Analysis of Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman

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Analysis of Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman This book was given to me by a good friend who knew that I had an interest in Asia. I chose to read it because it was a true story and was told that it was a good read. The author travels to China as an English teacher for the Hunan Medical School. There he stayed for two years picking up many anecdotes along the way. The author already had spent a large amount of his life studying Chinese language and the martial arts. However, when he arrives in China he meets teachers who have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting a particular art or skill, whether it be martial arts or calligraphy. Mark Salzman was perfecting his calligraphy skills and as weeks had passed he began to make progress. He was getting tired of the models and wanted to try something new. When he told Hai Bin,(his teacher), he frowned and said,”Some people spend their entire lives researching a single model. You should be willing to spend a year on this one.” This is an example of the dedication and perseverance these men have towards their chosen artform or skill. Another example of this theme, was Mark’s Wushu teacher, Pan, who punched a fifty pound plate of steel up to ten thousand times a day. Mark’s relentless practicing of the many forms of Wushu was influenced by Pan. Salzman also showed that there was great oppression. The people of China were under constant surveillance and control. Rarely were they able to make important decisions f...

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