Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review of Campfire Tales from Hell, Edited by Rory Miller

Review of Campfire Tales from Hell

Musings on Martial Arts, Survival, Bouncing, and Other Thug Stuff

Edited by Rory Miller

    As I mentioned last post, I've been reading a bunch by authors that know, and can describe the difference between martial arts and self-defense: Rory Miller, Lawrence Kane, Marc MacYoung, et. al.  This book is a collection of essays (seem like I've read a lot of books like that) by these authors and others.  The overall idea of the book seems to try an break many of the myths that exist in martial arts about what happens, or at least how it happens in an actual conflict.  Now, that is not to say this book is telling the reader "you don't know what real fighting is...I know what real fighting is."  But the authors are all people who have seen things enough to establish a pattern of behavior and wise response, or have had martial arts, or survival situation that they wish to talk about.
    The book is 34 essays with a concluding essay written by the editor himself.  The essays are broken down into 6 sections: Technical, Training, Fiction, War Stories, Places you don't Want to Go, Advise, and Philosophy.  Each part has its own knowledge and wisdom that is given freely.  A lot of it is common sense that most people need to be I guess its not that common.  Some of it has to do with the biochemical cocktail explosion that occurs in stressful situations, and the effects that these hormones entail.  Some is advice to young cops from an experienced officer.  Some are violence de-escalation techniques that have worked for the specific author, or what to watch out for when someone is trying to con you into complacency.  Each section, and essay within contains wisdom worthy of being read, and taken to heart.
    There were two essays that I really enjoyed.  The first essay was called "Talking to Cops" by Marc MacYoung.  It talked about how a police officer's idea of what should happen after an altercation, and your idea, even if it is self-defense, can be very different.  His essay gives some tips on what to say, and what not to say.  The essay I found the most interesting however, was "Death, the Teacher" by E. Rushton Gilbert.  His story is that he was a cop who ended up catching Hep C from some criminal somewhere, sometime.  He was stubborn and ignored the symptoms until they were painfully obvious.  It could have killed him.  It made him analyze what he was doing, and why he was doing it.  Part of the intrigue for me was that he is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.  I found his pathway of thought fascinating.  Mainly for the analyzing he was able to do.
    Overall, I'm going to give the book 4.5 Ninja Stars, because it is an interesting read, it is stuffed full of valuable information, and you get a very wide variety of perspective on a wide variety of situations and ideas.  The only reason I don't give it the full 5 stars, is that some of the ideas are presented by the same authors in other books in more detail.  Still, If you are interested in the difference between martial arts in the dojo and how martial arts/self-defense works in the real world, then this is a great book.

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