“This particular puzzle is larger than anything that can be resolved in a single blog post. Nevertheless, I suspect that the racial categories with which most people viewed the world conditioned their understanding of the traditional fighting systems of Japan and China. Chinese boxing was invisible to the western public precisely because it was reduced to a specific (often sociopathic) manifestation of an essentially inferior racial tendency. By definition these things could not really be a “skill,” instead they were malformed practices that one hoped would vanish along with other sorts of feudal superstition.
The Japanese, on the other hand, were viewed as nothing if not clever. Their innovations in the martial realm were “new’ and potentially interesting. Some western individuals even saw them as worthy of emulation. Yet racial beliefs about the Chinese made the study of their martial arts sub-rationally unthinkable for most readers following the progress of the Boxer Rebellion in the pages of the National Geographic, or visiting the weapons collection housed on the Ningpo a few decades later.”