Chinese Millitary Exams

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Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby John the Monkey mind » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Can any one tell me what the ancient Chinese Military exams consisted of?

Some reference in the Water Margin but it only has a trial by combat in order to justify promoting a hero to be a military officer. Horse back with spears and bows, they used felt raping to tip weapons and applied dye. Had white cloths over their armour and went at it. Then they counted the markings on the cloth after a few exchanges.

Is this typical of the exams or just an exception as promotion was outside official examination period?

Seems a cool way of testing weapon skill without to much danger.

How would this relate to the classical 18 weapons? Chinese weapons training is a bit outside my current experiences but I would love to study them.
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Postby John the Monkey mind » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:35 pm

Korean Military Exams based on Chinese.

The gwageo (or kwago) were the national civil service examinations under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties of Korea. (Wikipedia)

"Military examination
The military examination selected 190 candidates in the first stage, of whom 28 were allowed to pass the second stage.[22] Of these, 70 came from the capital and the remainder from the various provinces, with Gyeongsang contributing 30, Chungcheong and Jeolla contributing 25, and the remaining provinces 10 candidates each.[19]
The military examinations tested a mixture of military and literary criteria. The first stage of the test was a practical test of various military skills, but the second stage, in which the successful applicants were selected, was an oral examination of applicants' knowledge of the Confucian canon and certain classics of military thought.[23] The third stage, in which the candidates were ranked, was again based on practical military skills."

Would the Chinese exams have been similar and what was the practical testing like?
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Postby yat_chum » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:36 pm

This topic has been really bugging me as I know I have read about the tests somewhere but I can't remember where. All that I can remember is that archery while riding a galloping horse was involved.

It may have looked a bit like Japanese Yabusame
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSrUC1Ir9OU

Oh, and I think that there were four stages. If anything else comes back to me I will let you know.
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Postby John the Monkey mind » Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:32 am

I love that show :)

I saw another program with Samurai foot archery with battlefield drills, advancing as shooting, then charging with bows.
I think it was deadliest warrior but I could be wrong. cant find the clip.

As for horse archery that was defiantly in there. :)
I think there is some Japanese guy in eastern Europe teaching cavalry martial arts. Anyone still practising Chinese cavalry skills?
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Postby John the Monkey mind » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:10 am

Just uncovered an interesting tip bit about the bow in military exams.

"Immediately went forth to buy this antique bow. It was gigantic and quite heavy. It later turned out to be the largest of Manchu bows, used primarily for the strength tests in the military examinations."

http://www.chinese-swords-guide.com/chi ... chery.html

Interesting :) Grate website by the way, group recreating Chinese swordsmanship full contact in armour.
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Re: Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby yeniseri » Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:03 pm

John the Monkey mind wrote:Can any one tell me what the ancient Chinese Military exams consisted of?

Some reference in the Water Margin but it only has a trial by combat in order to justify promoting a hero to be a military officer. Horse back with spears and bows, they used felt raping to tip weapons and applied dye. Had white cloths over their armour and went at it. Then they counted the markings on the cloth after a few exchanges.

Is this typical of the exams or just an exception as promotion was outside official examination period?

How would this relate to the classical 18 weapons? Chinese weapons training is a bit outside my current experiences but I would love to study them.


There may be some confusion but the "ancient Chinese Military Exams" were mostly 'refined' Confucian status in conjunction with the power indfuenc centres of the day but there must be a distinction based on the era.
a, what is your reference for the era? What I mean is are you /do you want to reference 1644 (which would be a Qing era influence or 1300's?
b. How were these periods different?
c. Rank and file exams would be vastly different from the higher level official rank structure and would obviously disparage the former since they did not fit the Confucian model of what a gentleman, a soldier, or an offical should/could be.
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Postby John the Monkey mind » Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:40 am

Refined' Confucian testing was for the civil more than the military side. There were two tests on for the civil and one for the military. The military exams were based around the arts needed for war so some book learning but mostly on martial subjects and lots of testing of fighting ability. This was JUST for the officers.
As for the date it was set up...

It began to be put into practice in the Sui Dynasty and lasted more than 1,300 years until the last examination during the Qing Dynasty.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/e ... cient1.htm

The military exams were set up at the same time but were distinct and looked down on by scholars. :)
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Re: Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby John the Monkey mind » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:41 pm

I came across this reference. To the exams in the history of Yue Fei.

Yue Fei later becomes the adopted son and student of the Wang family's teacher, Zhou Tong, a famous master of military skills. (Zhou Tong is not to be confused with the similarly named "Little Tyrant" in Water Margin.) Zhou teaches Yue and his three sworn brothers - Wang Gui (王贵), Tang Huai (湯懷) and Zhang Xian (張顯) - literary lessons on odd days and military lessons, involving archery and the eighteen weapons of war, on even days.
After years of practice, Zhou Tong enters his students into the Tangyin County military examination, in which Yue Fei wins first place by shooting a succession of nine arrows through the bullseye of a target 240 paces away. After this display of archery,


Yue eventually marries and later participates in the imperial military examination in the Song capital of Kaifeng. There, he defeats all competitors and even turns down an offer from Cai Gui (蔡桂), the Prince of Liang, to be richly rewarded if he forfeits his chance for the military degree. This angers the prince and both agree to fight a private duel in which Yue kills the prince and is forced to flee the city for fear of being executed. Shortly thereafter, he joins the Song army to fight the invading armies of the Jurchen-ruled Jin Dynasty.[10]


Despite his family's poverty, [Yue Fei] was studious, and particularly favored the Zuo Zhuan edition of the Spring and Autumn Annals and the strategies of Sun Tzu and Wu Qi.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yue_Fei#Bi ... of_Yue_Fei

All good information.
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Re: Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby Sanfung » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:36 pm

Just as a quick aside, some of you may be interested to note that at least some of the examinations people associate with previous time periods in China were associated with civil service. While these civil service examinations were quite famous, especially among historians, some modern students of history tend to confuse them with other Chinese military examinations.

The imperial examination or K'o chu was initially designed to select the best potential candidates for administrative offices and induct them into the state's bureaucracy. Candidates could receive chin-shih degrees, though to the best of my understanding so many scholars geared their entire lives towards entering the bureaucracy with these degrees that it eventually caused problems as few trained individuals were free to work in other careers.
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Re: Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby John the Monkey mind » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:56 am

Sanfung wrote:Just as a quick aside, some of you may be interested to note that at least some of the examinations people associate with previous time periods in China were associated with civil service. While these civil service examinations were quite famous, especially among historians, some modern students of history tend to confuse them with other Chinese military examinations.

The imperial examination or K'o chu was initially designed to select the best potential candidates for administrative offices and induct them into the state's bureaucracy. Candidates could receive chin-shih degrees, though to the best of my understanding so many scholars geared their entire lives towards entering the bureaucracy with these degrees that it eventually caused problems as few trained individuals were free to work in other careers.


The military exams were distinct from this although I think at times or for advanced positions there may have been a written component. Officers were expected to have a good standard in martial arts, it seems from my research that they were expected to have a much higher level than regular soldiers and a broader knowledge and array of skills. The curriculum for the tests seems to have been more variable that the civil exams.
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Postby yat_chum » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:25 am

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Re: Chinese Millitary Exams

Postby yeniseri » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:22 pm

I would think that doing more research on the Wu family (Quanyu) and their influence as governors, mayors, etc would lead to a far more honest appraisal on Chinese Military Exams (Civil or military) of the day. There is no doubt that family status has always influenced increased prominence in a civil/military dynamic.

DO not let your education interfere with your schooling (or something like that)
Mark Twain
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