Martial Arts and Ancient Chinese Philosophy
Martial arts were developed under the great influence of ancient Chinese culture and they have benefited a lot from ancient Chinese philosophy. The Spring and Autumn Period was a golden age of academic study and resulted in different schools of philosophical thinking that would lay a solid foundation for the subsequent formation of Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese philosophy advocated the theory of Dao, and held everything. Martial arts practitioners begin with the irregularity and infinity of Dao and seek to reach a stage in which he or she blends harmoniously with nature. The arts teach practitioners to train the inner split and mind as well as the external muscles, mental being and emphasize a close relationship between physical exercises and the exercises according to the changes of natural environment and the conditions of the body. These practices reflect martial arts understanding of the ancient philosophy: let the mind swing freely in Dao and the oneness of man and nature.
Chinese Martial Arts and Ancient Chinese Aesthetics
Ancient Chinese aesthetics advocated a balance between hardness and softness, voidness and solidness, notion and stillness, and negative and positive, as well as the expression of the spirit of an object through its form. Under this influence, Chinese conceptual contentment, harmony, and nature, as well as beauty and elegance. For example, Changquan (Long Boxing) features fully extended, elegant and unrestrained movements; Nanquan (South Boxing) demonstrates steadiness and momentum of movements Shaolin Boxing expresses resolution and strength in its quick and rhythmical movements; and the beautifully and smoothly stringed movements of Taiji Boxing remind viewers of floating clouds and flowing streams.
A distinct aspect of Chinese martial arts is the advocacy off morals and emphasis on benevolence, fidelity and sincerity. Benevolence is the core of Confucianism. It includes love and generosity. As a result, practicing martial arts not only implies building health and strength, but also purifying one’s soul. Chinese martial arts work level of a practitioner is as important as his or her martial arts skills.