The Sword Polisher's Record - The Way of Kung-Fu

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Author: Adam Hsu
Pub: 1998 by Charles E. Tuttle Co.
Pages: 204
Ranking:Four Star Rating
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If only this book had been about Judo! A five star rating it would surely have gotten! Very well written book of stories and philosophies. The only thing that detracts from this book is the occasional myth as fact... the time-worn (and tired!) story of how black belts become that color, for example. And a rather unfactual bit about Judo on page 186-187 is irritating. But for any Chinese stylists, this should be an indispensible part of your library. It's not bad for other martial art styles either!


                 Table Of Contents

Preface                                                ix
Part 1: Knocking on the Kung-fu Door                   11
        The Contemporary Purpose of Kung-fu            12
        Traditional Kung-fu: The Complete Exercise     16
        The Simple Fact of Yin and Yang                20
Part 2: The Foundation of Kung-fu                      25
        Mapping Kung-fu's DNA                          26
        Drafting a Kung-fu Constitution                33
        Stance Training                                42
        Kung-fu's Way to Power                         46
        How Much Flexibility is Enough for Kung-fu?    50
Part 3: Myth and Reality of Kung-fu Styles             53
        The Real Difference Between Internal
        and External Kung-fu                           54
        The Myth of Shaolin Kung-fu                    59
        The Internal Dilemma                           66
        The Dividing Line Between Northern
        and Southern Styles                            68
        Should the Many Be One?                        72
        A Lifelong Commitment to One Style             76
        Piecing Together the Kung-fu Puzzle            80
        Counterfeit Kung-fu                            84
Part 4: The Role of Forms in Kung-fu                   89
        Is It Necessary to Leam Forms?                 90
        Form Without Content                           94
        Analyze Your Beauty                            98
        Forms and Function                            102
        Two-Person Forms: Martial or Performing Art?  106
Part 5: Mind and Body Training                        109
        starting with a Clean Slate                   110
        "Don't Tickle My Stomach"                     113
        Learning to See                               116
        Find Your Balance                             120
        Internal Training: Is It Necessary?           123
        Kung-fu Mind, Multi-dimensional Mind          128
        The Risk of Special Training                  133
        Adapting Western Methods to Kung-fu           136
Part 6: Usage: The Soul of Kung-fu                    141
        The Kung-fu Art of Fighting                   142
        Real Kung-fu: Use It or Lose It!              147
        Use Your Head, Not Your Opponent's            153
        The Continuous Fist                           156
        The Nine Doors of Kung-fu                     159
Part 7: Masters and Students                          165
        How to Choose a Kung-fu Teacher               166
        Only a Kung-fu Teacher                        171
        The Proper Kung-fu Attitude                   175
        Kung-fu's Age of Reason                       178
        The Senior Student                            183
        Belt Levels for Kung-fu                       186
        Salute! I'm Your Grandpa                      189
Part 8: Kung-fu Today and Tomorrow                    193
        The Complete Kung-fu Practitioner             194
        The True Lessons of Fighting                  197
        Pursuing the Ultimate Kung-fu Goals           200

About the Author                                      205



When I arrived in San Francisco from Taiwan in 1978, my dream was to help promote and preserve the ancient arts that had been handed down by my forebears. I have studied kung-fu since I was a young bay, learning from my father and then from the best teachers I could find in Taiwan, I feel fortunate to have been exposed to the ancient treasures of kung-fu, and view it as my duty to share those treasures with others in the United States and elsewhere.

In 1980, I went Los Angeles to discuss writing articles for Black Belt magazine with Jim Nail, who was editor of the publication at that time. He approached me about writing a monthly column for the martial arts magazine, When I returned to San Francisco, I felt unclear as to what direction to take with the column. Words and theory are not a substitute for the physical and mental training required to polish one's kung-fu. Yet, they are an essential part of the learning process, allowing the mind to process commands and concepts that help the body move in a special, kung-fu way.

The meaning of words, however, can be bent and distorted to have a detrimental effect on kung-fu, In fact, today kung-fu is like a sword of incomparable value that has lost its shine and sharpness - a result of the many misconceptions spawned from the words and images in books, movies, TV shows, and video games.

The errant teachings of unqualified instructors have also greatly contributed to the uncertainty of kung-fu's future. Students desiring the real kung-fu are unwittingly cheated by instructors promoting fraudulent histories, self-made family trees, and so-called "secret" teachings.

In addition, mainland China's government-produced wushu (martial art) has jeopardized the future of traditional kung-fu. The movements in the popular wushu forms promoted throughout the world contradict almost all the fundamentals of kung-fu.

Based on kung-fu becoming an endangered discipline, it became obvious to me that the column needed to help restore kung-fu's definition, purity, principles, and basic theory. "The Sword Polisher's Record," as I named the column, became my way to polish the kung-fu sword, clearing up the misconceptions that are causing it to become dull and rusty.

This book includes many of the original "The Sword Polisher's Record" columns printed in Black Belt and Wu Shu Kung-fu magazines. Additional articles that first appeared in Inside Kung-fu magazine are also included to provide more depth on some of the topics.

The book is organized into eight interconnected sections, each examining a different aspect of kung-fu. The first sections deal with the foundations of kung-fu. Without developing a true foundation, no matter the style, there is no kung-fu. In subsequent sections, I try to bring to light important concepts and principles related to kung-fu styles and forms, as well as usage and training. Finally, I discuss the future of kung-fu and its place in our lives.

I hope you find The Sword Polisher's Record useful. My dream will be fulfilled if we can restore this damaged treasure so that its beauty and power can enrich us today and in the generations to come.

- Adam Hsu
October, 1997


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