Fujian Southern Boxing (1)

Recently, there was a lot of news coverage about Southern Boxing from Fujian Province and its relation to Okinawa Karate. The reporters were martial artists themselves.

I’d like to add an insight by Wen Xinhui, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Physical Education, Jimei University, China.

To begin with, in 1958, a team of the national martial arts association was dispatched from Beijing to Fujian to establish Fujian Southern Boxing as a competition martial art. However, at the time, a battle broke out between Xiamen (the People’s Republic of China – PRC) and Kinmen Island (the Republic of China – ROC), so the team switched the destination from Fujian to Guangdong. Therefore, the standard form of Southern Boxing in modern Chinese martial arts competition is not from Fujian, but from Guangdong province, and this has changed to a modern style to suit demonstration and competition. Fujian Southern Boxing, on the other hand, retains the old elements and therefore is similar to karate. But were is Fujian Southern Boxing?

Professor Wen notes that Five-Ancestors-Boxing is a representative school of Fujian Southern Boxing. It is generally divided into:

  • 1. Great-Ancestor-Boxing,
  • 2. Bodhidharma Revered Boxing,
  • 3. Arhat Boxing (i.e. Monk Boxing),
  • 4. Ape Boxing, and
  • 5. Crane Boxing.

It is only, Professor Wen adds, “I personally think that the presently popular Five-Ancestors-Boxing lacks the old elements. However, the one school that is rich in old technique and culture is actually Five-Ancestors Crane-Sun Boxing (Wuzu Heyang-quan).”

In other words, in order to find old-style Fujian Southern Boxing, i.e. the roots of karate in China, one would need to look into Five-Ancestors Crane-Sun Boxing. At least according to Professor Wen, it has the old-style elements including that of Crane and Monk Boxing. Just saying.

This is their Sanchin, which is the first of a large number of kata that are taught:

Among their dozens of boxing routines are the fundamental Sanchin, The Big Set of Sanchin, 5-Tigers-Battle, Cross-shaped Sanchin, 36 Stars of Big Dipper , 72 Stars of Big Dipper, Northern Monk Boxing, Monk Boxing, as well as weapons such as kon, sai, tonfa, hoe, plus all the others.

BTW, Professor Wen also says that

“The roots of each kata of the “Kobayashi-ryū” and “Shōtōkan-ryū” are known. For example, the kata “Bassai” is of Great-Ancestor-Boxing (taizu-quan), Naihanchi is of Dazun-quan (Bodhidharma Revered Boxing), and Jion is of Arhat (Monk) Boxing (Luohan-quan).”


Wen Xinhui (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Physical Education, Jimei University, China): A Study on the History and Culture of Fujian Southern Boxing, as well as its Domestic and Foreign Propagation. On example of “Five-Ancestors-Boxing,” “Southern Shaolin Five-Ancestors Crane-Sun Boxing,” “Shōtōkan-ryū,” and “Gōjū-ryū.” In: Ryūkyū Karate no Rūtsu wo saguru Jigyō – Chōsa Kenkyū Hōkokusho (Research and Study Report – Project to Explore the Roots of Ryūkyū Karate). Urasoe City Board of Education, March 2015. Pp. 49-51.

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