Saturday, September 16, 2017

Episode LXXI-Laughing Out Podcast


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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifrin

Introduction:
  Recorded on: September 16th, 2017


Interlude Music:Noldor by Blind Guardian

Interview:Ben Kovacs of Guardian Gym
Interlude Music:Thorn by Blind Guardian

This Week in Martial Arts: Sept 16th, 1962 Harakiri Premiered

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

Episode LXX-Total Eclipse of the Podcast



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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifrin

Introduction:
  Recorded on: August 21st, 2017
  iTunes Review from Coolvibes
  Blade Show in Atlanta

Interlude Music: Spirit of Radio by Rush

Interview: James Williams of Nami ryu Aiki Heiho
  www.systemofstrategy.com

  Movies
    The Last of the Mohicans
    Blackhawk Down
 
  Books
    Go Rin No Sho (Book of Five Rings) by Musashi Miyamoto (Translated by Thomas Cleary)
    Sword and the Mind by Yagyu Family
    The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho
    Heiho Okugisho by Yamamoto Kanutsuke
    Legacies of the Sword by Dr. Carl Friday and Seki Humitake
    Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsumetomo

Interlude Music: The Spirit of Radio by Rush

This Week in Martial Arts: August 22nd, 1951 Gordan Liu's Birthday

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

3.5 Ninja Stars for "The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art" by Stephen K. Hayes

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

Title: The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art
Author: Stephen K. Hayes
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Published: 1981 (Republished 2017)
Format: Softcover
Pages: 151
Price: $12.95

Take Away: If you are going to start with the story of modern ninja, there's no better place than Stephen K. Hayes.

    Ninja are always fun to talk and read about.  And if you're going to look into ninja, then start with one of the men who popularized the idea of ninja in the US, Stephen K. Hayes.  He's the first name of ninjutsu in America.  He's been in Black Belt since ninja have been popular.  So why not get the story from the man himself.


Content

    This book comprises the story of Mr. Hayes' search for ninjutsu in Japan, and some great anecdotes about his ninja training while there.  Each anecdote is specifically chosen to illustrate a point about the methodology of the ninja, whether it is their combat techniques, or their ways of invisibility.  Interspaced with these are more historical or philosophical chapters which explain the cosmology and modus operandi of the historical ninja.

Pros

    This book is one of the first actual books on ninja published in English.  It precedes, and may in fact be partly responsible for, the Ninja-craze of the 80's.  As such it a valuable read for that reason alone.  They stories are well written, and easily demonstrate points, while not having the author self-grandiose himself.  In fact, many times, he is the butt of the training story.  As such it is an easy read packed with many lessons useful to almost anyone with a martial mindset.


Cons

    This book was originally published in 1981, and is showing some of its age.  Because it was the first of its kind about ninja, it was important then.  The information it gives, though revolutionary for the time, are now a little more common knowledge, and as such has been seen or adapted in other media over time.


Conclusion


    The book is a little dated, and most of the information can be found other places now, but that
doesn't remove the significance of this book.  Because much of what's here has been historically debated, I have to be careful to take everything as gospel.  I do think that the majority of what is said has other sources to back it up.  However, some things have been directly disputed by several other sources.  Now that I think about it, one of the strategies of the ninja is to specifically enhance their reputation, and to exaggerate their mythology.  In the chapter about sewing misinformation, Mr. Hayes talks about how the strategy used was to spread gossip and lies mixed together...I think I just gained a new respect for this book.  That being said, I'm going to give it 3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I appreciate the reputation of Mr. Hayes, and his significance in modern ninja history.  The book itself is entertaining, and teaches many valuable lessons.  However, it is a bit dated, and some of the facts about ninja are disputed.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Episode XLIX-Make America Podcast Again!


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Intro Music: Theme From Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifrin

Introduction
  iTunes review and Share  CLICK HERE
  Jeremy Lesniak whistlekick Martial Arts Radio
  Paul Wilson of Karate CafĂ©
  Sensei Ando of Fight for a Happy Life
  Jeff Westfall of The Martial Brain
  Dave Jones and Craig Keisling of Hiyaa!
  Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder of Martial Arts and Life
  Iain Abernethy

Interlude Music: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Discussion Topic (Lack of) Teens in Martial Arts
  Jeremy Lesniak of Whistlekick Martial Arts

Interlude Music: Teen Titans Theme by Radkey

This Week in Martial Arts: August 15th, 1945 Defendo was Named
  Bill Underwood
  Combato

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Outro Music: Voodoo Child-Jimi Hendrix/Gayageun by Luna

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Episode LXVIII "Ich Bin Ein Podcaster"


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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schiri

Introduction
  Recorded on: July 26th, 2017
  Reviews for iTunes
  Gi Review from Piranha Gear

