History of wushu


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Oriental martial arts have an old history and traditions... Having appeared at dawn of the civilization and changing with the development of the humanity and social system, they served not only as a means of self-defense, but also were an integral part of the culture, accumulating and increasing the greatest achievements in the various fields of knowledge and, above all, the knowledge about the human beings themselves, their inner world. The time when Chinese martial arts appeared was not reflected in any of the historical documents. The fighting techniques were discovered and developed during a long period of continuous conflicts between men and animals or between different tribes. The experience of the conflicts was accumulating, and techniques created on its base were passed from generation to generation.



Battle scene...

Battle scene...

The schools of martial arts as a means of transferring tradition appeared in China, Korea, Japan not long ago, only in the XVI - VVII centuries, but even then the fighting techniques, subtleties of tactics, methods of training were not considered to be a very important subject: "First the true person, then the true knowledge". Any movement, series of techniques or a formal complex were, first of all, means of educating a man. Through the serious number of associations, resulting from the magnificent names of the technical operations, through the philosophical realization of changes and transformations, through the clear, concentrated experiencing of the movement a new conscience was breaking - a conscience of Master.



Terracotta warriors in Sian.

Terracotta warriors in Sian.

First in China and later in Japan and the other countries of Far East, as a result of the pecularities of their historical and cultural development, originated a practice of passing the "martial tradition" for the various branches and schools of the martial arts. From a father to a son, from a master to a disciple in monastery, clan and family schools the secret techniques and fighting methods were passed, accumulated and mastered...



Ancient Tao Temple.

Ancient Tao Temple.

As we remember, judo became a popular, amazing kind of sport when the system of grading, belts and regulations was introduced, the same later happened to karate and the other kinds of martial arts. The widely advertised styles of "martial karate", for example, were deprived of the most important strikes. Wushu was reduced to something closer to gymnastics, than to martial art; only not long ago Wushu-Sanda started to develop, that brings us closer to the conditions of a real fighting.



Bodhidharma plate at Shoaling monastery.

Bodhidharma plate at Shoaling monastery.

The present situation in the sphere of martial arts, or, to be precise, their "sporting" variants aimed at the best result and mass championships, is such, that they transformed into a real industry of entertainment and mass culture.



Bodhidharma.

Bodhidharma.
Wushu ancient scrolls.

The present situation in the sphere of martial arts, or, to be precise, their "sporting" variants aimed at the best result and mass championships, is such, that they transformed into a real industry of entertainment and mass culture.

Wushu ancient scrolls.



Elements of Chinese martial arts originated more than six thousand years ago as the first cavemen learned simple blocking and striking techniques to protect themselves. The first documented form of Chinese martial arts, classical Chinese wrestling, is noted in the texts written by and about the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, in the first half of the third millennium B.C. Over the ensuing years, other forms of Chinese martial arts evolved.

In about 525 A.D., a holy man named Bodhidharma left his monastery in Southern India to spread the Buddhist faith to China, later called Ch'an Buddhism (Ch'an is the Chinese translation for the Sanskrit word "dhyana" meaning yogic concentration. Also known as Zen). After traveling hundreds of mites to reach Northern China and crossing the Himalyan mountains, he crossed the Yangtze River and headed North to Loyang, the capital of Honan Province.

in a neighboring forest, he found the Shaolin Ssu (Young Forest Temple). The temple had been built by Emperor Hsiao Wen of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534 A.D.) and was famous for scholarly translations of Buddhist scripture into Chinese. Bodhidharma located a nearby cave, where he sat in meditation facing a stone wall for most of the next nine years. Various stories have arisen regarding his meditation practices - it was said that he could hear the screeching of ants crawling along the rock face. Another time, he supposedly fell asleep while meditating and cut off his eyelids to prevent that from happening again. At the end of nine years, Bodhidharma's deep blue piercing eyes had apparently drilled a gaping hole in the cliff wall and Fang Chang could no longer refuse him entry into the temple.

