Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Review: "Beyond Kung Fu"
When I got back from my last Xingyi training session in Seattle Monday, I found I had received the book "Beyond Kung Fu; Breaking an Opponent's Power Through Relaxed Tension", by Leo Fong. It had had a pretty good review by fellow Dojo Rat Bob over at "Striking Thoughts", so I had ordered it from Amazon.
In my opinion, this book would have been better titled "Beyond Hard-Style Martial Arts", or "How To Get Hard-Style Martial Artists To Relax".
Fong has a nearly legendary background in Boxing, Kung Fu and other arts, but the book falls short for me.
As concept books go, Fong barely touches on the topic of Chi, which he bases many of his exercises on. Same with meditation. Probably one page on each subject. He does have ideas on martial movement with very light weights, which is good.
Frankly, I have a little trouble with some of the traditional Wing Chun / Jeet Kune Do stuff anyway. Fong was a student of Bruce Lee, and the self-defense pictures show him throwing hooks or jabs while shifting sideways to one leg in an extended, leaning fashion. I've seen other Wing Chun guys carry their weight high like this and they appear vulnerable to a body knock-down by an inside grappler.
On a positive note; Fong has used his martial arts background to help in his counciling as a Methodist Minister, in the movie industry and in his personal battle with cancer. He's in great shape for 80, and that in itself may be the lesson.
"Beyond Kung Fu", which is published by "Black Belt", may have succumbed to the whims of the publisher and been simplified. I think it might be a decent intro to relaxed power for the novice Karate/Kung Fu student, but for seasoned practitioners, especially those already in internal or "soft power" Chinese arts, this book contains information you already know.