Saturday, May 20, 2017

Epsidoe LXIII-Tippy Canoe and Podcast Too

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: May 17th, 2017
  iTunes Reviews

Interlude Music: Dare to Be Stupid by "Weird" Al Yankovich

Lecture
  The Dunning-Kruger Effect

This Week in Martial Arts: May 19th, 1999
  World Premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

4.5 Ninja Star Review for Secrets of the Samurai

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.
Title: Secrets of the Samurai, The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan
Authors: Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook
Publisher: Tuttle
Published: 2017 (1973 Originally)
Format: Softcover
Pages: 399
Cover Price: $19.95

Take Away: This is the first book to get if you are interested in Japanese martial arts

    I first got this book when I was in college (Go Gators!) and starting my martial arts journey.  I didn't realize it until later, but I ended up viewing this as another textbook in my studies.  Except this was one of the text books I kept.  That's how I still view this book, as a college level textbook about Japanese martial arts origins.

Content

    Okay first off, there's a lot in this book, its 400 pages long with the index.  The book is broken up into three sections.  It starts off going over the history and rise of those who would eventually be called the samurai.  Of course this only makes sense if you contrast a people against the others in their society so that's part of this part. The next section deals with how and where this martial information was passed on.  The second section deals with the external factors that comprise Japanese martial arts.  It gives a brief look at the different types of arms, armor, and martial arts systems that supplied the samurai with their skills.  The third section deals with the internal aspects of martial arts.  This is where things can become a little mystical in a lot of books.  However, it presents everything from either simple physical science point of view, or the authors explain some of the more esoteric aspects as concepts.  This third section also deals with modern arts of Japan and how strategy and morality form part of the study of Japanese martial arts.

Pros

   This books has a lot going for it.  Primarily, the vast amount of information presented in the book is staggering.  That's why I initially kept this book.  I wanted to use it as a reference book.  I still often come back to it, to remember some things.  Secondly, the pictures in this book would alone make this book worthwhile.  The late Mr. Oscar Ratti was the artist for this book, and his illustrations immediately convey the sense of movement inherent in martial arts.  Each simple, black and white picture beautifully illustrates a concept or object.  It maybe the geek in me, but his weapons pictures bring up memories of old D&D manuals, so maybe I'm putting a little bit of nostalgia onto it.

Cons

   The only thing I have that would be considered a negative aspect of this book it that it is an overview book.  Whole books have been written each of the sub-sections.  But again, think of it as a college textbook.  A biology book will go over a lot of material, but each section probably has another whole class and book dedicated to it.  Same thing.  That being said, there is enough information in each section to give you a healthy idea of what that specific art or item entails.  Also, because it is a textbook, it does have a bit of a dry flavor to it.  There are neither tales of daring and dashing, nor are there lists and pictures of techniques.

Conclusion

    This is Japanese Martial Arts 101 text book.  I know, I keep saying that, but that's what this book is.  If I taught an aikido class at a University (yes, please) I'd use this book as required reading.  Now, as much praise, as I can heap on this book, it is written is a little bit of a dry style, and I think its main use is for those studying, or interested in Japanese martial arts.  That's why I'm going to give this book 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  If you are studying a Chinese martial art, this may not be as helpful for you.  Sure, many of the concepts from the external and internal sections will be familiar, and could be useful, but the book wasn't written for you.  If you want to read up on Samurai and their impact on Japanese martial arts (which I do), or are interested in the history of Japanese martial arts (which I am), this book is THE place to start.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Episode LXII-Dewey Defeats Podcast

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Shifri

Introduction
  Recorded on: May 7th, 2017
  iTunes Reviews

Interlude Music: Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum

Interview: Ken Jeremiah
  Previous Interview: Episode XLIV
  Aikido Ground Fighting (Review, Amazon)
  Atemi: The Thunder and Lightning of Aikido (Review, Amazon)
  Following the Martial Path (Review, Amazon)

Interlude Music: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

This Week in Martial Arts: May 2nd 2006
  Internation Kyudo Federation formation

Contact Info
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Twitter: @martialthoughts
Facebook: www.facebook.com/martialthoughts

