American Shaolin of Mathew Polly

I finished reading Mathew Polly’s excellent American Shaolin.

After this book, I think I will be able to appreciate martial arts movies better. I also loved the anthropological flavour in Polly’s writing–especially when he describes the patron-client relationships in its various forms.

There are also some interesting quotes and traditional Chinese proverbs in the book, which open each section of the book:

  • To suffer and learn a lesson, one pays a high price, but a fool can’t learn any other way.
  • A poor chess player can still make a remarkable move.
  • It is only when a person gets into difficulty that one can truly see his heart.
  • Only those who have tasted the bitterest of the bitter can become people who stand out among others.
  • Drinking games are to be observed even more seriously than military orders.
  • A club hurts the flesh, but evil words hurt the bone.
  • Wine and lust are the agents of disaster.
  • Is it not a joy to have friends visit from distant lands?
  • When drinking water, don’t forget who dug the well.

Finally, I also found this nice non-Chinese quote (if you can excuse the Samuel Jackson-ian, pulp fiction-ish language):

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

On the whole, a wonderful read, which, I have no hesitations in recommending.

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One Response to “American Shaolin of Mathew Polly”

  1. Moya Says:

    thanks so much for this. it really helped me on my project. (;

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