Sport, Nationalism and the Early Chinese Republic 1912-1927
Tony Hwang and Grant Jarvie
University of Stirling
development had been influenced by military, economic, political and social
chaos. The period 1912 to 1927 was a tumultuous time for China, fragmented and
ruled as it was by an assortment of regional military dictators or warlords. The
first Chinese Republic was established in 1912 and soon collapsed, in 1916, when
the first president Yuan Shih-kai died. National government ceased to exist.
Throughout China, warlords carved out autonomous districts with their own armies
and tax systems. These warlords were fighting each other in a continual battle
for more land for several years. Dr. Sun Yet-sen reorganised the KMT (Kuomintang
Nationalist Party) and established a power base in southern China with the
support of several local warlords in Canton. Then Sun set up the Whampoa
Military Academy near Canton and appointed Chiang Kai-shek as its
superintendent. By 1925, the KMT began the Northern Expedition, a military
campaign against warlords north of the capital Beijing, uniting the nation under
Nationalist rule. Despite the serious internal problem of warlords, external
problems centred on the extension of Japanese imperialism and the continuing
influence of Western imperialism. Especially, the May Fourth Movement in 1919
and the May Thirtieth Incident in 1925 were the major historical events to
enflame Chinese nationalism against Japanese and Western imperialism. These
events not only strengthened Chinese nationalism, but also produced critical
debates on sport. At least two important debates affected the development of
sport during this period. One was that between physical education and military
training in schools; the other was between Western sport and indigenous sport.
In examining these two key debates here, it is necessary to explain how Chinese
nationalism emerged at this time.
The rise of
revolution marked the end of the Qing Dynasty but, more significantly, it also
ended the two thousand years of unbroken Chinese imperial tradition on 10
October 1911. The leader of the revolutionaries was a Western-educated
Christian, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Sun and other revolutionaries thought that the
imperial system was deeply flawed and that China needed a thoroughly modern
government. Sun's answer was to form a republic. A republic would achieve two
purposes: it would curb foreign enrichment, and it would oust the Manchus who
held the throne. It would then be a Chinese government run by Chinese for the
good of China. Nationalism, a strong plank in Sun's plan for China, was an idea
shared by many who had far less radical plans for the country. In fact, most
reformers felt that the imperial system was not the problem. Sun and the other
revolutionaries were sure that it was.
Sun was also
attracted by such Western ideas as democracy and socialism. He was particularly
keen to bring "socialism" (what he called "the people's
livelihood") to China. It is important to understand that in this instance
by socialism he meant that government had a role in taking care of the people.
Sun and other revolutionaries wanted to adapt Confucian paternalism, which
taught that the emperor and officials had responsibility for the people's
material welfare, to modern times, thereby broadening the idea of the
government's social responsibility for people.
influential writings of Sun reflected a thoroughly Westernised cast of mind.
Besides ambitious plans to develop investment with foreign capital, Sun
optimistically proposed a timetable for a three-stage transition from military
through party tutelage to full constitutional rule, and drew up a five power
constitution which added censorial and examination branches. Neither these
schemes, nor his Three People's Principles -- Nationalism, Democracy and
Socialism -- supplied the Kuomintang with a workable guide after his death.
Sun's achievement was, rather, to personify defiance to bureaucrats, warlords
and foreign imperialism at a time when China resembled what he called "a
pile of sand". Sun found the words and gestures to inspire those Chinese
who sought unity, national dignity and Westernisation. In a discussion of
nationalism, Sun argued that:
For the most
part the four hundred million Chinese can be spoken of as completely Han Chinese
with common customs and habits. We are completely of one race. But in the world
today, what position do we occupy? Compared to the other peoples of the world we
have the greatest population and our civilization is four thousand years old; we
should therefore be advancing in rank with the nations of Europe and America.
But the Chinese people have only family and clan solidarity; they do not have a
hundred million people gathering together in China, in reality they are just a
pile of loose sand.
Today we are
the poorest and weakest nation in the world and occupy the lowest position in
international affairs. Other men are carving knives and serving dishes; we are
fish and meat. Our position at this time is most perilous. If we do not
earnestly espouse nationalism and weld together our four hundred million people
into a strong nation, there is a danger of China being lost and our people being
destroyed. If we wish to avert this catastrophe, we must espouse nationalism and
bring this nationalist spirit to the salvation of the country.1
In a sense,
Sun's notion of nationalism can be seen as a reaction to imperialism. Over the
next turbulent decades, the leaders of the Nationalist Party and the leaders of
the Communist Party struggled for power under the slogans of Chinese
nationalism. Sports development was also influenced by the Chinese sense of
nationalism. Within the anti-imperialism and anti-Christian movement, sport was
indirectly involved in the debate between Western and indigenous culture.
