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

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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.

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