Karate Nerd in China (Ep. 1) 🇨🇳


It’s finally time for a new adventure. I am on my way to explore the roots of karate, the martial art that I’ve been
practicing my whole life. But this time I’m not going to Japan. Don’t get me wrong we all know that the Japanese island of Okinawa is the
birthplace of karate. I’ve been there a dozen times already getting my butt kicked from living legends of the art. But now it’s time to fly further back in
history. Back, to before the word karate even existed. Hi I’m Jesse from karatebyjesse.com. Also known as “The Karate Nerd” and I’m in China to rediscover the lost
roots of karate. Follow along an epic adventure to rediscover the lost roots
of karate as Jesse Enkamp uncovers the ancient source of karate’s kung-fu
connection. This is what the history books never told you. You’re watching Karate Nerd in China. Modern karate is actually less than a hundred years old. Because originally it was called “toudi”. That’s what all the old masters said before it was modernized in 1936. Before there were different styles, tournaments, uniforms and belts. Toudi literally means “Chinese hand”. In other words if you practice
karate today you might actually be practicing a form of ancient kung-fu
without even knowing it I know it sounds crazy. Which is why I’ve traveled to Fujian province to explore the southern kung-fu styles that
influenced the roots of karate. By cross-comparing different sources and
experiencing hands-on practice with grandmasters of traditional kung-fu, I’m
hoping to uncover what the Okinawan pioneers discovered when they created
the art of karate. Day one in China. Wow! I am actually here! This is what it looks like. Like, a few weeks ago this whole trip was just a crazy idea in my head. And now we’re actually here. Guys, I’m gonna be traveling around training with different masters of various kung-fu styles that go back in history and
connect to the roots of karate. And I’m gonna share everything with you. Like how insane is that? The only problem is I actually don’t know anything about this
place. I don’t know how to do it, where to go, who to meet, or I don’t, I mean like I’m lost. Which is why I contacted the biggest kung-fu nerd in all of China and he took an 8 hour train ride just to come here and help us out. Let’s go meet him. The dude sitting on that chair is named
Will. He’s a British bloke who’s been living in China for the past decade to
study kung-fu. His biggest passion is to travel around China to talk and train
with kung fu experts. Will’s job is to help me film the trip and translate what the old masters are saying. The only problem is neither of us have ever been to southern China before. That’s why we need a third person to help us find the right masters. That person is Alex. Alex is the secretary of the local martial arts federation. Which means that he knows everyone. And today is my lucky day because he’s organizing a special demonstration of kung-fu that I’m invited to. Apparently this will be a good introduction to the Chinese martial arts
for me. As an outsider I have no idea what to expect, but I’m trusting Alex and
Will to guide me on this journey. And then it starts. This is not what I expected. turns out is just a bunch of kids doing wushu. You know, the modern acrobatics. Don’t get me wrong it’s very impressive and entertaining, but this is not what I
came for. I’m looking for the traditional stuff. Suddenly the music stops. And a practitioner of white crane kung-fu enters the mat. This dude is moving in a
completely different way. That’s when I realize it. I’m watching Neipai. Or Nipaipo as we call it in Japanese. One of the most advanced forms in karate. I literally became the Nordic Champion with this exact kata. It’s one of my favorites. But this version is so much more complex. The way we do it in karate is very minimalistic in comparison. or, dare I say, simplistic. The rest of the demonstration was basically more wushu again including some weapons, some ladies doing tai chi and the reincarnation of Bruce Lee. Plus, a weird style of kung-fu
called “incense shop boxing”. But I didn’t care about any of that Because I had already hit jackpot. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve already been exposed to one of the most important kung fu styles in the history of karate. I am so excited to learn more about white crane kung-fu. Two hours later it’s time for lunch at
Alex’s dojo. For some reason I have the great honor of sitting at the masters’ table. If this is what lunch looks like in China I think I’m gonna stay here. And this is the most famous dish in the
city. A fish ball with a meatball inside So good. And then it happens. One of the masters from my table hears that I’m a “Karate Nerd”. So he invites me to his dojo to, I quote “play some kung-fu”. Turns out, I hit the jackpot again. You see this is no ordinary old man. This is master Yu. He’s been practising white crane kung-fu for 70 years. His style of white crane is called “ming he” or whooping crane in