Chinese nationalism came of age on 4 May 1919, when more than 3,000 college
students from a dozen institutions in Beijing endorsed a manifesto denouncing
the decision of the Paris Peace Conference to transfer Germany's rights in
Shantung Province to Japan. This support of Japanese imperialism caused an
affront to every Chinese patriot. The student demonstration on 4 May erupted
into violent action which brought police repression. But the students' patriotic
example inspired similar demonstrations in other major centres, and by the
merchant class and other patriots as well as students. May Fourth was thus a
milestone in the growth of Chinese nationalism.
the West and concepts of democracy, science and modernisation were challenged by
Marxism as the impact of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia took effect.
It was during this debate that political division between the Nationalists and
Communists occurred. The May Fourth Movement is often discussed in relation to
the New Culture Movement that followed in Modern China. The notion implies an
attempt to destroy what remained of traditional Confucian culture in the
Republican era and to replace it with something new, like enlightenment from the
West. The collapse of the old dynastic system in 1911 and the failure of Yuan
Shih-kai's Confucian-garbed monarchical restoration in 1916 meant that,
politically, Confucianism was almost dead. It had, however, been much more than
a political philosophy. It had been a complete way of life, which nationalism
and Republicanism only supplanted in part. There were some even among
Republicans who felt that certain aspects of the old culture, Confucian ethics
especially, should be preserved and strengthened, lest the whole fabric of
Chinese life fall apart and the new regime itself be seriously weakened. Others,
with far more influence on the younger generation, drew precisely the opposite
conclusion. For them nothing in Confucianism was worth salvaging from the debris
of the Manchu dynasty. On the contrary, whatever vestiges of the past remained
in the daily life and thinking of the people should be rooted out; otherwise the
young republic would rest on shaky foundations and its progress would be
retarded by a backward citizenry. The new order required a whole new culture.
The political revolution had to be followed by a Cultural Revolution.
just after the First World War the intellectual spearhead of this second
revolution went on the offensive, launching a movement that reached out in many
directions and touched many aspects of Chinese society. Roughly it may be
divided into six major phases, presented below in more or less chronological
order. They are (i) the attack on Confucianism; (ii) the Literary Revolution;
(iii) the proclaiming of a new philosophy of life; (iv) the debate on science
and the philosophy of life; (v) the `doubting of antiquity' movement; and (vi)
the debate on Chinese and Western cultural values. These phases overlapped each
other considerably, and certain leading writers figured prominently in more than
one phase of the movement. Sport featured in one of the debates on Chinese and
Western cultural values.
anti-traditionalist character one may infer that the leaders of the movement
looked very much to the West. Positivism was their great inspiration, science
and materialism were their great slogans, and _ in the early years especially _
John Dewey and Bertrand Russell were their great idols. The leaders themselves
were in many cases Western educated, though not necessarily schooled in the
West, since western-style education was by now established in the East, in
Japan, and in the new national and missionary colleges of China. Often college
professors themselves, they now had the lecture platform to make use of, as well
as the new organs of public journalism and the intellectual and literary reviews
which were a novel feature of the modern age. Above all, they had a new
audience, young, intense, frustrated by China's failures in the past, and full
of eager hopes for the future. The resolution of sport development in China was
among their concerns.
Education, Nationalism and Military training
early stage of the Chinese Republic, nationalism was more or less the only
panacea in the Chinese imagination to save the nation from imperialism. Some
debates were raised about military training and physical education in schools
among Chinese intellectuals. The notion of a martial spirit was one of the
essential educational principles from 1912 to 1917. Militarism was the core
concept of physical education in schools. Accordingly, physical education and
military training were seen as overlapping physical activities in schools. Some
critiques existed on military training in schools. For example, a physical
educator, Xu Yibing, argued that military training must be abolished in schools,
because the context of military exercise, such as attention, at ease, fall-in,
trail arms, sling arms, shoulder armsetc. were boring for the majority of
students.2 Those training courses were the same at all levels of school. On the
other hand, those military training teachers were soldiers who had a lower
education than other teachers. However, when military exercise declined after
the May Fourth movement in 1919, those former soldiers automatically transferred
to PE teaching, since there was a critical shortage of formally educated PE
teachers in schools.
in one of Dr. John Dewey's speeches given at Nanking University in 1919, (Dewey
was the most influential American pragmatist philosopher and writer on
psychology and social affairs in China), he claimed that "Mass physical
education development is the most urgent problem for every country today. Can
China approach this mission? It is better to improve personal and mass hygiene,
teach a knowledge of physical education in society rather than focus on military
education and military training which only applies to military schools"3.
