Medicine, Martial Arts and Bandits

I'm on a writing retreat, working with a new draft of my book, exciting.

I got in a discussion on hoax/outrage central, ie. Facebook.  It quickly became an appeal to authority, boring.  So as a way of backing out I posted this reading list, I thought my readers would enjoy:

The standard definition of Six Harmonies is as follows: 


  • Three external, wrists-ankles, elbows-knees, shoulders-hips.  
  • Three internal, jing, qi, shen.  


In the interest of clarifying what relationship Chinese medicine might have to Six Harmonies I thought I would offer a short reading list:

This is a superb place to start because it goes from broad to narrow, and past to present, in attempting to give us an understanding of Chinese historic concepts of the body.  It also deals with seeing the body in art, which is a smart way in.  The Expressiveness of the Body  

Next I recommend this one, by Unschuld.  He taught an entire generation of scholars on the History of Chinese Medicine.  This book is from his public lectures, it is not the arcane historic discussion of his other works.  His conclusions are profound: What Is Medicine?  

Third, Unschuld's student Elisabtheth Hsu's work is exceptional and shows the range of ideas that jostle in the 20th Century around medicine and movement arts: The Transimission of Chinese Medicine 

Forth, this book is indispensable for understanding the current milieu: Qigong Fever 


I also have another recommendation on the topic of Bandits in China.  The book title is, Chinese Femininities/ Chinese Masculinitites.  With a title like that, it is hardly surprising that it came out in 2002 and I never noticed it! (The picture on the front is also a turn off.)  It is a collection of essays, most of which are about historical gender issues, which is just weird.  But the article by Matthew H. Sommer titled:  Dangerous Males, Vulnerable Males, and Polluted Males: The Regulationof Masculinitiy in Qing Dynasty Law, deals with how professional martial artists and actors were viewed and treated by the law.  It doesn't actually discuss martial arts directly but the subject is implicit in the material.  Anyway, essential reading.  

Even better is an essay by David Ownby titled: Approximations of Chinese Bandits: Perverse Rebels, Romantic Heroes, or Frustrated Bachelors?  This essay also does not discuss martial arts directly, but what else could it be about with a title like that?  It is in fact an excellent summary of the issues. This one essay and its references are worth the price of the book, it is like getting ten books in just one essay!  High praise.