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Spirit of Shaolin: A Kung Fu Philosophy Paperback – 1991

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

At first glance, this book appears to be a historical and philosophical treatment of Shaolin Kung Fu. But the reader soon discovers that it is more the story of Carradine the actor/martial artist, plus a limited philosophy of Kung Fu. The first half of the book is interesting. It gives an account of Carradine's initiation into the martial arts and his work on the TV series Kung Fu . Carradine comes across as very self-assured and completely devoted to the arts. The second part focuses on the philosophy of Kung Fu, but the narrative is disjointed and rambling. Points are not always clear and some bits of "wisdom" sound as if they came out of a fortune cookie. Carradine fans and martial arts supporters will probably enjoy this book, but those looking for instruction will not find it here.
- Jennifer Langlois, Missouri Western State Coll. Lib., St. Joseph
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Company (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804818282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804818285
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
The original Kung Fu television show inspired me to begin studying martial arts: 24 years later I am still as fascinated by the martial arts as ever. David Carridine is no expert and much of his information on styles and systems is grossly inaccurate; overlook these flaws and what you find is a very interesting, heartfelt account of how the spirit of the martial arts affected, almost in spite of himself, a very intelligent but flawed man. Carradine no doubt ruffles the feathers of the Bruce Lee cultists who want to deify Lee, they should remember that Lee was a brilliant martial artist who deliberately chose to become a movie star. Carradines' advice seems very genuine and sincere. No, he is not a sensei, sifu, or master; he is simply a very complex man whose journey into the martial arts (a journey which seems to have not always been a pancea for his own demons) fundamentally changed him. Read this book not as a definite guide to Kung Fu, but rather as an exploration into personal change and growth.
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Format: Paperback
It has authentic convictions that are expressed out of personal experience regarding many spiritual, motivational and practical matters. The content veers away from trying to express what is most commonly accepted through traditional teachings and instead offers an honest insight into the personal take on the full spectrum of the martial arts as a very human way of life.
I give David Carradine credit for placing personal truth with a greater priority than acceptance from others in his writings. I am a little critical myself of some of the comments made regarding some other styles and have found what I would guess to be some inaccuracies. Maybe even a couple of differences of opinion on some material. But what is here is like listening to someone who is real, like a friend who is sharing what he is made of. There is a lot of perspective here that is surprisingly uncommon yet enlightening and precious.

The book is basically divided into three sub-groupings.

Book One-The Stories: A biographical history of the author's experience in the martial arts.

Book Two-The Ancient Wisdom: A history and overview of Shaolin ways and David's take on what shined through to him.

Book Three-The Lessons: A practical breakdown of wisdom and advice on a variety of levels.

Like Bruce Lee has said... "All knowledge is ultimately self knowledge" and with this book a deeper knowledge of one's self can certainly be had as well as a deeper knowledge of David Carradine.
Comment 25 of 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
David Carradine was an actor in the original "Kung Fu" television series of the early 1970s. Although Bruce Lee introduced martial arts to mainstream American living rooms as Kato in "The Green Hornet," this program had a deeper martial arts theme, and the show was very popular. Mr. Carradine was asked by his martial arts master, Sifu (Master) Kam Yuen, to write a book that would present the teachings and principles of Kung Fu. The book is divided into three parts: Stories, Ancient Wisdom, and Lessons. I will devote more commentary to the last two sections. This work was published in 1991. At the time, Mr. Carradine had studied Kung Fu and related martial arts for 18 years.

Book One: Stories

Ironically, Mr. Carradine, who never had any martial arts training prior to the television series, beat out Bruce Lee for the part of "Kwai Chang Caine." Sifu Yuen was hired as the Kung Fu consultant, and Mr. Carradine remarked, "We concentrated on what I did well, and stayed away from the stuff that looked awkward on me." Mr. Carradine did not begin to study Kung Fu rigorously until the third season of the program.

Due to FCC censorship laws, "Kung Fu" could only film four minutes of actual fight scenes per episode. The show followed the journeys of a Chinese immigrant in the American West during the late 18th century. "We just kept beating our old drum, by coupling excellent production values with historical accuracy, kung fu fighting, and Chinese wisdom. We documented redneck prejudice and gave an authentic chronicle of the difficulties of the Chinese people in America." After the series ended in 1975, Mr. Carradine appeared in a few movies. He also produced two video tapes with Sifu Kam Yeun. One on Kung Fu, and the other on Tai Chi.
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Format: Paperback
The Spirit of Shaolin contains much autobiographical information on David Carradine and details of the making of the original Kung Fu TV series. Within this interesting narrative is a motivational philosoply of self development. Following the the story of the evolution of both the TV series and of the man are some very useful and informative chapters on physical, mental and emotional self improvement techniqes and the the Chinese philosophy of the martial arts that underlies these techniques. It is clear that much of the philosophy and self-development advice comes from his master of many years, Sifu & Dr. Kam Yuen who is grandmaster of Kung Fu,doctor and Chinese Healer who currently practices and teaches Chinese Energetic Medicine at his Shaolin West International Martial Arts and Healing Center in Canoga Park California as well as in lectures throughout the world. The book is an excellent complement to the David Carradine Kung Fu and Tai Chi Workout tapes which were also done with his master, Dr. Kam Yuen. I would highly recommend both The Spirit of Shaolin and the original David Carradine Kung Fu and Tai Chi workout videos to anyone looking for an exellent start in using martial arts and Chinese philosophy on their path toward self development.
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