Bodhidharma became the first Tsu (patriarch, literally, ancestor) of the Ch'an sect in China. He saw that the monks were weak and could not perform his rigorous meditations so he incorporated some calisthenics into the monks' training. These in-place exercises were transcribed by later monks as (1) "The Muscle Change Classic" or "The Change of the Sinews," (2) "The Marrow Washing" and (3) "The Eighteen Fland Movements of the Enlightened One" (The Eighteen Lo Han Shou) and marked the beginning of Shaolin Temple boxing. Bodhidharma later devised some self-defense movements based on his knowledge of Indian fighting systems. His emphasis on "Chi" (intrinsic energy which can be cultivated with breathing exercises and meditation) is still an essential foundation of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Bodhidharma's teachings were further enriched and refined by succeeding Shaolin masters to become the powerful and graceful Shaolin Temple boxing (also known as Shaolin Ch'uan [Shaolin Fist] or Shaolin Ch'uan Fa [Way of the Shaolin Fist] ).

Since bandits frequently attacked the temple, the Shaolin hired kung fu masters to teach the monks to defend themselves. Eventually, the Shaolin fought off the attacking bandits and became reknown for their martial arts prowess.

Then, in 1644 A.D., the Manchus came to power (Ch'ing Dynasty 1644 -1911 A.D.). Many of the officials from the previous M'ing dynasty sought refuge in the Shaolin temple and the Manchus destroyed the temple. Only five masters escaped - those who went north taught the taller Northern/Mongolian people accustomed to a cold and rigorous climate, while those who went south taught the shorter Southern people accustomed to a warmer climate.

The first Shaolin Ssu has long since been destroyed, but several branches of Shaolin Kung Fu stemming from the first temple have spread out throughout China and the world. Today, the two most well-known branches are Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin. In the colder Northern regions of China the ground was hard, allowing more stability when kicking and stepping. Therefore, Northern Shaolin styles emphasize kicking, long-range, acrobatic, and ground-fighting techniques. Many of the fancier kicks are acrobatic and graceful as well as powerful, but the basic kicks can be effectively applied by any well-trained student. In the warmer Southern regions of China, the ground was softer and often muddy, making kicking and stepping more difficult. As a result, Southern Shaolin emphasizes higher stances and hand techniques. The practitioner of Southern Shaolin will patiently wait for an attack, then quickly block and counter as the opponent strikes, catching the opponent off guard...

...It is the true traditional Wushu, with its centuries-old history, that accumulated the Tao methods of acquiring immortality, and achievements of Chinese medicine and techniques of psycho- training, as well as the secrets of fighting techniques of monastery and folk schools, that is the never-ending source, from which all the martial arts originate.

When the Oriental martial arts became popular, mass and widely spread to conform to the tastes of the public the tradition itself was lost, the martial arts were known only for Van Damm's splits. The result of it was appearing of "true western" ("full-contact", kick boxing) or "true national"("Russian combat") single combats, which either denied any inner work and were aimed at reaching the highest sporting result, or having in its basis a "national idea" of some kind.
Nevertheless we made an attempt to return to the origins and to find the skill and the essence of this greatest heritage of the Chinese culture in the pure folk traditional Wushu. In China itself there are no masters of the traditional Wushu left. The kind sport that was presented by the authorities was only a shade of a true Wushu, and, to be precise - just gymnastics, stylized to look like Wushu.
So much more remarkable is the fact, that the famous master Ma Menta, son of the founder of Tongbei style in China, decided to develop this most powerful Wushu style in Russia. The number of the Moscow schools teaching a mixture of gymnastics with a strange kind of karate instead of Wushu surprised even the experienced master. He was equally impressed by the enthusiasm of our sportsmen. And in China the traditional Wushu was not still in favor... So master decided to revive his family style ... in Russia.
For some years his best pupils, the leading masters of the traditional Wushu have been coming to us and generously sharing their knowledge. The result is that the accumulated potential of knowledge and experience formed the basis of the methodic of our Tongbei school. Ma Menta's closest disciples and followers made an invaluable contribution to the development of the traditional Wushu in Russia for the last years, when they came to Moscow to share their precious experience during seminars and master - classes.

