Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists -- I-Ho Ch'uan

We use traditional Chinese weapons and martial arts rather the hideous weaponry of the foreign devils.
We use traditional Chinese weapons and martial arts rather the hideous weaponry of the foreign devils.


People's Republic of China


Foreign technology and "science," brought by the foreign devils and their missionaries, is the root of China's problems. Railroads, mining, and telegraph lines are disrupting the fengshui, the geo-mantic balance here in northern China and thus are responsible for the terrible floods and famines we have suffered recently. We must drive the foreigners out and destroy their hated structures. Traditional Chinese weapons are the only technology for warfare; calisthenics and martial arts are our true weapons, hence our nickname "Boxers" among the foreign scum. Our own arts render us impervious to bullets; therefore we will be victorious!


Foreign influence is corrupting traditional Chinese culture! Since at least the year 1700 (using the absurd Gregorian calendar of the foreign devils), we have been secretly fighting against the nefarious foreigners. We urge a return to the culture of our ancestors and expulsion of the foreigners. We must also punish our treacherous countrymen who have converted to Christianity or work for the foreign devils. Everything foreign is evil and must be eradicated. The famine and natural disasters that we have been suffering show the displeasure of Heaven toward the foreigners and their compatriots.


We are very superstitious. Spells and martial arts will magically protect us from the weapons of the foreign devils, and millions of "spirit soldiers" will rise from the dead to join us. The terrible influence of the foreign devils is not limited to their imperialism; the Roman Catholic missionaries who have plagued China for centuries are also our enemies, as are those traitors who have converted. The missionaries are given special privileges and exemptions from our laws. They have corrupted our country and are agents of the imperialist powers. Their efforts to convert our people threaten our traditions. We must drive them from China once and for all!



Blog Entry One --1898
The rebellion has begun! May the magic be with us. Thousands of discontented peasants are joining us, eager to drive the foreigners and the missionaries out of China. After years of having to endure the unqual treaties and other harsh measures imposed by the foreigners, we have finally decided that enough is enough! We also are battling the imperial soldiers because we wish to overthrow the Qing dynasty, which trafficks with the foreigners.

Blog Entry Two --1899
Dowager Empress Cixi has secretly allied with us, so now we no longer fight imperial soldiers but concentrate all our efforts on killing the converts and expelling the foreign devils. The empress is crafty; she tells the foreigners that the imperial troops will soon crush us, but she makes no move against us and indeed we are often helped by imperial soldiers. The empress knows that she will gain popularity among her people by supporting us against the foreigners and she can prevent foreign backlash against her rule by denying any involvement with us.

Blog Entry Three --early 1900
More than 140,000 members of our society are now besieging the embassies of the foreign devils in Beijing. We have burned many of the churches and the foreigners' houses in Peking (Beijing) and have laid siege to the embassies for nearly two months now. The propaganda piece "55 Days at Peking" (in German, for German troops are among those which have been sent to oppose us), purports to show the siege from the perspective of the foreign devils.
The empress has officially declared war against the foreigners now that they have captured some of the Chinese forts on the coast. She has ordered all foreigners to be killed. The empress is a pretty cool lady.

Blog Entry Four --late summer 1900
We are all undone. A huge force of British, French, Russian, American, German, and Japanese troops captured Peking on August 14 and looted it, forcing the empress to flee and massacring members of our society. The foreign troops are also engaging in plunder and rape, and have burned down many temples. The foreign governments intend to make China pay them reparations and submit to other humiliating measures in the so-called "Peace of Peking" treaty that will be signed next year. We may have been defeated for now, but our cause will live on, and Chinese nationalism will rise again, even if it takes 11 years!

The Wall

Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, you are an example of patriotism for us all. You opposed the imperialist powers . Like us, you had an uneasy relationship with the government. Although you at first opposed the government and later worked with it, we first worked with the Guomindong and now we are bitter enemies. However, we share the frustration with a government that does not respond to the needs of the masses. We also hate the foreigners, especially the Japanese who were so brutal to us during World War II. While you also had the support of the rural peasants and discontented urban unemployed, we disagree with your emphasis on tradition, as industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture, as well as social reforms such as rights for women, are the correct path.
--People's Republic of China

Hey Boxers, just writing to commiserate. May all foreigners rot in the deepest hell. First they took so many of us as slaves, disrupting the demographics and tearing apart the social fabric by turning us all against one another, then they decided to carve up our entire continent. You too, huh? At least your government still has a little control. The British try to retain our so-called traditional institutions, but they have no idea what they are talking about, and they end up making things even worse. The French just outright want to divide us to keep us more malleable. Everyone wants to exploit us. We think the missionaries are helping them. By the way, traditional weapons just don't work against the machine guns and cannons of the foreigners. It's a losing battle, sorry to tell you. We have all the sympathy in the world for you, though. Hope you win. Make those imperialists suffer. How dare they think that they can come and impose their "civilization" on the rest of us. Like you, we have a long and glorious history. We had our empires as well, why can't anyone ever remember that?

