Home Science Education Drunken Boxing: Hollywood Fiction or Real Martial Art?

Drunken Boxing: Hollywood Fiction or Real Martial Art?


In the world of Martial Arts, few forms are as unusual as Drunken Boxing.

Drunken Boxing concentrates more on being relaxed and going with the flow of battle instead of going against it. Fast twists of movement, acrobatics and unpredictable attacks make this martial art  to some of the most skilled opponents. This art is an expression of grace and skill mixed into an overwhelming fighting system.

The methods employed in Drunken Boxing appear to have little power to the opponent, yet the style is meant to conceal the power behind the strikes. “Appear weak when strong, unbalanced when balanced” is the axiom of a drunkard in the Ma family system. Although the style might appear disjointed and random it doesn’t mean the fighter can be sloppy and untrained, rather they are more in-tune with their body and it’s movements.  This style of martial art is believed to be most effective when the practitioner can distract their opponent with the wobbly footwork and jerky movements involved in mimicking the Drunkard. This distraction can give a fighter the opportunity to pick how, when and where they strike.

The Drunken fighting style was made famous in the West by Jackie Chan in some of his more memorable martial arts action films. Due to the cinematic debut many people still believe it is just a Hollywood fable.


The Drunkard: Alcohol is a depressant, relaxing muscles and dulling mental focus. Mimicking this relaxed state helps with balance in a fight. Chinese Kung Fu also mimics a drunkard with his cups, striking, moving around soft but strong. The Drunken Boxing style will use all these movements to confusion their opponent so they always look off balance, but when the fighter shifts position they use their core, just above their point of balance, to stay in control of movements. A rigid body is easily knocked of center. A flexible fighter can dodge, recoil and strike from any angle. To master the art of balance martial artists train with this concept, find your center.

Conditioning for this martial art requires the ability to fall (often) without being injured, reversing momentum, going with an opponents force and being able to lose balance when necessary to take the opponent down into a lock, hold or throw without hurting themselves in the process.


The arms are important part of this art. According to the older texts and references the combatants arms should be like ropes and the fists like heavy bags of wine or beer, whichever your drink of choice. Arm bagging and iron leg exercises should be done on a daily basis.

Many masters believe the practice of Drunken Boxing improves the health of the practitioner. Through the extensive use of spinal movement it is believed an increase in the flow of cerebral / spinal fluid to the brain increases the flexibility of the mind and body as the fighter ages.  Rather than diminishing in performance the fighters strengths intensify with the knowledge that comes from the within the style.

While there are limitations on what practical science can measure, yet it can be safely concluded that any form of exercise performed with care will improve the health of an individual and reduce rigidity of the body as one ages.