May 25, 2023

Bonus Episode: Way of the Warrior - Martial Arts Master Chris Bates

Bonus Episode: Way of the Warrior - Martial Arts Master Chris Bates

Ever daydreamed about traveling to East Asia and studying under the great martial arts masters? American Chris Bates did just this, first coming to Taiwan in 1976 to study Mandarin and train in martial arts. Follow Chris’ journey, from meeting the eccentric Liao Wuchang (the Monkey Boxer), training under the retired general and Shaolin master Kao Fanghsien, to getting a wife. John and Chris also discuss other notable figures, including Donn Draeger and Robert Smith, two Americans who helped bring East Asian martial arts to the West.

Chris would gravitate toward the internal Chinese martial arts (xingyiquan in particular), training since the early 1980s under the acclaimed Hong Yixiang and his sons. In fact, Chris has just translated Blurred Boundaries, a magnificent biography of the late Master Hong. Chris wraps things up talking about his latest book, the timely novel Rise of the Water Margin.

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Cover image: Chris Bates practicing martial arts with friend. (Via Chris Bates) 

Below: Donn Draeger demonstrates a fighting move as 007 actor Sean Connery looks on. Draeger was an important stuntman and trainer for Connery during the filming of You Only Live Twice (1967). Images via Wikimedia Commons.

Below: Donn Draeger(1922-1982)  was an internationally known teacher and practitioner of Japanese martial arts as well as the author of several important books on Asian martial arts. Draeger was also a pioneer of international judo in the United States and Japan.

Below: Robert W. Smith, (1926 – 2011) was an American martial arts expert and writer, most noted for his books and articles about Asian martial arts and their masters. Smith was also a former US Marine and CIA operative who was posted to Taiwan in the 1970s. Photo shows Smith and C.C. Chen. (Via Ancient

Below: The cover of Chinese Boxing, one of many books written by Smith.

Below: Blurred Boundaries: A Martial Arts Legacy and the Shaping of Taiwan by Ze-han Hong (Author), translated by Chris Bates.

Below: Chris and Ling-li Bates' Culture Shock, a book that's helped many an expat adapt to life on this island.  

Below: Rise of the Water Margin: A Novel of the Near Future(2022) by Chris Bates.