Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo

chinese martial arts training manualsIf you love to think of Kung Fu as 150-year-old masters jumping tall buildings, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for a more believable view of the Chinese arts, take a look; but be warned: nothing is sacred.

The authors argue convincingly that Chinese martial arts did not originate in Shaolin, or Wudang for than matter, and that this is largely a latter day myth introduced in the early 1900s. They also brush aside the separation of 'internal' and 'external' arts, saying (like most experienced martial artists) that it's a rather meaningless division since all martial arts contain elements of both.

Their writing is based on verifiable facts that make it hard to disagree with, however if it sound like they're simply intent on myth-busting, this is not the case. Their argument is that there is enough wonderful stuff in the Chinese martial arts already, without the need to invest mythical origins and unbelievable feats. Their explanation of qi (chi) is first-rate and their passion for Chinese Arts shines through.

The second half of the book features various well-known Chinese masters and their training manuals. The content gives little insight into each style and is more for historical interest. The book ends a little abruptly, it could do with a conclusion and while further reading is mentioned throughout the book, it would be handy to have a bibliography at the end.