Two things: That's what I've been told by Toby Threadgill - AND - Akiyama as well as the founder of Yoshin Koryu, in particular, traveled to Southern China.
Ellis, thanks for the clarification. Toby Threadgill's reference alone would have been sufficient. When I posted above, I had spaced on your reference in HIPS
to Akiyama's time in southern China (was it Fujian?), or I probably wouldn't have asked the question.
The written "classics" of taiji, xingyi and bagua in all probability date only to the mid- to late-1800s. The oral teaching formulae (or "songs") of taiji and xingyi may be a little older, but how much older is speculative. Chang Naizhou's book, the first book (that I'm aware of) in any language that details specifically internal principles of martial practice, is as you note from the 1700s (for those interested, a capsule summary of Chang's life and a good translation of a short excerpt by Jarek Szymanski can be found at http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/ot...s/CNZbook.html
). Qi Jiguang's book is from the late 1500s and is Shaolin-based. Sun Tzu's The Art of War
is, however, substantially older, and antedates the Shaolin Temple by almost a thousand years (and so would not be Shaolin-based),
Although references to martial arts can be found on stele at Songshan and elsewhere, there do not appear to be any extant martial arts writings
(manuals, treatises, literature) referencing Shaolin before the late Ming dynasty, i.e., the time when General Qi wrote his manual. It's tempting to speculate that these writings reached Japan almost as fast as they were disseminated in China (a pre-modern analog to being able to buy a DVD of a pirated film before it has finished the first week of its theater run).