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Did the Samurai learnt unarmed combat from Chinese General Qi Jiguang?

I'm going to share something breaking here that I've just discovered, which may be considered as evidence that the Japanese Samurai learnt unarmed fist combat techniques from Ming Dynasty Chinese General Qi Jiguang during the period that they lived in.

First, let's learn about Samurai General Yamamoto Kansuke. You can read more about him in Wikipedia. He was one of the 24 Generals under Takeda Shingen. He lived from 1501 to 1561, and he authored a book called "Heihō Ōgisho" (兵法奥義書). I translate the title as "Book of Military Secrets".

General Qi Jiguang lived from 1528 to 1588, and during his time, he authored "Ji Xiao Xin Shu" (紀效新書), which I translate the title as "New Book of Military Effectiveness".

As you may have already know, in General Qi Jiguang's book, there is a chapter on unarmed fist techniques, which you can find here:

So far so good.

Now let's come back to General Yamamoto's book. Below is a genuine scan of his manual which I've managed to personally obtain. Check it out.

Fist page from Heiho Ogi Sho 兵法奥義書

If you're already familiar with General Qi's Fist manual, you should be able to instantly recognize that they are the same! Furthermore, the drawings clearly shows Chinese clothing being worn.

General Qi's Fist Manual

We are obviously looking at the "Golden Chicken Solo Stand Stance" (left) and the "Casual Tuck Shirt Stance" (right). I suspect that the description of the stances are worded differently in both the Japanese and Chinese version, but they probably conveyed the same meaning.

I can only wonder how the General Qi's fist techniques managed to land into the Japanese's hands during that period.


Over at our Facebook discussion, someone mentioned that "Ji Xiao Xin Shu" was published in 1560. By then, Samurai General Yamamoto was only 1 year from his death in 1561. So the question is, did General Yamamoto copied the Fist techniques into book shortly after "Ji Xiao Xin Shu" was published?

Unless you can time-travel, we may not know the true answer for sure. There is also the possibility of these Fist techniques being published beforehand, and perhaps General Qi was the one who compiled them more properly.

But one thing is for sure: General Yamamoto did not copied much.

In General Qi's book, there were 32 Fist stances altogether. You can download the original for free, or find the full list here:

How many Fist stances were there in General Yamamoto's book?

A grand total of.....*drum roll please*......4 (four) stances.

Yes you read it right.

One, two, three, four.

That's it.

Below are the 4 Fist stances which I've scanned from Heiho Ogi Sho. The rest are weapon stances.

So why was there only 4 Fist stances, out of 32?

General Yamamoto passed away shortly after "Ji Xiao Xin Shu" was published. Was there a lack of time for him to copy all 32 stances? Or did he only find these 4 stances useful?

Let me know if you think you know the answer!

Jack Chen

Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Manuals


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