Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (20): General Li Jinglin, the “Sword Saint” of Wudang

This is an important, short biography on a figure that has had a lot of influence on the Chinese sword (jian) taught amongst many of the internal martial artists of the day.

Kung Fu Tea

General Li Jinglin sporting both sunglasses and a jian.

Who was China’s “Number One Sword?”

Few individuals come to be known as both a warlord and a “sword saint.”  Even by the standards of China’s tumultuous 1920s, the carving out of two such notable public personas was an impressive achievement.  Yet General Li Jinglin managed to leave his stamp on both Chinese politics and the development of the nation’s traditional martial arts.

I recently started to delve into the modern development (early 20th century) of the Wudang sword tradition.  The following biographical discussion of General Li Jinglin is part of my very preliminary research on the subject.  If all goes well, more posts on the background and social development of this unique style of fencing may follow.

Still, there can be no doubt that Li Jinglin (1885 – 1931) deserves more attention than he typically receives.  Beyond his role…

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