Thread: Bodi Dharma
12/21/2005 2:50pm, #1
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I was told by a guy that taught Aikido that Bodi Dharma was an African. I had thought he was from India so I did a little research and everything I found said he was from India. One day while watching a special on the Martial arts on the discovery channel it stated that Bodi Dharma was an African. Does anyone have any info on this?
12/21/2005 3:44pm, #2
I've just been getting up to speed on this one.
First, Bodhidharma/Damo's connection with Martial Arts is, at best, the stuff of folk history and legend. There is little proof to support the idea that Damo had anything to do with Martial Arts at all. Longfist and other CMA predate his visit, and Shaolin for that matter, by hundreds of years. Further, a lot of historical research calls the Damo legend into question. For a succinct overview of this, check out Chris Toepker's essay Damo: A conspiracy of ignorance
Ok, as far as Damo being African, this is a pretty modern retelling/analysis/reconception. Vijay Prashad wrote an interesting article on this and other cultral appropreation trends in the martial arts called: Bruce Lee and the Anti-imperialism of Kung Fu: A Polycultural Adventure (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/positio....1prashad.html - note you may not be able to access this). I'll do my best to boil it down.
A number of afrocentric works have posited that Damo was African. The key works are:
- "Kilinidi Iyi, "African Roots in Asian Martial Arts," African Presence in Early Asia, eds. Ivan Van Sertima and Runoko Rashidi (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1985)
- Wayne Chandler, "The Jewel in the Lotus: The Ethiopian Presence in the Indus Valley Civilization," in Sertima and Rashidi, African Presence
- Graham W. Irwin, "African Bondage in Asian Lands," in Sertima and Rashidi, African Presence.
- Finally the material of an apparently defunct Afrocentric martial art called "Kamau Ryu"
I'll let Prashad take over from here to take you through the ins and outs as to where this type of appropriation comes from and why its far more culturally important than historically provable (or important):
Originally Posted by Prashad (pp 79-80)
12/21/2005 4:08pm, #3
What Matt said.
Most of Bodhidharma's life is shrouded in legend.
They only people who insist that he had anything to do with martial arts are martial artists, with a few exceptions.
The only people who insist that he was African are Afrocentrists, with even fewer exceptions.
It is theoretically possible that he had African ancestors.
It is more likely that he had Greek ancestors, although still bloody unlikely. Does that possiblity mean that Zen originated in Athens? Not on your nellie.
It is not even certain that he "founded" Zen (Chan) although he is considered to be its first patriarch. That is why he is important.
12/22/2005 6:12pm, #4
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As martialart has its origin in the west (Greece the place where everything started) most probably Bodidharma had greek ancestor or may be he was greek. Also the oldest known drawings of martialart come from north africa or Egypt. So he could be a mix of two, Greko-African. Although there are some Indians I know who could easily be mistaken as African.
12/22/2005 6:37pm, #5As martialart has its origin in the west (Greece the place where everything started)
Are you really clueless enough to think that the Greeks invented martial arts, and ll the elder peoples before them or who had no contact with them had no military way of fighting?
There are massive cities in the Caucasus that predate Sumeria with strong defenses indicated by ground probing radar, which in turn indicate a strong martial culture.
The older South American peoples predate Hellenic Greece and certainly had a martial tradition.
Australian Koori/Aborigines had their own martial traditions and they predate the Greeks by 16-56 THOUSAND years depending on who you believe.
Greece is the first DOCUMENTED Western source for martial arts. Homers epics make it clear that the Trojans and other preceeding Mediteranean peoples had full martial skills that they certainly DID NOT learn off the greeks.
You are being as stupid as people who say all MA's are Asian.
Bodhidarma was most likely an Indian. Simple as that except that that term did not have any real meaning at that time. If his origin and tribe/region/ethic identity had been considered remarkable it would likely be noted. Occams razor applies here. In the absence of evidence for a more esoteric origin the simplest explanation is he was Indian. And he still had sweet **** all to do with the start of martial arts in China or anywhere else.
As an aside would ANYONE learn MA's off a guy who cut off his own sword hand because he killed with it? What a retarded take on the martial aspects of life.Sociopaths are people too.