Interlude Music: Faeries Wear Boots by Black Sabbath

Interview with: Peter Boylan

  Musings of a Budo Bum
  The Jet Program
  Movies
    The Twilight Samurai
    Iron Fist 
  Books
    The Tao of Pooh
    Legends of the Samurai  Sword by Karl Friday
    Old School by Ellis Amdur
    Dueling with O Sensei by Ellis Amdur
  Contacts
    The Budo Bum Blog

Interlude Music: Faeries Wear Boots by Black Sabbath

This Week in Martial Arts: July 26th, 1973 Premiere of Enter the Dragon

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

4.5 Nina Star Review of "Musing of a Budo Bum" by Peter Boylan

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

Title: Musings of a Budo Bum
Author: Peter Boylan
Published: 2017
Format: Softcover
Pages: 154
Cover Price: $20.00 ($8.99 Kindle Edition)

Take Away: A great series of essays on what Japanese budo (martial ways) are.

    I practice Japanese martial arts.  I have for now over 15 years.  For a while now, see my other reviews, I've been reading and exploring other martial arts and their philosophies.  I even studied a non-Japanese arts, Pencak Silat from Indonesia for a little over a year.  But I've returned back to a Japanese martial art recently.  I don't have a pro-Japanese bias, its just where I've studied.  I enjoyed the time away, learning other culture (martial and otherwise) but this book was a nice return home.  It reminds me of what I enjoy about studying budo.

Content


    The book is a collection of essays from the author's blog, called The Budo Bum.  It takes 28 essays about budo and collects them into one place.  Each one is only a couple of pages long, and can be read pretty quickly.  They are grouped together into several topic centered sections which allows the reading of one essay to build on the reading of the previous one.


Pros



    This subject is in my wheelhouse.  I also practice Japanese budo.  Every single time Mr. Boylan described an occurrence he had in his budo training, I was nodding my head.  I've had very similar happenings, though in different martial arts, and different settings.  I liked the quick essay format for this book.  It reminded me of Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams in that you can read a small bit, think about it, and then either ponder it through out the day, or dive back in to absorb some more.  This makes it very approachable information and description.  Because, honestly, these are some deeper subjects for martial artists.  Every single section had me thinking of my own training, both for what I've done in the past, and how I'm going to train in the future.

Cons


    The only flaw, if you can call it that, with this book would be that it is Japanese martial art specific.  However, that is based on the experience of the author, and everything he says, can be applied to other arts.  It just seems to me, the Japanese are more dogmatic in their approach to budo.

Conclusion


    You can always tell how useful a book is to me by how many times I grab a highlighter.  Well, I grabbed for the fluorescent yellow (and several other colors) a lot in this book.  Nearly every section I highlighted passages.  Sometimes a couple of times in the same essay  It could be an idea I wanted to expand upon later, or it could be a way to describe something that I'm going to use for my students.
    I have no flaws in this book.  This book is so well done, and comprises such good wisdom that I'm going to give it to my students to read.  Even if you don't practice a Japanese art, but are looking to get into the more of the philosophical or, I hate the use of this word, spiritual aspect of martial arts, especially the training then this book is for you.  Its for those reasons that I'm going to give this book 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  Its very readable, it is deep with valuable wisdom to the budoka (practitioner of budo), and it is varied enough in subject to keep you reading.  The only reason it isn't a full 5 Ninja Stars is because, although I am sure the information and wisdom would be valuable to non-Japanese art practitioners, it is specifically targeted  towards them.  Either way, I'm definitely going onto The Budo Bum and subscribing as soon as I'm done writing this review.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Episode LXVII-Four Score and 20 Podcasts Ago

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded on: July 3rd, 2017
  Begging for iTunes Review
  Mifune: The Last Samurai 

Interlude Music: Land of Confusion by Genesis

Interview: Phil Trent
  Author of Flawless Deception: The Truth Behind the Samurai Schools

  Movies
    The Last Samurai
    The Duelists
    Gross Point Blank
    Kingdom of Heaven
    Red Sun
      Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune
    Shogun

  Books
    Face of Battle
    Warrior Traditions by Koryu Books
    Legacies of the Sword by Dr. Karl Friday
    Anything by Ellis Amdur
      Hidden in Plain Sight
    State of War by Dr. Tomas Conlin
    The Flower of Chivalry by William Marshal
    Donn F. Draeger

  Contact
    Facebook: Genuine Samurai Martial Arts of Dallas
    Blog: Koryu Matters
    Youtube: Genuine Samurai Martial Arts of Dallas
 

Interlude Music: Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails

This Week in Martial Arts: July 2nd, Big Trouble in Little China Premiered

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Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix/Gayaguem by Luna

