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"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour

"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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Is Guān Yǔ (關羽), the Chinese God of War and of Martial Arts?

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Guan Yu died circa 220. A general serving under a warlord named, “Liu Bei” of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Guan Yu played a significant role in the civil war that ended that dynasty. It lead to the creation of the Shu Han dynasty during the three kingdom period in China. 

It just so happens that his connection to the Chinese God of War was something that came from the Wester world because of his notariety as a military general held in high regard by the Chinese. This is considered by many who study Chinese classics to be a misconception of his role. In general, as to worshipping, he is bette known as the “Emperor Guan,” or “Lord Guan” by some. 

As to his supposed role as a Chinese God of Martial Arts, there does not seem to be any references to attribute such a status to General Guan Yu. 

In general, most of what we know about General Guan Yu is from the book, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” that is more fictionalized rather than true life stories. 

“In the Western world, Guan Yu is sometimes called the Taoist God of War, probably because he is one of the most well-known military generals worshipped by the Chinese people. This is a misconception of his role, as, unlike the Greco-Roman deity Mars or the Norse god Týr, Guan Yu, as a god, does not necessarily bless those who go to battle but rather, people who observe the code of brotherhood and righteousness.”

Understand, most of the references found in my limited and personal research do attribute this status to his life but those sources are all Western in origin with little or no reference from Chinese literature as a source except the mostly fictionalized book mentioned above. Many sources found are also from Gaming Sites, ergo the games created and inspired from the book already mentioned. Many of those same western oriented sources tend to describe him in a fictional way similar to the actual fictionalized stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms book. 

When you research the statues you will find a large variety of poses and renditions of Guan Yu. This also brings to question as to the authenticity of those variations. Although very similar one would not truly know if that is a proper representation even when seen in the most obvious locations, Chinese Restaurants. I have found upon further inquiry at such restaurants the owners, Chinese, tend to put such objects in because of their beauty and rarely know who Guan Yu is, etc. but that theory is very limited and questionable as well. 

In the end there is no real proof from reliable Chinese sources to say that this is true or false. I like the representation and stories around Guan Yu as they symbolize what we all would like to feel is true of martial arts and the origins of those who may have affected the discipline in both a realistic and historical effort but in truth, who the heck knows.

Would I relate Guan Yu to my martial arts practice even if it is a practice toward civil self-defense over others like sports, etc.? Not really and I would not try to assign it any cultural value toward my martial discipline as to its origins on Okinawa other than its possible influences through the trade relations Okinawan’s had with China over its illustrious history. 

Honestly, there is no real definitive proof either way but if you like it, you appreciate the association with a considered great Chinese General of Ancient Chinese times and you want it to symbolize how you approach your training, practice and application of martial discipline - you go for it!

If you are going to express and teach it as a historical fact - NOT! As relevant to martial arts today - NOT! Nice stories all but not reality based as a provable fact, theory or even philosophy. But then again, ?


Bibliography (Click the link)

Is it Guan Yu or is it Memorex?

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