Watching Your Back: Chinese Martial Arts and Traditional Medicine
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248pp. November 2004
Watching Your Back: Chinese Martial Arts and Traditional Medicine
Author: Schmieg M.D., Anthony L.;
The term “martial art,” like the title, The Art of War, has a dissonant ring. To associate art, that sublime expression of the human spirit, with the enterprise of maiming and killing seems almost profane. Similarly, the martial arts have long been associated with traditional medicine. But, how can the art of healing ally itself with the art of killing? Watching Your Back applies Daoist notions of wellness and survival to reconcile these apparent paradoxes and unveil the origins and rationale of the unexplored symbiosis of Chinese medicine and the martial arts. It discusses the applications of Daoist philosophy and its practitioners, explains how creative arts are simultaneously conserved and advanced within a traditional Chinese lineage, and clarifies the differences between the separate, but parallel, martial and military disciplines.

Drawing from history, philosophy, medicine, linguistics, and the realities of combat, Dr. Schmieg convincingly describes how early proponents of Daoism responded to sociopolitical events in China to shape a unique martial arts tradition and how this ancient system evolved into modern combat forms. Throughout he makes ample use of entertaining anecdotes taken from his years of study under a Daoist physician scholar and “old school” boxer. Written with both the layperson and scholar in mind, Watching Your Back examines the full spectrum of the martial arts while demystifying its philosophy and debunking its myths, and thus brilliantly reveals the true majesty of the ancient Chinese art of self-defense.

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A Latitude 20 Book

“Scholarly, but written to also be accessible to the layperson” —Book News, March 2005

“An articulate, well-thought-out philosophical treatise” —Midwest Book Review, March 2005

Author: Schmieg M.D., Anthony L.;
As a boy, Anthony Schmieg learned judo from his father, a Kodokan-trained black belt. He studied Chinese language and literature at Georgetown University before moving to Taiwan to train under Dr. Bo-yan Xia. Encouraged by his mentor, Schmieg returned to the United States to complete his medical training and is currently an emergency physician in western Virginia.
Read the introduction (PDF).



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