Chinese (Manchu) archery – an old tradition as well as military and martial arts practice
Archery played an important role in the first Chinese dynasties, app. 3500 years ago, as a mystic ritual (shamanic archery) as well as in the military. It was together with music, charioting, reading and calculating obligatory in the education of the Chinese nobility.
It underwent another important development in the Tang dynasty (app. 720 AD). It became a compulsory military subject in the cavalry and infantry. The first manual on Chinese Archery, preserved to these days, is dated back to this period.
It formed since then part of the military examination till the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD).
Archery started to play a new and superior role with the conquest of whole China in the Ming dynasty by the Mandschu (1644 AD) and the Qing expansion in East Turkistan, Tibet and Taiwan. The Chinese army considered to be invincible up to this point was helplessly at the mercy of the Mandschu artillery. The Mandschus were able to kill within a range of eighty metres with their Composite-Recurve-Bows devised for bear and tiger hunts, considerably farer than the Chinese.
The Mandschu bow replaced the existing Chinese bow completely and survived as a pivotal weapon in the military of the Mandschu Qing dynasty.
The Qing Emperor Qianlong, who ruled at that time 36% of the world population, went down in history as an excellent archer.
Today around ten million Mandschu are living in the People’s Republic and are the third largest ethnic group in the country. They are largely mixed with the Han-Chinese and their tradition and culture is threatened with extinction.
The bow became with the introduction of firearms less important at the end of the Qing dynasty. Archery was no longer part of the military training. The traditional and military archery has nearly died out since then and is hardly practiced. The modern archery has taken its place. But modern archery has got nothing in common with the history of archery.
We want to bring the tradition of Chinese archery as part of the martial arts, which is threatened by extinction, back to life and with that complement it.