Are You Learning this Tragic Wu Shu!
To learn Wu Shu is the same as learning Jujitsu from Barack Obama. Or maybe Goju Ryu Karate from William Jefferson Clinton. Or, maybe…Kung Fu as taught by Nancy Pelosi!
You may think I am having a little fun with you, but there is a dark underbelly to all this. When the government decides to take over a business, you see, it tends to destroy, corrupt and confound that business. And I am talking any government, and any business, and specifically the martial arts
Kung Fu, for instance, thousands of years old, has been spreading long life, health, good physical conditioning, and some of the best darned self-defense in the world. Then along came Chairman Mao, and the death of Kung Fu was at hand. The vehicle used for the destruction of the one of the greatest arts the world has ever known was called The Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution Mao decided to kill off elements of society that he deemed dangerous, or corruptive, or whatever. Thus, the population was carted off wholesale and killed, 70,000,000 of them. If you were intelligent, talented, or stood out in any manner, you were dead.
If you were a school teacher, wore corrective lenses, or had written a book, you were dead. If you spoke against communism or played the violin, you were dead. If you knew Kung Fu, you were dead.
Once the Revolution had run its course, the country began to rebuild, in the image of Mao. Funny thing, as China tried to catch up with a world that was still possessed of talent and intelligence, it discovered that there was a lot of interest in this thing called Kung Fu. Unfortunately, they had a problem, as they had killed off Kung Fu.
So, what does a government do when it has killed a martial art, and then found that it needs it? Simple, you hire a few coaches and have them make up some stuff. So they hired a bunch of coaches, the ones who hadn’t known enough Kung Fu to be killed off during the revolution, read any manuals that survived the book burnings, and make up some martial arts all on their own, and they called it Wu Shu
They were particularly intent on making sure that the Kung Fu didn’t have anything harmful in it. You don’t want people able to actually do the thing for self defense. Heck, you don’t want them having a real Great Revolution!
This has been a page about Wu Shu.
There is long tradition of new governments in China burning and destroying old knowledge. Mao was not the first one. Also there is a real fear that if the populace was trained in real martial arts it would overthrow the government. As one of my Chinese friends said ” A hundred years is not too long to get revenge.”
Heck, China isn’t alone. Seems like every government wants to be the only one. If we’re not careful the US gov is already starting the trend.
I read somewhere that there are more than 800 different styles of martial arts in China. During the Cultural Revolution martial arts masters were forbidden to practice or teach martial arts, were imprisoned, killed, sent to collective farms to be re-educated, etc. Now the Chinese government is asking people to donate their secret family martial arts manuals to the government as a patriotic duty so the art can be preserved. What I find so bizarre about this is people are actually doing that. It reminds me of a quote. ” A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves.”
I am also quite fond of this one (partially stolen from Alan Moore): People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. When the government is afraid of its people, then you have liberty.
Thanks. Who is Alan Moore? There was an Alan Moore who wrote Watchmen. Don’t know of a martial arts Alan Moore other than him.
This article over-simplifies what happened immensely! China is a HUGE country, and much of it (even now) had poor access. Many rural areas saw very little of the cultural revolution, and life went on pretty much untouched.
Also, many red guards were martial artists themselves, and took advantage of the chaos of the times to get into as many fights as they could, developing and improving their martial arts greatly. In fact Xinyi Liuhe Quan thrived in Shanghai during the cultural revolution, with most red guards practicing it.