The 12 Nov 2021

Chinese Martial Culture

Body, Ritual & Society

What role do martial arts play in the history of Chinese society? A one-day symposium as part of the exhibition “Ultimate Combat”.

Both in past and present China, fighting techniques are not just a military matter. These incorporated skills interact in various ways with medicine, meditation and a wide array of ritual traditions. “Warfare” (wu) plays a major role in modes of governance and in art: from statuary art to the epics that have since been adapted to the screen. Yet, this martial face of Chinese culture remains less well-known than the “civility or culture” (wen). Anthropologists, historians, sociologists and authors gather to contribute to structuring this emerging field of study.

In person and live on YouTube


Fiorella Allio(IrAsia/CNRS)
Circuits of exchanges and ritual confrontations. The services of processional martial troops in Taiwan

Alain Arrault (CCJ/EFEO)
The characters of martiality in the domestic statues of Hunan

Laurent Chircop-Reyes (CCJ & IrAsia)
Taoist principles of esoteric boxing (Neijiaquan) as learning levels and social markers

Catherine Despeux (CRCAO/INALCO)
The acupuncture needle, an exorcist weapon

Vincent Durand-Dastès (IFRAE/INALCO)
The “magical-tactical diagrams” (zhen): from ritual to theatre and martial arts novels

Georges Favraud (INACC, IFRAE & LISST-CAS)
The ritual and social dynamics of a contemporary Taoist boxer

The tiger soldiers of the Qing Empire: war, ritual and possession

David Palmer (IHSS/HKU) & Martin Tse (IHSS/HKU)
Civil masters, martial masters: the wen-wu structure of a major Jiao ritual of Southern China

Creating a “spiritual sport”? The Shaolin Chan bow


Sébastien Billioud (IFRAE/UPD), Adeline Herrou (LESC/CNRS), Édouard L’Hérisson (IrAsia/INALCO), Stéphane Molard (AFWK), Stéphane Rennesson (LESC/CNRS) AND Jean-Jacques Sagot (FAEMC)


Photo: Taoists martial arts master Li Jiazhong practises on the square of the Temple of Intensified Transformations (Hunan, China). © Georges Favraud, 2008.


Around the event

Guided tours, workshops, concerts, etc.
all activities organized as part of the event

Around the event