Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, March 23, 2020

Book Review: In the Presence of Cheng Man Ching

One of the original NYC students of Cheng Man Ching, and a well known martial artist in the NY area, Bill Phillips, recently wrote In the Presence of Cheng Man Ching: My Life and Lessons with the Master of Five Excellences published by Floating World Press.

I love these kinds of books, especially those that have to do with the early days of Cheng Man Ching in New York, because my own taijiquan teacher was one of Mr. Phillips' classmates.

It is a beautifully produced book, with many pictures from Mr. Phillips' and his associate's private collections that have not previously been published.

He recalls a time that martial arts in general were not widely known and internal Chinese martial arts specifically was only a legend. He studied first judo and jujutsu, then karate (eventually achieving a 7th dan), then finally began to study Taijiquan.

I loved the stories about those days. Cheng Man Ching was very much a traditional Chinese gentleman who was determined to bring the fruits of Chinese high culture to a real mixed bag of American students; pretty much divided between martial artists and hippies.

When talking about Cheng Man Ching's days in New York, names that are frequently mentioned are Stan Israel and Lou Klinesmith. We've heard the names, but know very little about the men. Mr. Phillips was close to both of them and we get a real sense of who they were are human beings and as martial artists.

One of the things that I appreciate the most about this book is the authors' generosity in clearly passing along some of the lessons he has learned both in his tutelage under Cheng Man Ching and from decades of martial arts practice and teaching.

I truly enjoyed this book and I think that you will as well.

No comments: