Warrior Tradition

this is a response to another blogpost.

Here is a fun clip to introduce the traditional warrior tradition…

Yes, Kung Fu Panda is a cartoon comedy probably aimed at the young movie-watchers. The Panda, with its Jack Black voice, presents us a fun character both enjoyable and charismatic (…in a sense). Nevertheless, this short trailer shows us very typical elements that are connected to the traditional Chinese warrior tradition.

part of nature

wouldn't be the same without those trees

The most obvious element, of course, is the environment–the nature. From the moon to the bamboo trees, from pandas to dragons, and from lily flowers to bamboo trees, the nature is always ingrained into the warrior tradition portrayed today. The image above portrays a scene from the movie Crouching Tiger,  Hidden Dragon. The bamboo trees that are always associated with the Chinese environment are portrayed in many scenes like these where two or more warriors face off their battles. Bamboo trees are also used as a means of flexible solid objects in which these warriors jump and fly to fight seemingly afloat in the air.

multipurpose bamboo trees

multipurpose bamboo trees

Most of the warrior scenes also happen to portray darkness, with moonlight as the only light source under which the warriors train and fight. Many scenes from the movie House of Flying Daggers portray the battles in the dark often when the good fights the evil. Under the moonlight the swords shine and daggers soar in darkness; the fact that these warriors can fight in the dark presents us a skill both improbably amazing and amusing to watch. And of course… I’m sure you didn’t miss the brief appearance of the moon in that trailer above (it’s so cliche).

warriors, the sun has set...

warriors, the sun has set...

And of course, animals are never left out. From the very title “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” we can sense the vivid presence of animals in the traditional Chinese warrior tradition. Warriors imitiate animals to develop their stances, to make animal-like sounds (although sometimes they are very quirky indeed) for intimidation, and to use them as symbols. Each and every animal represents a certain character that symbolizes a certain strength in the warriors. The tiger represents strength and the dragon represents a power and majesty. Chinese characters that represent these animals are always found engraved in buildings and martial arts uniforms. Here is a fun fact to remember: Bruce Lee’s Chinese name means the “Little Dragon.”

we can never forget Bruce Lee

we can never forget Bruce Lee

Even in the novel Woman Warrior, chapter two is devoted to describing the story of a woman warrior Fa Mu Lan, describing the training procedures that she went through. The scenes depict the nature and its beauty. From the tigers, the white snow, to the trees and flowers, nature is not something to be ignored in the Chinese warrior tradition.

Legendary Fa Mu Lan

Legendary Fa Mu Lan

The story of Fa Mu Lan brings to another interesting element that is characteristic of the Chinese warrior tradition–the female warriors. The western traditions rarely portray women as a warrior. The sole focus of warriors is the sheer strength with which male warriors can bring about heroic victory to the people. Where as western warrior traditions emphasize heavy swords and body armors, the Chiense warrior tradition often emphasizes agility and more of sneaky methods here and there that amuse our eyes as we watch them. Daggers no bigger than our fingers fly out of their bodies and some objects that you may never imagine as weapons suddenly becomes a dangerous object.

all in a millisecond

all in a millisecond

The fact that agility is one of the main elements in the Chiense traditonal society, I think, explains the high status women have in both power and warrior skills in the Chiense movies we see. Women are generally portrayed as more flexible and agile in fighting situations.


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