhi tree), attempting to come to terms with this shattering revelation. He found himself unable to accept his experiences as reality, and from there came he formed the basis of his teachings, that human existence is an illusion, and nothing is real. He left the palace and travelled widely, teaching.
His teachings and doctrine proposed a disregard for self and materialism, instead emphasising subsequent lives and the eventual deliverance from the eternal cycle of life and suffering which is human existence.
While the seeds of higher philosophies were being sown, warfare itself continued. Before 500 BC, China did not exist as a nation. The territory now known as the People’s Republic of China was made up of a large number of minor, independent states, generally operating under feudal rule.
War was seen as an occupation of the nobility, with skirmishes being fought between local warlords, perhaps with small armies of peasants. The lords would be driven to the battlefield in chariots, to fire arrows on the peasant armies of their rivals. Occasionally warlords would resort to single combat before their armies to decide a particular issue.
War was a highly ritualised activity, prohibited in certain seasons or circumstances, such as after the demise of a particular leader. Soldiers might languish for days or weeks while oracles were consulted or a favourable omen awaited prior to an attack.
Gradually the smaller states were assimilated by larger ones, and larger cities were formed, with populations as large as 750,000. Trade flourished between these centres, with tools and weapons of high quality iron among the items exchanged. Around the time of the Warring States period (490-221 BC), a low-grade steel was perfected, allowing the rulers to equip their soldiers with weapons made in foundries and stored in arsenals.
The expansion of the bureaucracy of government at this time allowed for feasible equipping, feeding, training and deployment of much larger armies. This changed warfare from an occupation of the ruling class to a professional activity undertaken by professional soldiers and officers. New specialist skills, such as engineering, signals, and mapmaking became viable occupations for these career soldiers. Sun Tzu was the most famous of these; a brilliant tactician and strategist, whose work The Art of War, which was written around 350 BC, is said to have influenced Mao Tse-Tung, and remains a standard text for military officers, as well as being widely read by ambitious people in other walks of life.
But combat was not solely the province of the rulers and the military. The Chinese countryside was rife with gangs of bandits and outlaws. Merchants enticed by the large profits possible from interstate trade would have employed bodyguards to protect themselves and their wares. The small scale close combat encountered by such bodyguards would have suited a career martial artist perfectly. The itinerant life of such bodyguards would have brought them into contact with others in the same profession from all over the country, allowing for a constant interchange of martial ideas and techniques.
During the Han Dynasty(206 BC – 220 AD), Pan Kuo (32-92 AD) write the Han Su I Wen Chih, or Han Book of the Arts. this work contained chapters on governmental aspects of occupation (during war), battlefield strategy, principles in nature, and a chapter on fighting skills, including hand, foot, and weapon techniques.
Meanwhile, the doctrines of Taoism spread and flourished, with the Taoist monks practising various types of exercise, breathing, and meditation.
During the closing years of the Han Dynasty, Dr Hua To, a famous surgeon, made a major contribution to the development of martial arts, introducing a series of exercises based on the movements of animals, to promote blood circulation, freedom from sickness, and the prevention of the symptoms of old age.. In his book, Shou Pu, Hua To described a system of exercises he called the Frolic of the Five Animals, based on movements of the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird.

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