Can’t see the big picture.

July 8, 2009

“Not only is the written record in China biased towards civil over military virtues, it also speaks with the voice of a government deeply suspicious of the secret societies often affiliated with the martial arts. In the past, whole dynasties had fallen as a result of such movements. Martial artists were, almost by definition, members of the illiterate lower classes and unable to leave written records of their own activities. And, in the eyes of the elite record keepers, martial artists were not merely social inferiors–because of their frequent association with the underworld and seditious activities, they were often regarded as criminals.


Under the circumstances, the attitude of the government was quite predictable. In the third century a member of the imperial family explained why officials had summoned all men of occult skill to the capital: “The reason we have brought them all together in the Wei Kingdom is honestly because we fear the followers of such men would form underworld connections to take advantage of the multitude, and practice supernatural evils to delude the people.”


During the last dynasty the government prohibited boxing associations, and the attitude of Ching officialdom is captured in the following late-seventeenth-century advice to county magistrates: “In recent days in the regions of Wu and Yueh [ancient names for south China] there is a class of vagrant youths who gather together with the bad children of the educated classes, burn incense and take blood oaths. They publicly invite teachers and study boxing and fencing, tattoo patterns on both arms, and wear short armor down to their waists. Like a pack of foxes and dogs they come and go from tea stores and wine shops, wander like bees and dance like butterflies [a sexual euphemism], and go wild with women in brothels. When they hear of someone with an injustice, indicating that they will seek revenge [for him] they lustily plunder [the accused] . . . . If you arrest the gang leader who commits these atrocities, you must, together with public opinion, reject him. Either kill him under the bamboo cane, or report him to your superiors for an execution according to the law. Do not forgive him one tenth of the law; then customs will return to honesty and good men will have peace.”


The attitude of the government was hostile, and because martial artists were often members of the illiterate lower classes, they were seldom able to put their case in writing. Even if literate and inclined to brave government sanctions, martial artists were silenced by a strict code of secrecy like the one that bound the early twentieth-century Red Spears Society.”

I have in front of me, a report written in 1991 by researchers at Michigan University.

Above quoted is an extract from that report.

Read the last paragraph again, just see how little about CKF is really archived and how that leaves huge gaps in our understanding of the histories of CKF.

In fact, the same could be said about the Singapore government’s attitude in the 70s, 80s and even the 90s; they view kung fu clubs distrustfully and mandatory clearance and registration were imposed even for students.

I sometimes wonder if that could be a contributing factor in the decline of followers.

Now things are more relaxed but then again, MA there is more contemporary Wushu than TCMA….

Frankly, I sometimes think than no matter what, it’s really next to impossible to piece back actual happenings with any authority, given the dearth of reliable research material available.

Yes, there are records but these are not to be found in museums or other official institutions.

I am talking families’ records and most folks are averse to open them up for public viewing …..

pak kua classic_Page_016

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