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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.