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The Forming of Chinese Martial Arts

At the time men skilled in martial arts must report up to the local government so as to ensure that the government could recruit them as needed.

By practicing martial arts, one could not only change his social status but also improve his living condition. In this sense. it is no exaggeration to say that wushu could even alter one's destiny. In a social atmosphere that valued martial abilities. wushu underwent further development toward maturity. New methods of attack, defense, and counter-fight were developed in this period. People developed the habit of carrying a straight-sword and the practices of fencing and jiaodi were common. All these indicated that wushu was serving a variety of functions in the society. One of the major changes in its role was that wushu had become more a competitive sport and grew increasingly suitable for spectator viewing and entertaining.

The Warring States period was put to an end as Qin Shihuang (first emperor of the Qin dynasty) conquered the other six states, unified the country and declared himself the first emperor of China. Under his rule, all weapons out of the state of Qin were confiscated and sent to the capital Xianyang, which virtually prohibited citizens from practicing wushu and strengthened the feudal rule. While practicing wushu was banned among common people, it was boosted in the army. The wide spread of jiaodi, on the other hand. accelerated wushu's toward entertainment and spectator event. A wood fine-toothed comb, excavated from a Qin-dynasty tomb on the Phoenix Hill in Hubei province, has on its back a color painting, which shows the scene of a wrestling competition. Literatures reveal that the second emperor of the Qin dynasty gathered actors in his summer retreat Ganquan Palace and made them perform wrestling. Due to the intrusion of the Huns in north of China, the Han-dynasty government placed a high priority on military preparation and training and accordingly, a new vogue for wushu was sparked throughout the nation. Nearly everyone was practicing wushu, which even blurred the distinction between common people and soldiers. With greater emphasis on combat techniques, martial dance in this period began to appear in the form of taolu Hua Tuo, a renowned physician during the Eastern Han dynasty, developed the Five-Animal Exercise, a series of exercises based on the movements of tiger. deer, bear, ape, and crane. As it was not intended for fighting and contained no combat techniques, it was not wushu in true sense Yet the Five-Animal Exercise inspired the creation of Xiangxing wushu (animal-imitating style) and largely influenced the way that different wushu styles imitated the movements of animals. In this sense the Five-Animal Exercise is one of the major sources of Chinese wushu.

Different sects of wushu emerged in the Qin-Han period with their distinctive styles and a great many theoretical works on wushu followed. For instance. Treatise on Literature in The Book of Han includes as many as thirteen treatises on the skills of martial arts, .with six treatises on hand to hand fighting, thirty-eight on the way of using a sword, three on General Li ' s way of archery, and fifteen on the way of using a long-range crossbow, etc. These treatises are the earliest monographs on wushu. Records about wushu can also be found in ancient relics such as the brick-carved pictures of the Han dynasty and written works such as The Spring and Autumn of Wu and Yue by Zhao Ye of the Eastern Han dynasty, Xiang Yu Imperial Biography of Xiang Yu in Records of the Historian, The Biographies of Li Guan.g and Su Jian in The Book of Han and Miscellanies of the Western Capital.

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