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History of Chinese Martial Arts

by William Pehush on November 22, 2009

While China and Japan are two separate nations with their own distinct cultures they share a common bound through their martial arts. Of coarse all martial arts have some similarities, because after all we’re all fighting human beings even if we approach defeating an enemy in a different way. In Japan many styles originated from the home islands, but Karate the style most people identify with Japan and one of the most popular styles in the world originated in China.

In China martial arts date back to before the 12th century and include hundreds of styles though the most popular are Kung Fu and Tai Chi. Kung Fu has only recently become popular in the west thanks to books and movies, but in China it was practiced by everyone from the common man to great warriors like the master strategic Sun Tzu. The Shaolin monks are perhaps Kung Fu’s best own practitioners, because they setup schools in their monasteries and practiced many different styles.

While martial arts helped the monks lead a more fulfilling life through exercise and mediation the training also had a more practical concern, since they had to deal with bandits and warlords, and couldn’t rely on local governments for help. Over time they would defend themselves by developing different styles of hand to hand combat and weapons training. Their training included everything from learning how to focus your energy or “chi” to stretching and sparring. Some of the styles even mimicked movements of animals like the tiger, the monkey, and the crane.

Chinese visitors would bring martial arts to the island of Okinawa in the 1300′s and the exchange of knowledge would continue between the two nations through sailors, merchants, and Okinawa’s nobles who went to China to train. King Sh? Hashi who united the Okinawa and other neighboring islands supported adopting anything Japanese or Chinese that would help develop his country, so martial arts continued to develop.

Another important event in the development of Karate was the Japanese invasion of Okinawa followed by its occupation by the fierce samurai warriors of the Shimazu Clan. Experts in many deadly weapons and armored from head to toe the samurai were a forced to be reckoned and they ruled with an iron fist. To make sure that they had even more of an advantage they also banned all weapons on the island, but empty handed fighting styles and concealed weapons styles were developed in secret.

While the Japanese were never driven out Okinawa they learned well from what they saw and today many traditional martial arts techniques and weapons we identify with Japan actually came from Okinawa and China. In the centuries that followed both Japan and China would contribute to martial arts in Asia and around the world. Both countries have a lot of national pride when it comes to martial arts, but despite this they have learned a lot from each other and this sharing of knowledge benefits all martial artists.

Author: William Pehush
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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