Dewey's thoughts influenced a number of intellectuals against military exercise
in schools. Hu Shih, for example, one of the principal leaders of the May Fourth
movement and New Culture movement, was a PhD student under Dewey at Columbia
University in 1914. Hu was greatly influenced by Dewey's ideas and remained a
life-long advocate of the pragmatic bit-by-bit, try-it-and-see approach, as
opposed to the grand solutions offered by "isms" like Marxism. On
account of Dewey's visiting lectures over 11 provinces of China from 1919 to
1921, his philosophy of pragmatism was recognized as one of the long-term
influential Western imports in modern China. It is entirely appropriate briefly
to present Dewey's concept on physical education here.
believed that education was necessary for democratic citizenship, social
efficiency and social experience. Besides, Dewey considered mind and body to be
integral parts of the human whole, and believed that the body or physical aspect
of humans served as the conductor of experience. More, the philosophical
position of the body relative to epistemological considerations and the nature
of our existence becomes an important issue. Dewey believed play to be
purposeful activity that directed interest through physical means. Play was not
a physical act that had no meaning. Rather it was an activity that integrated
mind and body. The philosophy of Dewey was used to justify team sports in
physical education because they promoted democratic activities and social
interaction. The societal benefits derived from participation in physical
education were very signification and did much to ensure strong support for
physical education and athletics.4
was in China, he spread his pragmatism successfully. Dewey and his student Hu
Shih made a contribution to the development of mass education and physical
education in China. Nonetheless, they did not mention the core problem of
imperialism and nationalism in China. Under the trends of anti-militarism and
anti-military drills, one physical education teacher, Chang Bao-chen, held an
opinion different from that of the majority of intellectuals on the
controversial issues. Chang argued that while Dewey's suggestion for democratic
education of the masses and socialism was fine for China, Chinese people were
unable to pick themselves up at that moment. Therefore, the Chinese needed
military education to discipline themselves. Chang doubted that the Western idea
of democracy could make human happiness and well-being satisfactorily. In 1919
the British give freedom to India? Why cannot Koreans be independent after the
peace conference at Versailles? Why don't colonial countries donate some of the
pervading benevolence to indigenous people in their colonies instead of carrying
on a punitive campaign and slavery? What are colonists thinking and doing about
their colonies today? While Europeans advocate humanism, however, their humanism
is merely for strong nations, not for weak nations in the world If we abolish
military drill in schools, we are giving up our defence power and binding up our
own bodyRecently, a lot of scholars insist on abolishing military drill and
building up formal physical education. Their reasons for abolishing military
drill in schools are (i) military drill is mechanical, partial, forced with no
freedom of speech; (ii) military drill is incompatible with the human body
physically and psychologically. However, what kind of sport is "formal
physical education"? If military drill is mechanical, forced and
disciplined, then I want to emphasis that gymnastics has rules and words of
command, hasn't it? If military drill is partial, then I wish to illustrate that
sport is not partial to the human bodyMilitary drill is only 1-2 hours in a
school curriculum, it will not affect a student's physical development.
