List of surviving Ming period martial arts

For the most part, Ming period martial arts manuals are written for military men and intended for battlefield use. Many manuals are included as part of a larger military treatise and only offer the most rudimentary instructions on weapon use (exceptions to this rule are usually quarterstaff treatises). In a sense, they are closer to early modern bayonet drill manuals (i.e. straightforward but unsophisticated) than Middle Ages or Renaissance era Fechtbücher. Because of the simplicity of these manuals, reconstruction of Ming period martial arts based on the manuals is not always possible.

This list is by no means exhaustive and will be continuously updated.


Quan Jing San Shi Er Shi (拳經三十二勢, lit. 'Thirty-two stances of Fist Classic')

Developed by Ming general Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光), Quan Jing San Shi Er Shi is an unarmed combat system derived from thirty-two different martial arts styles. As the first Chinese unarmed combat manual ever written, it heavily influenced later martial arts traditions.

Quan Jing was actually intended as a physical training curriculum. Qi Ji Guang considered it useless on the battlefield, but helpful in cultivating physical prowess and confidence of his troops.

Most versions of Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》) only recorded twenty-four out of thirty-two stances of this system. However, San Cai Tu Hui (《三才圖會》) and Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》) include the complete version.

Unnamed Chang Quan (長拳, lit. 'Long fist'), Duan Da (短打, lit. 'Short striking') and Na Die (拿跌, lit. 'Grappling and wrestling') techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)

One of the techniques not included in the original system.
Unarmed combat techniques lifted directly from the incomplete version of Quan Jing San Shi Er Shi (拳經三十二勢), with several altered stances replacing the originals.

Tong Bi Quan (通臂拳, lit. 'Through-arm fist' or 'Long arm fist')

One of the earliest extant martial arts manuals of Tong Bei Quan (通背拳) tradition was written by late Ming period martial artist Zhou Quan (周全) over the course of twenty-two years (the manual was finished in 1665, after the fall of Ming Dynasty). It is closely related to Nei Jia Quan Fa (內家拳法).

Note that while Ting Bi Quan (通臂拳) and Tong Bei Quan (通背拳) are written and pronounced differently, they can be treated as synonymous for the most part.

Tai Ji Quan (太極拳)

One of the earliest martial arts manual of Tai Ji Quan (太極拳) was written by Wang Zong Yue (王宗岳), a Ming Dynasty martial artist commonly seen as a semi-legendary figure (if not the founder) in the history of Tai Ji Quan. Tai Ji Quan is also known as Chang Quan (長拳, long fist), Mian Quan (綿拳, lit. 'Cotton fist'), Shi San Shi (十三勢, thirteen stances) and Ruan Shou (軟手, soft hand), although these names have become largely obsolete.

Nei Jia Quan Fa (內家拳法, lit. 'Internal fist techniques')

Unarmed combat techniques attributed to legendary Zhang San Feng (張三豐). It was taught to late Ming martial artist Wang Zheng Nan (王征南) by Dan Si Nan (單思南). Earliest manual of Nei Jia Quan was included as part of Wang Zheng Nan's biography, authored by his student Huang Bai Jia (黃百家) in 1669, seven years after his death.

Many modern internal martial arts traditions attribute their founding to Nei Jia Quan Fa.


Ji Xiao Ba Shi (紀效八勢, lit. 'Eight stances of Effective Discipline')

Ji Xiao Ba Shi is a sabre and rattan shield style developed by Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光). It is probably the only surviving Ming period sabre and shield combat style.

Note that Qi Ji Guang did not name this style, instead its name was coined by early Qing period martial artist Wu Shu (吳殳).

Shi San Dao Fa (十三刀法, lit. 'Thirteen sabre tecnhiques')

A one-handed sabre style that utilises a particularly heavy sabre. It was written by Wang Yu You (王餘佑) during early Qing period and published posthumously, but no doubt the techniques already existed before the fall of Ming.

An incomplete version of the manual was renamed Tai Ji Lian Huan Dao Fa (太極連環刀法) and published in 1931.


