Formation of a Wushu Student: Andrea Falk’s New Book

Andrea Falk Beijing Bitterswwet

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Plum represents a LOT of books, among them some real treasures. Typically, when we talk about the best ones, they usually share certain qualities having to do with technical information: a teacher generous enough to reveal principles, methods, even “secrets.”

Andrea Falk’s newest book, Beijing Bittersweet, certainly includes gems of instruction from her own teachers, but its treasure has a different nature: we are able to watch her personal martial development — as the first foreign exchange student at the Beijing Physical Culture Institute — while also observing the reconstruction of martial arts in China after the Cultural Revolution. This was a turbulent time, with politics playing a role in every aspect of society including martial practice, especially in discussions centering around traditional vs contemporary Wushu.

This is a first row appreciation of martial culture in China at this time, from a Westerner who was both challenged and embraced by her fellow students and teachers. As always, her writing is good, and her outlining of the politics of the day does not veer off into Western cliche.

We highly recommend this book.


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