Therefore, in my view, if China wants to progress on physical education, it
should improve the methods and context of physical education It is not necessary
to debate the problem of military drill.5
one of the very few physical educators who supported military drill in schools,
not only because China needed militarism to strengthen herself, but also because
the world was under the domination of imperialism. Chang argued that improving
physical education and abolishing military drill were different issues. If
Chinese physical educators wanted to reform physical education in schools, they
should focus on teaching methods and the context of physical education. Except
in his view of militarism, Chang could be one of the earliest Chinese physical
educators who had seen the real face of imperialism in the 1910s. Further to the
debate on militarism, one of the founders of Chinese physical education, Xu
Yibing, firmly opposed military-style calisthenics in schools. Xu said that:
In 1904 and
1905, revolutionary thinking among the people was spreading by the day everyone
said that without a martial education it would not be enough to save the nation
from extinction. So in school ticao [calisthenics and gymnastics]
classes, martial spirit was established as the main goal, and military-style
calisthenics became the standard. But with this trend came a multitude of
corrupt practices, with your average unintelligent, immoral soldier coming right
out of the barracks and in one swoop becoming a teacher, ineffective and not
worth a damn. These are people that do not even know what a professor is or
where a school is, excessive drinkers and mad gamblers, who love to fight like
wolves and whom nothing would be below. Not a year goes by that the schools'
reputation is not soiled, that society's faith is not lost, that students and
their fathers and brothers do not hate ticao classes even more, to the
point now where it is seen as poison.6
view, military-style calisthenics was not suitable for the school curriculum,
not only because of the context of military calisthenics but also because of the
corrupt soldier teachers in schools. Some historians, such as Hsu and Gu, have
explained anti-military calisthenics like Xu's as merely the logical result of
the Western "tide of thought" brought by the modernist May Fourth
Movement of 1919, or a reaction to the World War I defeat suffered by Germany
which was seen as a falling symbol of militarism in China.7 However,
military-style calisthenics was continually seen as an important part of school
programmes which was separated from the physical education course. After the
debates on military calisthenics, the other debates on indigenous sport were
and Indigenous Sports - Martial Arts and Jingzuo (sitting in silence)
Chinese physical culture consisted of a large number of different activities and
events. It is not necessary to consult all traditional Chinese sports
development in modern China. I merely illustrate some debates on Chinese martial
arts and Jingzuo (to sit still with a peaceful mind or to sit as a form of
therapy) with Chinese nationalism at this time. "Martial arts" is an
English translation of several classical Chinese terms which were adapted to
Japanese language and culture. The terms came to Europe and America primarily
from Japan, not China, because of the high level of development of the martial
culture in Japan and its duration there, as well as of a greater Western
familiarity with that tradition. The term is now used around the world, either
in English or in local translation.8
the English term "martial arts" was also introduced from Japan in the
early part of the twentieth century. Chinese martial arts are presently known as
wushu or guoshu (national arts), in earlier times were called wuyong
(military valour) or wuyi (military skill). Either Japanese pronunciation
"Bu" or Chinese pronunciation "Wu" are using the same
character, which is commonly translated as "martial" or
"military". Traditionally, Chinese martial arts were a kind of
military training or military sports. For example, ancient Chinese physical
culture consisted of a large number of different activities and events and these
activities according to Gu maybe classified within the following broad
sport: archery, chariot races, contests of strength, wushu (martial
arts), jogging, jumping, throwing, hurling, weight lifting, football, polo,
hunting, tug of war and swimming.
sports: qigong (breathing exercises), daoying (fitness exercise of
which there were many forms), massage, yangsheng (keeping fit), fushi
(keeping fit on a diet), taijiquan (traditional Chinese shadow boxing), yijinjing
(exercises to relax the muscles), baduanjing (a set of exercises that
comprised eight movements, each beneficial to a certain part of the body),
manipulation of health-preserving balls, and climbing.
games and sports: lishe (shooting arrows as part of a ceremony or for
amusement), touhu (throwing darts into a port), baixi (a general term for
ancient Chinese songs, dances and aerobatics), singing and dancing, vehicle
racing, horse racing, chess, kite flying, swinging, dragon-boat racing, aquatic
sport, ice-skating, hiking and various other various other activities during
festivals and at temple fairs.9
sports, Gu argues, constitute the largest collective subsystem of ancient
Chinese physical culture. The most familiar modern sport that has developed out
of these practices is wushu. The practice of wushu may be divided
into two categories: the art of fighting barehanded and the art of fighting with
weapons. Generally speaking, Chinese used the term "martial arts"
relative to a fighting system in Chinese culture. Historically, therefore, the
Chinese martial arts exercise was prohibited in civil society during the alien
dynasties, since the martial arts exercise might encourage the subordinate class
to raise Han Chinese nationalism against alien domination. Thus, the White Lotus
Sect (Bailianjiao), for example, was a religious secret society which
contained the ideas of Buddhism and some Taoism, originating in China in the
thirteenth century. Its first period of widespread military activity was in the
mid-fourteen century as part of the movement to overthrow the Mongol regime.
