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Warrior Spirit in China - Chinese Warrior Codes


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#1 TiYiJian

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:21 PM

From:
http://www.ourorient...rriorspirit.htm

In 1974, Andre Malraux, a famous author and statesman of France, visited Japan. At the news conference, a reporter asked the old man about the differences between Chinese culture and Japanese culture. Malraux said, "China didn't have warrior spirit. The West Europe had chivalry, and India had it, too. But only China didn't have it." Perhaps some Chinese also agreed with him, because they often connected warrior spirit with Japanese Bushido.


China didn't have the "warrior spirit"? What does it mean?

#2 William O'Chee

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:15 PM

From:
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China didn't have the "warrior spirit"? What does it mean?

Put simply, that the Chinese are a pacific people.

China has generally favoured philosophy, earning and the arts over warfare.

Sun Tzu's Art of War has a Western cult following, but the question to ask is how well read was it in classical China?

#3 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 10:17 PM

From:
http://www.ourorient...rriorspirit.htm

China didn't have the "warrior spirit"? What does it mean?


That's not true. Those who claimed that China didn't have the 'warrior spirit' probably have not studied Chinese Martial/Military culture.

Chinese culture has two main components: Chinese classical scholarly (literary) culture and Chinese martial culture.

In ancient China, there was a martial (warrior-like) spirit known as "Xiake Jingsheng 侠客精神". This generally referred to the culture and spirit of highly-skilled pugilist (martial artist/kungfu master), who were known as "Xiake 侠客" in ancient China. They were essentially heros, equivalent to the Samurai in Japan and Knights of Europe. Very often, they stood on the bright righteous side and use their high martial skills to fight against dark evil people in ancient China.

Japanese samurai codes valued obedience (serve) and loyalty to master. The Chinese martial codes (xiake jingsheng) tended to be more romantic and had a distinct personality as influenced by Confucianism. In ancient China, the warriors valued friendship ties, erranty (chivalrousness) and loyalism. Anyone who go against these value system will suffer from guilt of conscience, sometime resulting in heros committing suicide.

There were many famous ancient Chinese warriors such as Cao Mo 曹沫, Zhuanzhu 专诸, Yao Li 要离, Yu Rang 豫让 , Nie Zheng 聂政, Jing ke 荆轲 etc. They were assassins but were full of righteousness. They assassin someone not for money, but for a respectful belief.

You can understand about the Chinese Warrior Codes from the many Chinese Blockbuster Kungfu movies such as 7 swords, Heros etc.

Sometimes, the Chinese Martial (Warrior) Culture is known as "Jianghu Wenhua 江湖文化". To understand this, I recommend you to read the Classical Chinese novel "Shuihuzhuan 水浒传" (Water Margin). It tells the story of 108 heros, forced to become bandits and who fought against the corrupted Song court. This novel is very good in depicting about the Chinese Martial Culture.

Edited by General_Zhaoyun, 27 May 2009 - 10:25 PM.

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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#4 TiYiJian

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 08:09 AM

Put simply, that the Chinese are a pacific people.

China has generally favoured philosophy, earning and the arts over warfare.

Sun Tzu's Art of War has a Western cult following, but the question to ask is how well read was it in classical China?

Well, it depends on the period. I don't think China had always been peaceful, otherwise all the warring years wouldn't have any sense.
So you're stating that China is less violent than the West or Japan. Even so, Chinese martial culture has been much more developed than any other state for so many years. How is it possible?
Chinese are not the love&peace people, that's just a simplistic view...
About Sunzi's Art of War, it still depends on the person who read it and on the period. If we're talking about the Warring States, i think most people liked reading it, while in times when peace was dominant, less people liked it, because it wasn't so useful to them. For example the Tang dynasty family, the Li, had military traditions. It depends on the ruler too. War is just a means to use. I don't understand the connection between philosophy and warfare. Europe didn't develop philosophy? The West had great philosophers. Philosophy doesn't exclude Warfare and viceversa, they could walk together...

