everybody was kung-fu writing

werd-fu blogger j. thorp is learning taijiquan – and  several other chinese words

Creative Writing

Kung Fu Writing


Public Relations



It was almost an accident that I got to know Jose Figueroa, the Puerto Rican-born shih-fu who spent his teenage years in Harlem and today teaches tai chi as martial arts at Dark Raven Studios in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was working at a marketing firm in Minneapolis and freelancing a little bit on the side; Jose was preparing to open his school in a couple days and had no marketing materials. His fiancee was a friend of a friend, and the mutual friend connected us.

The job? A one-pager about Chen-style taijiquan, an art I don't know; Jose, a man I'd never met; and Dark Raven Studios, a school without students. We spoke for an hour and a half on the phone, midweek. The studio open house was Saturday. You can read the results here: The Hidden Way.

A feature story in local newspapers Avenues and The Villager, Form With a Function, and a press releases, Full Potential, followed – but real excitement started when Jose began pitching articles to international martial arts publications.

First was an article for Inside Kung Fu magazine, Fist First (PDF), which discussed why a slow, steady progression through empty-hand Chen training is critical for weapons mastery. Then came a collaboration on a Q&A article with legendary Chinese wushu grandmaster Wu Bin, also for Inside Kung Fu.

A short while later, Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine published History Is the Best Teacher (PDF), the story of Jose's kung-fu brother Stephan Berwick and film legend Donnie Yen, whose journey from Boston to Hong Kong by way of Xi'an marked the first time Westerners chose to forgo studying in Beijing or Nanjing for China's ancient capital and the explosive wushu performed by the country's foremost athlete of the day, Zhao Changjun.

What's next? A feature story on Jose's unique Chen Tai Chi for Kids curriculum is soon to be published, and various other articles and a screenplay are in development.