During the Mongol Yuan dynasty, the White Lotus resisted what was seen as alien
rule and struggled for the restoration of the Song court (960-1279) which was
under Han Chinese control. The White Lotus Sect persisted when the Mongol
conquest came to an end and was resurrected in the Manchu Qing dynasty
(1644-1911) when it was committed to restoring the Ming (1368-1644), the last
Han Chinese dynasty.
eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Qing banned perverse religious sects but
not martial arts, which was the core part of the military civil examination. As
a result, the White Lotus Sect not only utilized martial arts as a tool to
gather members but also built up more martial arts courts to spread martial arts
with the creed of the White Lotus Sect.10 The influence of the White Lotus Sect
spread to large areas of north and central China between 1793 and 1796. This
White Lotus Sect was finally suppressed by a militia organised by local
landlords and officials in 1804.11 A number of new branch sects (with different
names) proliferated over China after the Qing's strict prohibition in the first
half of the nineteenth century.12
One of the
most famous branch sects was the Yihequan (Fists of Righteousness and
Harmony), popularly known as the Boxers. In fact, the Boxers' early slogan was
"Anti-Qing for restoring Ming". Somehow it transferred this slogan to
"Support Qing and exterminate the foreigner" at the end of the
nineteenth century. How did the Boxers transfer their opposition to all
foreigners? It is outside the scope of this paper, but surely the Boxers had a
strong tinge of Chinese nationalism. The Boxer Rebellion began in North China in
1898 as a popular peasant protest movement. In the past it was believed to be
both anti-dynastic and anti-foreign. However, recent scholarship indicates that
it was a strictly anti-foreigner movement, not a domestic rebellion. They were
called "Boxers" because they practiced traditional Chinese martial
arts. The Boxers believed that when they took part in certain rituals, spirits
would possess them, making them impervious to foreigners' bullets. Hence they
were extraordinarily brave in battle. The Boxer Rebellion was suppressed by the
military units of eight foreign countries in 1900.13 On the other hand, the
emergence of Shao-Lin Temple Boxing was another similar story of martial arts
under the notion of traditional Chinese nationalism. Shao-Lin Temple was seen as
orthodox Buddhism which was different with Paganism. Significantly, Shao-Lin
Boxing was considered as the major school of martial arts in modern China in its
A number of
reasons might be given as to why Chinese martial arts exhibited a high degree of
Chinese nationalism and religious culture before the twentieth century. In fact,
there seems to be a certain degree of agreement among Chinese historians
concerning some of the principal reasons: (i) that martial arts was a form of
Chinese cultural nationalism; (ii) that martial arts was an informal form of
religious Buddhism and Taoism; (iii) that martial arts aroused the imagination
of Chinese nationalism; (iv) that martial arts exercise was a traditional
gathering for subordinate classes; (v) that martial arts was a core part of
Chinese traditional physical culture; (vi) that martial arts was a kind of
physical, spiritual and mental training; and (vii) that martial arts was not in
any sense scientific.
early Chinese Republic period, promoting a martial spirit was one of the aims of
education14. Martial arts were suggested as the core part of education in
schools to raise national martial spirits. In 1915, the Ministry of Education
proclaimed that the proposal of military education should be put into effect.
The proposal was that all schools should teach traditional Chinese martial arts
and martial arts teachers should be educated at teacher training schools15.
Later, a further proposal for promoting traditional Chinese martial arts as a
gymnastic course in schools was introduced to inspire people's martial spirit.
This proposal recognised that " the world is dominated by social Darwinism,
people shall have a martial spirit to struggle for their country amidst the
world's high competition at the present time. Following this world trend, China
has also promoted her martial spirit and has added gymnastic exercise in the
tri-balance of education on wisdom, morality and the body over the last two
decades. But today Chinese people are still weak after learning the Western form
of education. Historically, the traditional Chinese martial arts is over
thousands of years old. Therefore, it is necessary to promote traditional
Chinese martial arts which is more suitable for Chinese people. All schools
should put martial arts in the gymnastic courses"16. At that time, most
Chinese educators still thought of gymnastics as "physical education".
The Ministry of Education probably inherited the idea of social Darwinism from
those pervious reformers such as Yen Fu, Tang Ssu-tung and Liang Chi-chao. It
was the first time that martial arts was put on the school curriculum formally
in China. Also Chinese martial arts teaching methods had changed, from
traditional individual teaching to group teaching which following instructional
command and movement. Obviously, the new martial arts teaching method was
influenced by Western gymnastics exercises and military drill.
