Martial Arts Week: Kung Fu Nomenclature (with the Immortal Iron Fist)
First post after finally migrating to the new community.
One of the best martial arts book on the market right now is Marvel's Immortal Iron Fist. Heavily inspired by classic Wuxia films and literature, this book has brought back into the mainstream one of my favorite tropes of martial arts fiction: crazy names for combat forms.
The use of such names was a staple of the first arc, but in the second arc, featuring the Tournament of Immortal Weapons, it got cranked up to 11.
I love the art by David Aja in this series, if only because of how well he understands some of the actual mechanics behind movement in martial arts, and can at least try and follow some ground rules when dealing with superhuman fighting physics. I'm only posting a tiny fragment of the awesome fights from this book; if you don't already have a copy of volume 2, GO BUY ONE NOW.
(This is from the Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1, art by Dan Brereton)
Also fun is how the language seems to come not just from traditional mangling of grammar and syntax when translating between English and Mandarin, but also multi-cultural allusions.
Damn. Punched her so hard she bled Steranko.
Having your jaw broken by living wind, multiple times. OW.
And the coup de grace...
In real-life martial arts, forms are described through poetic allusions to their mechanics, but also usually numbered within their greater style or system. Because if you've got fifty ways to throw a strike or block, you want somehow to tell them apart in a verbalized or written language for brevity's sake.
I've only studied three martial arts so far, none of them from the Chinese mainland, but they all had an interesting way of naming the moves. The most literary of them had to be Aikido (then again, anything in a foreign language sounds exotic).
You have to hand it to Fraction/Brubaker; it's an awesome part of the series. I encourage any readers to come up with their own hyper-descriptive maneuvers in the comments.
14 scans from The Immortal Iron Fist: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven trade paperback.