Old Lei Tai tournament

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by axelb, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I saw this posted recently, I found it interesting to read about a LeiTai tournament from 1929 in Hangzhou.

    1929 Hangzhou Leitai Tournament – Masters of the IMA

    Starting from 125 over 7 days the final ranking, I was interested to see the results.

    A lot of those with XingYi, Shuai Jiao, and YiQuan land in the final 10.

    I noticed an absence of what I thought was the more known kungfu styles from this era.
    i.e. hung gar, Choy Li Fut, Wing Chun, 5 animals, long fist, Lau gar all seem absent.
    I wonder if there was logistics of travel that meant more regional styles would be more prevalent.
  2. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Those arts you list as more well known are more well known in the west as they tended to come from the southern ports and to the UK via Hong Kong.

    In China the arts of the north were more highly thought of, and more highly represented in the military and government circles.
    Those practising southern arts tended to be not that bothered in moving north to fight as they probably wouldn't have ended up with a role in any central government body because of the way they were looked down on, and because they were involved in probably illegal activities lol.

    Plus there's the whole elephant in the room thing, in that very very few Chinese masters fought or could fight, very few produced good fighters XingYi and it's off shoot YiQuan being the obvious exception. They tended to attend these events on mass where as 1 or 2 from one style might attend from what I remember reading the xingyi schools turned up on mass.

    And in the 20s a lot of those competing also trained secretly in judo and boxing because they weren't that confident in their skills.

    Also a fair few would have trained in long fist, bsl or shaolin in their youth then graduated to xingyi or something else.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
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  3. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Another reason was (at least to once source) that apparently the institute that held these tournaments was build to showcase northern styles, and so I'm guessing that a lot of southern practitioners were less inclined to participate.
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  4. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Zhao Daoxin was a disciple of Zhang Zhaodong and was famous in Tianjin’s martial arts community. Zhao was only 20 at the time and at the beginning of his martial arts career, yet managed to achieve 13th place. His notes on the competition included these observations;

    “Those ‘orthodox inheritors’ of traditional martial arts, regardless of whether they were lofty monks or local grandmasters, were either knocked out or scared out of the competition”

    Zhao also noted;

    “Even though, at registration, every competitor identified themselves as belonging to a traditional style, every one of them engaged in secret auxiliary combat training

    (For secret auxiliary combat training read boxing and probably judo, in fact the first national event was held a year before in 1928, the runner up admitted to also training heavily in western boxing, when a local Tai chi master complained he wasn't doing real Kung Fu, he was promptly challenged to a fight and decided to sit down and shut up)
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  5. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    interesting! I did note one had put down "boxing" amongst their skills.
    I did read that the ruleset changed as the competition went on to prevent "injuries" i.e. no hitting to the face, and no strangling.
    I can imagine they were not keen to disclose the practise in Japanese martial art given the time o_O
  6. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    The first event was stopped due to injuries, apparently the injuries were as much due to people kicking and punching someone for the first time barehanded than actual serious head injuries (think early UFC and all those hand injuries)

    Second one in 1929 started out if I remember rightly with all draws as the rules meant if you draw both went through, then when everyone started drawing to advance they changed it. And then when people got injured it was I think no continuous head shots allowed.

    But yes admitting to doing boxing would be easier than judo back then :)
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  7. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    European boxing didn't arrive in China until the late 1920's in Shanghai, so it would be interesting to know how these kung fu guys all over but especially remote corners of China, ended up finding the "auxiliary" training back then. Who do you speak to, if your kung fu school wasn't sparring for real, to supplement when you were expected to battle royale in front of the public?

    It wouldn't have been easy to find outside European boxing training back in the 20's from almost anywhere inside China, you probably needed a lot of money and the ability to travel to the coast, and the right connections too. I'll bet all these kung fu dudes with boxing were pretty hardcore, though. :D
  8. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    European troops had been in China for decades before the 1920s bringing western martial arts with them, and documented challenges from boxers way before 1920, Huo Yuanjia publically accepted one in 1910 for example.
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  9. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    ah the classic story of Chin Woo :D
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  10. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Yep, non of the fights ever actually happened lol, but apparently the challenges were made and accepted , well some of them, maybe :)
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  11. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    are you sure they didn't happen? I have a well documented colour film of it, strangely Huo Yuanjia looks just like Jet Li o_O
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  12. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    That doesn't jive with what I've read.

    All the stuff I've read about modern boxing in China ties it to the late 1920s and the eastern port cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong, nowhere in the midlands, so I'm a little skeptical any European soldiers or Huo Yuanjia's matches represented a way for the average Chinese to actually find a boxing trainer. Again, for that according to the references you'd need to be on the east ports of China after 1925 where the first foreign trainers and gyms opened, and Queensbury boxing became a popular street sport.

    If you have a source about European soldiers teaching Chinese in inner China earlier, I'd love to read it.

    The Rise of Boxing in China Part I: The Evolution
  13. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    7. Han Qingtang (praying mantis, taizu long fist, especially expert at qin’na)

    The long fist GM Han Qingtang (my long fist teacher's teacher) was in it.

    There were also no Taiji and Bagua guys in that tournament.
  14. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I don't think I said anything about soldiers teaching boxing in inner China, I said they had been exposed to western martial arts through the arrival of western troops? Or average people, we are talking about serious martial artists looking for an advantage in a tournament which could make their careers for them. And the influence could have been simply adopting more sparring or a guard like they have seen westerners use.

    I listed one public event known to have happened a decade before the 20s and also pointed out one of the top three fighters in the 1929 tournament had admitted training boxing.

    In addition it's been written that
    so western an eastern soldiers and martial artists attended the event to watch, so they were around at the time.

    David Ross a writer on Chinese martial arts history has written about this on various boards and in books you can contact him on Facebook I believe or read his books on Amazon
    Kung Fu and Western Boxing
    The comment about CLF is interesting as several teachers have also noted the boxing found in the first two forms of the style Facebook
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
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