Through the window: Wing Chun as woman warrior

Conference paper


lok, s. and White, L. 2015. Through the window: Wing Chun as woman warrior. Martial Arts Studies. Cardiff University 10 - 12 Jun 2015
TypeConference paper
TitleThrough the window: Wing Chun as woman warrior
Authorslok, s. and White, L.
Abstract

The origin myth of Wing Chun – a martial art invented by one woman for another – is striking with respect to gender. Of its many cinematic tellings, the most intriguing in reworking the figure of the heroic swordswoman is Yuen Woo-ping’s Wing Chun (1994). Sasha Vojkovic (2009) understands the film – emerging from a longer cultural tradition of women warriors – as ‘a landmark of … womanhood in Chinese cinema’ and ‘an art of empowering women and subverting patriarchal authorities’, where martial arts create a transformed femininity rather than merely masculinising the film’s protagonist. However – in spite of its rendering of a decaying patriarchy where the authoritative, sympathetic characters are overwhelmingly women – Wing Chun might be read as simultaneously undermining and reinscribing gender norms. This paper will take the form of an experimental visual/textual essay, in which some of the film’s key moments are re-cut and re-framed with a dialogic/reflexive commentary, exploring the film’s gender politics and our own spectatorial positionings. Our starting point is to investigate the repeated imagery of windows in Wing Chun. Cheng Pei-pei (who plays Wing-chun’s teacher) recounts refusing a direction, during the making of an earlier film, to exit a scene by the door rather than the window, like her male counterparts. A swordswoman, she insists, leaves by the window. Marking the boundaries of domestic (female) and public (male) space, the window, like the cinema screen, is not only a portal for gazes and misrecognitions, but also one through which the athletic, unconventional warrior (male or female) exits and enters. As a motif, how might ‘leaving by the window’ be read as a figure of female empowerment, resistance, or otherwise? How do the film’s three central female characters and archetypes – Wing-chun (‘martial artist’), her aunt (‘businesswoman’) and Yim Neung (‘beauty’) – speak and move within and beyond its frames, to invoke different femininities? How do narratives of Yeoh herself, transitioning from beauty queen to action star, intersect with the film’s images of Wing-chun as warrior and woman? Among multiple gazes, what spaces open up for spectators to variously imagine, identify or contest the empowered, transformed and gendered woman warrior?

Keywordswing chun, woman warrior, martial arts
Research GroupDiasporas
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceMartial Arts Studies
Publication dates
Print12 Jun 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited28 May 2015
Output statusPublished
Additional information

This joint paper will be part of the panel, 'Choreographies of Gender', at the first major conference of its kind in the UK, Martial Arts Studies will be a pioneering international interdisciplinary conference featuring academic speakers from many disciplines from all over the world. Keynote speakers include: Professor Stephen Chan, OBE (SOAS), Professor Meaghan Morris (Sydney), Professor Douglas Farrer (Guam), Dr Ben Judkins (NY, the author of the ground-breaking ‘Kung Fu Tea’ martial arts studies blog). The conference is organised by Dr Paul Bowman (author of multiple books on martial arts, film and culture), and features speakers from disciplines as diverse as cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, religious studies, film studies, anthropology, history, medicine, sports science, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality studies, and more. As well as being academics, many of the speakers are also practicing martial artists. Confirmed speakers will come from the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia, and North and South America.

