Sunday, February 19, 2017

4 Ninja Star Review of "The Secret Art of Derobio Escrima" by Dan Medina

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: The Secret Art of Derobio Escrima: A Martial Art of the Philippines
Author: Dan Medina
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 144
Price: $24.95

  I've been reading several books on the martial arts of the Philippines to broaden my horizons as I had only a vague inclination of what they were.  They also have a similar feel to the art I've just started Pencak Silat.  As I take a hopological approach to my academic studies of martial arts, I have to have a cultural context to put the art.  The martial art by itself doesn't make as much sense until you know more about the culture and traditions that birthed it.  This book does a good job of starting with that cultural context and then going into the how and why of the techniques.

Content

  This book is divided into 8 chapters.  The first one deals with the history of one particular school of FMA called Derobio Escrima.  It starts with stories of how Mr. Medina's teacher's teacher learned Escrima and how Escrima was passed down to himself.  It also takes an honest look at the what the author calls the "supernatural" aspects of Derobio Escrima. The short second chapter deals with the weapons that are employed in Derobio Escrima.  From there is goes through the setup of the basics, including rank structure, or this particular Escrima school.  The rest of the chapters then build up through more and more complex ideas and movements what I assume are the basics for the school.

Pros

    I have to say, the part I liked the most was the first couple chapters of the stories of the past masters.  I really enjoyed the tales of the exploits of people who actually had to use their arts for survival situations.  Whether or not the tales are 100% accurate is almost inconsequential.  I study aikido, and the tales of O-Sensei are of legendary status as well.
   In the second chapter, dealing with the weapons, I really appreciated the pictures showing the different types and varieties of the weapons.  That may just be my geekdom coming out, but I spent more time that I should have staring at the pictures trying to determine which weapons were which, and imagining how they would feel to swing them.
   The techniques section of the book was well written, and was filled with loads of pictures.  Enough to actually follow what the movements are supposed to be.  That's a good thing, as a lot of books (though they've been getting better in the last decade or so) have pictures that seem to jump around, or really only make sense if you know what the movements are (which kinda defeats the purpose of them).

Cons

   My only negative might be the limited usefulness of the book.  If you are in an Escrima, other FMA, or something similar, then I think this would be an extremely useful book.  At the very least for looking at another school's thoughts on martial arts.  However, if you are a karateka, or a BJJ guy, I don't know how useful the technique part would be.
 

Conclusion

    My rating scale for books is based on a three part matrix concerning ability to present information, enjoyability of reading it, and (for the purposes of this blog) usefulness to all martial artists.  The first two characteristics for this book are both very high.  The only downfall is who this book is aimed at.  I don't think it is meant to be a "hey here's how to use Escrima in YOUR art." book.  It is a record and exposure of a specific school of Escrima.  As I said, if that is your chosen art, then this book is right up your alley.  All of that being said, I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  The beginning chapters about the history and the weapons were the part I got the most out of, but I really do feel that with a skilled and dedicated partner, the techniques in the rest of the book could be studied, and learned to a certain degree of competency.  

Episode LVI-Now You're Cooking with Podcast


powered by podcast garden

Video
Link
Contact
Buying
Correction

Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: 2/17/2017

    
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
    

    www.whistlekick.com
    Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio


Interlude Music: Princes of the Universe  by Queen
  
Interview: Paul Wilson

  Karate Cafe on iTunes
  Steve Perry
  Iain Abernethy
  Robert Downy Jr.
  John Cussack
  Matt Page 

  Movies
    Lethal Weapon
    Perfect Weapon
    Above the Law
    Jack Reacher
    Jason Born Movies
    Taken

  Books
    The Matador Series by Steve Perry
    Lethal Weapon Novel
 
  Contact Information
    www.karatecafe.com
    Karate Cafe on Facebook
    @karatecafe

Interlude Music: Crazy on You by Heart

This Week in Martial Arts: Feb 15th, 1951: Happy Birthday to Cory Yuen!


Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Atemicast Youtube Channel
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/martialthoughts


Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review of "FMA Education" By Louelle C. Lledo Jr., and Andy T. Sanano Jr.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: FMA Education: The Fundamental Core of Arnis De Mano
Author: Louelle C. Lledo Jr., and Andy T. Sanano Jr.
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 269
Price: $32.95
  I've been doing quite a bit of reading up on Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) and this was the next book on my list.  I have to say, this was an unusual book, in that it had a specific goal of talking about the FMA Arnis de Mano that is the sport and educational portion of the martial arts of the Philippines.  It has been deemed the national sport of the Philippines, and as such this was indeed a necessary book, especially in English when the US has increasing numbers of FMA practitioners.  

