Adam Hsu: Reflections

Stars Reflecting From My Sword, My Private Notes on Kung Fu

(Chinese Text)

Certainly one of the most conscious martial artists of his generation (Yes, Tiffany, there are some) Adam Hsu long ago took on the unrewarding task of reconciling a lot of stupid martial misconceptions and misinformation with an art of protracted history and great complexity.

Adam Hsu's Stars Reflecting from my Sword: Personal Kung Fu Notebook @

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This is the book, by his own words, which may alienate him from others in his field. This is his personal notebook, a collection of pithy observations and some frank truth-telling. Though the same voice throughout, it jabs at the subject from many angles. Some give telegraphic insights into technique and proper Kung Fu goals…

Intent is extremely important; for example, when a punch striking someone in the pit of the stomach hits its target, the flesh has already accomplished its purpose, and my force naturally stops. This must be joined with my mind, and act in conjunction with the idea to penetrate the body. When I deliver focused strength, I must not allow the contact to interfere with my intent, or it will break off, or perhaps abate. Trained ability can produce penetrating strength, “to fight gallantly and win glory.”

Some are insightful, simplifying and worth some thought…

 Chinese martial arts applied to real combat, and other world famous approaches, are not the same thing. This matter is extremely subtle. Not only is it a long story but, furthermore, we should try to avoid just an armchair discussion. We have no alternative but to describe its different principles, which can be 1, 2, 3, or 4 key points. This makes it simple to remember: (1.) action attack and defend; (2.)  words leak and seal; (3.)  doors protect, interact, break; (4.)  Methods point, thread, plane, and reverse: these are the basic words.

Many are comments on the relation of real life and real fighting to classical martial arts, a passionate and painful subject to this scholar. All this is not to mention how good Adam is as a writer which, as unexpected as a turnip on Mars, confuses people. For instance, the following…

Actual combat technique—when a serious attack comes—is not theoretical, not “self defense,” but destroy  the enemy.

On the one hand you can hear from the guys taking a break from destroying some roughhouse sparring; but if you think about it for a second you realize that he is not so much saying you have to be ruthless to fight (not much of a shock) but that “self defense” is, essentially, bunk (which it is.)

Worth buying and having. If you are practicing Chinese, nice compact sections run rarely more than six lines long. Adam Hsu says of himself that his “brush is frayed and his ink muddy” at this time in life, but we find his strokes strong and hope to see more in this vein …

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