Welcome to Kung Fu Tea, where we discuss all aspects of Chinese Martial Studies. Many of the posts here focus on the academic study of the Chinese martial arts, but occasionally we delve into lighter topics like current events, movies or martial arts in the news. From time to time I will also offer posts looking at other areas of interest to students of martial studies.
Special thanks are also due to our many guest authors and the website’s Editor, Tara Judkins.
Check back often as I pour another cup of Kung Fu Tea multiple times a week!
May 30, 2013 at 3:22 am
Thank you. Nice work and will check back often.
August 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm
Thank you for the articles, fascinating stuff especially about Bruce Lee’s influence on the Western impression of Chinese martial arts. By the way, do you accept submissions?
August 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm
Yeah, there are occasionally guest posts here at Kung Fu Tea. We will actually have a few of them coming up in September. Email me if you would like to discuss.
August 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm
Fantastic stuff! What’s your e-mail address, I’ve got one or two article pitches I could send you.
August 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm
August 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm
Thanks for that, I’ve sent you some article ideas.
October 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm
Thank You! It is hard to find good information (not selling information) about Gong Fu. I have a school, but teach my student to have critical and constructive thinking about the practice they do.
January 20, 2014 at 10:32 pm
I knew Dr. Henry Leung when he first began teaching. Your Wing Chun linked page left out a lot, the town of Fa-Shan and the Leung family, which Yim Wing Chun married into. Also, her father was observed by Mr. Leung to stand in the Wing Chun stance when gringing the bean curd, and them perform the “praying Buddha” exercise while in that same same stance. Knowing Mr.Yim had no sons, and vainly prevailing upon him to teach this arcane art, he wisely maried Yim Wing Chun and their children carried on the art. What she learned form the nun, Ng Mui, was probably some form of crane. Wing Chun incorporates both snake and crane.
March 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm
Hi Ben, intersting blog – keep the articles coming!
June 13, 2014 at 9:51 pm
Great stuff! Was just in SLC + missed you.
June 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm
Hi Adam, thanks for dropping by! Shoot me an email and we can catch up.
January 9, 2015 at 7:00 am
Thanks for the interesting website! I just started my Wing Chun journey and look forward to reading your articles.
January 9, 2015 at 10:06 am
Thanks, I hope that you find something you like in the archives.
January 17, 2015 at 9:14 pm
Excellent blog, exactly what I’ve been looking for for many years. I do hope you keep it up.
April 3, 2015 at 5:17 pm
I’m a Mesoamericanist in the museum world and also a martial artist. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog. It’s outstanding work. It brings a familiar taste of the academic world into my Kung Fu practice. Thank you
June 20, 2015 at 11:03 pm
I read yr message board post in the link above. I recently purchased a budhome with 3 english numbers. (sans handle). Have you learned anything further about these in the past few years?
June 27, 2015 at 7:33 am
Absolutely amazing blog! Thank you! I’ve just begun to read the posts and it entirely absorbed me. As soon as my research takes shape, I would be happy to share it and post in your blog. Meanwhile, is it permitted (I mean, copyrights issues) to post relevant academic articles downloaded from scientific magazines?
May 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm
I’m not terribly sure where to look for this, but you seem to be a good resource. I’m looking into a way to study kung fu full time, somewhere. I have 2 questions. 1) is there a good resource for learning if any of the various schools are good 2) are there any sources of funding for someone interested in this but can’t easily come up with say, $10,000 very easily?
May 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm
Those are some pretty huge questions that you have. For what it is worth I would start by sorting out #1 before even thinking about #2. There are tons of great sources out there, but what you need to start with is a clear set of goals of what you want to accomplish. There is no single best martial arts system, and as you become more involved in a style your goals often change or start to evolve. So if it was me I would begin by selecting a group of local schools with reputations for good instruction, visit them, and see what speaks to me personally. And I would always put in a lot of time working on a system locally before trying for the epic Kung Fu pilgrimage. Chances are good this is how you will make your contacts so you have someone reliable to study with when you are actually ready to travel abroad.
May 18, 2016 at 8:49 am
Thank you for your quick response. I’ve been studying Tai Chi for a year, with a little long fist and a tiny bit of hsing-i, actually. I’m not terribly attached to a style at the moment. I have looked at YMAA and it certainly looks good. I enjoy Tai Chi.
The issue is that having studied for a year, I’ve found that there’s not much else I’d rather do. I’ve hit a crossroads in my life and it’s time for a commitment like this and a change from the path I’m on.
July 8, 2016 at 10:52 pm
October 3, 2016 at 1:02 pm
H’lo again Ben,
Looking again at Wakeman’s Strangers at the Gate, he describes on pp. 40-41 “secret societies” that boxed and drilled with swords as joining the ranks of local Chinese who fought against the British at San-yuan-li in 1841. Specifically, he mentions Cantonese silk-brocade workers called chi-fang-tsai who, he believed, were like modern day kung-fu societies in Taipei, called fu-le-she. I am wondering if you have ever written about the kung-fu societies that joined the struggle against the British in the First Opium War and, if not, whether this group was sufficiently prominent to be worth a look?