Xin You Dao Fa (辛酉刀法, lit. 'Sabre techniques of Xin You*')

One of the pages of Japanese Kage-ryū catalogue. From 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
One of the pages of Xin You Dao Fa, from 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
Xin You Dao Fa is a Chang Dao (長刀) style derived from Japanese Kage-ryū (影流 or 陰流) by Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光). Qi Ji Guang was a contemporary of Aisu Koshichirō Tsunemichi (愛洲小七郎常通), grandson of Aisu Iko (愛洲久忠), the founder of Kage-ryū school. They might have met in China. Note that Qi Ji Guang did not name this style, instead its name was coined by Mao Yuan Yi (茅元儀) in his military treatise Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》).

Xin You Dao Fa was thought to be lost forever until its recent rediscovery in Korea, preserved intact in the Korean martial arts manual Muyejebo (《무예제보》 or 《武藝諸譜》). It is known as Ssangsudo (쌍수도 or 雙手刀, two-handed sabre) by the Koreans.

*Note: Xin You (辛酉) is the fifty-eight term of the Chinese sexagenary cycle. It refers to the year Qi Ji Guang acquired the Japanese manual (i.e. A.D. 1561).

Dan Dao Fa Xuan (《單刀法選》, lit. 'Selected single sabre techniques' )

Dan Dao Fa Xuan is a Dan Dao (單刀) style recorded by late Ming period martial artist Cheng Zong You (程宗猷). Cheng Zong You learned from Liu Yun Feng (劉雲峰), who in turn learnt from an anonymous Japanese master. Dan Dao Fa Xuan heavily influenced later Miao Dao (苗刀) swordsmanship.

Dan Dao Fa Shi Ba Shi (單刀法十八勢, lit. 'Eighteen stances of single sabre')

An early Qing period Dan Dao (單刀) style by Wu Shu (吳殳). Wu Shu inherited the techniques from Shi Jing Yan (石敬岩), who learnt from the same Japanese master as Liu Yun Feng (劉雲峰). However he further developed it by incorporating techniques and concepts from Chinese jian into the style.


Chao Xian Shi Fa (朝鮮勢法, lit. 'Joseon stance techniques')

A two-handed Jian (劍) style recorded in Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》). According to Mao Yuan Yi (茅元儀), author of Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》), Chao Xian Shi Fa was an ancient Chinese school of swordsmanship that spread to Korea but later lost to the Chinese themselves, so it had to be reintroduced back to China. He later contradicted himself by stating that he acquire the manual oversea.

Korean Yedo (예도 or 銳刀, sharp sabre) is based on the same style.


Yu Jia Gun (俞家棍, lit. 'Quarterstaff of House Yu')

One of the pages of Jian Jing as recorded in Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》).
Also known as Yu Gong Gun (俞公棍, lit. 'Quarterstaff of Lord Yu'), this is a quarterstaff style recorded in Jian Jing (《劍經》, lit. 'Sword classic'. Ironically, this treatise has nothing to do with swordsmanship) written by famous Ming general and legendary martial artist Yu Da You (俞大猷). Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) later revised the treatise with illustrated instructions and compiled it together with Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》).

Yu Jia Gun represents one of the Southern Chinese traditions of striking-oriented quarterstaff martial arts.

Shao Lin Gun Fa (少林棍法, lit. 'Shaolin quarterstaff techniques')

Ancient forms of Shaolin quarterstaff techniques can be found in Shao Lin Gun Fa Chan Zong (《少林棍法闡宗》, lit. 'Clarification of the origin of Shaolin quarterstaff techniques'), written by Cheng Zong You (程宗猷). Recorded forms are Xiao Ye Cha Gun (小夜叉棍, lit. 'Small yaksha quarterstaff'), Da Ye Cha Gun (大夜叉棍, lit. 'Large yaksha quarterstaff'), Yin Shou Gun (陰手棍, lit. 'Negative grip quarterstaff'), as well as Po Gun (破棍, lit. 'Defeating quarterstaff'), techniques to counter other quarterstaff.

