Taiping Introduction to Chinese Cultural Studies
The objective of this section is to provide some chinese cultural background and context to your martial arts studies, although difficult to convey in written from since until you live it you may not get it, but some help on the journey is always of value. There are various topics to enhance the understanding of the theories and concepts that are incurred in the study of traditional chinese martial arts. Links (sometimes we will have our own articles) to general introductions will be updated here to give a basic understanding.
All Taiping Programs integrate aspects of Chinese Cultural studies into their curriculums.
Where further study is available we may place links and if there are special topics you have an interest write to us and we will in time try to address it. Of course there are limits and we by no means scholars of history or the topics in this section however to grasp the deeper levels of martial arts some introductory understanding of such topics is invaluable. Of course we will start slow and in time hopefully expand. If you would like to hep all contributions and directed links are welcome but of course we would be able to review before applying.
Chinese Philosophy and Thought
With such a long history and significant social and cultural development, you can imagine there are endless amounts of literature available. Here are links to some of the literature that we deem as valuable to gain a taste of. It is impossible to gain an appreciation simply by student the texts below since they have through time influenced society into a realm of their own. Only by living it would one grasp there application, yet even so their importance is not to be denied. The three pillars of Chinese Philosophy are embodied through Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Chinese History and key events
China has a long, rich and turbulent history. For so much of its last 2,000 years it was ruled by foreign powers (Mongolians, Manchurians, Jurchens, Khitan), had constant battles over land and power, was segregated into smaller states with minimal national control, had rebellion after rebellion for freedoms, had leaders who started for the people but ended up like imperialists once power became them, had the western powers trying to trade anything for a piece of its richness and finally required like the rebellions that had so failed before the common people together to make one nation again and then over 50 years of having started again has returned to its place as the Middle Kingdom, developing at an impressive rate but with an attitude of common understanding and peaceful resolutions whilst ensuring that no insurgency happens again. Below, there are links on general chinese history and then the highlighted parts are predominantly from Wikipedia (yes not perfect but other choices seem less organised) of what we consider key bits to know (i.e. not all Dynasties/periods are noted). The rebellions are noted given that often there is interplay with so called Boxers (or martial artists) of the time.
There are about 40,000 characters in Chinese written language, of those about 10,000 are actually applied in common times and knowledge of 4,000 characters is enough to get by on. If the characters were not difficult enough there are hundreds of dialects, the key dialect groups include Wu (of which subsets like Hu (Shanghainese), Suzhou and Wuxi are example derivatives), Min split into Minbei (Min Dong, Min Zhong and Puxian) from Fuzhou areas (North Fujian) and Min Nan (South Fujian) which includes Hokkien, Amoy, Hainanese and Teochew, the there is Gan Northern (south Anhui, north Jiangxi) and Southern Gan (south Jiangxi and Some of Guangdon) and Hakka, Then there is Yue (Cantonese, Toi San Wah, Peng Wah) and Mandarin (which there are variations like in Dongbe, Zhongyuan (central Plains), Beijinghua and then standard Mandarin. Then noting that on top of the script and dialects, chinese is a tonal language where tones (excluding neutral tones) like there are 4 (Mandarin), 7 (Hokkien) and 9 (Cantonese) as examples. Then Wu dialects have a base of 5 tones, but with dynamic changes so that the pitch high or low can play a part. With so much tonal works no wonder Chinese can sound noisy, speak up or we may not catch watch you are saying. Now to make this even more interesting what most people recognise as Chinese (Han), in China there are another 55 or more ethnic nationalities (Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, etc), they have their own complete languages again (some have lost script and adopted chinese characters). In this section we also give links to tools that can help with chinese language and some elearning sites as well. Why all the chinese - well some very local styles only make sense in their own dialect so knowing mandarin would not be always sufficient to grasp what the local village master is trying to convey.
Chinese Geography and Anthropology
With so much history and so many cultures, where to begin to understanding a country like China. Well the next category in the puzzle is about places and our focus is on a. Capitals of Empires (often holds aspects unique to those empires of the past and thus history/culture etc) and then places of historical significance, these could be from our perspective relating to maybe religions (mountains), martial arts or even some spectacular natural wonder or beauty. Lastly, some rare places now recognised as "wushu zhi xiang" (villages/places with a high concentration of martial arts practice), which is a popular destination whenever we have time to go to China. Now again the list by no means exhaustive but more of a bit of flavor to get you started, the rest hopefully you'll explore by your own interest later. If you have questions about specific styles and their potential Wushu Zhi Xiang, let us know by email and we'll try to help out, as we are pretty well versed with such areas.
Capitals of China throughout History
+ Rui An, Zhejiang
+ Nan Miao, Jiangxi
+ Cangzhou, Hebei
+ Quanzhou, Fujian
+ Lixian, Hebei
+ Gaoyang, Hebei
+ Shenzhou, Hebei
+ Zhangshu, Jiangxi
+ Fengcheng, Jiangxi
+ Wen Xian, Henan
|+ On Capitals
+ On Historical Places
+ On Martial Arts Villages