Comments from readers

Shadowboxing in Shanghai

Plum Publications: "Andrea Falk’s newest book shines on its own. We are big fan’s of Falk’s translations, writings, and her cannot-be-praised-enough martial dictionary, but this new one exceeded expectations. She has combined detailed instructions on the 108 move Chen Taijiquan Yilu (first set) she learned in Shanghai (in the Chen Xin lineage), with notes on Taiji concepts, discussions with her sifu, conversations with other students and teachers, then added memoirs of living and studying in Shanghai in the 80s and 90s, with moving portraits of a city that refused to lay still as just a background. It’s an exciting work, and one we highly recommend.”

Zhang Wenguang’s Chaquan

Plum Publications: "We at Plum freely admit that we are big fans of Andrea Falk, in her roles as martial artist, writer and translator. It is this last role that we celebrate today.

When we started Plum, almost 30 years ago, there were so many important texts available in Chinese that we never thought we would see in English and, of course, there still are (many of which we represent). But Falk, and a scattered few, are slowly chipping away at the canon, and this new book is a great example of her work.

Thanks to her translation, Zhang Wenguang’s book on Chaquan, and his smaller text on Tan Tui Kick Drills, (published as one volume) are now available, in English, on Plum. As is typical of Andrea’s work, it is not just a xeroxed copy, but contains additional notes, prefaces, discussions, and a glossary. The format, in English, is accompanied by both pinyin and Chinese character names for each move. 

We are just so pleased that the literary martial library continues to grow with quality books like this one.

Beijing Bittersweet 

Plum Publications: ”Andrea Falk was the first foreign exchange student at the Beijing Physical Culture Institute. Her distinct accessibility allows her to offer a unique view of what was happening, not only in the reconstructed world of martial arts, but in China as well. One of the book's strongest points is the way it discusses so many aspects of Chinese life through the storm of social variations and changing rules. We live in a Beijing of parks, activities and gathering relationships.

Falk sets the scene for us, literally, by including street maps of Beijing as she begins the book. She outlines the thoroughly complex situation of political involvement reflected in every aspect of Chinese life, sometimes with devastating effect. Farmers and officials, teachers and technicians, all touched in some way, matter how they might wish to see themselves, as Falk writes, as a "screw in society's machine." 

The Performance Wushu section is a huge resource, providing a serious discussion on the tug-o-war between Contemporary Wushu and Traditional Wushu. These have been hot topics for decades, but Falk's book shows that this was not a straight line process, taking the history into more detail. Whole lifetimes were spent in a twilight zone of power and politics and art, and she deals with this rare information in a straightforward way, while placing it in the martial environment. The search for Wushu skill is also prominent, here. Falk's diary includes her own experiences, as well as a wealth of stories from her friends and fellow students, from sparring practice to minute details on forms usage — a lifetime of martial knowledge and memories where art and life share everything. 

This book is everything a reader would hope for in the diary of a long time and respected martial artist. In addition to the lifetime relationships she established with friends and students, she also goes into detail about the various teachers she was privileged to study under, all with their own methods, quirks, and wisdom. While her experience was probably more intense than ones had by most martial students, the acquisition and discoveries of martial principle and practice are well-described. Falk, always a good writer, now also gives us a glimpse of the sincere student and teacher she’s become.”

”Andrea Falk’s exceptional new memoir of her years living and training martial arts in Beijing in the 80s is a must-read. Falk’s clear prose provides that rarest of combinations: a genuinely skilled and eloquent author who deeply understands Chinese martial arts. Her book ranges from an insightful history of Chinese martial arts in the Communist era, to personal observations of several of the greatest martial arts masters of the twentienth century – but always grounded in her humourous  and frank reflections as one of the first westerners to study martial arts in China post-Cultural Revolution. Falk’s book is high recommended for anyone with an interest in martial arts, the socio-political complexities of 20th century China, or lives well-lived.” Michael Blackburn, Vancouver Taijiquan.

A Shadow on Fallen Blossoms

"A Shadow on Fallen Blossoms - Andrea Falk This is a great book for a deep understanding of Bagua principles, history and context. Andrea Falk’s decades of experience studying Bagua and translating Chinese martial arts shows clearly. Each term in her translation has been carefully evaluated and the reasons for her translation choices are laid out in the commentary. Each page holds great insights from fighting strategies, to training techniques, to martial history and lore. For appreciating the spirit and tradition of Bagua, this is a truly valuable book." Stone Lantern Internal Arts, Canada.

