Chinese Culture's Influence in Martial Arts

Essay by Pentiumxp February 2006

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Throughout ancient history, martial arts has occupied an important part in Chinese culture. Developed by an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, the practice of martial arts, known as wushu, it is one the earliest sports and has lasted throughout China's development. It is a method of self defense, a way of maintaining health and fitness, a method of developing good morals and character, and a form of spiritual and mental training. Wushu originated and developed into an essential part of Chinese culture, and as such it was bound to be impacted by other forms of culture. The three main influences were arts and literature, philosophy, and religion.

Wushu and Chinese art are thought to share a common origin. Literature bore great effects on wushu's development, and wushu is closely related with dance, one of the oldest forms of art. Literature, which has always had the role of making images in the form of writing, was for centuries used as a way of studying wushu and its role in society.

Many tales of courageous warriors have been passed on from generation to generation, as well as codes of conduct and historical facts. These have all helped people understand martial arts and its purpose. Though literature provided many good contributions, it also had its negative aspect in that some writers sensationalized and falsified stories to make wushu mysterious. Even today the effects of these false notions can be seen. Literature wasn't the only thing that played a role in shaping martial arts. Primitive dances had movements that expressed courage on the battlefield. These movements we used as models when developing the art of dancing as well as martial arts. As both arts continued to evolve, they frequently intertwined with one another and formed combinations of the two. An example of this...