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Kung Fu Tea

Martial Arts History, Wing Chun and Chinese Martial Studies.

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Weapons

The 19th Century Hudiedao (Butterfly Sword) on Land and Sea

  Introduction Understanding the actual history and use of hudiedao (or Butterfly Swords) reflects the challenges faced by students of martial studies more generally. These short paired swords, with their distinctive D-shaped hand guards, are one of the most commonly... Continue Reading →

Butterfly Swords and Long Poles: A Glimpse into Singapore’s 19th Century Martial Landscape

Introduction: The Weapons of Wing Chun From time to time I am asked why Wing Chun teaches only two weapons. For those unfamiliar with the system these are the long single-tailed fighting pole, favored by a number of southern Chinese... Continue Reading →

Meeting Ma Yue and the Limits of Description

  An Unexpected Invitation A friend recently extended an invitation that I couldn’t refuse. A couple of weeks ago Chad Eisner (who some of you may remember from my various lightsaber projects) got in touch and let me know that... Continue Reading →

Paradoxes of Success in Lightsaber Combat

    Lightsabers Go Legit What follows is a meditation on recent events. It is not every day that you sit down, open your phone, and find Trevor Noah performing a Daily Show bit about people you know. It is... Continue Reading →

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: January 20th 2019: Jingwu, Chinese Armor and Liberating the Nunchuck

  Introduction Its been over a month since our last news update, which means that there is no better time to get caught up on recent events! For new readers, this is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we... Continue Reading →

Meditations on the Blade, Ultra-Modernity and the Fine Art of Self-Promotion

    The Unexpected Giant Some of the essays at Kung Fu Tea are the result of several days of careful research and thinking.  This is not going to be one of those pieces. I started out with a great... Continue Reading →

Swords, Visuality and the Construction of China

  Deciphering an Icon Recently I came across a few of Harrison Forman’s wartime photos, probably taken in the early 1930s, but circulated to newspapers and (re)published in 1938.  While his photos of militia groups following the 8th Route Army (discussed... Continue Reading →

Through a Lens Darkly (53): Traditional Weapons in China’s 20th Century Militia Movements

  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If true this will be a weighty essay.  Yet that was always the thing about Harrison Forman, the renowned photo-journalist, writer and explorer.  As a correspondent he was a double... Continue Reading →

Translating the Sicilian Knife

“If translation is a form of betrayal, then the translator pays their debt by bringing fame to the ethnic culture…It is in translation’s faithless that [Sicily] survives and thrives.  A faithlessness that gives the beloved life — is that not…faithfulness... Continue Reading →

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