”Andrea Falk’s new book, A Shadow on Fallen Blossoms, in one of the best and most insightful books I’ve read on Chinese martial arts. The combination of her scholarly analysis of the verses, which form the oral tradition of bagua instruction, and Andrea’s commentary for contemporary practitioners, makes this book a necessary addition to your collection.” Michael Blackburn, Canada.

”A Shadow on Fallen Blossoms is without doubt an indispensable read for practitioners of the internal arts, particularly Baguazhang. Combining decades of training in bagua zhang with masterful translation skills and insights from other leading practitioners, this is an absolute must have.” Neil Bates, England.

”My Baguazhang teacher and I have been getting a lot out of your translation of the classic Baguazhang songs. Your forensic approach, clarity, and personal insight make it a rare gem. Thank you so much!” Hubert van Griensven London, England.

I’ll be honest with you: I have not yet finished Andrea Falk’s new book, “A Shadow on Fallen Blossoms: The 36 and 48 Traditional Verses of Baguazhang,” but we were so excited about the book we wanted to announce it as soon as we received copies. I can’t imagine anyone interested in Bagua not wanting to add a copy to their martial library.

This volume of “poems” and essays are supposedly written—recorded is a better word—directly from the teachings of Dong Hai Chuan, the founder of Bagua Zhang, by a follower named Zeng Zengqi. Falk expertly translates the text from the Chinese (included), but also adds her own enlightened English commentary. She preserves the poetic structure where the principles of Bagua are laid out in small, memorable Chinese verses. In former days these “songs” were studied and memorized, allowing even illiterate students to analyze their rich content.

Andrea Falk has the natural reticence of someone who does not want to mess up her sources. In this text, she has written extensively, adding her own commentary on the original texts. Her approach succeeds, creating a running subtext that taps into her teachers’ and her own knowledge of Bagua and Chinese Martial arts, not to mention the re-statement of many sections in terms modern and clear to an English reader.

We highly recommend this generous work. Plum Publications

This one of these books that has been really missing in the big library of Martial Art Books.Many time I read about the 64 songs of Bagua Zhang. The only version I was able to get was the one of Li Ziming. Andrea Falk compares different schools, teachers and manuscript transmissions. It is good to have a book with this scientific approach. Not filled with boring history of Bagua Zhang (you can read it elswere). Just the Chinese texts, her english translation and explanations to all text parts based on a long personel history of her Bagua Zhang studies compared with help of serveral teachers. I would like to see more of these books in the Martial Arts community. An Amazon customer in Germany.

Di Guoyong on Xingyiquan

"While I can not claim to literally 'have seen them all'; over my 26 years of involvement with xingyiquan I can claim to have seen most of the books published in Chinese or in English on the art of xingyiquan. I just got through reading Andrea Falk's new translation of Di Guoyong's On Xingyiquan Volume One: Five Element Foundation and I think it is an outstanding xingyi book. In fact if someone asked my advice for one book that would go further in helping their xingyi develop I would tell them to buy this one. There are lots of xingyi books out there. Some, such as Sun Lu Tang's, are important from a historical standpoint, others such as Robert Smith's are full of interesting stories but the majority of xingyi books are quite light on practical details of how to practice xingyi. In contrast, Di Guoyong's On Xingyiquan Volume One: Five Element Foundation is full of practical, detailed information that you can use to improve your xingyi. It is kind of odd, given the fact that the 5 Element Fist (splitting, drilling, crushing, pounding and crossing) are the 'heart and soul' of xingyi but most xingyi books give a fairly perfunctory discussion of them. Di Guoyong has devoted an entire volume to them and that is great news for all xingyi students.

The book stands out for a number of reasons. As I have just mentioned, one of the reasons is the details and practical suggestions the book contains, but along with this several other things really stood out in my mind. For example, the photos are clear and provide multiple angles on the postures. This is not a trivial point. A lot of xingyi books I have seen have photos that are little more than black dots resembling humans set against a slightly lighter black backgrounds or the photos are shot from weird angles causing the reader to have guess what is going on. The photos in this book are free from those banes. One thing I have never seen in any xingyi book is photos shot from over head looking down on the posture. This book has them and I thought they were extremely helpful.

