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Students are required to purchase uniforms and equipment as well. Prospective martial arts students should search for the style of martial arts that best meets their objectives. Students should attend classes at various schools dojos , and should talk to students and teachers to find the right program. Finding a good instructor may be even more important than finding the right school.

Students should search for instructors with such positive qualities as patience, knowledge, and strong communication skills. Prospective students should also search for schools with adequate facilities, including padded or sprung floors, full-length mirrors, and roomy practice spaces without obstructions. Martial arts can be dangerous. Students are often required to take blows and falls as part of the learning process, as well as to fight with weapons. Students should search for teachers and schools who teach these methods as safely as possible.

People with health conditions and injuries should consult a physician before attempting a martial art, and should find a teacher familiar with their condition. Martial arts teachers are usually certified with the achievement of an advanced black belt status. Many large schools of martial arts have organizations which oversee and certify the granting of belt ranks.

The Aikido Association of America recognizes training programs and certifies ranking procedures. The USA Karate Federation is the largest organization for certifying ranking systems and schools of karate. Payne, Peter. Martial Arts: The Spiritual Dimension. New York : Thames and Hudson, Golden, Jane.

Johnson, Jerry Alan. USA Karate Federation. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. July 3, Retrieved July 03, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. The urge to fight and compete, whether between individuals or groups, arises with every new generation, and becomes channelled or sublimated in various ways in different cultures.

In earliest times tribes fought with each other, invading and defending territories; individuals within tribes fought for leadership, prestige, goods, and mates. As societies became larger and more complex, the importance of warriors and military effectiveness increased. Children mimicked martial heroes just as in modern times children's games have included cowboys, cops and robbers, spies, space warriors, computer combat, and so forth , and successful warriors often went on to become kings or nobles.

As in war, success in sports requires strategy and tactics. The very same skills that can mean the difference between life and death in combat — speed, agility, strength, determination, reflexes, stamina, timing, vigorous training, and surprise — spell success in sports. Outside today's military, martial arts are still cultivated for physical and even spiritual improvement.

Martial competitions have become sporting events, where one puts one's body and sometimes even one's life on the line, though there have been many attempts to transform sports such as boxing , wrestling, judo, and karate into safer events where points, rather than lasting bodily damage, determine the winner. The Japanese, for example, differentiate between jutsu and do , the former designating a fighting art, such as ju-jutsu , and the latter its modification into a sport form, such as ju-do. The warrior's existential proximity to death could engender deep philosophical and religious reflections on the meaning of life.

Hence the most prominent patrons of Zen Buddhism , when it was imported to Japan , were the samurai, primarily due to the fearlessness toward life or death displayed by many Zen masters. The origins of East Asian martial arts are murky. The ancient Chinese produced an extensive literary tradition of martial classics on strategy and tactics , the most famous work being Sunzi Sun Tzu , attributed to a military genius of the sixth to fifth centuries bce.

It applied principles similar to those found in early Daoist works, such as the Laozi Lao Tzu , to military matters like the deployment of troops, adapting to terrain, using spies, how a smaller force can overcome a larger force, and so on. Daoist notions, such as the soft or gentle overcoming the hard, became foundational martial principles. Another Korean style, Tae Kwon Do, with some of the most powerful kicks of any martial art, developed later.

Many Japanese karate katas , or sets of practice movements, still resemble those used in Tang Su do. In Japan the newly nationalized Karate was one of several new sport forms: judo and aikido grappling and locks developed from ju-jutsu holds and throws in and respectively.

Kendo, a sport version of ken-jutsu swordsmanship , began roughly a century earlier, swords often being called the soul of the samurai and the soul of Japan. Sumo wrestling and a host of weapon jutsus halberd, staff, etc. In Asian cultures, where martial arts have long been considered national, even religious treasures, demonstrations of martial art prowess by individuals, groups, and children are often integral parts of religious and national festivals.

Chinese customs such as lion dances, in which one or more people perform acrobatically while shrouded in a lion costume, were originally martial displays. In the first half of the twentieth century, Westerners became aware of Asian fighting arts, mostly in their Japanese forms, as popularized by the ju-jutsu in Mr Moto movies starring Peter Lorre and the fierce karate techniques of Japanese soldiers during World War II. Breaking boards and bricks with bare hands seemed impressive, almost magical. It was not until the s, with the international stardom of Bruce Lee, that Westerners gained an appreciation for the Chinese martial arts.

