Arnold Genthe and Will Irwin. Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown. New York: Mitchell Kennerley. 1913. (First published in 1908). A high resolution scan of the original photograph can be found at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkley).
I have been meaning to pull together an updated list of “Top Picks” for a couple of months. Somehow I could never find the time. But with about 290 posts (most of which are longer essays) there is a lot of material sitting in the archives here at Kung Fu Tea. Enough that figuring out what to read, or finding what you may have missed, can be a challenge. To make this easier I have used two different methods to come up with some suggested readings.
For a first cut at the problem we turn to the “wisdom of crowds.” By looking at long-term trends in page views we may get a rough estimate of what other readers find interesting. This section has been labeled “Reader’s Picks.” The first group lists the five most commonly viewed posts of all time at Kung Fu Tea. Following that there is a more detailed list of the top posts that readers accessed the over the last twelve months.
Next I have outlined some of my favorite essays. For easy reading I have broken this list down into different categories. These are “Wing Chun,” “Chinese Martial Studies,” “Visualizing the Martial Art,” “Martial Arts and Popular Culture,” “Martial Arts Studies,” and finally “Traditional Weapons.” Just find the category that best suits your interest and see what you have been missing.
Do you have a favorite post which didn’t make the cut? Drop a link in the comments and let us know. Enjoy!
Working class patrons of a stall selling sequentially illustrated martial arts novels. 1948 AP photo.
Five All Time Most Popular Posts (by Page Views)
1. Taming the Little Dragon: Symbolic Politics and the Translation of Bruce Lee.
2. Identifying and Collecting the Nepalese Military Kukri.
3. The Story of Ip Man’s Wooden Dummy
4. A Social and Visual History of the Hudiedao (Butterfly Sword) in the Southern Chinese Martial Arts.
5. A Social and Visual History of the Dadao: The Chinese “Military Big-Saber.”
Reader’s Top Pics Over the Last 12 Months (Excluding the “All Time Top 5”)
1.Traditional Training Equipment in the Chinese Martial Arts (Part II): Attack of the Wooden Dummies!
2. London, 1851: Kung Fu in the Age of Steam-Punk
3. Did Ip Man Invent the Story of Yim Wing Chun?
4. The “Wing Chun Rules of Conduct”: Rediscovering Ip Man’s Original Statement on the Philosophy of the Martial Arts.
5. Where have all the martial artists gone? Should we blame MMA?
6. Remembering Chu Shong Tin and the Relationship between Theory and Observation in Chinese Martial Studies
7. Through a Lens Darkly (22): Heavy Knives and Stone Locks – Strength Training in the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
8. The New Economics of Taiji Quan: Culture, Identity and the Rise of China’s Upper Middle Class
9. Ip Man and the Prostitute: Female Sexuality as a Weapon in Traditional Chinese Martial Culture.
10. The British Army Kukri: An artifact of western orientalism or the 20th century’s greatest combat knife?
11. Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (8): Gu Ruzhang-Northern Shaolin Master and Southward Bound Tiger.
12. Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (2): Cheung Lai Chuen (Part I).
13. Understanding Opium Use among Southern Chinese Martial Artists, 1890-1949.
14. Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (4): Sun Lutang and the Invention of the “Traditional” Chinese Martial Arts (Part I).
15. Reevaluating Jingwu: Would Bruce Lee have existed without it?
Zheng Manqing with sword, possibly on the campus of Columbia University in New York City.
Editor’s Top Picks (By Category)
Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (6): Ng Chung So – Looking Beyond the “Three Heroes of Wing Chun”
Yim Wing Chun and Gender: the Stories of Ip Man and Yuen Woo Ping in a Comparative Perspective
Conceptualizing the Asian Martial Arts: Ancient Origins, Social Institutions and Leung Jan’s Wing Chun.
Spreading the Gospel of Kung Fu: Print Media and the Popularization of Wing Chun (Part I of 3)
Zhang Songxi, Ming era Southern Boxing and the Ancient Roots of Modern Wing Chun.
Chinese Martial Studies
1928: The Danger of Telling a Single Story about the Chinese Martial Arts
Bruce Lee, Globalization and the Case of Wing Chun: Why do Some Chinese Martial Arts Grow?
“Fighting Styles” or “Martial Brands”? An economic approach to understanding “lost lineages” in the Chinese Martial Arts.
Zheng Manqing and the “Sick Man of Asia”: Strengthening Chinese Bodies and the Nation through the Martial Arts
Bodhidharma: Historical Fiction, Hyper-Real Religion and Shaolin Kung Fu
Visualizing the Martial Arts
Through a Lens Darkly (6): China Rediscovers the Shaolin Temple, Igniting a Kung Fu Craze.
Through a Lens Darkly (22): Heavy Knives and Stone Locks – Strength Training in the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
Through a Lens Darkly (13): The Dadao and the Militarization of the Chinese Martial Arts
Through a Lens Darkly (17): “Selling the Art”: Martial Artists in the Marketplace, 1900-1930
“Wing Chun: A Documentary” directed by Jon Braeley.
Martial Arts and Popular Culture
Cantonese Popular Culture and the Creation of Wing Chun’s “Opera Rebels.”
Two Encounters with Bruce Lee: Finding Reality in the Life of the Little Dragon
Jared Miracle on Pokemon, Crickets and Deep Play in Chinese and Japanese Martial Culture
How Yoda Helped to Invent Kung Fu: Star Wars and the Martial Arts in the Western Imagination
Telling Stories about Wong Fei Hung and Ip Man: The Evolution of a Heroic Type
Theory and Martial Arts Studies
Why do difficult and expensive martial arts thrive?
Yim Wing Chun and the “Primitive Passions” of Southern Kung Fu
Martial Arts Studies: Answering the “So what?” question
Inventing Kung Fu
Lion Dancing, Youth Violence and the Need for Theory in Chinese Martial Studies
Traditional Weapons (and other training gear)
Through a Lens Darkly (9): Swords, Knives and other Traditional Weapons Encountered by the Shanghai Police Department, 1925.
Forgetting about the Gun: Firearms and the Development of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts.
Tools of the Trade: The Use of Firearms and Traditional Weapons among the Tongs of San Francisco, 1877-1878.
Three Thoughts on my New Wooden Dummy
Through a Lens Darkly (8): Butterfly Swords, Dadaos and the Local Militias of Guangdong, 1840 vs. 1940.
Confiscated weapons. Shanghai Municipal Police Department, 1925. University of Bristol, Historical Photographs of China.