Those tradition-trampling imperialists! Good for you for standing up to them! We did try to rebel about 50 years ago when they started using animal adipose tissue to protect their guns, but fat (no pun intended) lot of good it did us. They crushed our rebellion too. They've built lots of infrastructure here, but it's mostly to fuel their own imperial interests, so like you we're suspicious of this foreign techonology. All these foreigners want is to take advantage of us. Ungrateful colonial powers; they forget everything they must be thankful to India for. Why, they wouldn't be able to count without us. They would still have that absurd X-V-I stuff going on. Not to mention the spices. We have no idea how they would have gotten through the Middle Ages without them. Why, Columbus might never have discovered America if we weren't such an attraction! Grr. We're too angry to write anymore. Must remember ahimsa. Must remember ahimsa.

Yo. We can show you how it's done. Of course, we had Toussaint, who's a great organizer, but you can do it too. Just like us, you have a multi-national force opposing you. Now, that may seem like bad news--lots and lots and lots of soldiers, kind of scary--but really, it's a weakness you can capitalize on. Now, we had the French, and the Spanish, and the British, all trying to snatch our little piece of island up, and old Toussaint shrewdly played them against each other. Try that tactic, at least it'll delay things a little. Also, do you have any devastating diseases? Yellow fever worked wonders for us. French troops went down like flies. Maybe you can stir up a little plague. Party like it's the 1300s. A little disease, a little diplomatic cunning, lots of loyal troops (sounds like you have those), and a good leader--you'll be all set. Good luck!

We have a few suggestions for you. Don't just write off the converts and massacre them all; try to get them to see the error of their ways. Our eminent founders, Harihara and Bukka, had converted from Hinduism to Islam, but they saw that they were wrong and renounced Islam. It's human nature to make mistakes, and you will gain more allies if you forgive and forget. Now, about your other problems. Why don't you try breaking off and forming your own country, where you will be free to practice your traditions in peace? We know, easier said than done, and of course China has its own issues and a large population etc. etc. but give it some thought. It might actually work, and spare you all this bloodshed. We broke off from Delhi and nobody expected that to be peaceful, but we're still happily trading with the Muslims. Peace out.

Why are you working with the imperial government if it is being so two-faced? If the imperial government is giving concessions to the foreigners and not respecting traditions, you must fight it! Your people are discontented and ripe for true rebellion; follow your heart. We resented the casual attitudes of the Umayyads toward Muslim tradition and doctrine and their preferences for Arabs. It sounds like you too are facing challenges to your traditions. Well, the only solution is to rebel. If the empress and her government aren't doing what they are supposed to and supporting your country against the foreigners, it's time for them to go.

We aim to restore tradition as well, and we are also enemies of the foreigners, in our case, the Seleucids. We look up to the good old Achaemenids (yes, we may be steppe nomads, but we like to think of ourselves as traditional Persians, so just forget that inconvenient little fact), and we've reinstated many of their traditions, such as governing through satraps. The Seleucids are Greek foreigners who aren't welcome in Persia. We share your pain with those meddlesome foreigners. Just follow our example and revolt, gradually enlarging the amount of land you control.

Yea for groups that stand up to imperialist powers! We should start our own club or something. Those foreigners are awfully irritating; they just march on into our lands and demand us to drop our cherished customs and traditions in favor of their abominable ones. Just keep fighting, and you'll definitely take back China for yourselves. We're rooting for you all the way! Though a few words of advice from our experiences: Lay off a bit on the violence. If you form nonviolent protest movements, you'll probably have a greater chance of success in getting rid of those foreign powers as well as inspiring others to join your fight. And maybe you should consider a new leader. Empress Cixi seems a bit rash and proud in her actions; you need someone like Gandhi to calmly and rationally decide the best course of action for independence from imperialistic powers.
--Indian National Congress
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Bentley, Jerry, and Herbert Ziegler. Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2006.