It represents one of the Northern Chinese traditions of thrusting-oriented quarterstaff martial arts.

Ma Cha Gun (麻杈棍, lit. 'Fire iron quarterstaff')

Ma Cha Gun is closely related to Shaolin quarterstaff tradition. This treatise was written by someone with the pseudonym Shan Yi Ren (山逸人,  lit. 'Hermit in the mountain'), but the style was not created by him.

It represents one of the Northern Chinese traditions of thrusting-oriented quarterstaff martial arts.

TRIVIA: Northern and Southern quarterstaff traditions

Quarterstaff: Northern versus Southern tradition. This image is cropped and pieced together from 'Shao Lin Gun Fa Chan Zong (《少林棍法闡宗》)' and 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate Northern and Southern quarterstaff tradition is through the hand position. Northern quarterstaff is wielded with right hand at the back and left hand at the front (i.e. similar to a spear) while Southern quarterstaff is wielded with right hand at the front and left hand at the back (i.e. similar to a sword).


Unnamed iron whip techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)

This two-handed Tie Bian (鐵鞭) style is lifted directly from Dan Dao Fa Xuan (《單刀法選》), but with several one-handed techniques removed (as Tie Bian is quite heavy). Cheng Zi Yi (程子頤), author of Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》), was the nephew of Cheng Zong You (程宗猷), and as such heavily influenced by him.


Unnamed axe techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)

Two-handed axe techniques also lifted directly from Dan Dao Fa Xuan (《單刀法選》), but with even less techniques.


Yang Jia Qiang (楊家鎗, lit. 'Spear of House Yang')

Also known as Li Hua Qiang (梨花鎗, lit. 'Pear flower spear'), this is one of the most well known spear martial arts in China. A rare surviving relic from Song period, Yang Jia Qiang is often attributed to Yang Miao Zhen (楊妙真), a female general of the Southern Song Dynasty.

A manual of Yang Jia Qiang is compiled together with Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》).

According to Wu Shu (吳殳), Yang Jia Qiang is used with a wooden Chang Qiang (長鎗) of one zhang two chi to one zhang eight chi in length.

Yang Jia Qiang Zhan Cuo Fa (楊家鎗搌挫法, lit. 'Spear of House Yang, bind and push techniques')

An obscure style recorded in Jing Guo Xiong Lue (《經國雄略》), apparently one of the variants of Yang Jia Qiang (楊家鎗). It is very different from all other spear styles, as the spear is wielded with right hand at the front and left hand at the back. It shares some similarities with quarterstaff and Tang Pa (钂鈀) techniques of Jian Jing (《劍經》) and Shao Lin Gun Fa (《少林棍法》).

Yang Jia Qiang Zhan Cuo Fa is used with a seven chi five cun to eight chi spear for training and demonstrations, and a nine chi to one zhang spear for actual combat.

Cha Kou Qiang (汊口鎗, lit. 'River fork spear')

Spear fighting techniques developed by Cheng Zong You (程宗猷), recorded in Chang Qiang Fa Xuan (《長槍法選》, lit. 'Selected long spear techniques'). This style is heavily influenced by Yang Jia Qiang (楊家鎗), taught to Cheng Zong You by Li Ke Fu (李克復). It is also influenced by Shaolin martial arts tradition.

It uses a heavy one zhang seven chi to one zhang eight chi pike for training, and a slightly shorter one zhang six chi pike for actual combat.

Note that this name was coined by Wu Shu (吳殳) after the birthplace of Cheng Zong You.

Meng Lu Tang Qiang Fa (夢綠堂鎗法, lit. 'Spear techniques of Dreaming Green Hall')

Created by Shaolin monk Hong Zhuan (洪轉), Meng Lu Tang Qiang Fa is the earliest surviving Shaolin spear martial arts. Hong Zhuan was also the master of Cheng Zong You (程宗猷).

Wu Shu (吳殳) included a copy of this manual into Shou Bi Lu (《手臂錄》).