January 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm
Thank you for running this. It’s an excellent site. Although my own interests in Chinese martial arts are very much north Chinese, your posts are always interesting and the sociological approach offers some really thought-provoking insights. It also helps that you’re fair-minded and sensible!
Although not directly related to the martial arts at all, I thought you might find the attached site of interest. http://hpc.vcea.net/
It’s a free online archive of early photographs of China, mostly late nineteenth- and early-twentieth century. Since you’re an academic you may know it already.
Thanks for all your work – I really enjoy your analyses.
January 9, 2017 at 10:09 pm
Thanks for the link. A search for “weapons” turns up a nice collection of confiscated swords and knives from Shanghai.
March 13, 2017 at 10:05 am
Hi I am new to “kunfu tea” I am looking for guidance.
what information I have discovered is of great importance so I believe a historian might guide me on a direction of understanding.
Let me give some context without going into too much detail, I have created a martial art from simple understanding of the structural lines of the body, and found the only movements that allow the whole body to work as one.
My focus now is to use this structure I have found to uncover the origins the true pioneer’s of this power where might it have all started,
And how close were thay to the perfect art as I am today.
So thankyou, hopefully someone can help me on my journey for greater knowledge and understanding this would be of much appreciation. Thankyou again
April 10, 2017 at 4:50 pm
I’m french. I practice a kung fu style called Mansuria kung fu or Manchu kung fu. My Master is french , his Master is Indian and the grand Master was from Honk kong. It is very difficult to find any written document about Mansuria kung fu. The sorry I’m being told : during their invasion of China, manchu stole à lot of Masters techniques to make this very complete kung fu (12 styles and more than 35 weapons). Would you have info? Or know somebody who might? My Master’s site: federationmansuriakungfu.com. Thank you very much
April 10, 2017 at 9:00 pm
Thanks for dropping by. That is not a style that I am familiar with, but maybe one of the other readers will chime in.
April 15, 2017 at 1:53 am
Hey ben, I’m super glad I stumbled upon your blog. I personally agree with a lot with what you write, I am a wing chun instructor myself.
Greetings from orange county 🙂
July 24, 2017 at 10:36 pm
Greetings Mr. Robert James Coons:
Could you please tell me if there is an English translation of The Book of Central Harmony by Li Dao Chun? If there is, where might I purchase a copy? I was very impressed with you article you wrote on (Middle School Nei Dan: fundamental principles and practices) in the magazine “The scholar sage”.
August 30, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Hi, I just discovered your page while seaching Google for information on military Kukri. I am impressed with your findings & knowledge on the subject. Then I discovered that you practice Kung Fu as well, so am I 😊
Thank you so much for sharing these valuable information, keep up the good work !
October 27, 2017 at 9:42 am
I am completely delighted to discover this site and your good work. I look forward to reading everything and checking back often!
November 6, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Just came across old film footage of the “Five Tiger Stick Society” made in China by Sidney Gamble back in the 20s.
The YT video is titled “Sidney D. Gamble: Pilgrimage to Miao Feng Shan,” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFtpjR6uYnI
The Five Tiger segment begins with sword and stick dances at 11:40 into the 15:28 minute video.
Ever come across these fellows?
November 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm
I have. In fact I wrote an essay about that piece of film (which is floating around youtube in various forms) back in August. Here is a link: https://chinesemartialstudies.com/2017/08/06/the-five-tiger-stick-society-pilgrimage-local-religion-and-the-martial-arts/
November 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Something of a hodgepodge, isn’t it, with the variety of weapons, and theatrical performances. Seems Tan Dun of all people scored the video, which sounds in places like all the musical clichés in the West for China – but Tan Dun is the real McCoy, or “real Wong,” so what was he thinking then?
You’ve detailed the background of Gamble’s film in fine fashion. Especially interesting is your breakdown of the martial arts segments, which sent me back to the sequence in the video to look again at what I barely grasped at first.
And…the Flying Fork Society? No end of entertainment for even the casual observer!
“The martial arts have many functions, and personal or village defense is certainly one of them.” That insight goes some distance in answering my persistent question of whether and how to portray, and how much to include, of martial arts arcana in descriptions of the armies of Taping, Qing,and Western-led Chinese surging around the Yangtze delta in the 1860s. The villagers recruited by Ward and such for their armies of jia-yang-gui-zi might have had some martial arts experience gained from village defense and participation in local militia, and thus been able to employ what skills they had in battles with Taiping. However, it’s still hard to imagine that very many men had such skills or were very far advanced in training.
