Kung Fu Comes to Australia in 1886

Kung Fu Tea

The Illustrated Australian News. Wednesday 26th, May 1886. Cover.

A month ago I was chatting with my friend Joseph Svinth (a prolific author and editor within the field of Martial Arts Studies) over email.  At the time I was still recovering from the last round of conferences and let things slide. But earlier this week I decided to take another look at one of his most interesting finds.  It is an engraving (executed by F. A. Sleap) that graced the cover of the Illustrated Australian News on Wednesday the 26th in May of 1886.

This image will be of immediate interest to any student of Chinese martial studies.  It shows two individuals engaged in armed single combat.  The ferocity of their fight is suggested by the fallen sword, pole and bamboo helmet that have been discarded in a lower corner of the frame.  Behind them sits a large…

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Muay Thai and the Two-Level Game

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Thai Boxing. Vintage postcard, circa 1910s. Source: Author’s Personal Collection.



Earlier this morning I was faced with a choice.  Should I write about Nietzsche (and a certain martial art), or Robert Putnam (and an entirely different fighting system).  Its hard to sit down and read the news these days without thinking of Nietzsche, so I opted for Putnam.  Both provided interesting thought experiments, but the second path has the added advantage of introducing new concepts, metaphors, authors and arts that are not often discussed in the current martial arts studies literature.

Putnam himself is a good example of this.  While not the most frequently invoked thinker within the field of martial arts studies, I certainly run across Nietzsche’s name from time to time.  Yet despite a high-profile career at Harvard University, the supervision of a generation of brilliant graduate students, and his many contributions to the social sciences…

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Invisible Systema — The Tai Chi Notebook

I recently came across these “invisible Systema” videos, and I thought they were so well made they were worth a share, but I thought I’d also say a few words about Systema first. Having met lots of people who have trained with Vladimir Vasiliev now, some for quite a period of time, the description I […]

via Invisible Systema — The Tai Chi Notebook

Learn the Yi Jin Jing


Yi Jin Jing is an exercise from ancient China. The features of this classical traditional Chinese health practice include extended, soft and even movements that flex the spine invigorate the limbs and internal organs. As an exercise it should be performed in a way that integrates the mind, body and spirit, during the practice practitioners must remain relaxed. If you would like to learn Yi Jin Jing there are a number of special qigong retreats where this is possible.

This article details guidance from the Chinese Health Qigong Association on how to best perform the exercise.

The origins

According to some historians the Yi Jin Jing has its origins in primitive shamanistic rituals. Prototypes of these basic movements where found in a 2000 year old text called Illustration of Qi Conduction. Others however, credit Bodhidharma the Indian Buddhist monk and originator of Shaolin Kung Fu with the creation of the Yi Jin Jing. Whether this is true or not it is undisputed that the monks of the Shaolin Temple played a significant role in the evolution of the Yi Jin Jing exercises.

Learn Yi Jin Jing
Learn Yi Jin Jing

“The earliest account of the modern 12 movement exercises is included in the Illustrations of Internal Exercise compiled by Pan Wei in 1858 in the Qing Dynasty. As traditional Yi Jin Jing relies heavily on traditional Chinese medicine theory of the Five Elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth – different schools of the exercise have sprung up emphasising this aspect in many works.” – Chinese Qigong Association.


Smooth and extended movements to stretch the bones and tendons

A full range of motion is required related to the bones and joints. Bones are flexed and muscle groups along with tendons and ligaments are stretched. The result leads to improved blood circulation and nutrition supersession in the soft tissues. Thus enhancing mobility and strength in all directions.

Soft and even movements for coordinated grace

The modern version of the Yi Jin Jing links the 12 movements making the exercise both easier to understand as well as graceful. Limbs are flexed in curved natural range with the joints axis. When strength is required it is applied gradually combined with a tenderness of movement.

Focus on spine turning and flexing

The Yi Jin Jing movements focus on the spines, vertebrae, ligaments and the spinal cord through twisting and stretching movements. The movements must be done with a relaxed body and mind in order to gain the most health benefits. These benefits include improved fitness, prevention of disease, longevity and improved intellect.

