Wude Martial Arts Center used to be the stadium where Japanese police practiced martial arts, and similar facilities were established gradually in cities and schools. As a Japanese colony, Taiwan was introduced to many aspects of Japanese culture. This culture transfer from the colonists’ home country was also apparent in the architecture and Wude Martial Arts Center was introduced to Taiwan in this fashion.
The police force is responsible for maintaining the security and stability of a society and must confront bandits and criminals. They need to learn martial arts to protect themselves and the people and, therefore, martial art is essential for the police.
The great Japanese Wude Society was established in Kyoto, Japan, in 1895 with most of its members being police officers. The stadiums built for martial arts practice were called Wude Martial Arts Centers.
When the Japanese colonized Taiwan, they brought their police system with them, thus the Wude culture in Taiwan was introduced, directed, and developed by the Japanese police. Advocated by the Japanese police system, Wude Martial Arts Centers were built according to administrative levels of state, county, and prefecture. The Wude Martial Arts Center in Kaohsiung, a Japanese-style brick building, was completed in 1924. It is situated directly behind the Gushan Elementary School at No. 36, Dengshan St. , Gushan District, to the left of the Sizihwan tunnel near the Sun Yat-Sen University. It was operated and used by the Kaohsiung Police Department.
In Taiwan, these common, Japanese-built centers are for public employees, police, and students to practice martial arts. Males learn Judo, Kendo, or Sumo (wrestling); females learn archery. To promote the Bushido spirit, annual martial art contests were organized at local levels to identify semi-finalists, who would gather at the Wude headquarters in Taiwan for the final contest.
This building, with a capacity of about 100 people, consists of two major parts. On the east is the Kendo practice area; on the west is the Judo practice area. It was under the management of the then Police Department (Yongguang Shop at the intersection of Linhai 2nd Rd. and Linhai 1st Rd.)
After the war, the building was turned over to the Gushan Public School and used as a dormitory for faculty for a while. However, no one lived in there and the building started to deteriorate.
In 1999 the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Kaohsiung City Government designated it an Ancient Monument. When the Bureau of Cultural Affairs was established, a restoration project was actively conducted and the restoration was completed within a year, in December 2004. In April 2005 the Kaohsiung City Kendo Culture Advocacy Society was commissioned to operate and manage this building. It was the first case of outsourced management of a non-profit Ancient Monument in the city and the first Ancient Monument in Taiwan to be revitalized for the original purpose for which it was designed.
As well as possessing the architectural elements of a Buddhist temple, a palace and a shrine, and being commissioned as a martial arts stadium, Wude Martial Arts Center is a unique place. Its roof adopts the design similar to a Chinese gabled roof; its façade adopts the design of a Chinese wind breaker. Beneath the eaves are symmetrical columns. A group of three columns is in the front; another group consisting of one stand-alone column and two wall columns is at the back. This is similar to the Tuscan order design. On their surfaces, the columns are embossed with arrows and targets, giving the image of the original, traditional martial art activities at the Wude Martial Arts Center.