Today many Asian styles of martial arts are practised in the West, including Thai boxing, Chinese Taijiquan, Burmese Bando, and even several rare arts from India, such as Binot. By the end of the twentieth century American Yokozunas Sumo Grand Masters — such as the Hawaiians, Akebono and Musashimaru — began to emerge: a shock to Japanese sensibilities since Sumo is intimately associated with the imperial prestige of the Emperor.

Dan Lusthaus. A group of Asian skills combining mental, physical, and spiritual energies for self-defense in weaponless fighting, or the achievement of apparently paranormal feats of strength and control. The martial arts derive from the samurai or warrior caste fighting systems of ancient Japan , which were conditioned by Zen Buddhism; hence they have a spiritual basis.

They are closely related to similar systems in ancient China. Japanese and Chinese martial arts are widely diffused throughout Asia. These arts have become more widely known and taught in the West since World War II , when many servicemen encountered them in Asian campaigns, and there are now many schools for specific training of the different martial art forms.

Symbolic of the growing interest in martial arts has been the popularity of the late Chinese film star Bruce Lee , who popularized the art of kung-fu in such films as Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. That particular martial art was further popularized in the television movie series Kung Fu starring David Carra-dine, first shown in the s and revived in the s.

The main martial arts are: aikido a kind of judo of graceful movement in which an opponent's force is used against him , bando Burmese boxing and wrestling , judo wrestling with special emphasis on balance and leverage , jiu-jitsu a more comprehensive and aggressive forerunner of judo , karate kicking, striking, and blocking with arms or legs , kung-fu a group of various styles of fighting and defense , shaolin Chinese shadow boxing , tae kwon do Korean system of kick-punching , and t'ai chi chuan originally a self-defense art, now a system of physical exercises to harmonize body and mind.

The various forms of martial arts have, as their basis, the attainment of spiritual enlightenment and peace, from which point remarkable feats of skill and strength in self-defense or attack can be generated. In the process of training, practitioners claim to become aware of a subtle vital energy named ch'i or ki. Ch'i is accumulated, amplified, and directed by willpower to specific parts of the body, which develop strength and resilience. This process is sometimes preceded by a sudden exhalation of breath, often accompanied by a shout or yell.

The intake of breath that follows appears to result in hyperventilation of the system, generating vitality that can be directed to hands, feet, or other parts of the body. This process has been widely demonstrated by practitioners of karate in apparently paranormal feats such as breaking bricks, tiles, and planks of wood with a bare hand. It has been suggested that these feats are related to such psychic phenomena as psychokinesis, the ability to move objects at a distance by mental action.

Barclay, Glen. Mind over Matter: Beyond the Bounds of Nature. London: Arthur Barker, Reprint, London: Pan, Ching-nan, Lee, and R. Techniques of Self-Defense.

Martial arts

New York : A. Barnes, Feldenkrais, Moshe. Higher Judo. New York : Warner, Freudenberg, Karl. Huard, Pierre, and Ming Wong. Medeiros, Earl C. Rutland, Vt. Tohei, Koichi. This is Aikido. Tokyo : Japan Publications, Westbrook, A. Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere. In modern times they have come into wide use for self-protection, as competitive sports, and for exercise. Jujitsu teaches skills that enable one to overcome a bigger, stronger opponent. A popular style of jujitsu is aikido, which uses wrist, elbow, and shoulder twists and graceful falls; it is noncompetitive and incorporates various spiritual concepts.

Judo , a Japanese sport created in , makes use of jujitsu principles. Other popular forms of martial arts include kung fu, karate, and taekwondo, all of which emphasize blows with the feet and the side of the hand, and kendo, in which leather-covered bamboo "swords" are used. Judo and taekwondo are Olympic sports. Capoeira, a dancelike Brazilian discipline whose movements are performed to rhythmic music, is gaining in popularity. The traditional Asian martial arts emphasize allowing ki cosmic energy; also known as chi to flow through one's body.

