Monday, December 5, 2016

4.5 Ninja Star Review for "Research of Martial Arts" by Jonathan Bluestein

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

Title: Research of Martial Arts
Format: Softcover
Pages: 418 (This is a large, thick book)
Price: $36.00 (on Amazon)

    I always read a book with a highlighter.  As I go through I highlight and make comments on anything that I want to know more about, or I should write down in my martial arts journal.  Usually there are a couple good quotes and such that I like and conglomerate into my own martial arts philosophy.  This book, I had to have highlighters of several colors just to make sure the ideas didn't just run together.  That should be an indication of the amount, and value of information present here.  

Content

    Research of Martial Arts is almost three books in one.  As such, it is divided into three parts.  The first being a deliberate and  in depth look at the ideas of Internal and External martial arts.  Although often used to speak of Chinese martial arts, Mr. Bluestein does a good job of showing other martial arts apply the same principles.  The second portion is more like a collection of short essays and observations on martial arts by the author, with two articles by guest authors.  The third is a collection of insiteful interviews with the martial artists that the author has studied with, and has used as examples throughout the book.  If that wasn't enough information for you, there is an extensive bibliography with 190 references, and an appendix with a couple of articles mentioned specifically in the book.  If nothing else, the volume of work in this book makes it worth it.

Pros

    If you can't tell, I like academic books on martial arts.  I'm an intellectual at heart.  This book hits that spot for me.  The first portion, the tretise on External vs. Internal martial arts, is well researched, and well refereced (did I mention the 190 citations?).  It also doesn't take a "mine is better than your" approach.  Sifu Bluestein explains where the strengths and weaknesses of each approach lie.  He also gives examples of how other arts choose some aspects of both to make their art work.  The second part, the article portion is also well written, and insiteful.  I had my highlighter out a lot for this section as well.  The third section, the interviews, are generally very good, and certainly give you many different views, and approaches to martial arts.  

Cons

    I don't really have anything bad to say about the book.  The first section, was very thick with information, and I'll probably have to read it again to make sure I got most of the ideas.  It was a bit academic, although written from a lecture point of view rather than a textbook style, so it wasn't as dry as some others I've read. 

Conclusion

    I don't know if this book is meant for every martial artist, but every martial artist can get something out of it.  This book apparently was published in 2014.  I wish I'd known about it then.  I felt that a certain level of martial arts experience was necessary to fully understand the first section, as well as a general familiarity with many different types/styles of martial arts.  That being said, I would easily recommend this book to my more academically minded friends and colleagues.  This wasn't a right before bed read, or read during the commercials type of book.  This book required my full attention, but it gave me a lot if I paid attention.  That's why I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  It was a really dense book that I'm going to have to look at again, but I really enjoyed it.  Besides, any book that mentioned both Donn F. Draeger and Hiyaa! had to be that good!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Episode LIII "An Unexpected Podcast"


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 11/13/2016

    Dr. Jason Thalken "Fight Like A Physicist"
    Dave Baker Interview
    Anthony DeLongis Interview
    
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
    

    www.whistlekick.com
    Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio


Interlude Music: Princes of the Universe  by Queen
  
Interview: Braun McAsh


  Highlander TV Series
  

  Movies
    The Princess Bride
    Rome (TV Series)
    Vikings (TV Series)
    The Three Musketeers
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

  Books
    The Academy of the Sword by Gerard Thibault
    Fechtbuch by Sigmund Ringeck
    Fechtbuch by Hans Dobringer
    Fechtbuck by Hans Talhoffer
    Caranza
    Narvaez
    Dominico Angelo Smallsword
    Vincentio Saviolo
    George Silver 
   
  Contact Information
    The Ring of Steel    Fight Choreography: A Practical Guide for Stage, Screen, and TV
    The Actor's Blade

Interlude Music: Smoke on the Water from Youtube

This Week in Martial Arts: November 9th, 1918 General Choi Hong Hi's Birthday 
  A Killing Art by Alex Gillis


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

Monday, November 7, 2016

Episode LII-The Podcast of the King


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 10/30/2016

    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
   www.whistlekick.com

Interlude Music: Haloween Theme on Guitar by Isaac Johnson
  
Interview: Dr. Mark V. Wiley

  Tambuli Media
  Atemi: Aikido Thunder and Lightning

  MOVIES
    36 Chambers of Shaolin
    10 Tigers from Kuan Tung
    Kid with the Golden Arm
    The Magnificent Ruffians
    5 Deadly Venoms
    Ip Man (I, II, and III)
    Big Trouble in Little China
    Prodigal Son

