Title: Musings of a Budo Bum
Author: Peter Boylan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.