After the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), Chinese military modernization focussed on the professionalization of military education and training. There were systematic attempts to instill in Chinese soldiers both the practical skills and the spiritual qualities deemed necessary for the proper performance of their professional duties. In the early twentieth century, a ‘martial spirit’ was identified as one of the cornerstones of a Chinese nation state. Soldiers were to serve as role models. So the military men who would dismantle the Chinese state during the so-called Warlord Era (1916-28) were, in fact, acting in accordance with what state and society expected from them.