  BOOKS
    Weapons and Fighting Arts of Indonesia
    Classical Bujutsu
    Classical Budo
    Modern Bujutsu and Budo
    Comprehensive Fighting Arts of Asia
    Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods
    John Gilby's Books
    The Canon of Judo by Kyuzo Mifune (in Judo Gi)
    The Complete Guide to Kung Fu Fighting Styles
    Kung Fu History and Traditions

  CONTACT
    www.tambulimedia.com
    Facebook

Interlude Music: Horror Themes Metal Medley performed by Chris Barker

This Week in Martial ArtsHappy Birthday to Anatoly Kharlempiev Oct 29th, 1906

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

Outro Music: O Fortuna, Carmina Burana, by Orf

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Episode LI-The Two Podcasts


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 10/15/2016

    Dave Baker Interview
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes


Interlude Music: Whip It! by Devo
  
Interview: Anthony DeLongis


  IMDB Page
  Maestro Ralph Faulkner
  Guru Dan Inosanto
  Highlander (TV Series)
  Jet Li's Fearless
  Harrison Ford
  Michelle Pfiefer
  Rolling Loop Bullwhip System
  Kathy Long (Fight Double for Catwoman)
  Deadliest Warrior: William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu
  Articles sent by Anthony DeLongis
       IMPACT April 2006. "Anthony De Longis: Swordmaster, Part 1," by Mike Leeder.
     IMPACT May 2006. "Anthony De Longis: Swordmaster, Part 2," by Mike Leeder.
     IMPACT June 2006. "Anthony De Longis: Swordmaster, Part 3," by Mike Leeder.    
  F. Braun McAsh  MacGuyver
  Star Trek: Voyager
  Delongis Indalo Ranch  Films
    Kurosawa Films: Sanjuro, Seven Samurai, Inagaki's Samurai I, II, and III, Yojimbo

  Contact Information
    Delongis.com
    Youtube Whip Clip

Interlude Music: Indiana Jones Theme ROCK VERSION performed by Karl Golden

This Week in Martial ArtsHappy Birthday to John L. Sullivan Oct 15th, 1858

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

Saturday, October 8, 2016

3.5 Ninja Star Review for Kong Han Ngo Cho

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

Title: Kong Han Ngo Cho: Forms-Weapons-Fighting
Author: Henry Lo and Daniel Kun
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 468 (There's a lot to this book!)
Price: $39.95

    The name of the system is often translated as Five Ancestor Fist.  This is one of those systems I've heard of about for a long time, and never really knew anything about.  So I decided to get this book to look at what the system is about.  

Content

    The book starts off normally with a history of the system, and goes through the different patrons, telling stories about them, until it gets to the current head of the system.  It explains a little about the political aspect of the system.  This branch is from the Philippines from Chinese immigrants.  It then heads into the physical movements that are part of the system, and how they comply with the ideas of energy and body movement.  The meat of the book however goes through the three beginning (up to Black Belt) forms, as well as the
beginning weapons forms.  You normally don't see that in the same book.  After the forms, the author's also explain and demonstrate some of the drills that their system uses.  


Pros

    One of the things I really liked about this book is the forms section.  It shows the forms in three different ways.  As a solo routine, as a paired drill, and how the ideas are utilized in a fighting situation.  I don't know enough to say this is something unique to this style, or if this is just a rare way to show the form that is accomplished in this book.  Either way, I like and appreciate this idea.  Also, with each picture there is a description of what is supposed to be occurring in between the pictures.  Sometimes in the written picture accompaniment there's even an explination of why the movements are occurring, and what its supposed to be teaching.
    I also enjoyed the completeness of the book.  The writing of the history and the philosophy along with the empty hand and weapons forms and training drills give you a very good general feel for what the system is about, and what you would expect to see at a training session.


Cons

    One of the things I rate martial arts books on is how useful is it to every martial artist, not just the ones that are in the system.  While I fully agree that this book would be very useful, and maybe even a must have for someone practicing Five Ancestor Kung Fu, other artists would have to look deeper into the book to get something more out of it.  The beginning section talking about the different energies would be good to read a couple of times, but then, apart from walking through the forms, and trying to learn them, it would be hard get the full function out of the book.