Content

    FMA Education starts with an overview of the physical philosophy that Arnis de Mano exemplifies.  It explains the basic ideas that are taught in this particular branch of Filipino Martial Arts.  It then goes through the basic ways to break down the types of strikes, and how Arnis de Mano number their strikes, as well as how some other systems do.  This is done to show that more is the same in their techniques than is different.  After the basic strikes are detailed, then the targets of these strikes.  There is also a section on drills to develop these strikes.  It finishes up with the rules and regulations for the Arnis de Mano competitions.

Pros

    I got a lot out of this book despite not being a FMA practitioner.  It's most promising aspect was a well thought out plan for teaching the material.  This aspect could easily be adapted to any martial art.  If you're in the process of laying out the curriculum for a martial art, then this book would be a great template.  Look at how the authors have done this, and simply apply the process to your art. 
   Besides that aspect, the book does a good job at simplifying the ideas to the point where the can be practiced individually until enough skill is built up.  Then it gives you more complex drills to practice these more complex ideas again.  There are plenty of pictures to show what the ideas being presented look like.

Cons

    I don't really have any complaints about the book.  It is well presented information.  The pictures are easy enough to follow.  Not being an FMA practitioner, I don't know how simple, complex, or revolutionary the book is, so I can't judge it based on that criteria.  However, if you are not an FMA practitioner, or an instructor looking for a way to organize your martial art, I don't know what you'd get from this book...let me know when you read it (in the comments below).

Conclusion

   Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I do think it has a somewhat limited audience. If you are in FMA, then I suspect this would be a great help to you.  If you are into any sort of stick/blade art, this could be a helpful book.  If not, you may still get something out of it like I did.  I really appreciated the organizational aspect of the martial art, as I've been recently thinking about my own art, and how that is organized.  That's why I'm going to give this book 3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  Not due to any fault of the book's, because it is a very well presented source of information, but rather for the smaller scale of its intended audience.  I would still read this book again, and will indeed be keeping it on my bookshelf for as long as I have one.

Episode LV-Pt. 1, 2, and 3 "The Battle of Five Podcasts"

Video
Link
Contact
Buying
Correction

Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: 1/28/2017


Interlude Music Pt. 1: Oblivion  by Mastadon
Interlude Music Pt. 2: Crack in the Sky by Mastadon

Interlude Music Pt. 3: Ghosts of Keralia by Mastadon

Interview: Shifu Jonathan Bluestein

  Hajime no Ippo  Research of Martial Arts
  
  Dr. John P. Painter
  Sifu Sergio P. Idarola 
  Fascia
  Anatomy Trains Tom Meyers
  
  

  Contact Information

This Week in Martial Arts: Jan 25th, 2001 Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

  Kung Pow: Enter the Fist

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Atemicast Youtube Channel
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/martialthoughts


Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Sunday, January 8, 2017

5 Ninja Stars for "Following the Martial Path" by Walther G. von Krenner.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: Following the Martial Path: Lessons and Stories from a Lifetime of Training in Budo and Zen
Author: Walther G. von Krenner with Ken Jeremiah
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 249
Price: $24.95

    I have a policy about my personal library that when I lend out books, I fully don't expect to get them back.  So there are some books that I don't loan out.  This book may be part of that short list.  This is the third, and I believe final, book in von Krenner Sensei's trilogy on aikido, and martial arts in general (Aikido Ground Fighting, and Atemi).  Von Krenner was a student of O-Sensei and Tohei at the hombu dojo.  I conducted an email interview with von Krenner Sensei, as well as have an episode of Martial Thoughts Podcast with co-author Ken Jeremiah (Episode XLIV).  I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while.  In fact, that's why it took so long to read.  I wanted to savor each part of it.

Content

    This book has 28 chapters with stories and parables in each one.  Each story is given its origin, whether from personal interaction, history, or just legend.  After the story, there is an explanation, and a why this is important to martial artists portion.  Because it isn't one continuous book, but rather 28 small stories, this is a great book to carry around and read a 5 page chapter whenever you have the time.  It reminds me very much of the acclaimed Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. 

Pros

    I cannot give this book enough praise.  It is elegantly put together, and exemplifies one of the concepts presented in the book Shibumi.  Shibumi is "a quality of serenity, introspection, modesty, formality, nobility, and reserve.  It is opposed to everything that is garish, lewd, sensuous, or noisy."  It also does an excellent job of explaining why martial artists would want to have and appreciate the lessons and stories presented.  Everything always comes back to the study of martial arts.

Cons

  I really don't think there are any cons in this book, except if you were looking for a book of techniques.  Then this is not the book for you.  My copy is already highlighted, dog-eared, and thoroughly traveled.  Some people may think in concentrates too much on aikido, or Japanese arts, but I believe that any martial artist who wants to truly delve into what it means to be martial artist, and not just a fighter can look past the illusion of styles and countries.

