Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review of "The Xingyi Boxing Manual"

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book by the publisher for review purposes.

Title: The Xingyi Boxing Manual
Edited by: Jin Yunting
Compiled by: Ling Guiqing
Translated by: John Groschwitz
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Pages: 139
Cover Price: $16.95

  I little while ago did a review of Shang Yun-Xiang Style Xingyiquan by Li Wen-Bin and I talked about how the book made references to some parts of history and transmission of Xingyi that I was not familiar with.  This book gives a lot of that background information. In hindsight, I wish I had read this book first.


  This book is a collection of different writing of Xingyi masters that was originally published in 1930.  At least that's what I gathered from the introduction by the translator, Mr. Groschwitz.  The original has been published in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong since the 30's, but this is the first English translation that has been made available.  


  The book does a very good job at translating some very obscure ideas into relatable English.  It seems to cover all the basic ideas and philosophies of Xingyi and gives the reader the background and history behind Xingyi.  Because I am not a Xingyi martial artist, I don't know how in depth this information is, or how rare it is.  It also includes a lot on the Chinese medicine ideas that are often linked to internal arts like Xingyi, and how they are linked to the movements of this martial art.  As I said in the introduction, it did fill in some of the gaps of my understanding of the "songs" of Xingyi, and some of its history.  As unusual as it may be, the part of the book I enjoyed the most was the biographies of the original Chinese martial artists/authors at the end of the book.  I really like to read/hear about old school martial artists and the stories surrounding them.  It's always fun to try to separate story from fiction.


  Personally, I don't subscribe to the internal medicine ideas much, so I wasn't as interested in those aspects of the martial art.  But that's pretty much the only drawback.  The book does have a different feel in the writing style, as it is translated from 1930's Chinese, so it may take some readers a little bit to get used to it. 


I did enjoy reading this book, even if I wasn't a Xingyi martial artist, and I'm not into the Chinese Traditional Medicine parts of the art.  I think someone that was a Xingyi martial artist would find this book much better, and more useful than I did.  As such, I have to give it 3 our of 5 Ninja Stars.  It was a good book, just not that useful to me specifically.  I'd love to hear from a Xingyiist (is that how you describe them?) who reads the book and tells me what they think.  It could be they would gain a huge amount of information, and give it a full 5/5 Ninja Stars.  As I said, I did really enjoy the biographies at the end.

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