Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (4): Sun Lutang and the Invention of the “Traditional” Chinese Martial Arts (Part I).

Kung Fu Tea

Self portrait of Sun Lutang, demonstrating Xingyi Quan for one of his five books. Self portrait of Sun Lutang, demonstrating Xingyi Quan for one of his five books.

This is Part One of a three part biographical sketch of Sun Lutang.  Also see Part Two and Part Three.

Introduction: Why Sun Lutang?

One of the persistent problems that I see in amateur discussions of “Chinese martial studies” is a lack of understanding of how broad the traditional martial arts really were, and the variety of life experiences that they encompassed.  In fact, rather than discussing China’s martial culture in the singular, it would probably be better to think about these cultures in the plural.  The martial arts never were just one thing, and our experience with the modern “traditional” arts tends to seriously skew our perceptions of the past.

To counter this trend I have been compiling a series of short biographies on important and interesting martial artists from the 19th and…

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