Persecution of Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Goes Way Back…

While it’s true that after the 1949 Revolution the Communists cracked down on martial arts, particularly those with a supernatural flavor, the Jing Wu Association, perhaps influenced by the influx of Western Progressivism in China during the unequal treaty period, had already been actively dissociating martial arts from spirituality. The Boxer Rebellion, with its failed “iron shirt” techniques that unfortunately failed when faced with bullets, left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Jing Wu not only attempted to “scientize martial arts” but also eschewed traditional Chinese medicine and attempted to appeal to the middle class.

The excerpts below are from “Chinese Martial Arts: A Historical Outline” by David Ross,

Much of the anti-Communist messaging from modern martial art clubs probably stems from the close association between Jing Wu and the Tong Men Hui, whose members would later form the Nationalist Guomindang (KMT). So it’s important to parse the messaging. Yes, communism was terrible for martial arts. But before this, the Nationalists were already trying to secularize martial arts and remove its traditional elements. And yet before this, the Qing Dynasty had been cracking down on spiritualist martial art clubs, unless they could leverage them against foreigners the way they did with the Boxers.