A number of
martial arts societies were organised after 1910. The Jingwu Physical Culture
Society, for example, was the biggest and most popular Chinese martial arts
society which spread through China and South East Asia from 1917 to 1929. Up to
1929, there were 42 branches and over 400,000 members. Jingwu Physical Culture
Society was the first sports society to combine Western and Chinese physical
culture, which not only taught Chinese martial arts and military training, but
also taught Western sports, such as gymnastics exercise, athletics, football,
basketball, volleyball, tennis and swimming. According to the organisation and
course of Jingwu Physical Culture Society, it might be seen as the Chinese
version of the YMCA. However, the headquarters of the Jingwu Physical Culture
Society in Shanghai was destroyed twice by Japanese invasion in 1932 and 1937,
because of its propaganda of patriotism and anti-Japanese imperialism.17
martial arts development was part of school education since 1915, some critical
debates on indigenous and Western sports were raised during the New Culture
Movement. The open assault on Confucianism which began in 1916 was led by Chen
Tu-hsiu, one of the Chinese Communist Party's founders, editor of a magazine
entitled New Youth. As he suggests, the individual in society is
comparable to the cell in a body. Its birth and death are transitory. New ones
replace the old. This is as it should be and need not be feared at all. In one
of his articles, he criticised the objectives of the classical feudal education
system by over-emphasizing literary memorizing and neglecting physical exercise.
Thus, he advocated the tri-balance on wisdom, morality and the body. In this
sense, his idea is similar to that of Yen Fu who pointed out the importance of
physical training in education and argued that "The principal aim of this
teaching is the development of intelligence, bodily vigour and moral
virtues".18 Though Chen Tu-Hsiu argued that a student's physical strength
is one of the essential elements in present educational policy19, he disagreed
about putting martial arts in the school curriculum because of
anti-traditionalism and anti-militarism. He insisted on three warnings on sport
- no martial drill, no boxing and no violent competitive games20.
One of the
other famous anti-martial arts writers was Lu Xun, who argued that the
propaganda of traditional Chinese sport was based on superstition, feudalism and
anti-science. Lu argued that " I do not mind if some people think martial
arts is a special skill and enjoy their own practice. This is not a big matter.
However, I disagree with the propaganda of traditional Chinese martial arts
because educators promote martial arts as a fashion, as if all Chinese people
should do the exercise, and most advocators promote martial arts in a ghost-like
spirit. This social phenomenon is dangerous"21. In Lu's view, over-emphasising
the function of Chinese martial arts might raise a similar patriotism to that of
the Boxer Rebellions in 1900.
debates on Chinese martial arts, the other debates were between "Quiet
sport" and "Active sport". "Active sport" was seen as
physical activities such as gymnastics, swimming, ball games, athleticsetc.
There is no clear definition of "quiet sport", but it does mean a kind
of traditional Chinese breathing exercise Jingzuo (sitting in silence or
meditation) which means to sit still with a peaceful mind or to sit as a form of
therapy. In ancient China, Jingzuo was often combined with Buddhism, Taoism and
Zen. Some physical culture intellectuals advocated Jingzuo as a national legacy.
One of the
most famous Jingzuo supporters was Huang Xing, who was the founder of Physical
Culture Weekly (Tiyu Chou Pao) 1918-1920. Huang emphasised the
reasons why he promoted Quiet sport. "The first reason is that Quiet sport
made people's minds clear. Especially today there are only about sixty to
seventy percent of physical educators' minds that are pure in China The first
condition of quiet sport is to curb one's temper and desire. If one can take
away his/her temper and desire, then certainly his/her mind will be
clear"22. Later, Huang argued:
last decade or more, sport development is not successfulthere are many
complicated reasons. The major reason is that most leaders are not interested in
physical culture in our society "A healthy mind is based on a healthy
body". Now everyone considers that it is necessary to advocate physical
culture and a number of people have searched for "the method of promoting
physical culture". However, except in developed provinces, most people
still do not know anything about the completed proposal of the "Physical
Culture Promotion Plan" over the last six months This obstacle is from the
old custom of Chinese society which thought that those leaders must enjoy high
rank and live in ease and comfort. Therefore, those leaders do not want to do
physical exercise which will affect their high rank's status They also
misunderstand that physical culture merely belongs to military men. As a result,
quiet sport is very suitable for individuals and leaders.23
Huang's view, most physical educators need quiet sport to make their minds
clear. Also, leaders need quiet sport to change their minds to support and
promote sport. Huang's idea of quiet sport was an exercise to make
soul-searching on sport for physical educators and social leaders in China.
