The Chinese martial arts are dying out. History has its reasons: the advent of modern warfare; the dominance of performance Wushu since Mao; traditional secrecy and conservatism. Then there is the misrepresentation: 'Kungfu' movies; practitioners with the tradition but not the skill; systems which emphasize peripheral aspects at the expense of the martial. This diverts many real fighters away from these great arts to ones being tried and tested in sporting arenas.
The Next Generation
Chinese culture places much import on the next generation. The former lives for the latter. We see this in modern industrial China. Daily, millions of factory workers work a 12-hour shift. After, they cycle back to their factory quarters to cook and sleep 9 to a room. Then their day begins again. They have little recourse to leisure or petty expense. They merely work and save. And they save for their children, to provide for them a better education, a better life. The self never stands alone in the present. It exists in context of generations past and future.
The Chinese martial artists are no different. But what they have to pass on is their art. They owe this, dutifully, to those before them. Much has already been lost in time. A practitioner dies, and with him goes an art honed over generations. But there are still many today anxious to pass on their skills - to keep their art alive, and to not have it die in their hands.
But modern China is booming economically after years of poverty and strife under communist rule. The young of China has its eye on the modern lifestyle - handphones and hamburgers, condominium suites and corporate suits. This development has pushed Western sports to the forefront at the expense of local, traditional activities like the Chinese martial arts. Even within the sphere of the martial arts, it is the government-pushed industry of performance Wushu, the proliferation of the (uncoincidentally) Olympic sport of Tae Kwan Do and sport Sanda (散打) which take precedence. Real Kungfu seems almost forgotten about. It has become myth - one marginalised to the mouths of old men in parks and caricatured in video games and movies. It seems to have lost its place and value in the new world.
Nor is an art otherwise something that can be easily passed down like money or a piece of furniture. It has to be earned with time, effort and sacrifice. Few today are truly willing to dedicate themselves to such a mission. To become something greater than themselves, and join in a tradition, a family, of martial artists, with respect to generations past and with hope in the new.
All this is a great tragedy to us. Good art must pass on. To us, the art is paramount, and we see a need to open horizons to the world outside China.
Similarly, there are many elsewhere who wish to find real Chinese arts, but have been hampered by language, cultural, ethnic and other barriers. Some of you have found teachers, but their focus has been on performance Wushu or health aspects, where the true art may have been lost. Or you may have found skilled teachers, but the teachings have been altered, due to secrecy or xenophobia.
Our chief instructor, Guo Shilei, is of the new generation, and we have put much traditional conservatism aside, to be here on the Internet, in an English speaking voice, and reach out to the rest of the world. To give it our view of what Chinese martial arts is. To teach real 'Kungfu'.
We hope to, in some of you, preserve the integrity of our art; and, to others, we hope to be a valuable resource of Baguazhang and Neijiaquan. In all this, our hope is in a new generation of martial artists, and the ones to follow.