Martial Arts Recommended Reading
Wing Tsun Material
I have read every book I can find on Leung Ting Wing Tsun and honestly enjoy them all.
Books by Great Grandmaster Leung Ting
GGM Leung Ting (Sigung) is a prolific author.
Siu Nim Tau - As is often said, the material taught early on is the most important. Though each book is slim, I felt the material covered here to be the broadest and universally useful; especially the WT mottos.
A good second choice would be his original book, Wing Tsun Kuen, which is certainly the best overall review of the Wing Tsun system- even after 40+ yrs.
Chum Kiu & Biu Tze books follow the style of the Siu Nim Tau book. Useful when starting to learn each form and I found them useful when starting to teach them for the first time.
Chi Sao books 1-7. I refer back to the first book for a review of themes and mottos. These books should be thought of as reference material. Chi sao is learned by touch/feel, that is the skill, though these books are useful for letting you know if you're on the right path.
Roots of Wing Tsun. Sigung interviewed and took extensive photos of other branches of Wing Chun throughout China. I particularly enjoyed the bits of commentary Sigung provided though its mainly photos of other masters doing their forms.
Skills of the Vagabonds I & II. Hard to find books. Sigung exposes kung fu parlor tricks.
My favorite is the Wing Tsun Kuen video where his senior students flow through much of chi sao smoothly. I also enjoyed the brief demo on the pole and knives. His Dynamic Wing Tsun video is more of an introduction to the foundations of Wing Tsun and its applications.
Books by Grandmaster Kernspecht
GM Kernspecht is the most senior Wing Tsun instructor after Sigung Leung Ting. He is also a 10th level practitioner and the head of the EWTO. GM Kernspecht is a prolific and eloquent writer though most of his work is in German.
On Single Combat- His original book in 1984. Expensive in English. A logical step by step explanation of fighting principles in general and how Wing Tsun fits in. I use many of the points he made (37yrs ago) in my classes now.
Internal Wing Tsun-Continually developing his Wing Tsun, GM Kernspecht blended internal martial arts ideas to his Wing Tsun and found a whole new set of skills Wing Tsun students can benefit from. The first half, the part where he makes the argument for the utility and significance of iWT, is material that I had to read slowly and refer back to. The second half is more traditional Leung Ting Wing Tsun. I think its a great book though at my sub-master level I look at it and think I need to learn the foundational material to a high level of expertise first.
More to come...Chi Sao Kuen, available in German only currently.
Books by former Leung Ting Wing Tsun members.
I read those too. Though I find them to be good, particularly the translation of Cantonese ideas into American culture/English language; I felt that they were largely the same as the books written by Sigung and prefer his more concise original books. I really liked the first couple chapters of Sifu Alex Richter's book on Chi Sao Fundamentals. After those chapters it moves into a series of explanations of actual techniques which I don't find overly useful in a book - I think it needs to be in person.
Books by other Wing Chun folks.
I have read many but certainly not all.
Creation of Wing Chun by Judkins & Nielsen. An academic review of the social and historical events during the time that Wing Chun developed. Begins with a critical look and debunking of creations myths of Wing Chun and goes through to the modern masters. An excellent review of historical data and it helped me understand where the art I love came from. Required dedication to read, not a page turner so to speak, but I really valued the rigor put into researching and writing it.
WSL Ving Tsun Huen Hok: An Overview in Essays by David Peterson. I like the approach to handling some complicated topics by way of essays a few pages long. It gives the ideas and thoughts involved without trying to teach through written word. When I am looking for a different opinion on a set of ideas compared to what I have been taught this is my first stop.
Other than those standouts, I found most other books to be the same material written by a new person with new photos. Certainly valuable as historical items if it is a senior person in your family line writing the ideas and in the photos - but otherwise, didn't help me learn any ideas. I like the photos the of old Ip Chun book on Ip Man doing the Wooden Dummy form.
Non Wing Tsun Martial Arts Books
Karate-Do My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi. Founder of Shotokan (Shoto was his pen name for poetry). Easy to read, interesting historically and full of life lessons all in the context of martial arts. A hidden gem!
Matthew Polly's books
American Shaolin. Its been a while for me but its hard for my imagination to think of something cooler than going to the Shaolin temple and training for 2 years at age 20. Easy to read, fun stories and a witty sense of humor.
Bruce Lee A Life. Much more fully encompassing of Bruce Lee's life, pros and cons, than others I have read. I only knew of him as a movie star, but he was a fighter first, then a very serious martial artist, then a movie star. He was a natural born citizen of USA - born in SF. His Cantonese name translates to "shake up San Francisco" - if those peak your interest, this book is full of that type of material. Including what sounds like a realistic re-hash of his fight with Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee's death - things that I thought were shrouded in vagueness now easy to understand.
Tapped Out. Written ~10 yrs ago at the peak of MMA/UFC, he takes his ex-martial arts self and dives into intense practice of BJJ/MMA with all the wit and honesty he showed in his prior books.
Yiquan founder Wang XiangZhai. Wrote several books in Chinese only. His first book is translated into English and available for free in PDF. In Jan Diepersloot's Tao of Yiquan he records a live translation by Fong Ha of a later book by Wang. It is a great example of good kung fu, at its highest level, being universal. My favorite part is the very beginning and abridged is "Those who need these words cannot understand them, those who already understand them do not need them". Summarizes most of what I've read about kung fu.