Closing Music: Voodoo Child-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Saturday, May 6, 2017

4 Out of 5 Ninja Stars for "Aikido Weapons Techniques"

In the interests of disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.
Title: Aikido Weapons Techniques: The Wooden Sword, Sick and Knife of Aikido
Author: Phong Thong Dang and Lynn Seiser
Publisher: Tuttle
Published: 7/11/2017 (originally 2006)
Format: Softcover
Pages: 144
Cover Price: $12.95

Take Away: This is the perfect book to introduce the integration of aikido and the weapons practiced along with aikido.  It should be on every aikidoka's shelf.

    Back to my wheelhouse: aikido.  I've read the other books by these authors, and have loved them.  Somehow, though, I missed this one.  I was excited by the chance to get a copy of this book.  So excited that i read it in 1 day.

Content

    This book is beautifully layed out in its simplicity.  There is an introductory section which describes aikido, aikido training, and the concept of weapons use in aikido.  Which at first may seem contradictory.  Aikido is supposed to be this "peaceful, non-violent" martial art, yet a weapon's sole purpose is to hurt people right?  The authors do a great job of showing how those conflicting philosophies can be blended to create a unique set of practices with weapons.
    After the introduction, each of the three weapons associated with aikido is given its own section.  The wooden sword (bokken) is first, followed by the jo (4ft. staff) and finally the tanto (Japanese knife).  Each section gives you a beginners look at the weapons including its history, how to hold it, and then delves into the basic practice techniques.

Pros

    What I love about this book is its simplicity.  There is no assumption of knowledge, yet doesn't come off as a lecture.  It does a very good job of just presenting the information for your edification and enjoyment.  Also, each of the sections have enough well done pictures to easily decipher what the authors are describing.  The practices/techniques are easily mimiced from the description and the pictures if that's your goal for this book.

Cons

    I don't really have any complaint about the book.  The book does exactly what it is designed to do;  Introduce the weapons practices of aikido.  It does this really well, and is easy to figure out how to practice on your own.  Perhaps, it may be to basic?  Or maybe, because I'm an aikidoka it seems that way to me?  I don't know.

Conclusion

    Overall, I enjoyed the book.  After reading it, I immediately went to my home dojo and started practicing.  Which I think anyone can do with this book.  It makes aiki-weapons very accessible.  For my rating, though I'm not going to give it a perfect score.  I'm going to give it 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars for two reasons.  One of my criteria for my rating system is 'how useful is it to ALL martial artists?'  If you don't study aikido is this book useful?  Yes, I think it can be if you are looking for basic aiki-weapons practices.  If not, then maybe not so useful.  Also, I know it's an introductory book, but I would have liked to see more in depth look at the weapons uses and practices.  Maybe, that's for another book?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Episode LXI-Read My Podcast, No New Taxes

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Shifri

Introduction

  Recorded On: 4/23/2017
  iTunes Review
  www.whistlekick.com

Interlude Music: We're Gonna Make It by Hammerfall

Interview: Sensei Jesse Enkamp

  Contact Information
  karatebyjesse.com

Interlude Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Shifri

This Week In Martial Arts
April 26th, 1954
Seven Samurai Premiered in Japan

Contact Information

Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Twitter: @martialthoughts
Facebook: facebook.com/martialthoughts

Closing Music: Voodoo Child-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

3.5 Ninja Star Review for "Fundamental Iron Skills" by Dr. Dale Dugas

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.
Title: Fundamental Iron Skills: Tempering Body and Limbs with Ancient Methods
Author: Dr. Dale Dugas
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Published: 2015
Format: Softcover
Pages: 155
Cover Price: $29.99

Take Away: An excellent introduction to the ways of building up your own iron skills

    This book represents a  curiosity of mine.  As I come from a very soft martial art (aikido), I have no experience with the hard styles building up of the body in this way.  I had seen a couple of documentaries where if you look closely, the old karate master's hands were calloused and looked barely functional anymore, but I wouldn't want to be hit with them.   There had to be something in their training that could lead to this.  Then, when reading the Bubishi, translated by Patrick McCarthy, they talked about the medical tinctures or liniments that allowed for them to heal their hands when doing their training.  This awoke a curiosity in me, and led me to this book.

