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Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey Paperback – November 11, 2005

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This book provides considerable information on Chinese martial arts history, particularly of the Republican era, its personages, and manuals not previously available in English. It also covers topics, including those related to Shaolin Monastery and Taoism, in a down to earth, common sense manner.... Overall, Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals successfully achieves the author’s purpose, expressed in the epilogue: '[To serve] as an informative and interesting introduction to this rich facet of Chinese martial art culture.'"—Stanley E. Henning, China Review International

About the Author

Brian Kennedy, an attorney, has practiced Chinese martial arts since 1976. His previous books, published in Chinese, include Witness Examination Skills and American Legal Ethics. This is his first martial arts book.

Elizabeth Nai-Jia Guo is a professional translator and practitioner of qi gong and hatha yoga. She has translated a wide range of books into Chinese. Together, Guo and Kennedy write a regular column for the magazine Classical Fighting Arts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (November 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556435576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556435577
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Shinn on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must have for anyone with an interest in Chinese martial arts. There is a lot of good information here, some good stories, and some great pictures. Unfortunately, this book is also very frustrating. It has all the great things just mentioned, and it takes the genre of English-language books on Chinese martial arts history in a welcome departure from the usual. However, the book presents itself as almost academic, and in this aspiration it falls on its face. The call for scholarship in martial arts writing is well received by this reader, but the authors do not set an inspiring example. One glaring omission is the complete lack of citation. There is not even a bibliography, despite the fact that the bulk of the work is a series of book reviews. This lack of citation is frustrating for one who would be interested in further inquiry. The presentation therefore fails as academic, and rests in the "wanna-be" category. Better editing -- in English and in ESPECIALLY IN THEIR USE OF PINYIN -- would also help this otherwise rare example of a commendable book on this fantastic subject.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By xingyiquan5 on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
All practitioners of Chinese martial arts recognize that the roots of these methods run deep. For many years this was symbolized by saying "Tai Chi is thousands of years old" or "Shaolin is the root of all martial arts" etc.

A new era is dawning in the Chinese martial arts world where myth and generalized fantasies about ancient China are giving way to historical research and investigation. Bragging about the deadly monks of old is a thing of the past, and the history of Chinese martial arts are starting to become more clear thanks to the efforts of translators and interpreters like Elizabeth Guo and Brian Kennedy.

What they've done is assemble many of the most important martial arts books of the last one hundred years, and made a factual survey of their contents. For the first time western readers will actually get to see some of the content and perspective of these texts, and come out of the haze of assumptions and misconceptions about what they say. This is an invaluable service, and reveals a whole new layer of depth about these wonderful martial arts.

Rather than feeling a loss from the crumbling of misconceptions about deadly secrets, the practitioners of Chinese martial arts gain much by a more honest and realistic assesment of their styles. Instead of relying on second hand accounts of ancient texts, we get a chance to see how martial arts in China developed over the last hundred years, how they influcenced each other, and even how they intersect with western sports like boxing and western wrestling.

The first half of the book puts Chinese martial arts into perspective, laying the groundwork of history and culture.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John P. Painter on August 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a must have book for anyone interested in traditional Chinese martial arts. Finally someone has come out and said much of what needed to be said about the founders of these methods, putting all of those ridiculous myths and legends in their proper perspective. As an author of over 100 articles for Inside Kung Fu Magazine and two of my own books on Baguazhang I have waited many years for a book like this to come along and set the record straight about the tough old men who developed tough combative arts to be used in difficult times.

The chapter on Qi and Qigong is especially important for it gives some interesting definitions of a word that is one of the most misunderstood and overused in Chinese Martial lexicons. I am giving copies of this work to all my instructors teaching in our Baguazhang schools around the world as required reading. It sweeps away the cobwebs and silken decorations to lay the reality of Gong Fu Quan bare for all to see once and for all. Thanks to the authors for this much needed work.

John P. Painter Ph.D.
Combat Baguazhang, The Nine Dragon System
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ray Lau on November 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fairly interesting introduction of various literary works of Ming dynasty to republican-era martial artists, which include short bios as well as fairly rare photographs. However the book seem too short and much less comprehensive than it could've been, concerning how vast the subject is. What could've been nice would be including selected direct translations of the various texts that was showcased.

More disapointedly was the lack of attention paid to southern Chinese systems compared to the Northern/Internal systems. Only a mere 2 pages or so are given to Hung Gar's Lam Sai Wing, the only representation of the southern Chinese martial arts in the whole book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M Burtner on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have some mixed feelings in regard to this book, but I feel that by and large it deserves a possitive rating. The authors' most obvious purpose in writting is to briefly catalogue a number of historic Chinese martial arts training manuals dating back to the Ming dynasty, but mostly written roughly a century ago. Among these books are books on Taiji, Bagua, generic "boxing", and even one on Western boxing and another on using rope to restrain someone. Each of these books is given a brief description, and illustrations from the book are shown. Often something is said about the author and/or editor of the book, and many times the historic context of the book is given. However, despite the title of this book, these tomes seemed to me to be almost an afterthought. While the first part of the book theoretically sets the scene for the environment in which these books were published, it seems to me that it does more to dispell commonly-held myths than anything else.

I think the first part of the book should be required reading for anyone who fancies themselves as following in the footsteps of the "ancient Shaolin masters". The authors point out that while the Shaolin temples no doubt had a militia in order to guard their land, there is no historic evidence that the temples were a hotbed for martial arts activities. Further, they proceed to analyze the origin of the Shaolin/Wudang distinction, as well as the Northern/Southern and internal/external classifications of Chinese martial arts. Essentially, the first part of this book seems written with the intent to dispell all popular myths about the Chinese martial arts. For that, I applaud the effort. However, as at least one other reviewer has pointed out, there is a remarkable lack of cited sources in this section.
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