Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman

Iron & SilkMark Salzman arrives in China in 1982 on a two-year teaching fellowship. Already a martial arts enthusiast, he becomes the first and only pupil of Pan Qingfu, one of China's foremost kung fu experts and a cultural hero of the Chinese. Pan Qingfu's methods are from the 'hard' school of Chinese kung fu, and Salzman must vow to 'eat bitter' (endure hardship) before his training can begin.

Later he also studies under Master Zheng from the 'soft' school of Chinese arts and discovers a fascinating contrast in styles. We are also treated to a fascinating glimpse of the life in China at the time as Salzman encounters a variety of characters from uneducated fishermen to school-teachers, pedantic bureaucrats, calligraphers, painters and children as he slowly begins to master the finer points of the Chinese martial arts.