Daoism and Chinese Martial Arts

Submitted by James Miller on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:37
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TitleDaoism and Chinese Martial Arts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAllen, B.
Refereed DesignationRefereed
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
KeywordsAsian martial arts, Daoism, the Daodejing, the Zhuangzi

The now-global phenomenon of Asian martial arts traces back to something that began in China. The idea the Chinese communicated was the dual cultivation of the spiritual and the martial, each perfected in the other, with the proof of perfection being an effortless mastery of violence. I look at one phase of the interaction between Asian martial arts and Chinese thought, with a reading of the Zhuangzi 莊子 and the Daodejing 道德經 from a martial arts perspective. I do not claim that the authors knew about martial arts. It was not Daoist masters who took up martial arts, but martial arts masters who, at a specific time, turned to Daoism to explain the significance of their art. Today, though, Daoist concepts are ubiquitous in martial arts literature, and a reading of these classics from a martial arts perspective shows how they lend themselves to philosophical thinking about this practice.