Thread: Hudiedao
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Old 23rd July 2009, 04:00 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thank you Kukulz, and for the wonderful response. Its great to have the insight you provide on this, as my information is based only on overview and various notes, so your perspective is outstanding.

No. Thank you! I learn a lot from all this. My words come from what I have read here, in books, and heard from Chinese martial arts historians and teachers.

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I have often wondered about the so called 'scholars jian' and whether these individuals were permitted to have protection weapons in some sort of scholastic exception in cities.It would seem that in rural areas, there would be more latitude for local smiths to create weaponry such as the common village jians and other types of dao etc.

Well, just because big emperor says no doesn't always mean no! There's always exceptions. Military families obviously are trained in and use weaponry. As I said before, thugs, bodyguards, and soldiers all had to have weapons. Village militia may have been supplied by the local armory or blacksmith, but some families had a family sword/spear, treasured and passed down.
The scholar sword can be compared to the fencing and dueling of European aristocrats... While many scholars and nobles of China were not fighters, some were accomplished warriors (have the wealth and time to devote) and obviously the sword was a sign of status as well as a weapon. The jian was considered the scholar's sword because it took more finesse and learning to become proficient. The saying is something like "10 days for fists, 100 days for dao, a lifetime for jian" - I probably got it wrong, but you get the idea. Empty hand techniques were much less emphasized compared to weaponry (though the body can be used in many ways, the versatility of which cannot be paralleled by weapons as we know it).

Some rich folks even devoted their lives to the martial arts. Fan Xu Dong, born in 1841, was pretty wealthy throughout his life and taught openly in Yantai, Shandong. Apparently, legend says he defeated a Russian Boxer at one point. Some say he defeated a roaming Samurai who was challenging and killing local martial artists. I guess he was quite the hero for martial artists of the time. Shandong was known for it's development of martial artists. The people were stereotypically tall and rude.

I know some rich Chinese today who teach martial arts. A guy in my local Chinatown teaches Hung Gar for very low cost. Granted he owns 10 restaurants or so, so he can afford to spend free time teaching. Whether or not the fighting application is present is debatable, I cannot attest to that since I have never been to his school.

Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I would classify the reputation of the 'River Pirates' as formidable rather than 'terrible'. From what I understand they often operated much as privateers in the sense of protecting from foreign intrusion, although it would be difficult to accurately classify the incredibly large spectrum of these organized clans in one category or another. As always, the term becomes essentially generically applied.

I think I might need to do more reading on River Pirates. Would that be confined solely to mainland China? What of the Japanese/Chinese Wokou? What about Chinese pirates in the South China sea, terrorizing land from northern China down to Taiwan and the Philippines? The Philippines you say? Damn straight, and I got CITATION!
[pirate king Lin Tao/Limahong ] attacked Manila with sixty-two armed junks and some four-thousand warriors on November 29, 1574
Wiley, Mark V. Filipino Martial Culture. Singapore: Charles E. Tuttle Publishing, 1996.
The Spanish were also concerned with Koxinga who was said to be contemplating the invasion of the Philippines after one of the Spanish sino-massacres. Perhaps if he did with his large fleet and armies, history would've turned out differently. The Philippines are a lot further from the Qing than Taiwan is. But that would make him further from Xiamen, his old base, and geographically, strategically, and logistically further from his goal of re-instating the Ming, which at one point became a lost cause.
The Chinese pirate-kings were a lot more progressive in their thinking. Trade. Guns. Colonies. Evolving warfare. Navy. Very fascinating how the southern Chinese folks conducted themselves, a very different flavor from the northerners.

But that gets to the heart of my question... what were this pirates like? What made them so fierce? They didn't have the same fanatical attitude and cultural incentives that the Moros had that made them so feared. They didn't simply raid and return home (or settle) like the Vikings did. Yet they were very powerful and some of them attempted to carve out kingdoms of their own. What made them like that? What were their main sources of man-power? What was their usual level of martial skill? Their weaponry? How common were Hu-die-dao? I would say it'd be a great weapon about sampans and junks, but were they common? Somehow I don't think so, but maybe they were...
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