E Mei Qiang Fa (峨嵋鎗法, lit. 'Spear techniques from Emei')

Spear techniques created by Emei monk Pu En (普恩) and taught to Cheng Zhen Ru (程真如) and Yue Kong (月空). Wu Shu (吳殳) also learned from this tradition.

Wu Shu wrote a manual for E Mei Qiang Fa. He later compared his manual with another manual authored by Cheng Zhen Ru, and included an updated version into Shou Bi Lu (《手臂錄》).

Shi Jia Qiang Fa (石家鎗法, lit. 'Spear techniques of House Shi')

Spear fighting techniques of Shi Jing Yan (石敬岩) with a very confusing origin. Shi Jing Yan originally learned from Shaolin monk Hong Ji (洪紀), but later became the student of Liu De Chang (劉德長) after both he and Hong Ji was defeated in a duel against Liu De Chang. Shi Jing Yan himself claimed he was using Ma Jia Qiang (馬家鎗, lit. 'Spear of House Ma') but his own student Wu Shu (吳殳) disputed this, noting that his techniques shared many similarities with E Mei Qiang Fa (峨嵋鎗法) and should be considered one and the same.

Wu Shu recorded this style in his martial arts manual Shou Bi Lu (《手臂錄》, lit. 'Record of hands and arms').

Ma Jia Qiang, Shi Jia Qiang Fa and E Mei Qiang Fa are used with a short nine chi seven cun spear.


Tang Pa techniques from Jian Jing (《劍經》)

One of the pages of Tang Pa training manual taken from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Although Jian Jing (《劍經》) is primarily a quarterstaff treatise, it contains a section that specifically deals with applying quarterstaff principles to Tang Pa (钂鈀). Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) revised this section into an illustrated and easily understandable format and included it in second edition Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》).

Tian Peng Cha (天蓬釵, lit. 'Tian Peng's fork')

Tang Pa (钂鈀) techniques recorded in Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》). Unlike its Jian Jing (《劍經》) counterpart which is adapted from Southern quarterstaff tradition, Tian Peng Cha is an adaption of Shao Lin Gun Fa (少林棍法), a Northern quarterstaff tradition.

Unnamed Chinese Ji techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》).

Fang Tian Hua Ji (方天畫戟) techniques derived from Shao Lin Gun Fa (《少林棍法》). It is the only known surviving Ming period Fang Tian Hua Ji manual.

Unnamed glaive techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)

Yan Yue Dao (偃月刀) techniques recorded in Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》). Unlike other martial arts in the book, this style does not seem to be derived from other martial arts.

Mi Chuan Yi Shi Er Shi Hun Yuan Dao Fa (秘傳一十二下混元刀法, lit. 'Secret teaching of twelve Hun Yuan glaive techniques')

A very obscure Yan Yue Dao (偃月刀) style recorded in post-Ming military treatise Jing Guo Xiong Lue (《經國雄略》).

Unnamed Lang Xian techniques from Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)

Lang Xian (狼筅) techniques created by Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) for his troops. It is also derived from Jian Jing (《劍經》).

Unnamed Lang Xian techniques from Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)

An expanded version of the original Lang Xian (狼筅) style recorded by Chen Zi Yi (程子頤). It incorporates additional techniques derived from Shao Lin Gun Fa (少林棍法).


E Mei Chan (峨嵋鏟, lit. 'Emei spade')

One of a kind style that utilise a unique weapon known as E Mei Chan (峨嵋鏟). It is derived from Shao Lin Gun Fa (《少林棍法》).

Lang Ya Gun (狼牙棍)

One of a kind style that utilises a modified Lang Ya Bang (狼牙棒) that resembles a Japanese Kanabō (金砕棒) with shorter handle. It is derived from Dan Dao Fa Xuan (《單刀法選》).