Content


    The book starts off with what iron skills actually are.  If you're like me, you've heard of "Iron Palm" techniques.  Maybe from old Kung Fu movies.  Well, Dr. Dugas explains how iron palm is just one subset of techniques/skills that comprises iron skills.  He then explains why every martial artist would want to train some in iron skills.  He then goes on to explain what prep work is required to actually start training.  The first thing this includes is the creation and use of Dit Da Jau liniment.  These are the "magical" recipes passed down from master to student which enables the hands to heal from the purposeful beatings you give them with iron skills.  The other equipment you'll need is a striking bag and bag stand.  Dr. Dugas includes the different theories on these and how you should select one if you are going to work iron skills.
    The second section of the book deals with training.  How to train to acquire the iron skills, and specific training methods.  But of course training without application is useless, so the author then shows how these skills can then be applied, specifically how it applied in Baguazhan and Southern Mantis, which I think the reader can extrapolate how to apply these in their own arts.

Pros


    This books puts forth some of the more extreme sides of martial arts in a very simple, matter-of-fact way.  It doesn't seem to be trying to convert you to a way of thinking, it just presents you with information.  I appreciate that part of the book.  I also appreciated the application portion of the book.  Once you learn the methodology, its always good to see how your new skills can be learned.

Cons


    There really is nothing wrong with the book.  It is well written, it makes sense, the pictures are easy to follow.  If you are looking for an introduction book to iron skills, this should be the one you get.  If you're not looking, I think there can still be some value.


Conclusion


    If you were looking for a book to start your iron skills training, (or are just iron skills curious?), this would be a perfect place to start.  It beautifully lays out what you need to start, both in terms of materials and initial practices.  The only reason I'm going to give this book a lower rating is because of my rating scale.  I rate on how useful it is to martial artist of any style, skill level, or ability.  I think this book is great, but it may only be really intended for a specific set of readers.  Therefore, I'm going to give the book 3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I enjoyed reading it.  I learned a lot, and I appreciate the skill set gained by the practitioner, I just don't know if its for me, and my martial art.  Perhaps there's an idea for a Martial Thoughts experiment on my part?  Could be.  If there is, I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Friday, April 14, 2017

5 Ninja Stars for Krav Maga Tactical Survival by Gershon Ben Keren

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

Title: Krav Maga Tactical Survival-Personal Safety in Action
Author: Gershon Ben Keren
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Pages: 224
Cover Price: $17.95 ($12.16)

Take Away: A book of amazing pictures masterfully illustrates how to use martial arts tactics in realistic personal safety situations.

    I've reviewed Mr. Ben Keren's previous book (here) and found it a really frank and honest review of self defense situations.  I liked it so much that I interviewed the author on Episode XXIV of the Martial Thoughts Podcast.  When I heard his second book had come out, I was excited.


Contents


    This book continues in the vein of the first one.  It goes through very realistic situations and tactics while using full color pictures to show the tactics and techniques being employed.  The book itself is broken into five separate parts.  The first being striking.  It illustrates simple to use strikes, and more importantly how and when to use the appropriate strike.  The second section may actually be the most important.  It deals with trying de-escalation and how to read the warning signs that the other guy is going to attack regardless of what's being said.  The third section deals with what was left out of the first book: armed assaults.  It details some techniques that could be employed in armed situations, including how to foil/stop a weapon a weapon from being drawn in the first place.  The fourth describes what to do when being grabbed in various ways, and the last section deals specifically with throws and how and when to apply them.

Pros


    The book is really well written in plain language to make it easy to understand.  You get the feeling of the gravity of the situation and techniques without it feel like its trying to scare you.  The author calmly explains what happens to you and the attacker biologically, psychologically, and emotionally when fights occur.  It also gives you an option or two to deal with the confrontation.  So in the end you feel kind of empowered by the knowledge.  
    However, The biggest thing about this book that stands out to me is the pictures.  First, they are in color.  Second, they are set in real places/situations and they are taken in the middle of an executed technique, not "staged" in place as some others tend to be.  

