Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods

This book, by Robert W. Smith, published by Kodansha in 1974, is a short tome detailing some of the experiences of the author in Taiwan in the 1950s.
Smith writes about several different kung fu instructors he meets and learns from, as well as the methods taught.

The chapters are as follows:
1. The Not-So-Little Elephant
2. The Monkey Boxer
3. The Guerrilla General
4. Master of the Five Excellences
5. Master of Relaxation
6. A Policeman's Pa-kua
7. Bone-Locker Extraordinary
8. The Wrestling Champion
9. Other Teachers
10. Teachers in Southern Taiwan
Appendix A: Chou Chi-chun's Views on the Origins of Tai-chi
Appendix B: Sun Lu-tang's Principles of Tai-chi Chuan
Appendix C: Chi-Kung, Exercise of Internal Energy
Appendix D: Tai-chi in the People's Republic of China
Appendix E: Wu-Shu Forms in Taiwan

The book primarily focuses on the author's three or so main instructors over the course of about three years in Taiwan. The styles covered most are Tai Chi and Pa-kua. These both rely heavily on internal concepts.
Oddly, the author warns the reader against charlatans who make outlandish claims about their chi power and abilities, yet he consistently exalts his own teachers and their (only seemingly outlandish) abilities.

He also offers some descriptions of Chi-Kung (a purely internal discipline), Shuai Chiao (Chinese wrestling), and Chin-na (joint locking). However, these chapters are lacking.

Overall, the book is lacking of substance. It is primarily a listing of masters to be found in Taiwan at the time, with little-to-no worthy elaboration or description of techniques.
This book is ONLY for the traditionalist interested in master's names and lineages.

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