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Episode LXIV "Mr. Gorbechev, Tear Down This Podcast"


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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded on: 6/24/2017
  James Williams
  Blade Show
  Stop Motion Time Stop
  Dojo of the Southern Wind
    Nami ryu Aiki Heiho

Interlude Music: Uncommon Man by Deep Purple

Interview: Vito Trabucco

  Henchman: The Al Leong Story
  Al Leong
  Big Touble in Little China
  South Park Big Trouble
  Die Hard
  Lethal Weapon
  Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
  A-Team
  Rapid Fire with Brandon Lee
  Doug Wong
  James Liu
  Stephen Lambert
  Jeff Yamada
  John Carpenter

  Movies
    Enter the Dragon
    Sammo Hung
    The Masters The Grandmaster
    Films of Fury
    Martial Arts in the Movies  The Art of Action: Martial Arts in Motion Pictures(with Samuel L. Jackson)

  Contact
    Facebook

Interlude Music: Uncommon Man by Deep Purple
 
This Week in Martial Arts: June 22, 1962 Stephen Chow
  Final Justice
  The Final Combat
  Fight Back to School
  Shaolin Soccer
  Kung Fu Hustle
    Yuen Wa
    Yean Qiu
    Leung Sui-Lung
  Journey to the West
  The Mermaid


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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

4 Ninja Stars for Flawless Deception by Phil Trent

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

Title: Flawless Deception: The Truth Behind the Samurai Schools
Author: Phil Trent
Published: August 30, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 2749 (screens?)
Cover Price: $9.99

Take Away: Curious about koryu?  Then this book describes them, their training methodology, and challenges their preconceived conceptions.

I've been involved in Japanese martial arts pretty much the entirety of my 20 years in the arts.  Almost none of that has been in the most traditional part of the arts, the koryu.  A koryu is a, theoretically, historically accurate representation of an art that has been preserved through direct passage of information and tradition.  It is something that calls to the romantic in me.  To be training in the same methodology and ways of the actual samurai?  That would be awesome!  However that may not be a entirely accurate truth, as the author, Mr. Trent proposes.

Content


    The book is divided into three main section, which are called Deliberate Deception, Inherent Deception, and Inadvertent Deception.  While going through the entire book, the author uses examples from medieval time, both Japanese Samurai, and European knights, as well as modern, possibly more relate-able  examples.
    The first section deals with why deception was used, as if that needed to be explained) in warfare.  It then goes onto the ways that koryu used deception as part of the theory of warfare and combat, just as every civilization and general has done, and is still doing.  This includes why school would have okudan, or hidden techniques, as well as ways to hide their techniques in written form, kata (physical patterned movements), or by changing the distance or timing of practiced forms.  This is a form of deception within the school.
    The second section deals with the more esoteric forms of training, the psychological/physical manipulations that derive from the religious/philosophical preference of the koryu developer.  These could be Taoist, Buddhist, or Shinto in origin, or some combination there of.  The techniques included could be a simple thing as breathing, or as complex as hara (center) manipulation, both of your self, and your opponent, as well as advanced training that the author calls Spontaneity.  In someways, you could think of these as the internal aspects of these martial arts.
    The third section deals more with our interpretation of koryu from a modern world.  It included a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of the training and techniques used in koryu.  This section, to me, was the most controversial, and honest look at the koryu I've read in a while.

Pros  


    This is one of the most, honest, critical looks at koryu, their training methods and results that I have seen.  It is openly criticizes the reported effectiveness of koryu in today's world, and indeed even challenges the idea of the "passed down as the Samurai trained" theory espoused by many koryu.  I don't mind that aspect at all.  Either the conclusions can be backed up with evidence and reason, or they cannot.  Mr. Trent does a good job at backing up his claims.
  My favorite part was the middle section (ha pun!) that deals with the hara or center.  It is one of the most in depth examinations of what hara is, and how it is used as an internal training I think I've read.  As an aikidoka, I have experienced hara training, and can honestly say, it is hard to describe the sensation of correct usage of center.  The technique just happens easier, and you have more control in what you're doing.  Again, its hard to describe.


Cons


    There are some parts of the book that will draw criticism from any practitioner of a koryu.  The last section of the book for sure will.  This by itself is not a wrong thing to include in this book.  It is just an honest questioning, with logic and reason to back up the questions.  Just thought I should mention that before moving on.
    Okay, one MINOR point I have to say, just because its in my zoological wheelhouse.  The author makes a reference to the hara, being like the "second brain" that sauropods were supposed to have around their hips.  This commonly held incorrect hypothesis has been debunked.  I don't blame the author, as it is a small thing, and is still part of the remembrance in the public consciousness.  There, got that off my chest.  Whew...
    I  have to admit, ebooks are not my favorite.  I don't enjoy the electric format of reading through digital devices.  I'm a bit of a Luddite that way.  It was nothing again with the book, just the format.
    The last thing is as many of the books I've reviewed is "who can benefit from reading this book?"  I think this book has a more limited audience.  It is really intended to be beneficial for those studying Japanese martial arts.  Which of course is fine, but I give my reviews for any martial artists that would want to read the book.
 

