Sunday, May 8, 2016

3.5 Out of 5 Ninja Stars for Beyond The Battlefield

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

Title: Beyond the Battleground; Classic Strategies from the Yijing and Baguazhang for Managing Crisis Situations
Author: Tom Bisio
Publisher: Blue Snake Books
Format: Softcover
Pages: 344
Cover Price: $21.99 $14.99 (US Dollars)

    First off this is a deep read book.  This is not a light reading book.  I'll probably have to read it another couple of times to really dive into what the book was saying. It takes your full concentration to fully appreciate this book.  What the book does, is use the Yijing (I've always seen it written as I-Ching) to describe change and how that is used to drive battle theory.  Because Bagua (the author's martial art) is based on the Yijing, there are many references to how this applies on a martial arts level as well.


Trigrams of the Yijing
    The first part of the book describes how and why the Yijing fits into general military strategy.  This part is very in depth, and uses both classical and modern (this century) examples of how changeability was used in military conflicts to bring about success.  The author continues the theory and describes how success is just a state, that is bound to change. The majority of the book lies in the second section where the trigrams of the Yijing are described, and discussed.  The last section of the book then describes how the Yijing's theory of change and adaptability can be used in non-military situations, including the business world, relationships, and even martial arts.


    One of the things I really liked about this book was the examples.  Instead of just sticking with ancient Chinese examples, where they directly quote the Yijing, the author pulls from all over history, both ancient and modern, including Mao Tse Dong, Carl von Clausewitz, and John Boyd (originator of the OODA Loop description).  I think this does a good job of  making the book more accessible to today's modern, Western audience.


    I have two points about the cons of this book.  One, I've mentioned, it is not a light read.  This is heavy on deep thoughts and intricate in its descriptions of the different states of change, the trigrams.  I don't really consider this a big negative, as it depends on what you want to read.  If you're looking for that, then this would be a great book.  The second is that I would have liked to see more description on how the Yijing is applicable in a more martial arts sense, instead of a overarching military command sense.


  Overall I enjoyed the book, and read it with several colors of highlighters in hand.  I took notes in the margins, and actually used the bibliography at the back to create another reading list that I'll probably never get through.  It is a heavy read though.  I started this book on April 18, and just finished it yesterday (May 7th).  Where as normally I'll read a book in a week or week and a half, this one took me three weeks.   As I said, the wonderful use of example from all over in human history really helped illustrate the points, and make it more accessible to wider audience.
    When I started this book, I had only a passing familiarity with what the Yijing was.  Now I feel I have a better understanding of what it is, and how it applies to real situations, which is kind of the point of the book.  I just wish it would have dealt with it on a more one-on-one basis of martial arts.  Maybe that's book two?  Or that subject has been covered in all the Baguag books, and I'm just ignorant of them.  Which is why I'm going to give the book 3.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  It wasn't what I thought the book was going to be (again not a bad thing), but it was well written, informative, and I learned a lot.

1 comment:

  1. Although you clearly have some reservations about wholeheartedly recommending this book, your review actually makes me really want to read it - whereas if I'd seen it on the shelf I would very likely have just passed it over. I think it's good that you warn us about the style being on the dry and heavy side though - it's good to know where things stand before starting it!!