Books


Here is a list of our recommended reads: we have read these books ourselves and would recommend them over many others than we have also read or owned. Clicking on the book cover or the Acquire button leads to the corresponding Amazon book page. Prices shown are the Amazon spot prices at the time of posting.



Title
The Complete Taiji Dao: The Art of The Chinese Saber
by Shifu Zhang Yun

Categories
Weapons, Taijiquan

Publication
Blue Snake Books, 2009, 464 pages. $18.45

Description
The Complete Taiji Dao introduces the principles and practice of Taiji Dao (Taiji Sword) and provides illustrated discussions of the history of Chinese swords. The book covers the history and features of the dao; the Taiji principles from which Taiji Dao practice derives; the basic skills and techniques of the art; detailed descriptions and photographs of the traditional Taiji Dao form; and Taiji Dao fighting principles and training methods. Broad in scope and detailed in its presentation of the principles and practice of Taiji Dao, The Complete Taiji Dao represents a significant contribution to the field of traditional Chinese weapons practice.

Our Notes
There are very few English books on kung fu weapons and even fewer quality ones.  Fortunately, Shifu Zhang Yun has made available to the public hitherto secrets of the art of the Taiji Sword in this illustrated volume. Though the title refers to the Taiji Sword, the principles covered is applicable to all bladed arts. It is always a delight and revelation to read works by old school masters, and this is comprehensive and informative volume does not disappoint. A recommended read for both beginners and experienced martial artists.



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Title
The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi
by Dr. Bruce Frantzis

Categories
Martial Arts Tradition, Baguazhang, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan

Publication
Blue Snake Books, 2007, 432 pages. $18.45

Description
The book provides vivid details about Frantzis’ personal training odyssey in the martial arts, including fascinating profiles of such renowned martial artists as Morehei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido; Bagua master Wang Shu Jin, who emanated chi so powerfully that on cold days his students could warm their hands by standing near him; and Liu Hung Chieh, the legendary master of the internal martial arts and Taoist meditation who also had a complete knowledge of traditional Chinese medical theory.

Our Notes
This book is not about martial arts techniques per se, though experienced readers should be able to pick up tips on applications between the lines.  It's selling point, and what is makes it such a compelling read, is the telling of the author's search for the best martial art starting from United States and then to Japan, China and even India. It provides a rich, dramatic introduction to kung fu masters and traditions. A recommended read for beginners to kung fu as it will give them a better idea on how to select teachers and styles, and for other martial arts enthusiasts who would like to know more of about kung fu in China and Taiwan.


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Title
The Art of Chi Kung: Making the Most of Your Vital Energy
by Sifu Wong Kiew Kit

Categories
Qigong, Chi Kung, Shaolin, Taoist, Yogic

Publication
Cosmos Press, 2004, 176 pages. $11.53

Description
Chi Kung is the Chinese art of developing energy. Today, Chi Kung is becoming increasingly popular around the world as a means of stress management, healing, and maintaining fitness. In The Art of Chi Kung, fourth generation Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit explores the principles and philosophy of Chi Kung, explaining its beneficial effects, and then guides you through a series of Chi Kung exercises which you can learn from and practice at home. This is the most comprehensive study of Chi Kung available, and will prove invaluable whether you are a beginner or already have some understanding of this ancient art.

Our Notes
Probably the best general survey of qigong techniques available in English. First published in 1993 by Element Books. it is Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit's first book to hit the global market. The book covers such diverse topics as longevity, wisdom, Shaolin arts, kung fu feats and even how to acquire a shapely figure!  With so much crammed into a single volume, it will probably take a few readings to absorb what is written. A recommended read for newcomers to qigong. (Note: The cover image shown above is taken from the earlier Element Books version which is out-of-print, the book on offer at Amazon is a Cosmos Press version which has a different cover design.)


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Title
Needle Through Brick (DVD)
by James Adolphus, Joel Fendelman, Patrick Daly

Categories
Documentary, Kung Fu, Borneo

Publication
Season of Light Pictures, 2010, 52 minutes. $17.99

Description
Needle Through Brick is a film about the struggle for survival of traditional art and culture in the face of a rapidly changing and modernizing world. The documentary is told from the perspective of Chinese Kung Fu masters living in Malaysian Borneo. The story explores the history and the art of Kung Fu and asks how cultural heritage can be kept alive in a world that prefer s to forget about it's origins. Needle Through Brick bridges sensitive and intimate storytelling with sumptuous visuals, and a dynamic and powerful original score . As a non-fiction film, Needle Through Brick encompasses many of the sub-genres of documentary film, including historical , independent , educational and social & cultural documentaries . The personal stories and anecdotes of some of the last surviving traditional Kung Fu masters, along with the majesty and beauty of their skill , serves as reminders of the frailty of even the deadliest of arts.

Accolades
Winner, Mexico International Film Festival
Official Selection, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

Our Notes
This is a documentary not an instructional video. We are still trying to get our hands on the discs so we haven't seen it yet.  But from the trailer it looks pretty awesome.  Plus the fact that one of the producers dropped by and left us a note, and that we are marginally acquainted with one of the advisors of the film.  The producers could have done with a better cover but do check out the trailer at the link below and watch out for glimpses of the hand speed and jin shown by the old masters.


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Title
Complete Wing Chun: The Definitive Guide to Wing Chun's History and Traditions
by Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie and Y. Wu

Categories
Wing Chun, History, Styles

Publication
Tuttle Publishing, 1998, 160 pages. $12.71

Description
Profusely illustrated with over 300 historical photographs, Complete Wing Chun presents seldom seen information on a dozen branches of the Wing Chun art. It offers the reader side-by-side comparison of these arts by outlining each system in terms of history, principles, basics, and training methods.  This is a helpful resoure for the interested newcomer and a valuable reference for a long time practitioner.

Our Notes
What many practitioners know as Wing Chun is by no means the only Wing Chun art around.  Due to some historical circumstance, the art of Wing Chun has spawn many branches, ranging in locality from Beijing to Fujian and Guangdong, and down to Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.  But unlike some other martial arts with shared names but are said to be unrelated to each other - eg. Northern White Crane, Fujian White Crane and Tibetan White Crane - these diverse Wing Chun schools, which may vary considerably in their techniques, practices and traditions, are all still recognizably of the same family.

Complete Wing Chun is the first tome to present a glimpse of these diverse Wing Chun schools; published in 1998 it remains unmatched in its coverage of this topic till today. A recommended read for Wing Chun and other martial art practitioners who would like to find out more about this much misunderstood art.

Footnote: This book received an unusual number of one star ratings (negative reviews) in Amazon, all from anonymous commentators (trolls?). It could be due to fraternal differences amongst the various schools impacting on the authors or the book, or perceived slights by the authors in their text. Ignore these; the book is a good effort and the only one of its kind in publication.


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