#5 Chen06

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 09:00 AM

Well, it depends on the period. I don't think China had always been peaceful, otherwise all the warring years wouldn't have any sense.
So you're stating that China is less violent than the West or Japan. Even so, Chinese martial culture has been much more developed than any other state for so many years. How is it possible?
Chinese are not the love&peace people, that's just a simplistic view...
About Sunzi's Art of War, it still depends on the person who read it and on the period. If we're talking about the Warring States, i think most people liked reading it, while in times when peace was dominant, less people liked it, because it wasn't so useful to them. For example the Tang dynasty family, the Li, had military traditions. It depends on the ruler too. War is just a means to use. I don't understand the connection between philosophy and warfare. Europe didn't develop philosophy? The West had great philosophers. Philosophy doesn't exclude Warfare and viceversa, they could walk together...



General ZY already spoke extensively about the Xia Ke and Jiang Hu so I wont go into that but I was just wondering what you mean when you say Chinese martial culture is much more developed than that of Japan's or the West. How so?

If we were to generalize things, the ancient Japanese tended to be more militaristic than the Chinese. For example, during the Kamakura period and onwards, a distinctly Japanese caste system based upon the Samurai developed. Basically, it was very militaristic system that valued martial ability. In China, from the Song onwards - a social system developed that revered the Scholar-Official and downplayed the military. Also, since then - Japan invaded Korea during the Imjin war in an attempt to invade the Ming dynasty, and also invaded China during the Qing. China on the other hand, minus the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, did not really perform any large invasions of anyone during that time. Therefore, I dont think it would be wrong to say that Japan was a more militaristic society than China. But, to say that there is no such thing as warrior spirit in China is ridiculous as well. General ZY already elaborated on that.
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#6 TiYiJian

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 09:57 AM

what you mean when you say Chinese martial culture is much more developed than that of Japan's or the West. How so?

I just mean military tactics, strategy, warfare technology (including the most advanced weapons and siege weaponry) and highly developed martial arts (not just the barehand part of them), those influenced greatly those of Japan too. As I said, China ruled on these areas for many centuries, I didn't say always.

If we were to generalize things, the ancient Japanese tended to be more militaristic than the Chinese. For example, during the Kamakura period and onwards, a distinctly Japanese caste system based upon the Samurai developed. Basically, it was very militaristic system that valued martial ability. In China, from the Song onwards - a social system developed that revered the Scholar-Official and downplayed the military. Also, since then - Japan invaded Korea during the Imjin war in an attempt to invade the Ming dynasty, and also invaded China during the Qing. China on the other hand, minus the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, did not really perform any large invasions of anyone during that time. Therefore, I dont think it would be wrong to say that Japan was a more militaristic society than China.

If we were to generalize things, since Song dynasty (and if were're talking about before, China is even more less "peaceful" than we think), and if we're talking about invasions, Japan only invaded Korea (Imijin and later centuries) and the islands between Japan and Taiwan (Ryukyu), and here we're already in modern history. The mongol dynasty is perhaps the most militaristic one in history. You said China didn't perform any large invasions...Well, you've forgotten the great expansionism during Qing dynasty, without wich today's China would be just 1/3 of her size (Qing possessions are even bigger than those of PRC).

Looking back to ancient times, i wonder how either the West or Japan o India or other states could be more militaristic than China.

#7 mariusj

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:45 PM

I just mean military tactics, strategy, warfare technology (including the most advanced weapons and siege weaponry) and highly developed martial arts (not just the barehand part of them), those influenced greatly those of Japan too. As I said, China ruled on these areas for many centuries, I didn't say always.

If we were to generalize things, since Song dynasty (and if were're talking about before, China is even more less "peaceful" than we think), and if we're talking about invasions, Japan only invaded Korea (Imijin and later centuries) and the islands between Japan and Taiwan (Ryukyu), and here we're already in modern history. The mongol dynasty is perhaps the most militaristic one in history. You said China didn't perform any large invasions...Well, you've forgotten the great expansionism during Qing dynasty, without wich today's China would be just 1/3 of her size (Qing possessions are even bigger than those of PRC).

