I was not born a warrior. I am not tough, strong, fast, agile, or brave, so I have none of the natural gifts necessary to be good at martial arts. Despite these limitations, I have loved martial arts for as long as I can remember, and I have actively practiced various arts since the age of fifteen. This book therefore has more personal significance for me than other academic work I have done. It also means that I have more than just an intellectual debt to acknowledge in the writing of this book; I have a debt to all of my martial arts teachers as well. Though I cannot claim intellectual or scholarly gifts any greater than my physical or spiritual ones, I do offer this study as some measure of recompense for the many teachers who did their best for me over the years.
In the intellectual realm I owe a vast debt to Stanley Henning. His article, “The Martial Arts Encounters Academia,” is a model of clarity and rigor and should be the starting point for anyone beginning to write on Chinese martial arts. Beyond his many valuable articles, Stan has been a real mentor to me in this field, through e-mail and phone calls, supplying me with critical insights and citations. One day I hope to meet him in person.