Unnamed martial arts from Wu Bian Qian Ji (《武編前集》)

Wu Bian Qian Ji (《武編前集》), a military treatise redacted by Tang Shun Zhi (唐順之) has a section that contains many instructions on unarmed combat, spear, double sabres, double iron whips, meteor hammer, Pa (扒) and Tang Pa (钂鈀).

Zhen Fa Ma Bu She Fa Gun Fa (《陣法馬步射法棍法》, lit. 'Formations, mounted and foot archery, and quarterstaff techniques')

A short manual included as addendum of Xin Juan Wu Jing Biao Ti Zheng Yi (《新鐫武經標題正義》). Among other things, it contains one of the earliest reference of unarmed martial arts of Shaolin (written as "邵陵" instead of "少林") tradition.

Wu Bei Men (《武備門》, lit. 'Gate of Armament')

Ming Dynasty wrestling
One of the wrestling techniques of Wu Bei Men, from 'Xin Ban Quan Bu Tia Xia Bian Yong Wen Lin Miao Jin Wan Bao Quan Shu (《新版全補天下便用文林妙錦萬寶全書》)'.
Several Ming and Qing period encyclopedias such as Xin Ke Tian Xia Si Min Bian Lan Wan Yong Zheng Zong (《新刻天下四民便覽萬用正宗》), Xin Ban Quan Bu Tian Xia Bian Yong Wen Lin Miao Jin Wan Bao Quan Shu (《新板全補天下便用文林妙錦萬寶全書》), Xin Ke Ye Jia Xin Cai Wan Bao Quan Shu (《新刻鄴架新裁萬寶全書》) and Zeng Bu Wan Bao Quan Shu (《增補萬寶全書》) include a chapter called Wu Bei Men that contains rudimentary instructions on unarmed combat, wrestling, quarterstaff, spear, Tang Pa (钂鈀) and archery. Unlike many other books in this list, these encyclopedias were written for the common folk.

Mi Chuan Duan Da Fa (秘傳短打法, lit. 'Secret teaching of short distance striking techniques')

Unarmed combat techniques recorded in Wu Bei Xin Shu (《武備新書》), a revised version of Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》) written by Xie San Bin (謝三賓).

Quan Shi Ti Shi (《拳勢體式》, lit. 'Fist stance body style')

A late Ming period unarmed combat manual. It is included as part of Xin Kan Ming Jiao Zhen Chuan (《新刊明教真傳》).

Gun Bang Ti Shi (《棍棒體式》, lit. 'Quarterstaff body style')

A late Ming period manual that also stem from Northern Chinese quarterstaff tradition. It is included as part of Xin Kan Ming Jiao Zhen Chuan (《新刊明教真傳》).


These are the manuals that survived but not accessible to me. Much of the information presented here are taken from secondary or tertiary sources and may contain errors.

*Note: Martial arts communities in China are riddled with disputes, controversies, false or invented traditions and McDojos. Sometimes even authentic ancient manuals contain mistakes and misinformation. Please take everything in this section with big pile of salt.

Spear manual of Chang Qiang Li (長鎗李)

An extremely rare early Ming period spear manual belonged to Chang Qiang Li (長鎗李, lit. 'Long spear Li', meaning 'Spearman with the surname Li'), a direct descendant of Li Quan (李全) and Yang Miao Zhen (楊妙真). This manual supposedly contains the "true" Yang Jia Qiang (楊家鎗) teachings, while the manual passed down by Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) merely contains a watered-down version.

Dong Shi Liu He Qiang (董氏六合鎗, lit. Six harmonies spear of Surname Dong')

A late Ming spear style developed by Daoist Dong Bing Gan (董秉乾), nephew of the founder of Tong Bei Quan (通背拳) traditions, Dong Cheng (董成). Aside from his uncle, Dong Bing Gan was influenced by the spear techniques of Chang Qiang Li (長鎗李) as well as Wang Zong Yue (王宗岳), grandmaster of Tai Ji Quan (太極拳). This style is also known as Wang Bu Qiang (王堡鎗, lit. 'Spear of Wang's town') after its techniques were passed down to Wang Zhong Jin (王仲錦).

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