Notes on Dr Lorge Interview


Dr Paul Bowman interviewed Dr Peter Lorge again on his excellent series on martial arts studies. I took the following notes and decided to publish them, in case anyone also finds them interesting.

  • Not everything in China is at least 2000 (or 5000 years old). 
  • China is not "unchanging and forever."
  • Not everything good about Japan, Korea, or Vietnam came from China.
  • French wine in a foreign country doesn't become domesticated, but physical practice does.
  • "Confucianism" was an attempt by European scholars and missionaries to create a secular intellectual tradition in opposition to Taoism and Buddhism. They viewed what they called "Confucianism" as being like Christianity, except without Jesus, and it became their means to try to convert Chinese people to Christianity.
  • Buddhism entered China around the first century CE.
  • Dr Lorge prefers the term "Ruist" to "Confucian."
  • "Confucianism" has changed over time based on who assembled the writings.
  • The way martial artists think they understand Sun Tzu's The Art of War is based on a Western interpretation, not on what the book really says. Dr Lorge is working on a book about this. It's like the difference between a Christian interpretation of the Old Testament versus a Jewish interpretation.
  • The "indirect strategy" interpretation is a "weak reading." It's there but it's not the main point.
  • China does not have a monolithic culture.
  • Archery was the major martial arts for thousands of years.
  • One of the salutatory aspects of mixed martial arts is that it's not "Orientalist."
  • Some of us have moved beyond the "Asian trickery" notions of martial arts.
  • There's a notion that because Asians are ancient, they have some secret "Oriental" wisdom.
  • Some people think "Chinese (or "Oriental") martial arts must work, because they are 2,000 years old."
  • "We're looking for Yoda," "someone who's got it," and "if we do it [imitate them] perfectly, we'll become powerful."
  • People like to trace their arts back to Yue Fei (1103-1142) because he was so famous.

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