This belief in ki connects the martial arts with t'ai chi ch'uan, a meditationlike discipline that emphasizes slow, graceful body movements. The most popular form of individual exercise in China, t'ai chi is often performed publicly in large groups; it has been claimed to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. The practice of taiji quan, also known as tai chi chuan, characterized by its slow, almost ritualized movements, in massed groups of old and young, male and female, generally in the early hours of the morning, is familiar to most travelers in China.

Yet, for all its traditional aura, it is a phenomenon of the twentieth century. This mass expression of one of China's better-known martial arts emerged at the beginning of the century as part of a response to Western colonialism and the desire to modernize. The humiliation of China by the colonial powers was perceived as the result of a shameful moral and physical weakness of the old society.

Shorn of much of its religious associations, this more democratized practice of taiji was advocated by reforming intellectuals as a homegrown means to develop national health. Though characterized as a martial art, no argument was made for its potential to oppose the industrialized warfare of modernity. How then are we to understand this set of practices, characterized as martial, both within their countries of origin and in America?

The term " martial arts " is a direct translation of the Chinese term wushu and denotes any of the traditional arts of warfare that demanded a high level of individual skill and mastery, including those in which one's hands are used not only to wield small weapons but also, more commonly, in place of any such weapons. In America the term encompasses not only the Chinese arts of the warrior but the martial arts of Korea tai kwan do , Japan judo, karate, kendo, aikido , the Philippines, Burma, Malaysia, and Thailand as well. An important component of the martial arts in China has been the concept of qi, understood as the fundamental energy or life force that permeates the natural world or cosmos, including the human body.

It has long been taken for granted in Chinese culture that the cultivation of one's bodily qi is essential for developing any skill as well as for maintaining health and life itself. Qi plays as much a role in traditional Chinese medicine as it does in most aspects of Chinese religion. In Japan the fundamental role of qi is conspicuous in aikido "The Way of Conjoined Qi" , a martial art form developed in the early part of the twentieth century.

The notion of qi has rapidly found its way into contemporary Western understandings of the martial arts and lies at the root of most Western understandings of the "spiritual" nature of these practices.

Taoism, with its emphasis on the cultivation of health and the energies of life that could lead to immortality, offers the clearest precedent to the religious understanding of the martial arts in the contemporary world. Taoist monks and priests often include taiji as part of their training as a method to purify their bodily energies. Buddhism, which arrived in China from India in the first century c.

Throughout much of Chinese history, Confucians regarded military skills as the domain of the less cultivated and the lower classes. Nonetheless, Confucians perceived a strong relationship between the sorts of physical activities that were effective in circulating the qi within the body, and physical health and insight. Only in the early nineteenth century do we see evidence of Confucian gentry figures developing the martially inspired set of exercises that have come to be know as Taiji quan.

Popular tradition traces these practices back to the semilegendary Taoist sage Zhang Sanfeng, alleged to have lived from to , but there is no reliable evidence for this assertion. Confucian taiji was probably less concerned with developing techniques of self-defense than with constructing the individual's body as a metaphor for China's cultural values as interpreted by a fiercely nationalistic scholarly minority.

Local village and temple associations have also carried on a vibrant martial arts tradition over the past few centuries. The lion dance, a mandatory component of many village or temple festivities, is generally performed by a trained group of the young men of the village, or in modern Taiwan by a semiprofessional group of traveling performers. Martial arts is a basic component of their training and their performances. These local associations provided the basis for the dispersion of martial arts training throughout China among the masses. The practice of martial arts in Japan originates in the martial skills associated with the samurai, members of an elite and privileged class within Japanese society.

In the twelfth century they affiliated themselves with the religious institution and practices of Zen Buddhism. The s witnessed the introduction of Okinawan fighting skills into the mainstream of Japanese culture, and these have evolved into the modern form known as karate. Modern karate, judo, and kendo still bear the stamp of the Meiji nationalists' attempt to instill in these arts the discipline and spirit of the samurai, understood as the national essence. This spirit formed a core mentality exploited by the architects of Japanese military expansion in the mid-twentieth century.

