Showing posts from August, 2021

Book Review: A History of Shaolin: Buddhism, Kung Fu and Identity by Lu Zhouxiang

Introduction Martial History Team member Dr. Jonathan Clements is the author of today's book review. For more posts featuring Dr. Clements' work, please see this label . The Abrupt Appearance of Martial Arts True to the historical record, Lu Zhouxiang’s A History of Shaolin: Buddhism, Kung Fu and Identity (Routledge, 2019) has relatively little to say about the Shaolin monastery’s connection to the martial arts before the 16th century. His early chapters are thick with detail on the various ebbs and flows of Buddhist traditions at the temples, and come with meticulous genealogies of the various leading monks. Shaolin, after all, is a prime site in the history of Chan (i.e. Zen) Buddhism, but Lu points out that it was also an important and respected institution in several other sects, which co-existed peacefully with the one that made it famous. Then, suddenly, we see the temple’s public image radically transform. Lu quotes Cheng Shao, who wrote in 1620: “ Taking a rest at Sha

The True Story of Bruce Lee's "Definite Chief Aim" Letter

What is the true story behind Bruce Lee's "Definite Chief Aim" letter? Introduction I (Richard) was tracking down another bogus Bruce Lee quote, as part of the Sourcing Bruce Lee project. Along the way I encountered an article titled  Bruce Lee’s Never-Before-Seen Writings on Willpower, Emotion, Reason, Memory, Imagination, and Confidence , published by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings on August 1, 2016. I looked quickly at the contents and realized I had already seen at least some of it in the Bruce Lee Library and more .  This line caught my eye, however: "[H]ere is an exclusive look at several pages from his 1968 pocketbook, penned shortly before Lee’s twenty-eighth birthday, each transcribed below, beginning with Napoleon Hill’s “Daily Success Creed,” which Lee copied into his notebooks." It is rare to see an author recognize when Bruce Lee copied material into his notebooks. (It happens, as noted in my writings, but not as frequently as it should.)  I had a