Also, after reading your post on Red Boats and Wooden Dummies, I whispered a little “shucks” when it occurred to me that I could have included Taiping holy soldier raiding martial arts schools for wooden dummies to include among the other wooden statues they were said to have erected atop stockades surrounding Hangzhou in 1860, described in this passage from Yang Shen:
“The chunk of axes on wood echoed over the hillsides as small pines and camphor trees were felled and quickly thrown together in facades of wooden stockades under waving Taiping banners. Holy soldiers ransacked Taoist and Buddhist temples in the hills and suburbs for wooden statues of the pagan gods, carried them back to the outworks, dressed them in Taiping uniforms, and sat them in rows atop the stockades. From sufficient distance, the gleeful gods of wealth and health, the solemn gods of longevity and literature, and the grimacing god of war, together with Kuan Yin 觀音 and the lesser bodhisattvas looked quite like a large army of besieging longhaired rebels. More quiet than their rebel brethren, the new recruits glared out over the Hang-chou audience from their hilly proscenium and never flinched, even when struck occasionally by a musket ball. The people of Hang-chou were convinced tens of thousands of Taiping swarmed around them.” (Yang Shen, Vol. 1, p. 153.)
Thanks for all your effort researching and publishing on these topics. The depth you achieve is remarkable and very much appreciated.
April 14, 2018 at 1:07 pm
Enjoying Kungfu Tea as usual. Just turned up a PDF (screen print) of Through a Lens Darkly (28): Teng Pai Woven Shields, Lances and William Mesny which I want to recommend on his FB page to David Leffman, who wrote about William Mesny in The Mercenary Mandarin. However, Checking your website for the URL, I’m not finding that title, and also that Through a Lens Darkly (28) has been retitled In January 2015, so I though it best to inquire if your post on Mesny is still available and, if so, whether I might recommend it to Leffman.
April 15, 2018 at 10:46 am
I wouldn’t bother. He is already aware of that article. Feel free to email me anytime at ben.judkins”@”gmail.com
June 29, 2018 at 8:44 am
Great text and website. History and meaning of different martial arts is awesome study material. I also practise Chinese martial arts in the Nethelands. And it feels very good because it delevoped me in mind body and spirit.
In the beginning i just did it as a sport but when i realized there is much more to it then a sport i became more and more serious about it. I practise Five Animal Kung Fu also known as Ng Ying Kungfu under sifu Patrick van Steen in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands Europe.
This site is great and awesome and i will come back often to read and learn more about the martial arts.
July 28, 2019 at 3:33 pm
Your site has expanded my idea of what it can mean to be a student of the Chinese martial arts. Does there exist a study about the migration/diaspora history of Chinese Martial artists to the San Francisco Bay Area? Following WWII and the Communist victory in China, some teachers fled to Taiwan and Hong Kong, while others went to Malaysia. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have had the chance to speak occasionally with elder students who were around in the late 60s and 70s when San Francisco and Oakland’s China Towns were incubators for many Kung Fu schools. There were efforts to form associations, there were a couple of grand multi-art exhibitions staged in 1979 and 1980, the great Tai Chi master Kuo Lien-Ying taught in Portsmouth Square for about 10 years before going back to China. I’ve only found one or two essays, no history of the these times.
July 28, 2019 at 3:36 pm
Hi Kevin, I would highly recommend taking a look at Charles Russo’s book “Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America” (University of Nebraska Press). The entire book is a history of the martial arts (mostly Chinese martial arts) in the Bay Area. It would probably be helpful to your research.
September 2, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Glad to find this blog and share this news:
Over 100 monks from Shaolin Temple and other major monasteries in China will be performing in a unique show at Lincoln Center in New York! What’s unusual is that this is the first time that so many important Buddhist temples have come together to feature the country’s diverse traditions of the religion on one stage. The show also includes recently discovered ancient chants and sacred music, so it’s not just another entertaining kungfu display.
This is the website and trailers!
October 19, 2019 at 11:04 am
A lovely resource!
February 26, 2021 at 3:32 pm
Ms. Tara Judkins,
I would like to congratulate you on the great work of this website, you have evoked memories of my youth with Master Leung Kai Wan in Montreal, Quebec. I myself loved martial arts from a young age in various disciplines and nowadays I have a good physical condition and it is said that it gives a good longevity, maybe the secret of good health.
March 8, 2021 at 5:52 am
Always enjoyable, well-researched, informative, and thought-provoking content that is exceptionally well-written. Thank you.
January 10, 2022 at 6:32 am
I was just wondering: do you accept guest posts? Your site came up when I searched for martial arts blogs that welcome guest contributors, but then I couldn’t find any information about that here on your site itself. Thanks.
November 20, 2022 at 12:56 pm
Thank you! Your extensive research, clever writing, sharing of knowledge, and labors to both create and maintain this resource are very much appreciated.
Thank you for Kung Fu Tea!