Looking back to ancient times, i wonder how either the West or Japan o India or other states could be more militaristic than China.

Expansion and invasion are two different things.

Qing's expansion is something like America's 'go west my son, go west' and not Napoleon's conquest of Europe.

And like someone already pointed out, but I wish to clarify, is that how one's government is really does not reflect the people ruled by that government. So, to say Chinese are militaristic b/c their dynasties fought so many [well..... so few?] wars is ridiculous.

How war-like one people is really reflect upon their culture. If we call soldiers 赤佬 it really does tell you what we feel about the military.

#8 TiYiJian

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 03:59 PM

Expansion and invasion are two different things.

Qing's expansion is something like America's 'go west my son, go west' and not Napoleon's conquest of Europe.

And like someone already pointed out, but I wish to clarify, is that how one's government is really does not reflect the people ruled by that government. So, to say Chinese are militaristic b/c their dynasties fought so many [well..... so few?] wars is ridiculous.

What's the difference? Qing's expansionism implied the invasion of Tibet, Mongolia, Xinjiang for example.
It is clear that the government doesn't reflect the people, so if Chinese are not militaristic people, also Japanese are not. So, what's the criterion to judge if one state is either militaristic or not?

#9 mariusj

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 06:58 PM

What's the difference? Qing's expansionism implied the invasion of Tibet, Mongolia, Xinjiang for example.
It is clear that the government doesn't reflect the people, so if Chinese are not militaristic people, also Japanese are not. So, what's the criterion to judge if one state is either militaristic or not?

Here we differ in our opinion whether or not Tibet and Xinjiang were a sovereign nations, while Mongolia was very much part of Qing as previous Ming territory is.

Then, when we say the Chinese are not militaristic people, we imply that what the Chinese value as important - scholarly conducts.

Then, when we say the Japanese were, it is b/c even till the end of Shogunate, samurai status is perhaps the main and only caste above your average people [that is, the warrior > everything else compare to China's scholar > everything else]. Now I am not arguing one is better then the other, but merely stating the obvious.

#10 Howard Fu

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 07:44 PM

China has a long history and Chinese culture changed a great deal over the time. The warrior spirit in the sense of chivalry or Bushido was generally in decline, as the social status of soldiers was in gradual decline. China during Spring Autumn and Warring States actually had very strong martial spirits. If a family got a new born boy, people would send him a bow or a sword as gifts. The noble men walked around always with their swords in their waists. They were also very touchy and quick to draw their swords to defend their honor.

I was always amazed how much resemblance between medieval Europe, Shogun Japan and Warring states China. The warrior spirit was just one of them.
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#11 R6Guy

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 02:34 PM

From:
http://www.ourorient...rriorspirit.htm



China didn't have the "warrior spirit"? What does it mean?



I always thought there was no "knight" or "samurai" social class in China because it was "one step ahead" culturally/socially. As in the ability to mass produce in good quality a weapon such as the crossbow did away with the concept of "flower" warfare in ancient China. It's just been so long since such a "warrior-caste" existed in China that the codes/ethos used to control them (bushido, chivalry, etc.) was no longer as prominent in Chinese culture.

Ianno i'm just a newbie, i hope my post doesn't get me yelled at again haha

#12 polar_zen

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 05:22 PM

What about in Imperial China (Qin and beyond)?
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

#13 Howard Fu

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 12:28 AM

Hehe, getting yelled at is a part of online discussion.

Feng Youlan believed Xia origined from the declined warrior class. The warrior class rely on the feudal lords for their livelihoods. Their dreams were to distinguish himself in battles, in the hope of one day they will get their own fiefdom because of his military feat.

After the first emperor conquered all China. The warrior class lost their positions and livelihood. They ganged up and roamed around the country like Japanese Ronins and posed a threat to the new established order. In Li Si's famous petition to burn all books and massacre confucians, he actually mentioned two classes needed to be wiped out, confucians and Xia. (儒以文乱法,侠以武犯禁) Confucians were the keepers of traditional ideologies and rituals. They were also among those who lost most in the new social order and held big grudge against the first emperor. So a bloody crackdown on both classes followed. As a result, warrior as a class was probably rooted out, but Xia as the name of martial art practitioners continued.

