Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review of "The Xingyi Boxing Manual"

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

Title: The Xingyi Boxing Manual
Edited by: Jin Yunting
Compiled by: Ling Guiqing
Translated by: John Groschwitz
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Pages: 139
Cover Price: $16.95

  I little while ago did a review of Shang Yun-Xiang Style Xingyiquan by Li Wen-Bin and I talked about how the book made references to some parts of history and transmission of Xingyi that I was not familiar with.  This book gives a lot of that background information. In hindsight, I wish I had read this book first.


  This book is a collection of different writing of Xingyi masters that was originally published in 1930.  At least that's what I gathered from the introduction by the translator, Mr. Groschwitz.  The original has been published in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong since the 30's, but this is the first English translation that has been made available.  


  The book does a very good job at translating some very obscure ideas into relatable English.  It seems to cover all the basic ideas and philosophies of Xingyi and gives the reader the background and history behind Xingyi.  Because I am not a Xingyi martial artist, I don't know how in depth this information is, or how rare it is.  It also includes a lot on the Chinese medicine ideas that are often linked to internal arts like Xingyi, and how they are linked to the movements of this martial art.  As I said in the introduction, it did fill in some of the gaps of my understanding of the "songs" of Xingyi, and some of its history.  As unusual as it may be, the part of the book I enjoyed the most was the biographies of the original Chinese martial artists/authors at the end of the book.  I really like to read/hear about old school martial artists and the stories surrounding them.  It's always fun to try to separate story from fiction.


  Personally, I don't subscribe to the internal medicine ideas much, so I wasn't as interested in those aspects of the martial art.  But that's pretty much the only drawback.  The book does have a different feel in the writing style, as it is translated from 1930's Chinese, so it may take some readers a little bit to get used to it. 


I did enjoy reading this book, even if I wasn't a Xingyi martial artist, and I'm not into the Chinese Traditional Medicine parts of the art.  I think someone that was a Xingyi martial artist would find this book much better, and more useful than I did.  As such, I have to give it 3 our of 5 Ninja Stars.  It was a good book, just not that useful to me specifically.  I'd love to hear from a Xingyiist (is that how you describe them?) who reads the book and tells me what they think.  It could be they would gain a huge amount of information, and give it a full 5/5 Ninja Stars.  As I said, I did really enjoy the biographies at the end.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Episode XXII-May the Podcast be with you

Episode XXII-May the Podcast Be with You

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Download the Podcast HERE

Recorded: January 18th, 2015


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

Listener Emails
    Hung Gar
    Myth and Martial Arts... or... When your Master just makes shit up
    Oshii Samurai (The Mute Samurai)
    Zatoichi to Yojimbo (Trailer)
Been on the air for 1 year now!
New Year's Resolutions Objective
  1. Another 20 Episodes this year
  2. Growing the Listenership of the podcast (up to 1000)
We're on Facebook

Interlude Music: Come as you are by Nirvana

Interview: Kris Wilder
Kris Wilder's Books
  Lawrence Kane
  Goju ryu (karate)
  Kodokan dojo
  Fossil was built upside down (Hallucigenia)
  The Way of Martial Arts for Kids
  Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach
  Khmer Rouge
  500 Social Media Marketing Tips
  Future Babble
  Coaching the Mental Game by H. A. Dorfman
  The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success by Kevin Duttton, Andy McNab
  The Old Farmer's Almanac
  The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
  Aftermath Inc
  General Wilkinson
  Merriwether Lewis
  Socrates Aristotle Quote: It is the mark of a mature educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
  Richard Robert Rodriguez
  Heroic Trio (Trailer)
  El Mariachi
  The Perfect Weapon
  Jeff Speakmen
  Above the Law
  Lone Wolf McQuade
  Nicholas Cage
  The Karate Kid
  Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  Six String Samurai (Trailer)
  Buckaroo Bonzai
  Blue Velvet
Interlude Music: All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix

This Week in Martial Arts: January 18th, 1868
Huo Yuanjia's Birthday
  The Chinese Connection
  Fist of Legend
  Jin Wu
  Chen Seng-ho
  Hercules O'Brian
  Jin Wu Athletic Association
  Zhao Linhe of the Shaolin Monestary
  Chen Zizhen (Eagle Claw Master)
  Lao GuanGun (Seven Star Praying Mantis Master)
  Geng XiaGuan (Xingyi Master)
  Wu Juanquan (Founder of Wu style Taiji)

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

4.5 Ninja Stars for When the Fight Goes to the Ground by Lori O'Connell

Review of When the Fight Goes to the Ground

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

Title: When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-Jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense
Author: Lori O'Connell
Publisher: Tuttle
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $18.95 (with DVD)

  First off, let me say that this is a book I've had on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years now.  I've really wanted to read this one.  I study a mainly stand up martial art, and as such, have wanted to study on my own, some grappling, or what's often called ground fighting.  This book is designed exactly for that purpose.  It is for someone to add more to their own martial art. Besides the book, it also comes with a DVD showing the techniques discussed in the book.  This alone covers one of the faults of many books, which is trying to show dynamic motion with still images.  I guess someone else figured out that moving images show motion better than pictures.  Go figure.


  This book is set up with an introduction that talks about grappling/ground fighting in one of the most honest ways I've ever seen.  The author, Lori O'Connell challenges the often made claim by grappling schools that "all fights go to the ground."  By doing some research of law enforcement encounter statistics, it turns out there are a significant number that do end up on the ground, but not as many as some slogans may have you believe.  The introduction then concludes with the martial theory that the ground is not the place you want to be, but if you don't know what to do when you're there, then its doubly bad.
  Most of the techniques presented in this book are from the perspective of self-defense, not sport. Each of the chapters shows strategies and techniques that allow you to get up after being on the ground from a particular situation.  The DVD then goes on to show the same techniques in motion.


  This book does an excellent job at being what it is.  Which is an addendum to someone's martial training that doesn't train in ground fighting.  If you want to supplement your own system self-defense ideas, the this book is great at doing that.  The colored pictures in the book are easy to follow.  However, if you can't tell exactly what is going on, the included DVD shows the same techniques in motion.  This can be a great asset because sometimes,  the moving examples can show more than pictures can.
  I think the author being a small female also helps with the validity of the techniques.  If she can train to pull them off against larger, stronger opponents (which would be almost everyone) then the techniques work.


    The only thing that could be negative about this book is that it is a textbookish, dry read.  And that isn't really a drawback because it is designed to be more like an addition to a martial arts curriculum than a storybook.  It isn't a history, or an entertaining story.  It fills its roll very well.


  I have to give this book a very high 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I would recommend this book to anyone that is in any stand up martial art who wants to learn more about how to train for ground fighting situations.  This book is brilliant at fulfilling that role.  As I said above, the only drawback, is that it has a manual type feel to the reading of it, and the instructions may get repetitive.  This could be because I was sitting there reading it, as opposed to trying to learn and practice each individual technique presented before moving on.  The techniques presented are viable and the combined instruction through the clear color pictures and the DVD make me want to go onto the mat and start playing with them now.