Cons


    I don't think I have any cons.  If there is one specific detail I had to pick on, it would be that this is more of a volume two.  You can read this book and experience it in its glory as is.  However, it would be better suited to have read the first book first.  The first book deals more with the history of Krav Maga, and how to deal with unarmed attacks.  

Conclusion


Overall this book accomplishes exactly what it aims to do.  Using Krav Maga strategy to effect simple self defense tactics in realistic ways.  The book is presented to be useful for anyone.  If you are looking for self-defense and are not a martial artist, this gives you a REALLY good starting point to work from.  If you are already a martial artist, you probably practice some, if not most, of these techniques in your art.  This book might just be there to give you context.  That's why I'm going to give this book 5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  There is honestly nothing wrong with this book.  Especially if you consider it as volume 2 in conjunction with the first book.  If you teach or take martial arts and want to talk about self-defense as part of your curriculum, both books should be in your library.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

4 Ninja Stars for "True Path of the Ninja" by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami

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

Title: True Path of the Ninja-The Definitive Translation of the Shoninki
Author: Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $12.95

Take Away: A great portrayal of what and who the real ninja were.

    I had read another of Mr Cummins, and Ms. Minami's books before (The Last Samurai School, and Samurai and Ninja) and I always appreciate the translations that they provide.  I even interviewed Mr Cummins on the Martial Thoughts Podcast (Episode XX).  The authors job is to translate real ninja scrolls as well as provide comment on them to explain what they really mean.  Their books always provide some background to make sure the reader understands both the context and the connotation that was undoubtedly written into the scrolls.

Content

    The book is a translation of Natori Masazumi's Shoninki.  It includes several sections on how to infiltrate enemy areas, how to gain information while there, and how to in effect, "think" like a ninja.

Pros

    The writing is one of the strong points of this book.  The translations are done very well, to the point that it is easy to read and understand as a modern English speaker.  Before each section of the scroll, the authors give a small, couple paragraph introduction on what is contained in that particular section.  I believe this helped the reader be able to understand each of the translated sections even better.

Cons 

    The one problem I have isn't with the book or the authors at all.  It is with the scroll that was translated itself.  This was the last scroll that a ninja was supposed to be familiar with.  So it kind of glances over some of the more "ninja-like" stuff such as the equipment and weapons.  However, those are found in the other books.  Those items are not in the purview of this particular scroll, so I cannot find fault with that.

Conclusion

    Overall, I had a good time reading this book.  I mean come on...What part of NINJA SCROLL wouldn't be exciting to you?  As I said, the book was well written and the information was easily accessible.  It gave you the big picture aspect of being a ninja in the times when ninja were employed. I enjoyed how they passed down the ideas of infiltration, not by sneaking in all ninja-like, but by disguising yourself as wood cutter, or a begger, and walking around town.  Any book that says "bribe the clergy with gold" has to be good, right?  So overall I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars because it is a good read, the subject matter is interesting, and well presented.  I just think because of the way the original scroll was to be used, it felt as if you were missing something when reading it.  

Blog References for the Martial Artist

Hey Everyone,

Here's a link to another website's best martial arts blogs that will help in your training.

http://www.fullcontactway.com/top-blogs-martial-arts-training/

Why did I give you that link?  Well, because they were kind enough to mention Martial Thoughts on their Top 40 list.  I read a bunch of these, and have even interviewed some of the authors of these blogs.  This list is by no means exclusive, and there are some that I read on that aren't on this list.  But this will give you plenty to read up on.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Episode LX-The Only Thing We Have To Fear is Podcast Itself

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Shifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: April 1st, 2017
  www.whistlekick.com
  Coupon Code: MA10
  Always Picked Last Review 

Interlude Music: Foreplay/Long Time by Boston

Interview: Coach Kevin
 
Contact Information
  kevin@burnwithkearns.com
  kidsgrowingupstrong.com
  Facebook: Burn with Kearns
  Instagram: Burn with Kearns
  Always Picked Last

