The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu
The secrets of kung fu for self-defense,
health, and enlightenment
Wong Kiew Kit
Tuttle Publishing, Rutland, Vermont (USA), 2002 (2001)
215 pages, including index

Although I have seen this book recommended in a few places as one of the best kung fu books (for example, here), I must say I am not very impressed. First of all, its contents are perhaps way too broad. The author covers not only kung fu techniques, but also its history, its origins, as well as concepts of tai chi, Chan buddhism and meditation. Sure, kung fu must be understood in its own context, but cramming all that in just 200 pages is perhaps excessive, especially since the book also contains a good amount of illustrations (in other words, the actual text space is far less than that). Second, the quality of the illustrations is quite poor. Yes, including actual pictures would have increased the price of the book, but following combat tecniques in simple drawings is challenging, to say the least. However, to me, the main criticism of this book is twofold: first, regarding the approach to the topic itself, the author adopts a quasi-mystical mindset that I find, personally, a bit silly and off-putting; and, second, when it comes to the more practical, combat-related contents, I find his approach too traditional in the bad sense of the term (i.e., too centered in forms, and almost never in practical concerns). Thus, reading about how, in the context of sparring, X attacks with a given form, then Y responds with another form, X counters with another form... it all wears the reader out very soon, especially when paired with the poor quality of the illustrations, as mentioned above. In conclusion, altogether, I would not recommend this book. There are plenty of other books with a better quality, both if you are interested in the history of martial arts or its applications.

Entertainment: 5/10
Content: 4/10