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The School that Transformed Kung Fu

Written by Brian KennedyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth GuoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Elizabeth Guo

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In 1909, because of their ties with the failed Boxer Rebellion and the rise of modern weaponry, Chinese martial arts were in serious danger of extinction. The Jingwu Association was formed to keep these ancient arts alive. Jingwu: The School That Transformed Kung Fu tells the story of this seminal institution. Extensively researched, the book shows Jingwu as the first public martial arts training school and the first to teach kung fu as recreation, not simply as a form of combat. It was also the first to incorporate women’s programs with men’s, and the first to use popular media to promote Chinese martial arts as both sport and entertainment. Through these efforts, the Jingwu Association helped guarantee Chinese martial arts would survive the transition from traditional to modern China.

This lively history covers the school’s tumultuous beginnings; the four historical phases of Chinese martial arts that inform it; profiles of important practitioners like Huo Yuanjia; those elements, such as the integration of women, that have made Jingwu distinctive and enduring; individual branches and practices within the larger system; and more. Rare historical documents and vintage photographs take the reader directly into one of the most fascinating and important stories in martial arts.


“Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo have produced a fascinating and thorough work on the real Jingwu Association, providing heretofore unprecedented access to the foundation, training, and culture of this very important and interesting time and place in the history of Chinese martial arts.”
—Tim Cartmell, translator of A Study of Taijiquan by Sun Lutang and The Method of Chinese Wrestling by Tong Zhongyi

“A spectacular contribution to filling the gap in early twentieth-century Chinese martial arts and cultural history.”
—Stanley Henning, Chinese martial arts historian

“This book should be required reading for anyone who is studying a Chinese martial art. Traditional martial artists of the Japanese and Korean varieties will also find this book worth reading, as well as those who are interested in Eastern or Chinese history and culture.”
Striking Thoughts

“I really enjoyed reading [Jingwu] and would definitely recommend to all readers who are interested in finding out more about the cultural context of Chinese martial arts during the Republican period through the lens of the Jing wu organization.”
Be not defeated by the Rain

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