Interlude Music: Peace of Mind by Boston

This Week in Martial Arts
    April 1961 = First Real Publication of Black Belt Magazine
      Uyehara Mitoshi, 3rd Dan under Tohei Sensei

Contact Information
Email; martialthoughts@gmail.com
Twitter: @martialthoughts
Facebook: www.facebook.com/martialthoughts

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Episode LIX-Ask Not What Your Podcast Can Do For You


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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded on: Monday March 27th, 2017
  iTunes Review Link
  Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio
  www.whistlekick.com
    Coupon Code: MA10

Interlude Music: Funky Cold Medina by Tone-Loc

Interview: Dan Medina
  Derobio Escrima: A Martial Art of the Philippines
  Review of Derobio Escrima from Martial thoughts
  General Faustino Ablen
  Grandmaster Braulio Tomada Pedoy

  Movies
    Ip Man
    Tai Chi 2 Tai Chi Hero?

  Contact 
    Mr. Escrima on Youtube
    medina.escrima@gmail.com

Interlude Music: Funky Cold Medina by Tone-Loc

This Week in Martial Arts: March 30th 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Contact Information
Twitter: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
facebook.com/martialthoughts

Closing Music: Voodoo Child-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Thursday, March 23, 2017

3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars for "Lameco Eskrima" by David E. Gould

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

Title: Lameco Eskrima-The Legacy of Edgar Sulite
Author: David E. Gould
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 273
Cover Price: $29.95

    Because of my association with Tambuli Media I've had the opportunity to scratch a martial arts itch I've had for a while.  The martial arts of the Philippines was something that I new very little about.  Over the last couple of months I've been able to read several very good books about the subject from the perspective of different schools/systems.  In most of the books, the beginning history and stories are what fascinated me the most.  The techniques, while illustrative and well done, weren't as useful to me any my martial arts growth (...yet).  This book then was a different take.  It focuses on the life and times of one particular master of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite and how he came to develop and train others in his creation, Lameco Eskrima.

Takeaway from the Book

Great biography of an important Filipino Martial Arts Master and how he synthesized his unique system from the masters he pays tribute to.

Content

    The book is first and foremost a biography.  The last third of the book does have examples of Lameco Eskrima techniques being performed by characters in the book, and they do offer a counterpoint and context to the biographical content.  However, the main section of the book deals with the life and development of a modern Eskrima tradition.  It details how PG Sulite learned and combined the styles from the different masters he studied with, and what he liked to emphasize from each of them.

Pros

    There is a definite sense of weight and responsibility from the author in telling his tale.  Guro Gould has a great deal of respect for PG Sulite, and it shines through in the writing.  The tales themselves are interesting and detail a life growing up in the Philippines and studying Eskrima from "old school" masters who prize "old school" training methods.  He also doesn't deify the man, and shows some instances where mistakes happened, and how Punong Guru Sulite grew from those mistakes. It does a very good job of showing the growth of a man and a martial arts system.

Cons

    My only real criticism of the book is I think the author stayed to close to documentarian in his presentation of events.  The stories lacked some emotion, but that was a stylistic choice, and I understand that.

Conclusion

     As I said, the book presented the story in a very thorough way, and delves deeply into the history of one particular man and his course of study in martial arts.  It includes his stellar rise through hardwork and dedication to join the ranks of master in his chosed art.  It also tells how he incorporated all the different styles he had learned into something of his own, and how he disseminated those teachings.  I really did enjoy reading the stories, they just lacked some panache.  I do understand that the author was going for a specific format to his writing, so I don't hold that against him too much.  Overall, I'm going to give this book 3.5 out 5 Ninja Stars.  If you are a student of Lameco Eskrima this book would be very important to you.  If you are a student of FMA this book should be a very interesting addition to your learning.  If you are outside that group, although interesting, I don't know how useful it would be to your growth as a martial artist.  It's for that reason, and the slight dryness I give it a rating of 3.5.  It was a good book, but not necessarily useful to everyone.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Episode LVIII-Beware the Ides of Podcast