The book also stands out for another reason; it discusses the importance of lively movement in xingyi. The book focuses on both proper static posture and on the dynamics of xingyi movement and this is an extremely important and often overlooked point. A lot of xingyi I have seen over the years ends up being a guy (or gal) in a great looking static posture, then kind of cumbersomely (and often fairly slowly) plodding on to the next posture. This approach ignores the fact that martial arts is about movement not just about 'striking a pose' (to steal a line from an old Madonna song). This book addresses in detail the dynamics of xingyi and that is a very valuable contribution.

Another thing that I thought was very special about this book was Di Guoyong's practicality and honesty. Let me give you an example, on page 180 Di Laoshi is talking about common mistakes and how a teacher should correct them. Specifically he is talking about the problem of 'head bobbing' (i.e. the head rising up when moving forward). Now most xingyi books will simply state categorically‚ 'thou head shall not come up or thee have committed a xingyi sin', or something to that effect. But in the real world, at least among the human beings I have seen, everyone's head bobs up a bit. Di Guoyong honestly and helpfully admits this practical reality. He says; 'a certain rise and fall can not be avoided, but it should be limited to 5% of the person's height'. I found that single comment so refreshing in that most books on xingyi just state a formulistic approach that does not reflect the real world of real practitioners. In contrast Di Laoshi gives some practical advice to try and keep the head bobbing down to about 5%. That is advice I can use. And it is advice like that that makes this book so outstanding." Brian Kennedy, Taiwan, author of Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey

"Just want to let you know the [Di Guoyong] books arrived last week in perfect condition and I have ordered Li Tianji's book today. I have already start reading them and I must confess that despite of some good books already published in the West about Xingyi none is so directed to practice or goes into so much detail, these books together are the Xingyi training manual par excellence. Thank you very much for having translated and made them available.The books contain many interesting details, including the fact that the three stages of Xingyi practice were created by Sun Lu Tang. It came as a surprise since in Robert W. Smith's book the description of three stages appear in a text attributed to Guo Yunshen. I must confess I always had questioned myself if Guo had left any written teachings" João Vasco 

"High praise to Andrea Falk for all her hard work translating these excellent books written by Master Di Guoyong. They are packed solid with information and practical advice on learning the entire system of xingyi from five fists through empty hand routines to weapons sets. They can be used on their own or together with the beautiful dvds/vcds of Master Guoyong which can be purchased very cheaply on ebay and other websites. The books detail how to make the techniques martially powerful and not just empty movements. I don't know of any more complete teaching of xingyiquan available to the public, and I have been looking for a few years!" Rob Fenton

"Andrea Falk’s translation of Di Guoyong’s Hebei Xing Yi Quan three volume set “Five Element Foundation”, “Form and Theory” and the latest volume “Weapons and Partner Play” mark a milestone, not only for Xing Yi enthusiasts, but indeed for all serious practitioners of Internal Systems of Chinese martial arts. I have been fortunate, with Andrea’s help and assistance, to invite Di Guoyong to the States for instruction in Xing Yi at my school. Di Guoyong’s understanding of Xing Yi Quan is astounding and his teaching thorough, methodical and precise. Although he is a demanding teacher he works just as hard as any of the students; his enthusiasm, physical and mental vigor are contagious. Master Di is the embodiment of good health, vitality and strength that is the byproduct of his many years of dedication and training in Xing Yi Quan. Having experienced Di Laoshi’s teaching first hand I can attest to the value of Andrea’s translations of these Xing Yi works for my own studies and for the training of my students. Even though Di Laoshi typically visits my school twice a year, months go by before his return visit and this leaves a void in his teaching that is filled by the continued reference that I make to his work on Xing Yi Quan which Andrea Falk has so masterfully rendered into English. I highly recommend all three volumes to every serious practitioner of Xing Yi Quan and other Nei Jia arts as well as to anyone who is considering embarking on a study of this wonderful art." Nick Scrima, Florida, 2008

"Di Laoshi's book is excellent and once again you have done a fantastic job with the translation work. Reading through the book is like having Di Laoshi here personally teaching. I am sure that this work and the ones to follow will greatly help us absorb his ideas, principles and teaching concepts on Xing Yi. All our Xing Yi students have purchased copies of the book and everyone has found the book informative and easy to read." Nick Scrima, Florida