Edited by Howard Fu, 30 May 2009 - 12:29 AM.

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#14 WangGeon

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 12:38 PM

Idealization of the samurai as the epitome of warrior virtue is a more recent thing; Bushido wasn't even codified officially until the Tokugawa Period, ironically an era of relative peace and stability. Much of the "Hagakure"-derived image of samurai is a Tokugawa Period product. Samurai were just as prone to being opportunistic soldiers of fortune as any other contemporary warriors.

Chinese militarism varied throughout various periods as others have pointed out here so one can't simply generalize that they were "pacificistic" or "militaristic"; it's not a simple either-this-or-that situation.

Qing's expansion is something like America's 'go west my son, go west' and not Napoleon's conquest of Europe.


That is both true and not true at the same time. Many of the states beyond the original 13 colonies were obtained through treaties and purchases (Louisana Purchase and Alaska) or annexation (Texas and Hawaii, although the native government of Hawaii was overthrown by an American minority).

But quite a bit of the United States' expansion was through bloody military conflict. The entire western 1/3 of the United States (the so-called "Mexican Cession") was acquired through a war of conquest with Mexico. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Islands were acquired through war with Spain. These wars were declared based on questionable circumstances. Independence movements were violently suppressed when the Philippines was a US colony. Hardly a simple "go west my son, go west" venture.

Edited by WangGeon, 30 May 2009 - 12:40 PM.


#15 TiYiJian

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 10:30 AM

From Ralph Sawyer's website

The history of China is a history of warfare. Rarely in its vaunted three thousand year existence was the realm not beset by war, wracked by millenarian rebellions, troubled by cataclysmic upheavals, or plagued by nearby nomadic peoples who swept in from the steppe to raid, plunder, and massacre. The state periodically embarked on external forays, occasionally so extensive and massive that the central government collapsed and dynasties were overturned. Regional conflicts frequently fractured the tenuous facade of geopolitical unity, and the heartland endured several centuries of alien domination and sometime occupation. Yet the persistent image, one consciously manifest even today, has been almost solely that of a pacifically oriented, great civilization unified by enlightened imperial rule and administered by a benign, if overarching, bureaucracy. However, even Ssu-ma Kuang’s great synthetic history, the Tzu-chih T’ung-chien, which encompasses some fifteen hundred years from the Warring States through the T’ang, devotes at least thirty percent of its nearly ten thousand pages to describing clashes and depicting conflict.

Warfare in China was generally massive, prolonged, and guided by rather different tactical principles and concepts than enunciated in Europe. Moreover, contrary to the Western predilection to assume theoretical pronouncements reflect actual practice, a wide dichotomy normally existed between abstract contemplation and real events. (For example, despite hundreds of sieges having destroyed major cities and entire local populations -- not to mention enemy armies, including many that had surrendered -- having been annihilated, Western writers inexplicably continue to proclaim that sieges and urban assaults were proscribed; commanders always fought with a view to preserving the enemy; tactics were based solely on deception; and most egregious of all, that China lacks a martial culture, the civil being esteemed and all aspects of the military disparaged.)

The reality of Chinese warfare -- its history, theory, values, practices, wars, battles, commanders, successes and failures -- forms the focus of our works. Intended for a broad range of readers rather than just Sinologists, including military historians, contemporary strategists, analysts, and all those engaged in the equally hostile, albeit normally less lethal commercial realm, they are based on extensive textual and archaeological scholarship while being strongly oriented to technological and command developments.

Except as noted, all translations include lengthy introductions that not only discuss the book and its contents, but set them within the historical context, emphasizing martial concepts and practices while identifying the era’s main figures and influences. Expansive chapter commentaries and widely ranging footnotes on diverse matters of interest to military historians, strategists, and Sinologists are normally provided. All works are a collaborative effort with Mei-jun Lee Sawyer whose efforts are directed to identifying materials of interest, reading in secondary sources, and reviewing the overall contents.






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