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 3/20/2017

    
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
    

    www.whistlekick.com
    Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio

       Savings Code: MA10


Interlude Music: Ave Santani (from the Omen) by Jerry Goldsmith
  
Interview: Damion Lupo

  Yokido.org
  Seane Corn  Reinvented Life
  Maverick Mistakes

  Movies
    Hard to Kill-Steven Seagal
    Roadhouse

  Books

    George Leonard
      Mastery

  Contact Information

Interlude Music:  Rio by Duran Duran

This Week in Martial Arts: March 19th, 1931: Happy Birthday to Ed Parker

    

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, March 11, 2017

5 Ninja Stars for "Always Picked Last" by Coach Kevin Kearns

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

Title: Always Picked Last: A Guide to Finding Your Way in Life
Publisher: Tambuli Media
Format: Softcover
Pages: 257 
Price: $16.95

  This one of those books that turned out to be much more than I thought it was going to be.  I got this more as an aid to my high school teacher mode of thinking, than as a martial artist's way of thinking.  I was surprised by the brutal honesty and heartfelt story that it portrayed.  This book had me reading it continuously.  I finished the book in two or three days.  In my hectic life, where time is a luxury, this was a book I couldn't put down.

Content

    This book is the biography of one Mr. Kevin Kearns who grew up bullied.  It starts with the just "kids being kids" stage of bullying and goes through the stories of adolescents and young adulthood where his choices start to be his own.  Of course, martial arts is a part of this story, otherwise this wouldn't be the correct soapbox for this book.

Pros

    The most important part of this book is the storytelling.  Mr. Kearns does an amazing job of showing you from the inside what being bullied feels like.  Its actually quite heartbreaking.  I found myself reflecting back to my own youth and considering if I had been on either side of the bullying issue.  I don't think I have, but the reflection is the purpose itself.  This book brings about a huge feeling of empathy.  The author then talks about how physical activity in the form of weightlifting and martial arts bring about the change in mindset to stop the bullying.  There is a slow buildup to the final confrontation that you know is coming, but, as it is a biography, it doesn't happen in some contrite prescribed way.  The tension builds throughout the entire telling of the story.  The whole book does a great job of first explaining things from a kid's perspective, and slowly shifting through the adolescent mindset, to reflecting on it from adulthood.

Cons

    I really don't have anything bad to say about the book, except that it IS an autobiography, which just adds to the empathy this book achieves.  It's a little on the short side?  Is that a bad thing?  Seeing as it is the childhood and teenage torturing of a person, no.

Conclusion

    I cannot say enough good things about this book.  In its own way, this book is a real life Karate Kid type of story, where the positive effects of martial arts, and physical training in general come to fruition.  In fact it goes even further to show that through his hard work, Mr. Kearns becomes Coach Kearns.  A UFC level strength trainer, among his other accomplishments.  I loved the story presented in this book.  It was masterly told and in a way that made you feel sorry for the young protagonist, and glad when he makes the right decisions to better his life.  Its for these reasons that I'm going to give this book a rarely achieved 5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  There isn't anything new in this book, but the method of presentation is what makes this book so great.  I hope everyone reads it.

Episode LVII "Be Like Podcast My Friend" Shownotes

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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 2/26/2017

    
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
    

    www.whistlekick.com
    Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio

       Savings Code: MA10
    Iron Fist on Netflix
    Into the Badlands Season II
    Samurai Jack Season 5

Interlude Music: Funky Monks  by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  
Interview: Monk Yunrou

  Danielle Bolleli's The Drunkest Taoist Podcast
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One Badass Bunny!  Check him out!

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Interlude Music: Funky Monks by Red Hot Chili Peppers

This Week in Martial Arts: Feb 22nd, 1964: Happy Birthday to Marc Dacascos

    Al Dacascos

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

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


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

Introduction
  Recorded On: 2/17/2017

    
    iTunes Link  Begging for Review on iTunes
    

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

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Interlude Music: Crazy on You by Heart

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


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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.