English. I have no idea what’s about to happen but we’re gonna “play” some kung-fu. According to master Yu, this is the style that many of the historical karate pioneers
learned when they came to China. Apparently the founder of white crane
was a woman. For this reason it doesn’t rely on using brute force. Instead you must find a different angle where your opponent can’t leverage his power. Only then can you overcome a stronger opponent. So that’s the right angle? Yeah. White crane combines soft circular movements with hard straight movements. But strangely enough, the classical straight karate punch is almost never used. Instead, they prefer open handed strikes or forearm strikes with the ulna and radius bones or “heaven and earth” bones as they call them in Chinese. Yeah. Ahaa, okay. One, two. Yeah. Do they use any kicking techniques also? Like, tripping. The funny thing is Master Yu thinks he’s
teaching me kung-fu. But all I’m learning is karate. Aaah, okay! Yeah? Block, block. Because this is a technique
that we see a lot in karate. Yeah! Very good. Thank you very much. Very interesting. Wow! I’m sorry After a well-deserved tea break Master Yu invites us to his home to show
us his latest innovation. Take off my shoes, right? A hanging fish. Made out of wood, that you used to condition your forearms. Apparently this is what old kung-fu masters used hundreds of years ago. What does it smell like? What do you think? I don’t know how to describe it. Yeah. And then it happens. The moment I had been waiting for. The unspoken test. You see every time I’ve visited a karate master, they test me. Not necessarily my physical skills, but
my character. Because they want to see if you’re worthy of going further. Did I pass? We will never know. But moments later, Master Yu takes me to his private room and shows me something that blows my mind. A copy of the most important karate book in history that he rescued as a little boy when the Communists burned down his father’s
belongings. That book is the “Bubishi”. Or “Wu Bei Zhi” is it’s called in Chinese. An ancient manual of combat secretly passed down for generations. The old masters
called it the Bible of karate. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither could Patrick McCarthy The Western world’s number one karate researcher, who’s dedicated his
life to studying the Bubishi. Bubishi is a very classical indicator of times long gone by and because it is the only one written source that is extant today, which just happens to be from the same era as was the transitioning
metamorphosis to which these Chinese practices, sorry, and Southeast Asian
practices, metamorphosized into being what would ultimately become karate, is no
coincidence it’s part and parcel what it is. You can tell that is the original Bubishi right there it’s And that my presentation is
almost verbatim the same as that. According to the Bubishi, two specific
kung-fu styles influenced the creation of karate. The first, and most famous one,
is white crane kung-fu. And the birthplace of white crane, is a village called Yong Chun. You’re not any particular style you’re just the progenitor result of years of transition. But you know This is the place. And I think that that’s what you’re gonna see in Yong Chun. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope to see you again. It was time to stop relying on luck and start relying on facts. If I wanted to trace the roots of karate I needed to follow the Bubishi and travel to Yong Chun. But first Master Yu wanted to teach me one last thing. This is the crane temple. It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’ve been promised to learn the essence of
whooping crane kung fu They call it Babulien. In the local dialect, it’s pronounced Papuren. And yes, it shares both name and movements with the modern version you see in karate tournaments. Alex lights incense and prays to the crane temple and then And then my lesson begins. Overlooking the Crane Valley where all the white crane kungfu practitioners used to live in the old
days I am learning the most important form in this style The secret lies in the breathing pattern which regulates your muscular contraction and relaxation. These movements are then translated to
real life fighting applications Okay Yeah. I’m not sure what
impressed me the most Master Yu’s knowledge, enthusiasm or patience. Kiai! Needless to say, even though we practiced
for hours I’m pretty sure we only scratched the surface. Thank you very much! As I wave goodbye to the crane temple it dawns on me that I’m literally walking in the footsteps of the old karate masters. All I have to do is follow the Bubishi. And right now, it’s telling me to visit Yong
Chun. The birthplace of white crane

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