Gong and fa in Chinese martial arts



The distinction between gong (skill) and fa (technique) is ubiquitous in Chinese martial arts. Utilizing Maurice Merleau- Ponty’s notion of ‘embodied intentionality’, I examine this distinction. I draw specific examples of the kinds of skills under discussion from a particular style of taijiquan – Hong Chuan Chen Shi taijiquan (Master Hong Junsheng’s transmission of Chen taiji boxing) – and I argue that understanding taijiquan in terms of embodied intentionality allows us to understand important taijiquan concepts such as chansijin, yin, and yang. Although in this article I focus on one specific style of martial art, I argue that the general analysis of the gong-fa distinction based on embodied intentionality is widely applicable.


PhenomenologyembodimentMerleau-Pontytaijiquanskilltechniquemartial arts
  • Volume: 3
  • Page/Article: 50-63
  • DOI: 10.18573/j.2017.10098
  • Published on 16 Jan 2017