Furthermore, Huang explained that Jingzuo is a kind of exercise to cultivate
people's physical and mental capabilities. Huang pointed out four essentials of
Jingzuo, which were (i) posture (ii) breathing (iii) avoiding closed eyes and
sleep (iv) prevention and treatment of diseases24. Jingzuo was very popular in
18 provinces and rural areas during this period. One of its advocators, Jiang
Wei-qiao, was a teacher at Beijing University. Jiang's studies on the method of
Jingzuo were reprinted over 14 times in four years.25
some other intellectuals raised different views on Jingzuo. Lu Xun argued that
children and youth needed more physical activities than sitting in silence. Lu
criticised Jingzuo as not being scientific and caused passive thinking. An
article also questioned that, "After eight years of the 1911 Revolution,
education, economics and politics have shown no progress or are even worse than
before but only two things show progress, poker and Jingzuo. Except for proper
labour, everyone is skilled in the field of poker and Jingzuo in China
today."26 In today's view, we may see those intellectuals were wrong to
think Jingzuo was useless and unscientific. Scientists have undertaken research
on ancient Chinese sports such as Xing-Qi, Qi-gong and Jingzuo, and affirmed
their value for physical and spiritual health. During the New Culture Movement,
however, Jingzuo was blamed not only for being passive, but also as a symbol of
these debates on military training, physical education and indigenous sports, it
is important to bear in mind that the Chinese sport combined with nationalism
incessantly during the Chinese Republic period. Eichberg argues that physical
exercise did not become a mass movement until the beginning of the nineteenth
century, when its association with nationalism was a result of the achievement
motive common to both sports and nationalism.27 In China, physical training was
pursued for the goal of establishing a new state. The linkage of physical
culture with the strength of the state is ancient and strong; modern sport and
modern nationalism have simply given it a new twist. This link is a natural
result of the fact that victory in sports can symbolize physical and natural
dominance. The control and ordering of physical bodies in time and space was the
goal in establishing a new regime, and sports provided a potent metaphor for the
Jarvie has argued that there is a great danger in over-emphasising the role of
sport in the making of nations.29 At a general level, the relationship between
sport and nationalism has rested upon a number of common arguments: (i) that
sport itself is inherently conservative and that it helps to consolidate
official or central nationalism, patriotism and racism; (ii) that sport itself
has some inherent property that makes it a possible instrument of national unity
and integration, for example, in peripheral or emerging nations; (iii) that
sport itself provides a safety valve or outlet for emotional energy for
frustrated peoples or nations; (iv) that sport itself helps to reinforce
national consciousness and cultural nationalism; (v) that sport itself at times
has contributed to unique political struggles, some of which have been closely
connected to nationalist politics and popular nationalist struggle; and (vi)
that sport itself, whether it be through nostalgia, mythology, invented or
selected traditions, contributes to a quest for identity, albeit local,
regional, cultural or global. In some cases it is easier to accept the idea that
sporting forms and sporting relations help to reproduce, transform or construct
the image of a community without accepting the notion of it being imagined. Many
of these factors operated within the development of sport in China during the
early Republic period.
on military training and physical education were launched by Chinese
intellectuals. Some believed that military drills could strengthen Chinese
martial spirit to save China from imperialist invasion. Some believed that
military drill was an informal physical education unsuitable for students in
schools. However, the majority of Chinese intellectuals completely supported the
nation that Chinese students needed more physical exercise in schools. Further
debates were about indigenous sport. Martial arts or Jingzuo were kinds of
traditional Chinese physical exercise which had a value in culture. Among those
critics of the New Culture Movement, no matter whether they were
anti-traditionalist and anti-Confucianist, there were those who supported and
advocated indigenous Chinese physical culture. They all acknowledged that China
had to strengthen her nation and race by physical culture. Particularly, Chinese
people needed more physical exercise to strengthen themselves and save their
nation from imperialism. After the critical debates on Western and Chinese
culture, Western sport continued to influence indigenous development. The
arrival of Western sport forced the Chinese to reassess their martial tradition.
Chinese martial arts absorbed methods of Western sport and, through scientific
study, made improvements in teaching, competition and games. For example, in the
1920s, Western physical culture led to a standardization of competition, and
fair rules and regulations were employed by Chinese martial arts. The first
national martial arts games were held in 1923 in Shanghai. Martial arts
continued to play a significant role in the development of Chinese nationalism
and sport after the Chinese Nationalist Party reunified most of China in 1928.
In summary, nationalism can be seen as the core theme of sport development
during this period.
