Reader Tom got in touch, commenting on the lack of posts. True, true. I started writing as a product of my excitement at living in Asia, both Singapore and China. Even during the bad times, the environment provided small joys every day, and the amazing people I mixed with through the martial arts gave me lots of material. Moving back to small-town Wales has been a huge challenge, and I have to say that it’s been difficult, both in the personal and professional spheres. A new environment means a new perspective, one that I am still in the process of developing; I might write a bit more about that later.
Anyway, I want to recommend a book to you all: Sugong. Englishman Nick Hurst has written a fantastic biography of his kungfu grandmaster, an inheritor of the true Shaolin tradition. You won’t learn any martial secrets from this book, but its real value to me lies in its portrayal of Singapore and Malaya throughout the twentieth century. The aspect of Singapore that I loved the most was its complex network of martial societies, temples, food stalls and coffee shops, inhabited by witty, gregarious, traditionalist working-class people of many races and languages. Sadly, social and economic changes are wiping out this link to the old-fashioned Straits way of life. If you’ve never experienced it, this book is a great insight; to those who’ve known it and loved it, this book is going to become a classic account of martial arts society in South-East Asia.