Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

How come Kung Fu developed in Asia but not in America?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18450 points ) April 20th, 2011

I’ve wondered sometimes why the art of self defense, particularly martial arts like Kung Fu mainly rose from China, why not some from the West?

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10 Answers

everephebe's avatar

Um… do more research for yourself.

There are plenty of non-asian forms of martial arts.

gailcalled's avatar

For an all-encompassing answer to a very complicated question, read Jared Diamond’s book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

thorninmud's avatar

One common explanation is that these weaponless forms of self-defense were developed as ways for Buddhist monks—who wouldn’t have carried traditional weapons—to defend themselves. It wasn’t uncommon for the secular powers to periodically turn against the monastics and persecute them. That provided the motive, but the arts also became a form of body/mind cultivation in their own right that complemented the mindfulness and responsiveness developed by the monks in their meditative practices.

syz's avatar

And if I’m not mistaken, Chinese martial arts (as well as others) developed well before America even existed (or were you referring to Native Americans?).

Cruiser's avatar

Many of the Ancient Martial Arts came about because one faction was oppressed by a conquering army and often forbidden to posses weapons. Empty hand “martial art” disciplines developed up as ways to best defend themselves if and when. Many were “disguised” as dances and forms of exercise.

gailcalled's avatar

It’s an interesting question, however. There were certainly countless downtrodded masses in all the of European countries, including monks, friars, nuns, etc who got periodically hacked to bits.

Why didn’t they incorporate similar weaponless defensive arts into their daily lives?

thorninmud's avatar

@gailcalled I think it’s the whole “martyrdom” model. Christian monastics took Jesus, who passively yielded to his aggressors like a “sacrificial lamb”, as their exemplar. There aren’t too many saints on the books who died fighting. It really fits in with the whole Christian expectation that they would be attacked by the secular forces, but that reliance on God, not personal strength, was the key (“not my will, but yours, be done”).

Buddhism values non-violence whenever possible, and sets the bar very high for permissible use of violence, but martyrdom is not held to be a ticket to salvation. And Buddhists have no God figure to whom they look for rescue.

gailcalled's avatar

@thorninmud: Well said…a nice crisp encapsulation. Glad you’re a member of the collective.

TexasDude's avatar

@Cruiser is right. Additionally, a lot of weapons used in martial arts were disguised as walking sticks and farm implements so they wouldn’t be confiscated by oppressors.

incendiary_dan's avatar

A lot of that occurred in other places with oppressed populations. Ever hear about Irish shillelaghs? They became very popular when the British attempted to disarm the Irish.

One major reason we have the perception of East Asian peoples being more involved with martial arts is G.I.‘s bringing home a handful of styles after WWII, and deciding they were super cool. Guess everyone forgot that Westerners and everyone else ever had also developed their own martial arts.

And lets get a useful definition of “martial arts”. Any fighting skill falls into the category, really.

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