Web address (URL)https://mastudiesrn.wordpress.com/
Permalink -

https://repository.mdx.ac.uk/item/85735

  • 39
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 2
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Way of the intercepting pun: language and the body in Stephen Chow's carnival of kung fu
White, L. 2024. Way of the intercepting pun: language and the body in Stephen Chow's carnival of kung fu. in: Bettinson, G. and Lee, V. (ed.) The Cinema of Stephen Chow London, UK Bloomsbury. pp. 163–179
Sammo Hung: the Kung Fu comic's sublime body
White, L. 2024. Sammo Hung: the Kung Fu comic's sublime body. in: Barrowman, K. (ed.) Fighting Stars: Stardom and Reception in Hong Kong Martial Arts Cinema London, UK Bloomsbury. pp. 109–125
Retribution Shaw-Style
White, L. 2023. Retribution Shaw-Style. USA
Jackie Chan: a winning formula
White, L. 2023. Jackie Chan: a winning formula. USA
Fighting without fighting: Kung Fu cinema's journey to the West
White, L. 2022. Fighting without fighting: Kung Fu cinema's journey to the West. London Reaktion Books.
Reappraising the Kung Fu comedy film: from the protestant ethnic to hysterical resistance
White, L. 2022. Reappraising the Kung Fu comedy film: from the protestant ethnic to hysterical resistance. 7th International Martial Arts Studies Conference: Martial Arts, Tradition and Globalisation. Universities of Lausanne and Geneva 29 Jun - 02 Jul 2022
Crippled warriors: masculinities and martial arts media in Asia
White, L. 2022. Crippled warriors: masculinities and martial arts media in Asia. in: Kim, Y. (ed.) Media in Asia: Global, Digital, Gendered and Mobile London and New York Routledge. pp. 239-252
Legacies of the drunken master: politics of the body in Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy films
White, L. 2020. Legacies of the drunken master: politics of the body in Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy films. Honolulu, USA University of Hawai'i Press.
Conference report: Bruce Lee’s cultural legacies
White, L. 2018. Conference report: Bruce Lee’s cultural legacies.
How Jeff Koons sold out – and why his jumbo tulips don’t belong in Paris
White, L. 2018. How Jeff Koons sold out – and why his jumbo tulips don’t belong in Paris.
Toward an aesthetic of weightlessness: Qinggong and Wire-fu
White, L. 2017. Toward an aesthetic of weightlessness: Qinggong and Wire-fu. in: lok, s. (ed.) RoCH Fans and Legends Derby / Manchester QUAD / Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.
Carnival of the drunken master: the politics of the Kung Fu comedic body
White, L. 2018. Carnival of the drunken master: the politics of the Kung Fu comedic body. in: Bowman, P. (ed.) The Martial Arts Studies Reader London Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 199-212
Netflix ninjas and the legacy of the Kung Fu craze: asiaphilia and asiaphobia in Marvel’s Daredevil
White, L. 2018. Netflix ninjas and the legacy of the Kung Fu craze: asiaphilia and asiaphobia in Marvel’s Daredevil. 4th Annual Martial Arts Studies Conference: Bruce Lee’s Cultural Legacies. Cardiff University, UK 11 - 12 Jul 2018
Enter the Xiaozi: youth in the Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy film
White, L. 2017. Enter the Xiaozi: youth in the Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy film. World Youth Martial Arts Mastership International Academic Conference. Cheongju University, Korea 03 - 04 Nov 2017
The ethics of violence in the Kung Fu comedy
White, L. 2017. The ethics of violence in the Kung Fu comedy. Martial Arts Studies Conference, 2017. Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom 11 - 13 Jul 2017
Jackie Chan vs. Walter Benjamin: postcolonial “Utopias of the Body” in Kung Fu comedy
White, L. 2017. Jackie Chan vs. Walter Benjamin: postcolonial “Utopias of the Body” in Kung Fu comedy. Research Seminar Series, Department of English Literature, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom 08 Mar 2017
Marvel’s Daredevil: Ninjas, Blind Swordsmen and the Oriental Obscene
White, L. 2017. Marvel’s Daredevil: Ninjas, Blind Swordsmen and the Oriental Obscene. Them! The Visual Cultures of 'Othering' in Post-Referendum UK and Post-General-Election USA. Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom 13 Jan 2017
A ‘narrow world, strewn with prohibitions’: Chang Cheh’s The Assassin and the 1967 Hong Kong riots
White, L. 2015. A ‘narrow world, strewn with prohibitions’: Chang Cheh’s The Assassin and the 1967 Hong Kong riots. Asian Cinema. 26 (1), pp. 79-98. https://doi.org/10.1386/ac.26.1.79_1
Lau Kar-leung with Walter Benjamin: storytelling, authenticity, film performance and martial arts pedagogy
White, L. 2014. Lau Kar-leung with Walter Benjamin: storytelling, authenticity, film performance and martial arts pedagogy. Journalism Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC). 5, pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.18573/j.2014.10277
Damien Hirst: the capitalism sublime?
White, L. 2012. Damien Hirst: the capitalism sublime? Marxism in Culture. Institute of Historical Research, University College London 01 Jun 2012
Kung-fu cinema's Shaolin heroes in the Longue Durée of Chinese revolt
White, L. 2012. Kung-fu cinema's Shaolin heroes in the Longue Durée of Chinese revolt. Riot, Revolt, Revolution. University of Brighton 05 - 07 Sep 2012
Vicissitudes of violence: Hong Kong martial arts cinema and the 1966/7 unrest
White, L. 2012. Vicissitudes of violence: Hong Kong martial arts cinema and the 1966/7 unrest. Genre Beyond Hollywood. University of Southampton 08 Jul 2012
Nature, the metropolis and the apocalyptic sublime
White, L. 2012. Nature, the metropolis and the apocalyptic sublime. Landscape & Eschatology. Tate Britain
Towards a radical aesthetics of kung fu cinema: authenticity and the pedagogy of performing bodies in Lau Kar-leung’s Shaolin Cycle
White, L. 2011. Towards a radical aesthetics of kung fu cinema: authenticity and the pedagogy of performing bodies in Lau Kar-leung’s Shaolin Cycle. Radical Aesthetics and Politics: Intersections in Music, Art and Critical Social Theory. Roosevelt House, Hunter College, CUNY 09 Dec 2011
Radical, like in the 80s
White, L. 2011. Radical, like in the 80s. Radical Philosophy. 168, pp. 56-58.
Damien Hirst’s shark: nature, capitalism and the sublime.
White, L. 2010. Damien Hirst’s shark: nature, capitalism and the sublime. Tate Papers (Tate's Online Research Journal). 14.
Damien Hirst, Colley Cibber and the bathos of the commercialised sublime.
White, L. 2007. Damien Hirst, Colley Cibber and the bathos of the commercialised sublime. Taste, vision, transcendence: sublimity 1700-1900.. University of Sussex 05 Jan 2007
Sublimity, beauty and decorum
White, L. 2007. Sublimity, beauty and decorum. in: Petry, M. (ed.) Richmond Burton and Maisie Kendall: decorum Hornsey MOCA in conjunction with the Royal Academy Schools. pp. 5-10
Damien Hirst and the legacy of the sublime in contemporary art and culture
White, L. 2009. Damien Hirst and the legacy of the sublime in contemporary art and culture. PhD thesis Middlesex University Visual Culture / History of Art and Design
Damien Hirst's diamond skull and the capitalist sublime
White, L. 2009. Damien Hirst's diamond skull and the capitalist sublime. in: White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. (ed.) The Sublime Now Newcastle Upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 155-171
The sublime in the work of Cornelia Parker
White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. 2009. The sublime in the work of Cornelia Parker. in: White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. (ed.) The Sublime Now. Newcastle Upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 181-196
The sublime now
White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. (ed.) 2009. The sublime now. Newcastle Upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Ideal homes/artificial horizons
White, L. and Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture 2007. Ideal homes/artificial horizons. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture.