Kung Fu and Martial Arts Video Game

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

There is a form of kung-fu called 八卦掌 (bagua-zhang) , or, 8-trigrams palm. I've always wanted to learn kung-fu, and is fascinated by it, but never in my life studied it. Anyway, i find this style of kung-fu particularly fascinating. (but i don't really know gongfu to say much)

In the movie “The One” The One , the “good guy” character played by Jet Li uses this style. (The “bad guy” character uses 形意拳 (Xíngyìquán) style.)

In the “Tekken 3” Tekken 3 video game, the character Ling Xiaoyu's (凌曉雨) fighting style is bagua-zhang.

In “Dead or Alive” Dead or Alive , Helena's fighting style is 劈掛拳.

Martial Arts, Video Games, Technology

The most interesting game in Versus Fighting genre, is “Virtua Fighter” Virtua Fighter . Unlike other fighting games, Virtual Fighter tries to be realistic. So, in a sense it is a martial arts simulator. Two-person hand-to-hand combat simulator in the form of a video game controlled by joysticks and buttons as inputs may seem ridiculous, however, Virtual Fighter at least captures the artistic aspect of the fighting styles.

For example, in Western boxing, we can see that the characteristic movement is the various punches (jab, cross, hook, uppercut), and the characteristic leg movement. (jogging or shifting). In kick boxing, added to the punches are various attacks using the legs. While in wrestling , in particular the show-oriented professional wrestling, the characteristic movements are lifting of the body with various skull-breaking or neck breaking or spine-breaking slams, and also joint locks.

The modern martial arts simulator such as Virtua Fighter or wresting games is fascinating because they actually simulate the real body movements of these fighting styles, and present it in a video form of 3D dummy characters. In this presentation, your visual perception gets to focus on the body movement itself. For example, you can actually learn some of the fancy bone-breaking wrestling throws from video games. (at least in the form.)

Some of these games are developed by having sensors attached to the real martial artist, and record their movements in 3D while the actor perform the moves. (called motion capture.)

As computer technology marches forward, i'm sure it'll become more and more realistic. Perhaps within 10 years, martial arts simulating games can use motion sensors attached to the player's body parts as the input system. So that, the player actually engages himself in physical exercise. (such physical-exercise engaging video game is already on the rise. For example, in the game “Dance Dance Revolution” amazon )

“Pai vs Aoi” Virtua Fighter

The Science of Martial Arts

Martial arts itself is interesting, from a mathematician and artist's eye. In essence, it is the finding of the optimal system of body movement, to defeat your opponent, with the human body as the base and constraint. The human physiology plays a major role. For example, bones, muscles, joints, pressure points, the understanding of their function, characteristics, movements, are all import in developing a system of martial arts from the science point of view. (of course, martial arts as they are by tradition, are not developed out of scientific principles, but experience)

Of all the martial arts, one form particularly attractive is the Chinese martial arts, known as kung-fu. Although it is true that most film depictions are ostentation and choreography, but real kung-fu do possess high level of dance-like stylistic movements.

One particular game-like form of kung-fu practice is called pushing hands. Two persons stand face to face within a arm-length distance. The goal is to push your opponent off-balance. (The first to fall or move feet, loses the match.) The game is very simple, but you'll be surprised how a muscle-man can be trivially thrown off by a old push-hands master.

In the last decade, there's a all-out martial arts competition called mixed martial arts. The gist of the sport is just “no rules”. But for practical reasons, there are some rules and the rule evolved to ban certain attacks, such as gouging the eyes, hitting the groin, biting, fish-hooking (insert fingers into mouth or nose and tear). One essential aspect in such competition, is to see what is the ultimate martial arts style. May it be punch-oriented like boxing, or kick boxing, or with strikes like karate , or with fancy stances and hand techniques like kung-fu, or the grappling and throwing techniques in wrestling -- everything goes.

It is also in such competition, we see practical scientific advancements in martial arts. Namely, away with all the oriental philosophies associated with kung-fu, away with the various nationalistic and pride associations with different schools of martial arts, away with showmanship as in pro wrestling. The goal, is simply to win a competition that simulates hand-to-hand combat of two human animals to the death.

Chinese Nationalism and WASP Hollywood

In many Chinese martial-art films, there are many Chinese heroes loosely based on history. Typically, these show Chinese nationalistic fantasies. Such heroes include:

The stories from the movies imbued into Chinese's people's minds are basically war-mongering garbage. Nevertheless, it doesn't stop Chinese from believing them. Ask any Chinese, even those with a college degree -- chances are -- they know nothing about the historical facts regarding these people.

In the same way, the WASPs are happily brainwashed by WASP heroisms and modern day technological superiority that regularly comes out of Hollywood.

李小龍 (Bruce Lee)

Bruce Lee (1940 to 1973), born in San Francisco, is one of the first to take kung fu with science. Despite all the moronic kung-fu and movie-star brouhaha and myths surrounding Bruce Lee, he is a man of science and rationality. Here are some quotes from wikipedia:

Bruce Lee's evaluation of traditional martial arts doctrines is nowadays seen as one of the first steps into the modern style of mixed martial arts.

Bruce Lee was a Chinese American born at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, California in 1940…

Bruce's Cantonese given name, 振藩 (Zhènfán), literally means “invigorate San Francisco.”

He enrolled at the University of Washington as a Philosophy Academic major…

List of Kungfu

Some animal forms.

A particular technique.

there's tv show called Deadliest Warrior. It's like a scientific study of martial arts, but actually is bullshit.

Chinese Sword Important Knowledge (Jian), Point of Balance and Weight Comparison