The martial arts as they developed in Asia over the past millennium can be characterized as being relatively unconcerned with martial effectiveness, but heavily laden with philosophy and symbol, variously deployed in the service of mostly nonmartial goals: maintenance of health, healing, prolonging life, enlightenment, cultural preservation, and nationalism. They are generally represented as taking place within and on behalf of the social order. Various forms of the martial arts had been present in the United States within immigrant Asian communities throughout much of the twentieth century, long before they attracted the attention of the general population.

Lion dance associations in American Chinatowns and martial arts clubs associated with Japanese Buddhist temples in the United States carried these traditions to the Americas early in this century.

Martial Arts |

But it was not until the end of World War II and the Allied occupation of Japan that these arts began to attract attention among non-Asians. American GIs began studying these arts and bringing them home to be spread among the non-Asian population. The actual self-defense effectiveness of the martial arts in contemporary America is highly questionable in terms of the ratio of people who have trained in them to those who have actually used them to advantage and given the pervasiveness of high-powered automatic weapons on the streets today. It is perhaps the recognition of this fact that has led to the adaptation of the martial arts by some to the arena of American sports.

An additional and distinct impetus for the development of American martial arts can be found among that portion of the American youth culture of the s who were seeking an alternative to an establishment culture they characterized as materialistic, predatory, and spiritually empty. Many thought they had found it in the religious, medical, and martial traditions of Asia, the "spiritual East.

Out of such aspirations have arisen many of the symbolic and religious aspects that characterize the martial arts in America. In many respects the American institutions take on a modified or a simulated monastic quality. A common, nonmartial, black or white garb is adopted by many groups. Many of the exercises and practices are highly ritualized and reaffirm hierarchies within the group. Martial practices of qi circulation are closely assimilated to breathing practices used in meditation, and in many groups there is explicit reference to meditation, however adumbrated or symbolic.

In some practice halls there is a small image altar where incense is burned. The image might be a Buddha, an honored teacher, or a piece of Chinese calligraphy. Lectures of a philosophical or religious nature are not uncommon. Great value is placed on discipline and constancy. In America there is an ever-broadening range of attitudes and practices associated with the martial arts.

They extend from defensive or aggressive fighting styles, and their alter ego, the sports forms on one end of the spectrum, to the highly internal meditative forms on the other. In contrast to Asian expressions, they are often taken as idioms by which the established order is rejected or circumvented. The individual with a special, unconventional, or perhaps even mystical identity tends to be idealized, and the interests of the group are relatively marginal. Despeux, Catherine. Miura, Kunio. William Powell.

Modern historians of East Asia have noted the seemingly incongruous presence of martial monks in Buddhist monasteries at various moments in Asian history. This unusual conjunction has appeared ironic to many in the West, given the prominent place the renunciation of violence has had in Buddhist teachings and monastic precepts.

On the other hand, to many Westerners who have taken up the practice of the Asian martial arts , this conjunction has been seen not as contradictory, but as essential to the modern rhetoric of spirituality and the martial arts.


Zen Buddhism , in particular, has played an important role in this approach to the martial arts. Underlying these contradictory understandings has been a Western tendency to idealize and romanticize both Buddhism and the martial arts, removing them from their historical and institutional contexts.

Abetting such tendencies has been an uncritical use of categories that have emerged over the past two centuries in the study of religion both in Asia and the West, including the category of religion itself. To understand the relationship of the martial arts to Buddhism, then, it is necessary to know something of the history and nature of Buddhist institutions in Asia, and, also of the ways in which Western perceptions of Eastern religion and spirituality have contributed to contemporary understandings and, in many cases, distortions of Asian Buddhism.

One of the definitive moments in becoming a Buddhist, either as a monastic or a layperson, is the act of taking a set of vows, which differ in character and total number depending on whether one remains a householder or receives ordination as a monastic.

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Regardless, all Buddhists take a vow to abstain from harming living beings. One would be wrong, however, to regard these vows in general and nonviolence in particular as ends in themselves or as ethical absolutes. Rather, they seem to have been regarded as practical means to end suffering both for other living beings and for oneself. This fact has allowed for some flexibility in interpretation, as well as a degree of antinomianism. Faced with the dilemma of a vow of nonviolence and of allowing, for example, a mass murderer to continue wreaking havoc in the world—and at the same time adding to the sum of his own bad karma action and implied future suffering—the compassionate act may be assassination, thus reducing the sum total of accumulated suffering.