"I enjoy [Di Guoyong on Xingyi, vol. 1] very much. I would say it is the best book and the most brillant translation that I have read during the last 50 years. I would say that I do not a think that a translator can go any closer the mind of the author. I am sure Master Di Goyong is very proud of having you to spread the knowledge of this style. I will read and read it again and each time I will understand better. Many thanks Andrea for allowing my knowledge to increase... Bravo and my congratulations again. Thanks Master Di when you contact him, he is a brillant expert. After more than 50 years in Martial arts (as an amateur) it is the first time I met a team like yours, your knowledge is impressive." Pierre Croullebois, South Africa

"You've done it again!  Another outstanding contribution to help those of us in the West who are trying to get to grips with the deeper aspects of Xing Yi.  My copy [of Five Element Foundation] arrived yesterday.  I hope you won't make us wait too long for the next two volumes! Your commitment to the undertaking is profoundly appreciated." Keith Alker, England.

"I've been waiting patiently (?). Already ordered a copy [of Di Guoyong's volume 2] through your site. I know it will be a superb job before I even see it. Thanks again for the effort you put into these translations." Keith Alker, England.

"I received the books, and I am totally blown away with how in depth and detailed they are.  I was just telling a training buddy lately that there were no real books on Xingyi in English, ones that explained the theory, and not just the forms.  These books are great." Jesse Conley, USA

Books in general

"Thanks Andrea, we in the Chinese martial arts community, and me personally, certainly appreciate your efforts in translating and publishing new material." Ron Panunto, USA

"I have [all] your translations on Xingyi and Bagua and as far as I am concerned, they are a gold mine! By the way, I am looking forward to your translation of the Di Guoyong book. Your translations are great work!" Roger Drolet, Texas.

"(The books are) brilliant. I love the illustrations in Yan Dehua's book, and the short, incisive descriptions for the applications themselves bring Bagua to life. All the books are very clear, and I personally think it is great that you are taking the time to translate these masterpieces of Chinese martial literature into English." Chris Rayner, Surrey, England

"Andrea has done a marvelous job with her books, including Chinese and pinyin in a pleasant font and many classics in original and translation also. This can come only from a deep and understanding attachment to the task. Congratulations!" Ernst Krudl, Austria

"I like the way you translate these books. It makes a difference because you have a martial arts background. I have seen some translations of other material where the translator did not capture the meaning because they had no idea of what it was they were attempting to describe." William Johnson, Colorado

"As you said, the book itself is very good but I would say that the translation is excellent.... you have certainly brought to light the intrinsic value of the Master's teaching." Pierre Croullebois, South Africa

Jiang Rongqiao's Baguazhang

"Your translation of Jiang Rongqiao's Baguazhang is superb. Thanks for making it available in English. I am of Chinese descent myself but can't speak any Chinese." Robert I.., England

"I've just received the package of Jiang Rongqiao's Baguazhang Book, VCD, translation, and Adobe still shots. What a lovely combo! I already have a dog-eared version of your book but I'm glad you've made the changes that you did to the new version. Job well done! Thanks again for really superior, pains-taking quality products, service and attitude." Andrew Watts

"[The Jiang Rongqiao book] is an extremely useful reference as I am learning the form in class. The photographs are clear and reinforce the excellent drawings." Lewis Rivera, IL

"... I had ordered the same [Jiang Rongqiao and Yan Dehua] baguazhang books before. But, I lent them to a friend, and he liked them so much that I finally decided to buy another set. The works you have translated and put together are high quality and worth the cost, unlike some other materials I have seen." Scott Freeman, Japan.

"Just wanted to drop you a line to say that the [Jiang Rongqiao] book arrived today. Thank you very much. Your translation and adaptation of the book is excellent on my first fast pass. Thanks again." Greg Buckles

"I was really amazed at the detail and effort you went through to put this [Jiang Rongqiao book] work together. While I found the drawings helpful, I really liked the photographs of your kung fu brother doing the various palm changes." Mark Baker, South Carolina

"The (Jiang) book is an excellent addition to my collection and invaluable as a reference tool. It is fascinating having finished the eight palm changes to go through the book and pick out the subtle differences in emphasis imparted by various teachers.... Great work, keep it up and thanks again." Neil Bates, Hampshire, England.