(Shanghai and Beijing, 1915-1920)
Culture Weekly Special Edition, (Chang-sha, January 1920)
(1991) Sports in Britain and China, 1850-1920: An Explanatory Overview. The
International Journal of the History of Sport Vol. 8 (No. 2): 284-290.
Hurst III, G. (1998) Armed Martial Arts of Japan, New Haven: Yale
(Nov 24, 1919) Physical Culture Weekly (46):5-8.
(1998) China: A cultural and Historical Dictionary, Surry: Curzon Press.
(1973) Der Weg des Sports in die industrielle Zivilisation, Germany:
(1990) Introduction to Ancient and Modern Chinese Physical Culture. In: Knuttgen,
H.G., Ma Qiwei and Wu Zhongyuan, (Eds.) Sport in China, Illinois: Human
(1989) A Modern History of Sport in China, Beijing: Beijing University of
(Eds) (1996) Physical Education Thoughts in Modern China, Taipei: Chi
Ying Co. Ltd.
(1992) Sport, Gaelic Nationalism and Scottish Politics. In: Paper for
International ISHPES Seminar, " Sport and Cultural Minorities"
Turku, Finland, 8-13 June 1992.
R.A. and Estes, S.G. (1998) A History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical
Education: From Ancient Civilizations to the Modern World, New York: The
Research Institute of Martial Arts (Eds) (1996) A History of Chinese Martial
Arts, Beijing: People's Physical Education Press.
Tamura, E. (Eds)
(1998) China: Understanding Its Past, Honolulu: University of Hawaii
Bary, W. (Eds) (1964) Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. II., New York:
Columbia University Press.
(1966) Chinese Intellectuals and the West 1872-1949, Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press.
1 Quoted in
Theodore de Bary, W. (Ed), Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. II (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1964), pp. 106-107.
2 Hsu, I-hsiung
(Ed), (1996) Physical Education Thoughts in Modern China (Taipei: Chi
Ying Co. Ltd, 1996), p. 103.
Culture Weekly, 23 June 1919.
R.A. and Estes, S.G., A History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical
Education: From Ancient Civilizations to the Modern World (New York: The
McGraw-Hill Companies, 1998). pp. 240-241
Culture Weekly, 24 November 1919.
Culture Weekly Special Edition, January 1920.
7 Hsu, I-hsiung
(Ed), Physical Education Thoughts in Modern China (Taipei: Chi Ying Co.
Ltd., 1996), pp. 100-103. Gu, Shiquan, A Modern History of Sport in China
(Beijing: Beijing University of Physical Education, 1989), pp. 114 and 117.
Hurst III, G., Armed Martial Arts of Japan, (New Haven: Yale
University,1998) p. 7.
Shiquan, Introduction to Ancient and Modern Chinese Physical Culture, in
Knuttgen, H.G., Ma Qiwei and Wu Zhongyuan, (Eds.) Sport in China
(Illinois: Human Kinetics Books, 1990), p.5
Research Institute of Martial Arts (Eds) A History of Chinese Martial Arts
(Beijing: People's Physical Education Press, 1996), pp. 302-303.
M, China: A Cultural and Historical Dictionary (Surrey: Curzon Press,
1998) p. 345
Research Institute of Martial Arts, 1996, ibid., pp. 302-303.
E. (Ed), China: Understanding Its Past (Honolulu: University of Hawaii
Press, 1998), pp. 140-141.
Pao, 5 April 1915.
Pao, 30 May 1915
Pao, 31 May 1915.
Research Institute of Martial Arts,1996, ibid., p.335. Gu, 1989, ibid., p. 273.
18 Quoted in
Wang, Y.C.,Chinese Intellectuals and the West 1872-1949 (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1966), p. 197.
Youth, 15 October 1915.
Youth, 1 January 1920.
Youth, 15 February 1919.
Culture Weekly, 24 February 1919.
Culture Weekly, 3 March 1919.
Culture Weekly, 26 January 1920 and 2 February 1920.
1996, ibid., p. 235.
Culture Weekly. Special Edition, 5 January 1920.
H., Der Weg des Sports in die industrielle Zivilisation (Germany:
S., Sports in Britain and China, 1850-1920: An Explanatory Overview, The
International Journal of the History of Sport Vol. 8, No. 2, (1991), p.
G., Sport, Gaelic Nationalism and Scottish Politics: Paper for International
ISHPES Seminar, Sport and Cultural Minorities, (Turku, Finland, 8-13 June
1992), p. 22-23.