Such arguments have historically been offered by certain Buddhists to legitimate violence, in the assassination of a murderous Tibetan king in one instance. Though this example is somewhat extreme, in coming to terms with Buddhist ethics and practice, it suggests the importance of the historical and social contexts of Buddhist institutions. Buddhist monasteries in Central Asia and the Far East, rather than existing as sites purely of otherworldly concerns, originated as institutions intimately embroiled in the affairs of society.

Central Asian Buddhists introduced monasticism to China sometime around the second or third centuries c. Monks accompanied Central Asian traders into China primarily to serve the ritual needs of their merchant patrons. At about the same time and for the next several hundred years, various Central Asian armies invaded north China, setting up their own generally short-lived dynasties.

These kingdoms, like the merchants, employed the ritual services of Buddhist monks, now including many ethnic Chinese converts. Under such conditions, monastic institutions often found themselves caught in the ebb and flow of the political fortunes of their various sponsors. In addition, some monasteries, through their relationship with merchants and royalty, became wealthy in land and precious goods, making them frequent prey to marauding bands of warriors and bandits.

In the Xu gaoseng zhuan , Continued Lives of Eminent Monks , one of the earliest records of the lives of Buddhist monks in China, there are a number of accounts. Some early sources also suggest that monasteries sometimes admitted applicants more for their martial skills than for their devotion to meditation or a life of renunciation.

It seems to have been common at this time for warriors who were demobilized at the end of a war or marked for vengeance among the defeated to seek cover and anonymity in the monastic system. Martially trained monks would have been of value in times of instability, and in such cases the maintenance of monastic vows would often have been a lesser priority. According to a fifth-century history of the Wei dynasty Wei shu , several monasteries in the capital of Chang'an came under scrutiny in for having developed large arsenals of weapons and posing a threat to public order.

As monasteries in China became more sinicized, they evolved bureaucratic modes of organization that closely paralleled those of Chinese civil administration. Hierarchical in structure, they were composed of various departments of monks with designated functions, such as lecturers, ritualists, and meditators. It is not surprising then that we find monks whose primary functions were to manage the fields and the wealth of their monastic establishments.

Among their duties would be the protection of that wealth, and implicit in this was an incentive perhaps to cultivate martial skills. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that more than a few monasteries developed such defense forces. However, one monastery that did respond to these incentives was the Shaolin Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Song, considered the central peak of China's five sacred mountains wu yue , in Henan province. It is this monastery that has informed most later histories associating Chinese Buddhism with martial arts.

According to the biography of the monastery's fifth-century founder, Fotuo, two of his first disciples were selected based not on their aptitude for traditional Buddhist cultivation practices, but for their acrobatic talents. While not explicitly martial, the ability of one of these disciples to balance precariously on a narrow well ledge while playing a sort of hacky-sack game with his feet bears close similarity to some of the martial exercises emphasizing balance exhibited in Shaolin martial forms.

By the seventh century the Shaolin Monastery had developed the cudgel as its weapon of choice. The heavy cudgel, while capable of great devastation, was neither metal nor sharp, and thereby was rhetorically legitimated as a nonweapon appropriate to Buddhist monks. According to popular histories, in the monastery offered its cudgel-wielding monks, thirteen in all, to the service and ultimate victory of Li Shimin d. Whether or not this tale is true, the monastery seems to have enjoyed imperial favor during the Tang dynasty, having been granted extensive land and wealth.

Such increased holdings would have provided even greater incentive to maintain a martial presence in the monastery. Over the centuries, Shaolin monks developed other styles of combat, both armed and unarmed. By the fifteenth century, Shaolin had become synonymous in China with martial arts and has remained so to the present day. The existence of monastic defense forces can also be found in Tibet and in medieval Japan, though in very different political and social circumstances and with different consequences. Some of the more important Japanese shrine-temple complexes and Buddhist sects, which were thoroughly integrated into the social and political ethos of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, built legions of monks trained in military skills and maintained militias not only to protect their existing wealth in land and power but also in some cases to expand it.