"Just received (Jiang Rongqiao) book and it's excellent! Excellent translation, descriptions and pics." Christain Wilby, England

Yan Dehua's Bagua Applications

"Having seen the sample method from the book you featured on the TGL website, I was initially intrigued by "Yan Dehua's Bagua Applications" book as a curio item. However, I have to say that after examining it I've rapidly come to appreciate the diverse martial tactics depicted in the master's book. They provide much food for thought and the "energy and flow" of the methods are graphically shown in the extraordinary illustrations accompanying the descriptions of the movements for the reader. Frankly, I can't recall ever seeing a method book with drawings that are as evocative of movement as these are. I also appreciated your translation of the text. It's really helpful to have the technique translation done by someone who is also an experienced martial artist. This is a little gem of a book." Neil Chang, Lynnwood, WA

"I just wanted to add my praise to all the accolades you have received for your excellent translation of Yan Dehua's text. You have performed a great service to Bagua practitioners such as myself who do not read Chinese. It is a far, far better rendering than the Lee Ying Arng version I have had since the 1970's." Russell Sauls, TN

"One thing I like very much also about [Yan Dehua's bagua applications] is that you put the original Chinese characters next to the Pinyin transliteration plus the diacritics for the tones. .... I have a dictionary, but it's a lot more convenient when the pronunciations are already given in the text ! ... you're more at home conveying the nuance of the original, e.g. "thread one's arm" etc. .. sounds much better than Crandall's series." Kohei Sawabe, Montreal

"I've enjoyed studying your translation of Yan Dehua's book on baguazhang applications. While I'm not sure about the effectiveness of the applications themselves, I found your translation to be very clear. It was particularly helpful to have the Mandarin words for some of the specialized terms, like "lifting energy" and "sink the chest". For effective learning and out of respect for these arts, I think serious students should learn some "martial Mandarin". I'm looking forward to seeing your translation of Li Tianji's 'The Skill of Xingyiquan'". Tom Campbell, Seattle

"This has got to be the cutest book of martial applications ever compiled.... this little book has many wonderful interpretations of bagua movement all beautifully illustrated. A very fun book" Alfred Westlake, Somatic Journeys Massage Therapy, Colorado.

"Thank you so much for making this great [Yan Dehua] book available!!! ... I didn't think anyone would finally endeavor to translate this awesome text into English. I feel very lucky to have chanced upon your website and to have found that you are offering this book." Dennis Mace, Seattle

Li Tianji's The Skill of Xingyiquan

"Li TianJi's book " Skill of Xing Yi Quan " is exceptional and I congratulate you on the translation. I had first seen a Chinese copy of the work from Li Deyin and was very happy to see an English translation of the work." Nick Scrima, Florida.

"Your translated [Li Tianji] book is excellently organized, the presentation and format is clear, detailed and very complete, thanks." Gary Wong, Ottawa

"Thank you so much for your very complete book Li Tianji's xingyiquan, I trained with Professor Li De Yin, who uses the same basics that are in your book, and I have found your translation invaluable in helping me to gain further knowledge in HsingYi." John Read, United Kingdom

"You've probably heard this before, but I'm going to say it anyways, the [Li tianji] book is excellent. Detailed and direct. Thank you again." Jose R. Albaine, Brazil.

"The [Li Tianji] book was wonderfully translated. Thank you very much!" Bud Gardner, Rochester, NY.

"I wanted to let you know the book, Li Tianji Skill of Xingyiquan, arrived safe and sound yesterday... really, the book is outstanding... You have done the English speaking martial arts community a great service by getting this out in English, especially in such a professional format." Brian Kennedy, Taiwan

"Thank you so much for your prompt attention to my book order and especially for your excellent translation of The Skill of Xingyiquan by Mr. Li Tianji. I am just in the midst of reading your translation, but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your choice, your informed and careful English translation and your work as publisher." Sara Grimes, Beijing

"I am so glad you translated (Li Tianji's Skill of Xingyiquan). It is an excellent book and I think you did a great job translating it. Its on my top 5 martial arts books of all time. Thanks." Bryan Zarnett, Toronto, Canada

