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


MAO DUN ZHUANG – Combat Stance and Variation

Mao Dun Zhuang or Combat Stance is an essential posture for developing martial power. Sometimes called ‘Shield and Spear,’ it is a fully back-weighted side stance which trains among other things, both lifting and sinking power. There is little or no weight on the front leg and the front heel is very slightly lifted. Because […]

via MAO DUN ZHUANG – Combat Stance and Variation — Inside Zhan Zhuang

SMABloggers – The Liebster Award

This week SMAbloggers was nominated for the! The Liebster award is an award for bloggers, nominated by other bloggers. A kind of chain letter if you will that highlights new blogs and the great stories these bloggers they are sharing.

For this nomination a big thank you goes to Will at monkeystealspeach.com. Will, as you may know has in the past contributed some excellent blog posts here at SMAbloggers. As well as this Will also has his own excellent blog full martial arts stories, interviews, travel tips and tea culture.

So here’s how the award works.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their site.
  2. Display an image of the award and write a post about your nomination on your blog.
  3. Answer the 10 questions your nominee has asked in their blog post.
  4. Nominate 5-10 other deserving new bloggers for the award and ask them 10 questions of your choice.
  5. List the rules of the award in your blog post.

Will’s 10 Questionsimg_2484

1.Tell us a bit about yourself

In the summer of 2007 while on a break from my urban planning job back in Belfast I made the decision to travel to China and study traditional kung fu. I craved adventure and a change from the daily grind. Most of my friends had gone travelling between school and university or between university and work. I’d created a window of opportunity and felt this was the right time to use the money I’d saved. My martial arts experience at that time was limited to my regularly Jeet Kune Do classes. Despite my lack of sashes or belts I wasn’t worried. What I lacked in experience I knew I had in determination to work hard and learn as much as I could. Like most of you reading this I’ve an interest and passion for martial arts as well as a growing interest in learning more about the spiritual and healing arts of China. As a teen I used to day dream about what it would be like to visit a land where a monkey could become a king.

China here I come…

Immediately I set to the task of researching kung fu schools in China. I craved being taught in a traditional way without distractions. I wanted to learn how to deal with confrontation effortlessly and improve every aspect of my life.

So I took action and found a school, got my visa and boarded a plane. 13 hours later I arrived in Beijing totally unprepared. I stayed the night in a hotel near the airport and the next day I boarded my internal flight to my end destination with high hopes. I was as green as the grass I’d left back in Ireland. From that moment until now it’s been one hell of an adventure.

Over the last few years I’ve visited a lot of kung fu schools and met a number of students studying at these schools. Some have come for martial arts, some adventure, some for health and fitness and some simply to create space for changing past bad habits. Your reasons for seeking this type of experience are your own. But what they should have in common is a desire to improve. Focus should be on the training and the experiences and other benefits will follow.

2. What was your first trip and how did it change you?

The first really great trip that I undertook was a month long visit to Krakow and Poland. via Prague. At the time I was madly in love and was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Pirsig, Robert M. (2006) . Discovering places new with a person you love took the trip to a whole new level. It was a time I will never forget and inspired in me a desire for further growth.

3. What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from travel?

Lasting friendships life lessons, and new learnings.

4. What kind of a traveler are you (backpacker/luxury/solo/group etc)?

I’m not much of a solo traveller. I have always gained more from being able to share my experiences with others. Maybe my next journey will be one of solo travel.

5. What’s your favourite destination so far?

This questions is very difficult. Rather than a physical place I think I will say that my favourite destination has been a state of mind. This can be reached through meditation, and mindfulness. I found myself there most when I was constantly practicing baji quan zhang zhuang. Hours of practice creates the space for certain changes take place not only in the body but the mind. You become more grounded, charged, calm and blissful.

6. What’s your most memorable experience?

In 2007 when myself and my buddy Rhyn Nasser first decided to travel around China visiting martial arts schools and masters to include on the http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org website. What an amazing journey this was. It was packed with adventure, discoveries and meetings with so many amazing martial artists.

7. What’s your worst/most disappointing experience?

When I was a young child and first realised how stupid and selfish grown ups where.

8. Where do you plan to go next?

This I don’t yet know. For the past ten years I’ve been happily living in China. Last year I completed my postgraduate in Education so there could be a new challenge on the horizon. For now though my plan is to focus on BJJ and my general physical and spiritual health.

9. How did you get into blogging?

Honestly, I got into blogging through necessity. I wanted to do two things. Drive traffic to my website and help others passionate about travel and martial arts. I guess it was a logical progression.

10. What are your plans for your blog this year?

At the moment I’m running two blogs essentially, http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org/blog and http://www.SMAbloggers.com. For both blogs I’m the main contributor.  So what I’d like is to be able to produce more unique content for them. Whether that is written by me or another passionate writer I don’t really mind. What I don’t want is to compromise on quality. With this and better automation and planning I want to see both blogs achieve, move views, visitors and ultimately more people experiencing martial arts travel and training through www.StudyMartialArts.Org.

I Nominate The Following Bloggers For the Liebster Award:






Civil Society, Mimetic Desire and China’s Republican era “Kung Fu Diplomacy”

Kung Fu Tea

TY Wong standing with butterfly swords, center, during a San Francisco street parade during the 1940s. Source: Photo courtesy of Gilman Wong.