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: December 4th, 2017: China Clamps Down on the Traditional Martial Arts

Kung Fu Tea


Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News!”  Things have been pretty busy around here for the last couple of months, and we haven’t had a news update since September.  Yet lots has been happening in the world of the traditional Chinese martial arts, so its time to do something about that.

For those who may have forgotten, this is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we review media stories that mention or affect the traditional fighting arts.  In addition to discussing important events, this column also considers how the Asian hand combat systems are portrayed in the mainstream media.

While we try to summarize the major stories over the last month, there is always a chance that we may have missed something.  If you are aware of an important news event relating to the TCMA, drop a link in the comments section below.  If you…

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Best Kung Fu School in China for Training

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best Training

Wudang Principles
Best Kung Fu School for Training

Consistently the best kung fu school for training in terms of structure, tuition and depth of transmission is WDP China. The instructors are mostly bi or multi lingual. The school training schedule runs 6 days per week. 7 hours per day. You can see a typical training schedule below.

  • 06:30 – Get Up
  • 07:30-09:40 – Warm Up & Hun Yuan Fa Li, Standing Qigong, Walking Meditation
  • 09:50-12:00 – Morning Class
  • 16:00-17:30 – Afternoon Class
  • 19-00-21:00 – Evening Class

The school curriculum has been systematically developed and taught with modern teaching methods in mind. This curriculum features 8 Trigrams IN-BETWEEN the 4 Instructor-Levels.

Students can choose:

  • WDP CLASSIC (All traditional styles with specific basics, qigong, tao lu and style specific applications)
  • WDP COMBAT (realistic fighting skills using INTERNAL PRINCIPLES of all styles).

In addition to the regular curriculum the school also has, online training, seminars in sword, push hands, body conditioning, hand conditioning, neigong and much more throughout the year.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org

A Kung Fu Pilgrim: Travel, Community and the Production of Knowledge

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The Pilgrim’s Progress

Observers have noted that while the meaning and object of worship varies, the pattern is universal.  I cannot help but agree as I contemplate the events of the last month.  First there was the ritual separation from family and friends.  While many have doubted the actual effectiveness of the TSA in stopping attacks, I don’t think that anyone would question their expertise in the construction of imposing ‘liminal barriers.”

The journey had been accompanied by all of the normal discomforts that come when one turns your mind to greater matters, rejecting the routine of daily life.  There is nothing quite like two days spent in airports, hotels and cabs to encourage the contemplative examination of one’s destiny.  As the expedition progresses one becomes ever more aware that travel is never a solitary venture.  Everywhere one sees their community of “common affliction,” also being shuttled from one…

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Purple Belts will Need IBJJF Membership Starting in 2018

Huh, well that’s something: according to White Belt BJJ, (and then I checked on the IBJJF website- not due to lack of trust, I just wanted to see where this was mentioned) purple belts will need to register with the IBJJF in order to compete in tournaments, starting in January of 2018. I imagine as […]

via   — A Skirt on the Mat

A Lost Kung Fu Manual and Nature of “Chinese Boxing”

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1860s photograph of a “Chinese Soldier” with butterfly swords. Subject unknown, taken by G. Harrison Grey.


This is my keynote address from the recent (Nov. 9-10th, 2017) conference on fightbooks held at the German Blade Museum in Solingen.  A full report on this event is coming soon, but I am eager to share this with the readers of Kung Fu Tea.  Enjoy!

A Man and A Book

As my colleague Brian Kennedy has noted, there is no subject more beloved in the world of kung fu fiction than the lost training manual.  Countless films, tv programs and wuxia novels have focused on the image of a lost (or better yet, stolen) book that holds the secrets to ancient fighting prowess.  Heroes and heroines go to amazing lengths to procure such a book and to unravel its secrets.  Both a source of knowledge and an outward sign of martial…

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2017 Christmas Shopping List: Martial Arts Equipment and Long Reads to Get You Through the Winter Months

Its That Time of Year Again! Welcome to Kung Fu Tea’s sixth annual holiday shopping list! These are some of my favorite posts to pull together. They also serve as a great reminder to continue to make time for martial arts practice and study during the festive seasons. In fact, training can be a great way […]

via 2017 Christmas Shopping List: Martial Arts Equipment and Long Reads to Get You Through the Winter Months — Kung Fu Tea