"Just few lines to express my congratulations for the excellent job you did in order to translate the Xingyiquan book of Li Yulin and Li Tianji. I also translated (into Italian) in the past 25 year quite a few articles and books for my better understanding of Neijia practice, and can confirm that is not such an easy job - especially from Chinese! So, I'm enjoying very much the book." Luigi Zanini, Italy

"I was very impressed with the completeness of Li Tianji's book in encompassing the whole of the system of xingyiquan. I had never before seen such a complete exposition of the art in a single volume. Furthermore I was impressed with the translation and the layout of your book. I particularly liked that the pinyin had the tone marks.... to have the tone marks is a real asset." Peter Gilligan, North Ireland

"I thought I would let you know that the (Li Tianji) book arrived on Friday. I haven't been able to put it down since. I read it once and am going back through it for the second time. It is the best xingyi book I have ever seen. The information is invaluable and even the binding is great. ... Please keep up the good work! " Carl Magnuson, Topeka, Kansas

"(Li Tianji is) an absolutely brilliant translation that continues to be extremely helpful to me. We need to encourage Andrea to keep up the good work." Keith Alker, London, England.

"Well what can I say... the (Li Tianji) book is awesome. It is the best Xingyi book I have yet to find." Edward Gomersall, United Kingdom.

"I must say that (Li Tianji) is an excellent work. I am reading page by page, delighted at your dedication in translating the old documents on Xingyiquan. Your book is a must for every Xingyiquan student in the world. I give it a 10 out of 10." Felipe Bido, Dominican Republic.

"I really like (the Jiang Rongqiao book). I recently got a copy of Crandall's translation but I like the layout of yours better as well as your informative footnotes. Great book and I look forward to receiving the other one." Alfred Westlake, Colorado.

"I very much enjoyed your translation of Li Tianji's book on Xingyi Quan, which is the flavour of XY taught by my teacher. Find myself referring constantly to the book!" Philip Lindskog, Sweden

Di Guoyong videos and translation companion

"Master Di Guoyong's VCD's are excellent resources for the thoughtful practitioner. His mastery is immediately evident and his energetic instruction is inspiring. His deliberate teaching method does more than unfurl the essentials of Xingyi; it shows you how to learn and then how to teach. Andrea Falk's translation and clever presentation makes this the finest Xingyi tutorial series I've seen. Altogether fantastic! Thanks, Andrea." James Weston, NC

"I want to commend you for an excellent job in providing a very easily understood, descriptive translation of Master Di Gouyong's Xingyi. Your attention to detail is most helpful in understanding the finer points of this art. I can see why you have said that this is one of the most comprehensive video series on Xingyi! It is especially helpful to have the book formatted in such a way as to provide the reader with a translation of Master Di's instruction with the running time, name of the posture and any other pertinent information necessary to properly performing the routine to be found in the adjoining margin. This is an excellent piece of work. And you are to be commended for doing such an excellent job on what is obviously a difficult and time consuming project." William Johnson, Colorado.

"Having had a quick look at the (Di Guoyong Video) translation, I think you are a STAR!!! It works as a book in its own right even without the VCDs. I say this in all sincerity because I spent an hour with the book before I could get to see a disc. I also see what you mean about Di Guoyong being a 'pure teacher'. The VCDs and book together are amazing. "Keith Alker, England

Li Jingru video translation companion

"I wish to congratulate and thank you for the primo work you did for Liu's bagua companion. Wonderfully executed!" Rich Mooney, USA

"Thank you thank you thank you thank you for the Liu Jingru video companion book.  Oh my God what a great resource.  I have all of the VCDs and I knew his instruction was better than any other video series I have seen, and I was watching the silk-reeling and figuring out based on my background in Chen tai chi, but man, this book is so valuable." Ken Gullette, IL.

Coaching Wushu

"I just wanted to thank you very much for uploading your "Coaching Wushu" manual and also your "Development of a Wushu Athlete"!! They are very informative!! I am not a coach, but I am a student and I started reading through your work this morning and found it to be very informative and helpful!!! Thank you so much for your hard work in writing these! I do hope that you do eventually get the chance to edit the manual and publish it!! You are right, there isn't one out there (other than yours!) and there is a need for one. Thank you!!!" Jennifer Mercer

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