March 2023 Book Survey Part 3

 Welcome to the March 2023 book survey, part three. I decided to break this month's survey into three posts. The theme for this month is Kung Fu. Part one is here. Part two is here.


In March 2023, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This month I surveyed a number of books on Kung Fu. 

Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense, Bruce Lee, 1963/1987/1988/2008

This is one of the few books in the MHT catalog that has an entire web site devoted to it -- Bruce Lee Chinese Gung Fu Book by Steve Palmer. Mr. Palmer has done the definitive research on this book, which was the only title published during Mr. Lee's lifetime (1940-1973), regardless of what the Dragon movie depicts:

My print copy is a 1996 twelfth printing of the 1988 third edition. It is a paperback measuring 5 1/2 inches by 8 1/4 inches with 102 black and white pages. There is a digital copy of a twentieth printing of the same edition from 2005 on the Internet Archive.

I also own a digital copy of the 2008 "revised and updated" edition shown below.

This 2008 version adds pictures, annotations and words from Shannon Lee, inserted between the third edition's pages 93 and 94.

The book is a mix of line drawings and photographs. I enjoyed the low production value of the drawings and text because you could see that someone -- either Bruce Lee or his publisher James Lee -- had hand-annotated the Chinese characters in the text. 

The text begins with the common tropes about the superiority of Chinese martial arts and how they are supposedly thousands of years old. Once you get past that stuff, the techniques are a neat snapshot of Bruce Lee's approach to Kung Fu in 1963.

Kung Fu and Tai Chi: Chinese Karate and Classical Exercises, Bruce Tegner, Alice McGrath, 1968/1973/1981/1993

I bought my copy of Kung Fu and Tai Chi: Chinese Karate and Classical Exercises by Bruce Tegner (1929-1985) in the 1990s while I was practicing Kung Fu. My version is a paperback measuring 5 1/2 inches by 8 3/8 inches with 128 paperback pages. There is a copy available at the Internet Archive

Pages 17-87 show Kung Fu forms and pages 88-125 show Tai Chi forms, specifically the "great circle" routine.

I have a soft spot for Mr. Tegner's books as he was writing them back in the 1960s and doesn't seem to get much attention these days.

I thought I had bought a couple of his books in mid-2020 from the publisher directly, but the last archive of their Thor Publishing web site dates to 2019. I can't find a record of my purchases, although I have the books. They are recent printings too. It's a bit of a mystery.

The Secret of Kung-Fu (2022 reprint), Ark Yuey Wong, 1969/2022

I learned about the 2022 reprinting of Secret of Kung-Fu from the Plum Publications newsletter. Sifu Wong (1900-1987) was a pioneer of Kung Fu in the US and also appeared on the Kung Fu TV series in the 1970s. 

My copy of his book is a paperback measuring 5 3/8 inches by 8 3/8 inches with 330 black and white pages. This book was probably printed in China and demonstrates pretty low quality. It's not much more than a collection of notated photographs loosely organized into 19 chapters. 

I bought it to see the state of Kung Fu books in 1969. It contrasts quite a bit with the previous titles. You can buy it here.

Wah Lum Kung-Fu Tornado Broad Swords, Pui Chan, 1980

Wah Lum Kung-Fu First Fist Form, Pui Chan, 1982

Fatal Flute and Stick Forms, Pui Chan, 1985

Wah Lum Kung Fu of U.S.A., Suzy Chan, Pui Chan, 1995/2020

I'm treating these four books as a set, as they comprise all of the major books written by Chan Pui (1938-), master of the Wah Lum / Tam Tui praying mantis style. Master Chan taught my Kung Fu teacher, sifu Michael Macaris, so I sought out these and related works for reference.

Each of these books are paperbacks measuring roughly 6 inches by 9 inches or less, with page counts running from 108 to 152 black and white pages. The first two are products of Chinese publishers while the last two are American. While the first three offer technique photos and progressions of forms, the last book is almost all text and probably only useful to students. Beware the mythical content.

The newest book is easily available, in Kindle and print on demand. The Tornado Broad Swords book appears to have been reprinted by Warrener Entertainment, which seems odd to me.


The only book that readers would probably enjoy is the Bruce Lee title, because it is the only one he wrote while with us. I recommend perusing Steve Palmer's site to learn all about it.

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