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Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics, by John Dudgeon, [1895], at


A certain amount of mystery surrounds all the Tauist doctrines. Modern chemistry was derived from their alchymy; and the adoption of the movement cure is also traceable to the Tauists. The desire has been long expressed to know something of the extent, importance and rationale of this particular practice of the sect, which goes back to the earliest ages and is closely interwoven with the habits and ideas of the Chinese people of the present day.

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The utmost confusion seems to exist regarding the character of Kung-fu. A distinguished Edinburgh graduate in medicine, in answer to enquiries about Kung-fu, wrote to my friend, the late Dr Roth of London, that it represented certain slips of paper printed with some religious sentences which people eat in the form of ashes, and enclosing two such slips of paper. This is confounding Kung-fu with healing by charms and the chanting of prayers, which is very prevalent in China. (See then writer's series of articles on Chinese Arts of Healing—Chinese Recorder). The late Dr. Porter Smith of Hankow described Kung-fu as a species of disciplinary calisthenics practised by Tauist priests. The writer has therefore attempted an exhaustive review of the practice of Kung-fu, and it is hoped that this contribution will now set all doubt at rest respecting this subject. He fears there will hardly be found a grain of truth and common sense in the whole subject to reward the labour and expense—by no means small—expended upon it. It required, too, a considerable amount of courage to undertake the publication of such a mass of rubbish. The reader, to whom the writer owes an apology, has no idea how much matter, only worthy of such a designation, has been discarded. The one gratification is alone left to him, viz.:—That the subject has now been so exhaustively threshed out, that no subsequent enquirer need enter the field in the hope of finding anything new or important. And that as Cervantes, in his Don Quixote, hung his pen so thigh on the conclusion of that ever-memorable work, that nobody coming after him would venture to take it down, so he hopes that the same will be the case in regard to this work.

The illustrations of this subject which might have been reproduced, are endless. The reader will, it is feared, think that the limit in this particular has been greatly overstepped. The diseases, too, for which they are prescribed, are so much alike that one figure for each disease might have sufficed. On account of the space occupied by them, it was thought advisable to reduce them by one of the photographic processes, but the Publishers recommended them to be inserted in their entirety as facsimiles of Chinese illustrations, which may have a certain interest for some as indicating the state of the engraver and designer's art. The prescriptions, too, may afford those more medically inclined some amusement, and possibly also some instruction in the style of Chinese prescriptions: the drugs used, the mode of preparation, dosage, etc. The growing interest and importance of medical gymnastic

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exercises at the present day is one of the chief excuses for the preparation and publication of this paper, and it is hoped that its further examination has been rendered unnecessary. How far the writer has succeeded in accomplishing M. Dally's wish—that some expert would thoroughly investigate the subject of Kung-fu and inform the public what it contains—, is left to the reader to judge.