An older article, elaborating on the subject from a slightly different angle
Once I wondered if there are any advantages of Chinese writing over classic european (latin) alphabet.
Disadvantages, in this time and age, are plenty:
Instead of having about 30 simple glyphs that anybody can learn quickly, and that are combined to create complex words,that anybody who knows how to read can read; Chinese has thousands of glyphs, that have to be learned, one after another; if you have never seen a word written, you are not going to read it! And do not get me started what this means for print (and computers).
This is preposterous; why would people keep such a lousy system of writing, I wondered? (Aside from taking less space, I guess). And I asked several people, experts on things Chinese, what are the advantages of Chinese writing.
What have I learned? Not only they have not been able to name any advantage; they were so stupid that they were unable to comprehend why the European system(small alphabet,combined together) is better!
This really shocked me. I am used that people are, in general, stupid. But that much?!?
Actually what that probably means: It means that the Chinese keep a lousy system of writing a)because it is traditional b)because they do not know any better.
Instead of adopting the infinitely more flexible latin alphabet, the keep reveling in the needlesly complex system of myriad of 'small pictures'. This somehow seems to be significant for the culture.
At this point, I dropped the research on Chinese writing, at it was too depressing.
However, that takes us to the real subject of this article: Kungfu.
When I learned kungfu, I was enchanted by the richness of it; by the pictoresqueness. By the seemingly infinite number of pretty stances, hand forms, routines, weapons.
And I believe this is what majority of kungfu lovers are drawn with too. Something so complex and elaborate must be infinitely effective!
Compare that to western martial arts, like boxing or wrestling: They seem very simple; no elaborate stances and hand forms, no rituals, no routines; in fact, they look a little ugly.
Today, there seem to a rennaisance of western martial arts; unlike in the past, the general consensus is that both kungfu and western arts are effective - also known as 'it is not about the system, it is about the practitioner!'.
I beg to differ. A bad system drags you down no matter how good 'practitioner' you are. Yes, you can compensate for a bad system by being good yourself, but that is irrational, stupid way of living. You should choose the good system over the bad, and then you will be even better! A bad system...like Chinese writing for example.
Now, instead of comparing kungfu and western arts en masse,which would only mess things up(I know people who want to avoid comparisons actually want that!) let me compare a clearly defined area. Both kungfu (and associated eastern arts - jujitsu, aikido etc) and western wrestling use joint locks. I will concentrate my comparison here, as I believe it is symptomatic.
In kungfu, there is, generally, a lot of jointlocks, called Qinna; wristlocks, elbowlocks, shoulderlocks. The techniques are elaborate; the skills are refined; the training methods are cool.
On the contrary, in wrestling, there is a few jointlocks; that look, compare to kungfu's, pretty crude; training method is, mostly, wrestling.
Yet: That elaborate array of beautiful joints of kungfu is an incredibly hard to apply for real. It can be applied, of course; but the structure of techniques themselves means that in order to apply them, you have to have a lot of training; or rather, your skill level must be a lot higher than thas of the opponent.
Instead, the few locks of (catch)wrestling are pretty easy to apply, once you catch the principle. They are born of wrestling itself - you grab the opponent and apply the technique, simple as that. Yes, you can also have a refined skill; but you do not have to for the techniques to work.
Western techniques work right out of the box. They do not need any tinkering and pondering. On the contrary, how many times I have heard people obsessing on whether 'wrist locks', staple of Chinna, work or not? How many times I have heard kungfu practitioners (stupidly) meditating on how every step is a kick, every block is an attack, list thousands of inventive ways of applying the same kick that does not work in the first place? How come you never hear, say, a boxing practitioner pondering about what is the secret use of a hook punch? Or that a block can be a strike or some other shit? And how come that even without this mental masturbation, boxing works just fine?
I pondered this for a while. And I came to this conclusion: It is not true that western and chinese martial arts are equal. Chinese martial arts are deficient. Yep, you hear me.
It seems to me that kungfu (and kungfu-influenced arts) are like Chinese writings - beautiful, complex, and very inneficient. That doesn't meant the fighters using them are inneficient; only that they have to work with a bad system to begin with! And the reason they do it is a)tradition b)that they do not know any better.
If these same fighters trained with an efficient system - such a western fighting - they would be a lot better.
There is one area where Chinese fighters beat western fighters - or have in the past, at least - and that is skill, or gung. Due to fanatical, everyday training, Chinese fighters can produce enough raw power and skill to make up for the stupid training systems they use. Kungfu fighters are like those proverbian chinese merchants counting on a abacus - and sometimes beating people with calculators. But that doesn't mean abacci are better tools than pocket calculators.
For example, sometimes you hear about 'iron palm training'; allegedly, Chinese fighters in the past used to bang their palms onto iron fillings every day for several years, until they were able to shatter bones with one strike.
Now suppose this is true. Does it strike your as a rational method of spending your time? If you took a hammer in your hand, you would gain the same result - in ten second! This is a telling principle.
Similarly, I am sure that if you spent 5(10?) years training rooting, sensitivity and what have you, you would be able to lock normal peoples hands with chinna just fine.
Yet, a 'double wrist lock' of catch wrestling does the same after several days of training!
The conclusion: Chinese fighters are able to produce admirable results, using substandard methods. Western arts are able to produce the same results faster, using simple methods. Kungfu stopped evolving; it ought to be simplified; the complex methods - both training and fighting methods - shoulder be thrown away. They are a burden, they drag the art down.
The simplest proof is that I have seen several articles advising kungfu fighters how to fight against a boxer or a wrestler; yet, I have seen none advising a boxer how to fight a kungfu guy. Suppose there is a reason?