12/22/2005 9:14pm, #6
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Dr. Leung Ting (yes that guy) always said that the Bodhidarma connection to China was not the source of martial arts. He was a Monk that sat in a cave, not a fighter. To think the Chinese didn't fight before he came over the mountain is kinda silly. Also, Leung Ting points out that modern Fighting in India looks nothing like Chinese fighting or Kung Fu, as the movies call it.
I have read he may have been Black. There was a Negro population in India that was supressed by the Aryans and resulted in the type of Human we find in India today. There is still a small region that has Negro types. Not Africans, but anthropologists like to study that stuff.
As to the Greeks. The Greeks under Alexander spread the art of Naked empty hand fighting which they had perfected to a high degree. It was spread to India by his armys. Over 200 missions of Budhaist monks went from India to China. The Bodhidarma story is a Legend that is used to remember all these pilgrams. So it is fesibile that some of the people from India brought high level empty hand fighting with them.
The most realistic reason for China Fighting monks is this. One of the punishments for crimes in ancient China was to go to he temple and become a monk. The other punishments where death, cut off the hands, boil in oil, etc.... So, alot of bandits and petty criminals went to the temples. Theses guys knew how to fight and the monks learned from them. The Monks even needed to know how to fight to deal with these criminals maybe. So the Temples became sources of fighting styles. The Shaolin Temple Monks saved an Emperor once, so they where allowed to continue fighting after other temples were banned from the practice. It is interesting to note that these Shaolin Monks used Sticks to save the Emperor, not emptyhand.
on side note, in Homers Odessey, when the King returns as a begger and fights in an Arena, he does several things that hint that Royalty my have had a High level secret bare handed fighting art. Cann't remember all the details now, but he breaks the guys jaw with one punch I think. Anyway, if Boodhidarma was a Prince, then he may have had a special Royal fighting knowledge....so we come back to the start again.
"If anything is gained from this, it should be you both wanting to get better so you can make up for how crappy you are now." KidSpatula about the Sirc vs DTT Gong Sau EventUntil the Bulltube is fixed:DTT vs Sirc
12/23/2005 8:47am, #7Originally Posted by Vile
But two things are worth repeating:
1. There is no single point of origin of the Martial Arts. While cultures bleed and there is surely transmission, no one is able to demonstrate outgrowth from a single area. It's as foolish as trying to figure out who invented fishing. As long as the human body is two arms, two legs, and a head, all connected by a central trunk, we're all going to move in much the same way and given enough time come up with relatively similiar forms of movement and action (including fighting).
Attempts to draw a single historical lineage, as the article I posted suggested, are done for cultural reasons far more than historical ones.
2. Even if we could isolate Ancient China, India, Greece, Egypt, Sumaria, etc. as the supposed "birth place of the proto martial arts," that doesn't mean much. While nationalists try to draw a connection between ancient territories and modern national boundaries, the fact of the matter is that the Nation/defined Country is a creation of the last two centuries (some argue only post WWII).
Again, such efforts are about cultural struggles rather than historical ones. For example there is currently a movement in India to try and prove that Ayurvedic Acupuncture is the root of Chinese Acupuncture (even though its a completely different system with few similiaries). Why? Because with the claim of original authorship comes both national bragging rights and, in theory, raises the "market value" of their cultural product.
So please, don't buy into the notion of a single point of origin for Martial Arts.
12/23/2005 10:26am, #8
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The legend (bullshit) I heard from my sifu was that the Bodi was a tall man with light skin, dark hair, and eyes. That being said he attempted to make a connection to Shao Lin and the Bodi. I feel that this legendary ancestry is designed to give additional weight to the legitimacy to his art. I also think it is interesting that I have spoken to members of other Chinese arts who describe the bodi as blond with blue eyes. It really depends on who is telling the story and what they look like.
The statement that the Bodi taught the Shao Lin monks his eight temple exorcises in order for them to learn to be healthy and protect themselves is kinda like the Japanese claiming that their emperor is descended from a dragon. Or the French kings (Merovingian) who claimed to be descended from a fish. It is a legend to give the ruler/founder some magical bullshit quality.
1/02/2006 4:54pm, #9
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Has it been proven if he actually did introduce the 18 hands of lohan to Shaolin?
1/02/2006 5:00pm, #10
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Legends are neat.Originally Posted by EternalRage
Not as far as I know. It is mostly a legend from what I have found. If anyone has seen actual evidence to the contary i would be very interested.