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Chinese Martial Arts

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”
-Ernest Hemingway

Chinese martial arts are part of the extraordinary cultural heritage of China. CMA entered western consciousness through Kung Fu movies, which typically displayed superhuman feats. Today numbering in the thousands, it is difficult to make blanket statements.

However, most unfortunately, although there have been sterling exceptions, Chinese martial artist have not typically done well in reality. Whether in the arena, or on the street, the average Chinese martial arts expert has typically done poorly, often comically so.

Why Is Your Kung Fu No Good Here?

Prior to the rise of mixed martial arts, the excellence of any given approach was "proven" three ways - argument, anecdote, and demonstration. In all three regards, Chinese martial arts typically excelled.

The arguments are compelling, citing hundred or even thousands of years of success, pressure point attacks, the harnessing of internal energy, and more. The anecdotes center on masters of the art defeating armed attackers in dramatic fashion. And the demonstrations typically show tremendous athleticism. In sum, CMA give every appearance of being very effective.

Unfortunately, when attempted against trained, active resistance, CMA typically falls apart, and is exposed, naked, as incompetent. When two of the world's greatest Wing Chun masters fought, they showed all the technique of angry eight-year-olds needing a time out; perhaps worse, they didn't even use Wing Chun. 

The reason Chinese martial arts have done so bafflingly poorly is a lack, historically, of a shock proof shit detector. In positive news, simultaneously, the Chinese martial art of Sanda is one of the best, and most underappreciated in the world, with an amazing track record. And very nearly all the moves in Sanda come from traditional Chinese martial arts. 

Over the next generation, Sanda will inexorably spread. The traditional canon will survive, and its cultural, artistic, spiritual, wellness, and conditioning benefits will be ever more widely available, to the benefit of the world. And through Sanda, through the lens of practicality, the shit will be detected and identified for what it is. 

None of this is evidence that Tai Chi if done in its characteristic slow motion will impart self-defense ability. Martial arts must be pressure tested to be effective. And that is why Sanda is so vital. 

The art draws almost exclusively from techniques found in Chinese Martial Arts. And it is a tremendous, practical martial art, perhaps the most underappreciated on the globe. If you have a strong foundation in Tai Chi, and express it through Sanda practice, you will have acquired real self-defense ability.

Mixed martial arts was born in part from a desire to prove that one martial art, jiu-jitsu, was better than all others. It has since evolved, and now the question is not what martial art is best (or worst), but rather, what is there in any given martial art that is useful? And the answer is that even in a seemingly benign martial art like Tai Chi, there are practical techniques.