This paper was recently read at the International Conference for the 1st World Youth Mastership held at Cheongju University on Nov. 3-4, 2017.  Many thanks go to Prof. Gwang Ok for making this event possible and extending an invitation for me to attend.  A special note of thanks also goes to the Cornell University East Asia Program for helping to support this research.  My report on this conference is coming soon, but I first wanted to share some of the things that I have been working on for the last six weeks with the readers of Kung Fu Tea.  Enjoy.

Civil Society, Mimetic Desire and China’s Republican era “Kung Fu Diplomacy”

Today I would like to talk about an overlooked period in the globalization of the…

View original post 4,598 more words

Paul Bowman: A Conversation with the Journal of the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain

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Image of a Taiji Boxer. Source: Burkhardt, 1953.

***I had initially planned to share the first of my recent conference papers this weekend, but I think that should probably wait until next week.  Prof. Paul Bowman, whose contributions to the development of martial arts studies are literally too many to list (but include the publications of important books, the creation of a conference series, an academic book series and a journal) has recently done an interview with the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.  Its a very nice piece that provides a great introductory discussion of “martial arts studies” for anyone who is trying to get their head around this project.  With his permission I thought that I would share it here.  Take a look at it, and feel free to pass it along to colleagues, students or friends who may be wondering what we are all…

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Early History of Sanshou

1991 1st World Wushu Championship In an attempt to foster a uniquely Chinese international sport, the Beijing based International Wushu Federation (IWUF) offers the first world wushu championship in Beijing. San Shou is offered for the first time as an open competition with no military ties. Jason Yee of the United States wins a Bronze […]

via Early history of sanshou — Sifu David Ross

Two Views on the Indian Martial Arts

Kung Fu Tea


Greetings from Germany, where I am now enjoying a much anticipated conference dedicated to the study of fightbooks hosted by the German Blade Museum.  I will be posting both the text of my keynote and a full report on the conference once I get back to the United States.  In the mean time I would like to share two additional papers that were given at this summer’s 2017 Martial Arts Studies Conference.  The first video was produced by P. S. Gowtham and focuses on both the techniques and narratives seen in two Indian martial arts.  This presentation is short, but its a great project by a promising young scholar.  Be sure to check it out.

After watching Gowtham’s introduction we can move on to the main event.  That is Prof. Gitanjali Kolanad’s keynote titled “Striking a Balance – the relationship between dancing and fighting.”  We were very…

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Practice tips for performing Ba Duan Jin Correctly

Practice Tips

Be Relaxed, Calm and Natural

A relaxed state of mind better eliminates psychological and physiological stresses. A relaxed body better tones muscles joints and organs. Calmness without distraction is the key. The correct mood and environment play a big part in effective practice.

Be Accurate but Flexible

Follow the set practice, the body positions and stances. Using a mirror will be very helpful in the beginning to ensure the directions and angles of the movements are adhered too.

Combine Practice and Conservation

The rigor of the postures and movements, and the application of strength used should be adjusted in accordance with the physical conditions of the practitioner so correct performance is achieved gradually. This will also apply to the adjustment of the breath. Maintaining balance in practice is the key. Balance of mind, body and spirit.

Graduated Progress

Beginners should take it step by step, adjusting practice gradually. Begin with natural breathing and work gradually up to deep breathing through constant and consistent practice.

This article has been based on the detailed works provided by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Step by step descriptions of the routines can be ordered for free. The only cost will be in the ordering and delivery. Each book ordered includes a DVD allowing proper practice in real time.

For those interested in qigong courses and retreats. Click the following link.

Making Martial Arts Studies Matter

Kung Fu Tea

Rifles and bayonets for a school military drill class behind two Judo students. Vintage Japanese postcard, late 1930s. Source: Author’s personal collection.


Greetings!  If all has gone according to plan, I am now on a plane returning to the United States from Korea.  I will be posting both my paper and a full report on the conference later.  But first I need to head to Germany for the much anticipated Fightbook Conference which is being hosted at the German Blade Museum in Solingen.   As such, I will be sharing a few more of the keynotes from the 2017 Martial Arts Studies in conference in Cardiff.  And to tell you the truth….I think I recognize that guy….

All joking aside, I am pretty happy with the way that this paper turned out, and the conference organizers did a great job of integrating my slides into the video of my…

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Communicating Embodied Knowledge in Martial Arts Studies, Part II

Kung Fu Tea


One of my few disappointments about the 2017 Martial Arts Studies conference was that a change in travel plans forced me to miss the final afternoon of the event.  As such, I was not able to take part in the closing workshop which addressed a number of topics that are important to the emerging field of Martial Arts Studies.  Of these the most basic would have to be, “How do we talk about our personal experience with these fighting systems in our academic studies of them?”  Luckily this debate was just posted on YouTube, and I plan on watching Parts I and II on my flight to Korea.

Click here to start with Part I (if you have not already seen it).

Click here to go directly to Part II.

Here is what the conference program had to say about the workshop:

At this year’s Martial Arts Studies Conference

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