Chinese Islamic Martial Arts 中华教门拳

Chinese islamic martial arts have a very important place in China, although are rarely talked about. Although western media likes to portray Chinese martial arts as Buddhist warrior monks of Taoist masters with long beards, in fact in China many of the greatest masters of martial arts have been the Hui people, or Chinese Muslims. Descendants of Persian and Arab traders who intermarried with Chinese, the Hui people are a large minority which can be found in all parts of China, but are most concentrated in the central plains and north-west regions.

Throughout Chinese history, the Hui people have been famous generals and many emperors had regiments exclusively of Hui soldiers to suppress uprisings. There are numerous styles of kung fu associated with the Hui people, such as Baji Quan (八极拳), Pigua Zhang (劈挂掌), Liuhe Men (六合门), Huihui Shiba Zhou (回回十八肘 – Hui people’s 18 elbows) and the popular kicking style of Tan Tui (潭腿) which few people realise is in fact based on the Arabic alphabet, however there are three major styles known as Jiao Men Quan (教门拳), which means “Protecting the Faith Styles”, which are Cha Quan (查拳), Xinyi Liuhe Quan (心意六合拳) and Qi Shi Quan (七式拳).

Today, in China Muslim practitioners are known for their fighting ability, and their styles are often regarded as more combat oriented than other styles which focus more on forms. However it’s worth noting that Muslim teachers are somewhat more conservative and closed than other teachers, and it is often quite difficult to really enter their circles.