Brief Information about Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System

Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System (Wushu Tongbei big system of the Ma family) belongs to the systems of traditional folk Wushu, that have their own history, traditions, methods of psycho- physical training and an enormous arsenal of techniques and complexes.
There are the best "ancient and modern flowers" of Chinese martial art collected here. Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System has a rich outer form and a deep inner content, and what's more, it all is founded on a strong theoretical base of the traditional Wushu schools. Being a powerful system of a real fight, Ma shi Tongbei Ui lets everyone, who seriously and purposefully works to improve themselves, achieve the deep penetration of the martial arts apart from mastering the practical aspects, keep fit, find excellent health, inner balance and harmony, "embrace everything and touch the Only".

The main part of the Tongbei theory is defined by the terms "acquiring and mastering" or "clearing and mastering", and the practical part draws attention to the work of Tong Bei Chin powers and is translated as "mastering the penetrating power".

In the famous book "Tongbei Quan Lu" Tongbei is described as an elitist Wushu system. Here are some extracts from this book: "In the Min dynasty there was a famous Wushu master called Fei Da Huan who founded "Tongbei Quan Lu". In this work he mentioned for the first time the name of the martial art system "Tongbei" (two hieroglyphs) and showed that in practice it is a guarantee from losing, and in theory it meets all the requirements of Quan Fa ("The Law of Wushu"). It was Fei Da Kuan who defined the "inner" and the "outer" work in Tongbei. There are three hieroglyphs in Chinese that can be read as "bei": the first meaning is "shoulder", the second- "back" and the third -"to have". Though the meaning of "to have" is rather vague, it should be noted that it emphasizes the unity and continuity in passing the traditions of Tongbei as a system. In Ma Shi Tongbei Ui this very meaning of "bei" (i.e. "to have") is used.

There was a famous teacher of Wushu and fencing - Pan Vynsie who taught Humanities at Juanshen institute. The method "Tongbei Quan Fa" became famous thanks to him. Pan Vynsie never divided "external" and "internal", never separated the fighting practice with the improvement of the health, and considered the development of the spiritual power to be most important in Wushu.
His best disciple Lin Yun Be did not widely spread Tongbei system among the people, but, following his teacher's will, taught only some "external" forms to the "uninitiated", i.e. that, what was included into the meaning "shoulder". Only a few most devoted pupils got the knowledge about the whole Tongbei system. Such an orthodox approach could lead to losing part of Tongbei Quan Fa knowledge in the coming troubled times.

An unknown master Ma Fentu started studying Tongbei by Juan Ling Be, soon achieved great success and became famous far beyond his district. Teacher Juan gave Ma Fentu the right to spread the true knowledge of Tongbei ( in the meaning "to have"). In 1909 Ma Fentu founded a society of "Chinese Warriors", the rising of Tongbei to the top of the Chinese martial art schools began from that moment…" The popularity of Wushu with the people was due to the fact, that Ma Fentu and Ma Intu were the real Wushu "stars", always winning at various contests of that time. Having carried out a great amount of work in studying of such famous styles as baji-quan, piqua-quan, phanzi-quan and chuojio-quan, Ma Fentu found the thing that united these different schools and managed to create a unified system including the close- and short-distance fight, techniques of entries, breaking open the defense of the opponent and using the "explosive power" and concentration, and, at last, subtle leg techniques.

The system he created became very famous among the numerous followers of Wushu in China . But as time went by Ma school had to quit its activities because of persecutions, only a few masters were left- mostly the members of the Ma family, the keepers of the true Tongbei knowledge. They were the four brothers, Ma Fentu's sons, famous Wushu masters in China and in the world: Ma Inta, Ma Sinta, Ma Linta and Ma Menta.

Nowadays the traditional Wushu is revived in China. Professor Ma Menta is the compiler of a complete encyclopedic dictionary on the traditional Wushu in China. During his visit to Moscow a decision was made to develop Wushu in Russia; the disciples of the Ma school conducted seminars and classes for the instructors of Federation. The work in this direction is continued. More and more Wushu fans all over the world are getting acquainted with the priceless treasure of the Chinese culture - the heritage of the Ma family.



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