четвртак, 20. август 2015.

Emei , between myth and reality

Emei mountain , one of four holy Buddhist mountains and third most significant kung place, right after Shaolin and Wudang . According to some “sources” Emei kung fu is more than 2000 years old , first styles emerged before fist Chinese dynasty and actually , Emei kung fu is the oldest kung fu in whole China.
Other “sources” put creation of Emei styles in different time periods , from prehistory to 17th century and many of these “histories” include various legendary figures who can be found in better known Shaolin and Wudang  “histories”.
Emei kung fu styles are described as efficient as Shaolin styles but also have internal component developed as much as it is in Wudang styles if not more .
Some older sources are talking about only one , single Emei style , while today there are undefined number of different styles

When we give closer look at Emei kung fu history one thing soon becomes pretty  obvious. Creation myths(“histories”) about Wudang and Shaolin are really detailed, there are large number of books that cover this specific subject and at first glance these books leave an impression they are written after serious historical and archeological research . Today we know that classification to Wudang and Shaolin styles was invented in Goshu academy during Republican period in China . Also it is very well known fact  Wudang and Shaolin were not places for research and development of  kung fu . Kung fu was never practiced in Wudang before early 1930’s while in Shaolin martial arts were practiced by individuals who brought them there , there was no Shaolin kung fu .

Myth , actually group of stories about origin of Emei kung fu are comparing to  wudang and shaolin stories very short ,with scant information , often contradict each other although these stories share some common characteristics
This situation is not a surprise , just as it is a case with Wudang and Shaolin creation stories , Emei creation stories are pure fiction , with one significant difference , development time . While stories about Wudang and Shaolin had almost a century to evolve ( first Shaolin storiy can be found  in 1905, wudang stories are from early 1930’s ) and these places were and still are very popular if not the most popular kung fu places , interest about Emei didn’t exist until recently , although there are some mention about styles practiced on Emei in republican period. No one talked about Emei until “kung fu craze” in the late 1970”s and beginning of the 1980’s.
China was closed until recently and travel to Emei was almost impossible and there were no practitioners of Emei kung fu outside China (which is very peculiar). For these reasons there was no interest for this styles therefore there was no need for any “histories”.  Situation changed in last couple of decades, China is open now and great number of people hurried and still hurry to find and learn some exotic and still undiscovered styles hidden in inner China .Now , when interest started to raise there was a need for “histories” because that is very important for many people . On the other hand , there was not enough time to developed “histories” in such detail like it was the case with other two kung fu ‘centers”. Crude stories , with very little information and no details , but with very clear message about what style is superior to all others show that development time was short , most likely these stories were written by single individuals to promote their styles and there was no time (nor will) for information exchange , that is why stories are so different from one another. Lack of details clearly shows that stories cannot be older than one generation.

This , of course doesn’t mean that no kung fu was practiced on Emei  mountain . Styles practiced  there were common styles for northen China like Pi Gua , long Fist, Tai Chi and many others but we cannot talk about some specific group of Emei styles .
The truth is , until decade ago there were not more than 10 kung fu practitioners on Emei mountain . During cultural revolution, communist government killed a great number of kung fu masters and few lucky survived but they couldn’t practice openly nor have students so whatever they knew it was not passed to new generations.
It is also a truth that today new “old” , original , secret styles are discovered almost daily , together with new grandmasters , masters ect. I think the rate of style discovering is proportional to a number of foreign visitors. Closer look on that “old, original, secret” styles clearly show that these styles are nothing more than modern wushu , sometimes mixed with some of the traditional styles . Also it is obvious that all these Emei masters, grandmasters and couches are professional wu shu performance artists.  

In the future it is highly possible that some new “old, original:” center if kung fu will be discovered , when Emei fashion pass and people start to search for something new and more exotic