Conclusion


    Overall, I have to say I liked the book, even the challenging portions.  I appreciated the in depth access to the hara in section two, and the writing style made it an easy read.  Even if it was in digital format.  Therefore I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I enjoyed the read, it made me think deeper about my own martial arts, and question a lot of the collective wisdom of static martial arts.  I didn't necessarily agree with all the conclusions, but I understand why they were made.  The reason it isn't a higher grade is, as I've stated above, the usefulness to a wide variety of martial artists.  I don't honestly know how useful it would be to someone not practicing Japanese martial arts.  It very well could hold value for them, but I don't see the immediate connection to other arts.  Which again, if fine, it's just that "wide placed value" is part of my ranking system.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

4.5 Ninja Stars for Historical European Martial Arts in its Context

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

Title: Historical European Martial Arts In Its Context (Single-Combat, Duels, Tournaments, Self-Defense, Masters and their Treatises)
Author: Richard Marsden
Publisher: Tyrant Industries Publishing
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 215 with Index
Cover Price: $59.99

Take Away: A great book at explaining the "why" of HEMA

  HEMA is a general terms used to describe historical European martial arts.  This is a very general term which, if you wanted it to, could cover not only an entire continent's worth of combat styles, but also several millennia as well.  Generally those that are covering what they do HEMA limit themselves from the medieval period up to the 18th or 19th century.  This still covers many different societal and technological changes that influenced how and, of course, why they fought.  This book does an amazing job of covering both the temporal and geographical difference of the "why" people fought, mainly with regards to melee weapons.

Content

    Mr. Marsden uses the history of the European continent to define how and why people were fighting they way they were.  He starts off with the different types of personal combat we have records of, which mainly consisted of types of duels.  The author goes through the differences and similarities of Judicial Duels, Private Duels, and how these techniques and methods could be used in self-defense in the different times and places.  He then, briefly, examines some of the weapons that could be used in these situations.  He concludes by taking the reader through time and location by looking specifically at the Treatises of the various masters, who they were, and what they taught.

Pros

    First off, let me say this is physically a beautiful book.  It almost reminds me of a coffee table book you'd have out for other people to browse through.  It is hardcover, which is a rarity in martial arts books today.  The book is full of beautiful full color pictures, both from the source material, and from The Phoenix Society of Historical Swordsmanship, demonstrating some of the points showcased in the book.  I know, its a small thing, but every page number is in color.  I appreciate the extra effort and cost that went into this book.
    As far as the material, this book accomplishes what it set out to do in a brilliant fashion.  It goes a long way to show that the fighting styles changed greatly over time and location, and although we now lump it all together as "HEMA" there was a lot of variation in methodology, and even reasons for combat.

Cons 

    The only reason this book would have any negatives would be on the part of the reader.  If you come into this book looking for techniques or strategies, then you've come to the wrong place.  There are other books on that subject, including one specifically on Polish Saber by the same author.

Conclusion

    I really believe that HEMA should become more accepted into the general idea of martial arts than it currently is.  It faces an uphill battle of stereotype and bad-image control (maybe nerdy image-control), but I think books like this that give more historical context for what people are doing in HEMA will help.  HEMA is just as just as the traditional koryu of Japan, they just come from halfway around the world.  If you are curious not just about how those in Europe fought, but why they would engage in these matters, then this book is for you.  It is for that reason that I'm going to give this book 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  It very nicely fulfills its purpose and does so in a educational manner.  I learned a lot of historical context by reading this book.  The only reason I don't give it the full five stars, is that part of my ranking system is based on usefulness to all martial artists.  If you're only looking on improving your martial art, this might not be the most appropriate book for you.  If you're looking to expand your knowledge of martial arts from around the world (and I am) then this is a great book.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Episode LXIV "Walk Softly and Carry a Big Podcast"

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Intro Music: Theme from Enter the Dragon by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On:
  iTunes Reviews
  Bill Herndon of Piranha Gear on Episode XIV

Interlude Music:  Brother by Alice in Chains

Interview: Roberto Escobar
  Object History

Interlude Music:  Got Me Wrong by Alice in Chains

This Week in Martial Arts: Premier of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  May 25th, 1983
  Bob Anderson
  Mark Hamil
  Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel

Contact Info
  martialthoughts@gmail.com
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  facebook.com/martialthoughts

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

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

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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