The Collapse of the Ming Dynasty – The Beginning of Modern Martial Arts

This book examines the reasons for the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. Unlike traditional explanations for the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, this study shows that the collapse of the dynasty was closely tied to the deteriorating relationship between the royal family and the military regime that had formerly served as its backbone. Between 1291 and 15isen(ph) of the Sui dynasty, the Ming Dynasty was one of the most powerful military powers in all of East Asia.

At the start of the century, the Ming Dynasty had a stable government.

Under the tutelage of Li Kaifeng (Sui’s brother), the new government was able to consolidate the various elements of the former political structure of the Ming Dynasty. In addition to this consolidation, the new regime was also able to institute a centralized system of taxation. The resulting combination of wealth, power, and a centralized and progressive taxation system were all factors that led to the eventual collapse of the Ming Dynasty.

Economy of China

The central government had been careful to maintain the economy of China, while maintaining control over the military. The reunification of the country under the unified command of Li Kaifeng did not, however, alleviate the problems of the military. Instead, the weaknesses of the new centralized order created an environment that fostered the growth of a new military presence, known as the “warlord class.” Warlordism is one of the root causes of the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. 

The core of the new regime consisted of a small number of powerful warlords. Unlike the bureaucratic bureaucracy, these warlords were interested in gaining power and wealth at the expense of their fellow Chinese. They frequently abducted other people from the civilian population to serve as “blood-thirsty conquerors” of their tribes. Many of these warlords were skilled martial artists who applied their skills to the battlefield by fighting enemy soldiers and conducting guerrilla warfare. When the power vacuum left by the death of the unified China began to clear, this newly formed group of warlords became a legitimate force in the country’s political system.

Soon after the dissolution of the Ming Dynasty, the remnants of military personnel remained in China.

Many of them sided with the revolution, while others stayed loyal to the old regime. In particular, there were numerous officers in the army known as buglers, who were tasked with scaring local inhabitants into submission. A number of these officers were skilled martial arts experts, and they routinely conducted mock drills with live ammunition and weapons to train their comrades in preparation for battle. In addition to bugling and simulated combat, these officers were trained in guerrilla warfare tactics, such as disguise, deception, and concealment.

When warlordism spread throughout the country, a number of disgruntled soldiers rebelled against their Chinese superiors. They rebelled against their Chinese commanders by destroying crops, razing homes, kidnapping officials, and raiding grain stores. When the warlord soldiers and their henchmen realized that the farmers and unarmed population of China did not have much resistance, they turned their aggression inward and began killing civilians and raiding grain stores again. The countryside was again fertile soil for warlordism, and this time the results were even worse.

In the summer of 1760, armed forces loyal to the new emperor forced a compromise with the warlords.

  • They were allowed to stay and live in the conquered region, but they were required to submit to Chinese governance.
  • They were also forbidden from disturbing the internal affairs of China, and were enjoined to submit to martial arts training.
  • The martial arts expertise of these new soldiers served them well as they fought against their enemies.
  • Many of these soldiers were skilled in both guerilla warfare and conventional military tactics.

One of the most significant contributions of these Chinese martial artists to the modern age is the concept of guerrilla warfare. These Chinese military experts learned how to use the terrain and natural advantages of China to overrun the enemy before they even fight back. This enabled them to defeat any military force they came across and eventually the entire Western world. Their skills in guerrilla warfare became the key to the success of World War 1, and eventually led to the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. Today, their knowledge and wisdom remain valuable to all nations in need of decisive victory in asymmetric conflicts.

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