Created By: Ckuckoo on January 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Ckuckoo on January 10, 2012
Troped

All Chinese People Know Kung Fu

In Japanese media, an unusually high number of Chinese people are deadly kung fu experts.

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"All Chinese people know martial arts."
--Count D, Petshop Of Horrors.

In Japanese media, an unusually high percentage of Chinese people will know a martial art, from the harsh, half-senile Old Master, to the petite young woman. It will always be a form of Kung Fu, never a Japanese style. Just as the Badass Spaniard isn't necessarily from Spain, in some works all Chinese people may know Kung-Fu because they belong to a fictional version of Chinese culture based on this stereotype. Regardless, it's not unusual for this trope to involve some sort of Chinese rival or Chinese rival team. If you're lucky, this will lead to a scene where Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting.

The prevalence of this trope can likely be explained by the Japanese people's fondness for the martial arts action of modern Hong Kong cinema, and of ancient Chinese classics such as Journey to the West and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Consequently, characters falling under this trope often contain references to Hong Kong action stars.

All Asians Know Martial Arts is the equivalent of this in Western media, and is about how Westerners view Asians. In contrast, this trope is about how Japanese (one Asian group) view Chinese (another Asian group).

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Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Count D in Petshop Of Horrors pulls this trope on (blond) LA cop Leon Orcot after performing an impossible leap (he's not entirely human.) "All Chinese people know martial arts." It's not the first or the last thing he blames on being Chinese, either. To give Leon credit, he knows perfectly well that D is bullshitting him outrageously. There just isn't much he can do about it except grumble.
  • Neji, Rock Lee and Tenten are martial artists who take the position of Chinese rival team in Naruto.
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star.
  • Shaman King has Ren Tao as the Chinese rival.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Li Syaoran is a Chinese martial artists who takes the position of Chinese rival.
  • Ranma : Shampoo and all Chinese amazons know martial arts or Martial Arts and Crafts and take up as a rival to Akane and other Haremettes.
  • MS Saga has Li Fang a Chinese ex-waitress Martial Arts master mobile suit pilot who uses a Gun Cannon (a normally ranged only suit) with martial arts moves... later upgrades to G Gundam's Burning Gundam a true melee suit.
  • G Gundam has Neo Hong Kong's Master Asia an expert in martial arts who was The Master then The Rival to Domon. (his name is literally "Master")
  • Gundam Wing's Chang Wu Fei a martial arts master who uses the Shenlong Gundam and later Altron which primarily uses a pike in a Chinese style.
  • Negima!'s Ku Fei and Chao Linshen, Ku Fei is from southern china and Chao is from northern this is reflected in their styles The former takes up the role as The Master to Negi while the later takes up as the Big Bad for a little while then The Mentor when she leaves.
  • Miss China (yes, indeed...) from Spirit of Wonder. Combines with Tsundere for lots of property damage.
  • Amusingly invoked in Darker Than Black. Kenji comments that "it's true that all Chinese people are martial artists" after seeing a waiter dealing with unruly customer (and feigning weakness at that). Also, pretty much every Contractor of Chinese ancestry on the show is a good fighter in addition to their powers, which isn't true of Contractors from other backgrounds.
  • The Xingese are a whole Fantasy Counterpart Culture based on this in Fullmetal Alchemist. All the Xingese characters are proficient in martial arts (although this is justified considering all of them are either royals or royals' retainers).
  • Hong Long (but not his mistress Liu Mei) from Gundam00.

Video Games
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • January 6, 2012
    AP
    Outside of this trope being exclusive to Japan, how is it different from All Asians Know Martial Arts? Seems to be a case of The Same But More Specific. These examples could easily be placed over there with an added blurb "this trope applies to Japanese attitudes towards Chinese".
  • January 6, 2012
    Raso
    It only applies to Chinese in Japanese works it does not apply to any other Asians (No Koreans In Japan and others) It is a sub trope to that really.