The monastic militias of Mount Hiei developed as a formidable force during this period, not only defending their own domains but also attacking the domains of neighboring monasteries and even attempting to intimidate the emperor in his Kyoto palace. Their existence, however, was abruptly ended in when Oda Nobunaga — surrounded Mount Hiei with his soldiers and slaughtered all the people associated with the monastery, including every man, woman, and child living on the mountain.

What emerges from this brief overview of early Buddhist history are two important observations about the relationship of Buddhist monasticism and the martial arts. First, the phenomenon of monastic warriors and militias, while a historical fact, was nonetheless relatively isolated in time and place. Rather, martial training in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan monasteries appears to have been regarded not as a practice leading to awakening or liberation, but as an expedient deemed necessary in the circumstances in which many medieval Buddhist institutions found themselves. Although there is little or no Buddhist doctrinal rationale for the activities of the monastic militias of the early period, the modern practice of Asian martial arts, particularly those that developed in Japan, are frequently characterized in terms that suggest modes of spiritual practice directly informed by the Buddhism of the Chan school Japanese, Zen.

Most contemporary martial arts have thus taken on a quasi-religious character. The student is encouraged to strive to attain a state of pure consciousness while in the midst of combat. In a psychological state of equanimity and oneness with the adversary, the student is assured that his or her actions will flow with effortless spontaneity. Initiations, practices, and successful progress are generally marked by formal rituals, including bowing, processions, and the award of certificates or insignia. These can be seen as stripped-down secularized versions of Asian religious rituals and practice.

The distinction between the achievement of a state of awakening, understood as the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice, and the effortless defeat of an adversary in battle coalesce. The monk becomes warrior; the warrior becomes monk. Not surprisingly, many popular texts on martial arts trace their lineage to the Shaolin Monastery in China.

Martial Arts

By the eight century, Shaolin Monastery had become identified with the fifth-century semilegendary figure of Bodhidharma, popularly regarded as the person who introduce Chan Buddhism to China. According to legend, Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave above Shaolin Monastery. However, the earliest text to mention Bodhidharma, the sixth-century Loyang qielan ji Record of Monasteries in Loyang , describes him not as a wall-gazing meditation master, but as a wonder-working thaumaturge from the Western barbarian Lands.

The thaumaturgic tradition in China contains accounts of such shamanlike characters performing prodigious feats of physical agility, such as leaping great distances. Though there is no suggestion that Bodhidharma performed martial feats, including him in this tradition makes clear that his skills placed him outside the exegetical or ritual spheres of the monastery and more firmly within a familiar Chinese tradition of religious eccentrics. Such an image was readily amenable to later martial traditions, particularly in Japan.

The few works attributed to Bodhidharma give no indication of a concern with martial practices. Furthermore, as argued above, the Shaolin martial arts traditions bore only incidental relation to Chan Buddhist teachings. While not detracting from the martial skill that many achieve in these arts, there remains the question of whether these achievements and the views of the modes and objectives of Zen practice that inform them accurately reflect Buddhist monastic practices in Japan or China now or in the past. In general, they do not. At best they represent successful adaptations of certain Buddhist meditative techniques to martial practices, and at worst they impart an aura of mystification that has less to do with Buddhism than with commercialization, nationalism, or self-promotion.

The rise of Japanese martial arts as they are known today only began to take shape in the closing decades of the nineteenth century following the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate. The year marked the beginning of a thoroughgoing cultural revolution in Japan when the newly installed Meiji government sought to erase hundreds of years of local and state culture organized around a pervasive network of Buddhist temples and monks, and to replace this cultural substrate with the "rational" organs of the modern state. Temples were burned, images destroyed, and monks returned to lay status under the guise of destroying feudal superstition.

State Shinto was declared the embodiment of the true spirit of the Japanese people and was, by definition, nonreligious, having been purified of the superstitious elements that had seeped into it due to the long presence of Buddhism in Japan. However, because "the spirit of the Japanese people" was somewhat ambiguous in meaning, an issue of great concern to the new national leadership was how to cultivate that spirit without religious institutions.

10 Things You Don’t Know About Filipino Martial Arts

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