206 B.C.E.: THE DANCING ASSASSIN

spring autumn kung fuJust a short excerpt from Professor Kang Ge-Wu’s martial history, The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts. If you are interested in the broader view of Chinese Kung Fu, this is a must have. It is the first—and only— book issued in English on the 5000 year history of Chinese Martial Arts, and Plum’s first published book. It is one of our perennial sellers.

Liu Bang destroyed the Chin Dynasty and went to HongMen to meet with Xing Yu. At the banquet Xing Zhuang said, “We have no entertainers in the army. May I perform a sword dance?” And Xing Zhuang drew his sword and began dancing. He intended to strike Liu Bang. Xing Yu followed suit, shielding with his body so that Xing Zhuang could not strike Liu Bang.” (From the Records of the Historian). At that time wearing swords became the fashion. On the one hand the sword could be used in sword dancing. On the other hand it could be a defense weapon. Later, wearing a sword became part of ritual. The Book of Chin records, “The etiquttee of Han Dynasty stipulated that the Emperor and all officials wore swords. Later they wore swords only when they went to court.

Rubbing of Xing Yu defending Liu Bang

 

COMMENT: So popular did the sword become that Confucius is said to have worn one despite not knowing how to use it. He reported that it made him feel like a gentleman. One of China’s most famous and beloved poets, generally known as Li Po, was an accomplished swordsman and his great colleague, Tu Fu, wrote a few pieces about the art of swordplay. Women entertainers were so excellent at the sword that they actually inspired movements for combat. For many centuries this weapon that balances beauty and skill has been a favorite of the Chinese people in general and Kung Fu practitioners particularly.

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