Conclusion

  If you are interested in becoming a whole martial artist, then do yourself a favor, and read this book.  There are only positives that can happen from it.  I cannot give this book enough praise.  My hope is that this book becomes one of the new classics that make their way around martial arts circles.  With that in mind, I have to give this book a 5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  Remember, the way I give my ratings is on a three-fold scale of readability, content, and usefulness to ALL martial artists.  This book hits 5's on all thre categories.  The only negative is that there isn't more.  I loved the previous two books, and will definitely have a cherished place on my shelf for this one.  I think I'll have to buy another copy just for loaning purposes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Episode LIV-The Desolation of Podcast

Video
Link
Contact
Buying
Correction

Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: 12/22/2016



Interlude Music: School's Out by Alice Cooper


  
Topic: Teaching in Martial Arts


  Your job as instructor
  1. Provide Safe Laboratory
  2. Provide today's Experiment
  3. Be an example of your art's docterine, strategy, and tactics
      Episode IX
  4. Challenge your students
  5. Communicate your art's doctrine, strategy and tactics

  NOT your job as instructor
  1. Be life coach.
  2. Know all the answers

  Communication through Learning Styles
  1. Visual learners
  2. Verbal learners
  3. Auditory learners
  4. Kinesthetic learners

  Martial Arts Instruction by Lawrence Kane
  Episode XXIII-Live Long and Podcast

Interlude Music: Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2 by Pink Floyd

This Week in Martial Arts: 12/22/1994 "Fists of Legend" HK Premier


Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Atemicast Youtube Channel
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/martialthoughts


Outro Music: Christmas in Sarajavo by Savatage

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

3.5 Ninja Stars for "The Lost Samurai School" by Antony Cummins with Mieko Koizumi

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: The Lost Samurai School: Secrets of Mubyoshi Ryu
Author: Antony Cummins with Mieko Koizumi 
Publisher: Blue Snake Books 
Format: Softcover
Pages: 377 
Price: $24.95

    This is the second book of Mr. Cummins' that I've reviewed, the first being Samurai and Ninja, and I've done a podcast interview with him (Episode XX of Martial Thoughts Podcast).  Whether in his writing, or in speaking to him, one thing that always comes through with Mr. Cummins is his enthusiasm for the subject.  You almost get the kid in the candy store feel from him.  This book is no different, there is a definite love and passion for ninja, and translating ninja works.  And even though this book is about an art called Mubyoshi ryu, which was a "samurai martial art," there is a lot about what we would consider today to be "ninja techniques."

Content

    The book starts off with an overview of the history of a koryu called Mubyoshi ryu, including is origins from Shinjin ryu and the permutations it went through to get to the form that it exists in today.  It also includes an introduction to how this information was found, and the difficulties and triumphs of getting this work translated.  However, the main portions of this book are the actual translations themselves.  These include all the pieces that would make up a martial arts school/style from the time period including, sword techniques, infiltration methods, anti-infiltration techniques, shuriken (throwing star/spike) types and methodology used by school, and the "magic" section.

Pros

    One of the things I really liked about this book, I already mentioned was the apparent enthusiasm for the subject.  The other is the thoroughness of the translation.  Many of the historical translations I've read only include one portion of the school's techniques.  It might concentrate on the kenjutsu (sword techniques), or just the taijujtsu (body techniques).  This book gets a full schools worth of teaching.  Everything that was taught in the school, kodachi (short sword), taijutsu, chain and sickle, and even the more mystical methods that are often ignored today are included and translated.  There are also lots of pictures demonstrating, or illustrating many of the techniques and strategies.  These were fun.  They were also mainly perpetrated by the author and his friend Ben.  My favorite picture is on page 181.  This is in the section for proper seppuku (ritual suicide), kaishakuin (assistant), and head presentation.  The bloody head that they are presenting belongs to Mr. Cummings.  That's awesome!

Cons

    The only complaint I have about the book isn't really about the book itself.  There is a sort of shotgun approach to the material.  As in, here's a bunch of material, and absorb what you can without going in depth of the material.  This is probably due to the original scrolls however.  I'm assuming the reader of the scrolls were already in the school/system and already knew the techniques, this was just a written record of them.  As the book keeps saying, at the end of every section, "the rest is oral tradition."

Conclusion

    This book is fun, and gives a legitimate sourcing of what a particular group of samurai were learning from a specific time period.  I really enjoyed the read, and techniques presented, even the more mystical aspects of some parts.  I think its value lies in seeing into the mindset of the samurai of the time.  I don't know if these are typical for the times, but at least it gives a keyhole view to their world.   The pictures, which frequent readers know I'm very critical of, are done well, and do a good job of showing the ideas presented.  Overall, I'm going to give this book 3.5 out of 5 Ninja stars.  It is definitely worth a read, but my rating system is based on how useful it would be for all the martial artists of the world, and unless you're doing a Japanese art, or interested in ninja and samurai, I don't know how useful it would be.  That being said, it is a good book, and I will definitely have it on my bookshelf as a reference.