Chinese martial arts, also known as kung fu, are a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China.
Genesis of Chinese martial arts
The genesis of Chinese martial arts has been attributed to the need for self-defense, hunting techniques and military training in ancient China. Hand-to-hand combat and weapons practice were important in training ancient Chinese soldiers.
From this beginning, Chinese martial arts proceeded to incorporate different philosophies and ideas into its practice—expanding its purpose from self-defense to health maintenance and finally as method of self-cultivation. Conversely, the influence of martial arts ideals in civilian society can be found in poetry, fiction, and eventually film. Chinese martial arts are now an integral element of Chinese culture.
An Aspect of Chinese Culture
Chinese martial arts are an organic component of the Chinese culture. Chinese martial arts have a long history, converging Chinese philosophy, medicine, military strategy, techniques, education, aesthetics, etc., and mirroring the character and sagacity of the Chinese people. It can be concluded that Chinese martial arts reflect the entire Chinese cultural characteristics from one aspect.
On the level of philosophy, the marital arts stress “unification of man and nature”. On the social level, the martial arts stress cultivation of mind and personality, awareness of the natural law. Therefore, the Chinese martial arts are not simply a fighting technique, but are a style, life attitude and personality cultivation.
Chinese martial arts are an integral element of 20th-century Chinese popular culture. Wuxia or “martial arts fiction” is a popular genre which emerged in the early 20th century and peaked in popularity during the 1960s to 1980s. This type of fiction is based on Chinese concepts of chivalry, a separate martial arts society and a central theme involving martial arts. Wuxia stories are still extremely popular in much of Asia and provide a major influence for the public perception of the martial arts.
In modern times, Chinese martial arts have spawned the genre of cinema known as the martial arts film. The films of Bruce Lee were instrumental in the initial burst of Chinese martial arts’ popularity in the West in the 1970s. Martial artists and actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have continued the appeal of movies of this genre. Martial arts films from China are often referred to as “kungfu movies”. Martial arts themes can also be found on television networks.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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