Kung Fu Books
Wong Kiew Kit is an avid study of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. He has done a great amount of work to bring the theories and practices of Shaolin to the western world.
You will find the Application & Forms section helpful when you are thrown into the mix with the other students.
This book is a classic among the students. I remember it being very helpful of understanding the culture and experience of learning Kung fu in China.
It has a riveting story about a guy who travels to China to study martial arts before many people were doing that. He ends up getting into a fight. He has many enlightening stories to share that you will find entertaining.
Yang Jwing Ming has published some of the best material on Chinese Martial Arts and Qigong that I've come across. His book on Chin Na (Qin Na) is immensely helpful in remembering the different joint manipulations.
With so much to take in and learn about kung fu during your stay, this is a great reference book that you can refer to when you are rehearsing after class on your own.
Chinese Philosophy Books:
4. Tao te Ching
The cornerstone of Chinese martial arts. It's philosophy is heavily embedded in Chinese kung fu. You will want this one by your bedside when you are in China training kung fu.
If you are big into Tai Chi, it is essential because Tai Chi is all about Wu-Wei. Wu-Wei is translated as action without action, effortless action. This is the yin-yang symbol, everything seeks balance.
If you want to listen to it online, you can here.
While most of you probably already have this book, I think there is a lot of wisdom contained in it.
Bruce Lee studied Wu-Wei probably since an early age as he attempts to find understanding about the concepts. I think his notes on the philosophy are better for bridging the gap of the paradoxes of Tao Te Ching.
Chinese Culture Books
An Overview of Culture & Etiquette in China - Going to the country without understanding the culture will cause a lot of confusion.
This book is a quick read and doesn't go too deep into the different aspects of history and culture. They also explain the two biggest concepts of Chinese culture, "mianzi" (face) and "guanxi" (relationships).
There is a good section towards the back for a lot of helpful "dos and don'ts". I've definitely made my share of blunders in the country but they are usually forgiving once they realize that you didn't know.
Chinese Language Books
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If you are curious about the Wisdom of Chinese characters, this is an enjoyable book to read. It tells you the story about how Chinese characters were created and the meaning behind them.
You will get a greater appreciation for how their language was formed and will create and inspiration for learning the language. I actually picked this book up at bookstore in Yantai and have kept it with me ever since.
Here is a great Youtube channel on Chinese Characters to get your started.
8. Chinese Pod
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While this isn't a book, I think it will be your best bet for learning the Chinese language. In the beginning I tried learning from a book but nobody could understand me and I couldn't understand them.
I've found ChinesePod to be really helpful because they have short 15 minute lessons in Podcast form and a ton of resources on their website to deepen your learning. You can also check out their Youtube channel for a lot of free Chinese lessons.
This is another book by Yang Jwing Ming. I think his way of describing and explaining the concepts of Qigong are easy to understand.
For example, he has explained "Qi" as the "Chinese word for all kinds of energy." I think his simplicity of explanation makes him an easy author to refer to. He also researches modern science to explain ancient concepts.
If you are of a more scientific mind and want to know what modern science says about the energies in our body, I think you will find this book useful.
It was written by a surgeon who has spent three decades researching into this topic. It is also a great addition if you already enjoy the practices of Qigong to add to what ancient knowledge has discovered.