Intercultural Communication of Chinese Martial Arts in Africa

Taling Tene Rodrigue, Zhang Yong, Lei Wen


Intercultural communication is an interpretive context in which people from different cultures create and share meanings. It’s an adaptative process in which different cultures interact and co-develop. The Martial arts as inalienable part of humans’ culture have played in human history a decisive role in connecting people. The 1970’s Kungfu movies had introduced the Chinese martial arts to the world, and the establishment of diplomatic relation between the New China and different countries of the world have speed up the global communication of the Chinese martial arts, opening a new window to understand the Chinese people. However, in the African continent, the Chinese martial arts’ communication has been unilateral and influenced by many factors such as the communication carrier, the language barrier, the receiver’s cultural background, etc., resulting in the “one-sided” and “biased” understanding of the Chinese martial culture. In general, the lack of the receiver’s perspective in the global communication of Chinese culture has become an obstacle to its internationalization. In fact, in their dissemination processes on the African continent, not only the Chinese martial arts have absorbed many ingredients of local cultures, but have confronted the cultural background and religious beliefs of the local people. The trinity made of “Combat+Dance+Spirituality” that are core constituencies of the African martial arts culture have provided the cultural foundation on which African practitioners have based their interpretation of the Chinese martial arts, thus creating a “cultural gap” between the knowledge package embodied in the Chinese martial arts and referred by the Chinese people as “Chinese Wushu”, and the “new-understanding” than has gone from movies to body practices experienced by African people and labeled as “Chinese Kungfu”. The communication routes, the receiver’s perspective as well as the interaction and co-development of the Chinese martial arts with local cultures in Africa are the main issues explored in this article. The present study is grounded on several months fields works in Africa.  

Key Words: intercultural communication, cultural gap, Chinese Kungfu, African martial arts

DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/84-06

Publication date:October 31st 2019

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