Conclusion

    If you're like me, and you remember the martial arts books from the 70's, 80's, and most of the way through the 90's where all you had was just a brief description of a martial art, and then pages and pages of pictures, most of which ranged from OK to huh? when you had to follow the movements.  This book is reminiscent of that style, but greatly improved on.  The beginning sections are well explained in terms of history, and philosophy.  As I said above, I really like the idea of showing the forms in three different ways. The descriptions on the pictures allow you to create a sense of movement in the pictures that is hard to accomplish.  Overall, I'm going to give this book 3.5 Ninja Stars.  I think that if you practice this style, or perhaps a related style, it would be a really useful resource.  If you are not, it can still be a good resource, but the impetus is on you to delve in and get the knowledge nuggets that can be applied to you and your art. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Episode L-The Fellowship of the Podcast


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 10/3/2016
  Samurai Archives Podcast  Website

    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes


Interlude Music: Neon Knights by Black Sabbath
  
Round Table Discussion: McDojo
  Jeremy Lesniak 

    Whistlekick Martial Arts
    Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio (Website, iTunes)
  Robert Ingram
    McDojoLife on Instigram, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter
    Soon to come: www.McDojoLife.com

Interlude Music: Neon Knights by Black Sabbath

This Week in Martial ArtsThe Big Boss Hong Kong Premiere Oct 3rd, 1971

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, October 2, 2016

4.5/5 Ninja Stars for "Mastering Eskrima Disarms" by Mark V. Wiley


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

Title: Mastering Eskrima Disarms
Author: Dr. Mark V. Wiley
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 240
Price: $29.95 ($9.99 on Kindle at Amazon)

    This is the second of Dr. Mark Wiley's books that I've reviewed in a row.  The first was Filipino Martial Arts, and was published about 20 years ago.  This one was published in 2013.  So the author has covered some ground with his writings.  I started by just looking for some books on Filipino martial arts, as this was a weakness in my knowledge base.  I was delighted to read both as they do a great job explaining the physical theory of Eskrima.  This book takes a look at one particular aspect of Eskrima their disarms.


Content

    This book does a great job of showing Eskrima disarms is a very thoughtful, methodical way.  The author starts off with breaking down the ranges, and relative body positions (which are called gates), and footwork of Eskrima.  Dr. Wiley then breaks down the disarms based on their effect on the body, and their effects on joints.  This is all done as a foundation so that the rest of the books will all make sense.  The majority of the book then shows different disarms and makes specific references to the previously read information.  For example, the first disarm, is a single stick disarm that is used at medium to long to medium range, moving from the inside gate, to the outside gate, while completing a Stretching step.  The Disarm will use a direct strike method.  While this may seem confusing, its only because you haven't read the description portion of the book.  Besides, there are over 1,000 pictures which do a great job of showing the positions of the body, and illustrate the descriptions very well.  If you've read any of my other reviews, you know that pictures in martial arts books are a hang up for me.  They can be done well, and add something to the book, or they can be a hindrance to the book.  Dr. Wiley's pictures are definitely an asset to seeing what it being described.


Pros

    I have two things to talk about that I really loved in this book.  First, one thing I gathered from the little Arnis, and Escrima that I've been able to participate in that because there are so many options, its hard to just teach ONE THING.  The instructor will often add "or you can do it like this... or like this" to any technique.  This makes it confusing for newbies, or people like me who are just trying to get the gist of the art.  Dr. Wiley breaks down the techniques into a series of overlapping categories so that you can see how all the options are related.  But that might just be the way my mind works.  
    The second thing I really liked was the last third of the book.  In this section, Dr. Wiley explains, and gives examples of how other Eskrima, Arnis, or Kali would handle disarms.  Many of the pictures of this section still had Dr. Wiley as the initial attacker, which shows that he has worked with many of the greats in his chosen art.  It is also refreshing to have a book include more than one style without any sort of competition, or "this is wrong" type of commentary.  He just presents the others, as more options to be used.  I really liked that.


Cons

    I really have nothing bad to say about the book.  It takes a great, detailed, look at the specific part of Eskrima disarms, and thoroughly explains them without simplifying them to rote steps to take.  The only thing I may say bad about it would be, I don't think its a universally useful book.  If this is something you're looking for then yes, its awesome.  Get the book by all means.  Even if you're not an eskrimador, but practice another art where you can incorporate the ideas, then this would be a worthy purchase.  But if you do, say Olympic Tae Kwon Do, I don't know how useful it would be for you.

Conclusion

    My rating system is based on a couple of different factors.  First is the presentation of the information in the book.  Does it convey the information well?  Is it entertaining? Second, who would benefit from reading this book?  The more useful the information to more people, the higher my rating goes. Overall I would easily recommend this book to any of my martial arts friends.  I think it has pertinent information and can be applied to many different types of arts.  The only reason I don't give it the full 5 Ninja Stars is as I said, there are some martial arts practitioners that don't often deal with weapons or disarms, and this might not be so entwined into their martial arts as it is in others.  That's why I'm going to give it 4.5 out of 5 Ninja stars.  If you have weapons and disarms in your system, then this book is worth you taking the time to read it.