    Lets see.
    • Ranma One Half: Shampoo and all Chinese amazons know martial arts or Martial Arts And Crafts and take up as a rival to Akane and other Haremettes.
    • MS Saga has Li Fang a Chinese ex-waitress Martial Arts master mobile suit pilot who uses a Gun Cannon (a normally ranged only suit) with martial arts moves... later upgrades to G Gundam's Burning Gundam a true melee suit.
    • G Gundam has Neo Hong Kong's Master Asia an expert in martial arts who was The Master then The Rival to Domon. (his name is literally "Master")
    • Gundam Wing's Chang Wu Fei a martial arts master who uses the Shenlong Gundam and later Altron which primarily uses a pike in a Chinese style.
    • Negima's Ku Fei and Chao Linshen, Ku Fei is from southern china and Chao is from northern this is reflected in their styles The former takes up the role as The Master to Negi while the later takes up as the Big Bad for a little while then The Mentor when she leaves.
  • January 6, 2012
    peccantis
    Neji, Rock Lee and Tenten are martial artists who take the position of Chinese rival team in Naruto. >Since when does the Narutoverse have "China"? All these three are from the same village as the protagonist's team.
  • January 6, 2012
    Jordan
    In Darker Than Black, one Japanese character concludes this after seeing the badass Chinese protagonist displaying Awkward Ability in civilian guise. Also probably true of the show in general. Pretty much every Contractor of Chinese ancestry on the show is a good fighter in addition to their powers, which isn't true of Contractors from other backgrounds.
  • January 6, 2012
    Raso
    Neji and Ten Ten clearly play up every chinese stereotype they can, the clothes, the way their faces are drawn, attitude, the hair they were clearly designed for this. Lee is a bit too non-standard for this but still in the Adorkable Jackie Chan department.
  • January 6, 2012
    DracMonster

    @AP: This is a very common stereotype in Anime, I think it's a legit Sub Trope.
  • January 6, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    @AP: Japanese people are Asians, and therefore nothing they believe about other Asians can be a subset of All Asians Know Martial Arts. Furthermore, the tropes cover different media -- All Asians Know Martial Arts relates to Western media, All Chinese Know Kung Fu relates to anime, manga, and other Japanese media. Therefore, I think there isn't the overlap required to justify combining the tropes.
  • January 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    Does Chun Li from Street Fighter II count? Since every character in a fighting game is going to know some kind of martial art, it might be People Sit On Chairs in that context.
  • January 6, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    ^ Good point. I think if the only martial arts he does are Kung Fu, this still counts, because it's still a Chinese stereotype. If he knows all sorts for martial arts, from Karate to Tae-kwon-do, then it doesn't.

    Then again, maybe that's more a case of national stereotyping than All Chinese Know Kung Fu. Maybe I should add a note that for media in which everyone knows martial arts, this trope is not noteworthy as it does not distinguish these characters from anyone else?

    Does anyone have any ideas on this point?
  • January 6, 2012
    Auxdarastrix
    I'm copying this from All Asians Know Martial Arts:

  • January 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    @Ckuckoo: SHE (ahem, this seems like misidentifying Luke Skywalker's gender or something, LOL) fights with a primarily kicking style that doesn't precisely correlate to anything, but is officially described as a combination of chinese martial arts, so it probably counts.

    Oh, there's also Fei Long, the series' Bruce Lee expy.
  • January 6, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    @Drac: Dude, I don't play video games :P
  • January 8, 2012
    Synchronicity
    Would the Xingese, China's Fantasy Counterpart Culture, in Fullmetal Alchemist count, even if the work is not set in Japan? All the Xingese characters are proficient in martial arts (although this is justified considering all of them are either royals or royals' retainers). Or Tenten from Naruto, even though it's not stated that China exists in her world?

    • Hong Long (but not his mistress Liu Mei) from Gundam00.
  • January 8, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    ^I think if the Fantasy Counterpart Culture still abides by the stereotype here, it still counts, kind of like if there were a whole village of Zorro expies in a British fantasy novel, they'd probably still count as Badass Spaniards. I'll add a note to that effect in the description.
  • January 9, 2012
    DracMonster
    You know.. just realized the Chinese People entry is 90% this trope. (Not saying to discard this, since its a better name.)
  • January 9, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    This came up in TRS regarding how to fix the Chinese People page. The idea was that Chinese People is composed of various distinct parts which might be better off as individual tropes (some actually already are).
  • January 10, 2012
    dyson88
    Does Fei Long count? Aren't his moves based on Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do more than Kung Fu or am I wrong?
  • January 10, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    Who is Fei Long? More info please?
  • January 10, 2012
    DracMonster
    Above in the street fighter example.

    I should note that technically, there is no martial art called Kung Fu. The phrase actually means someone's skill in something, it could be applied to artistic talent or athletic training. It's also used to mean skill in martial arts, but the person will actually practice Tai Chi or karate or taekwondo, or any of the bazillion or so other styles.

    Bruce Lee was Chinese and created Jeet Kun Do, so I think it counts.
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