Sunday, September 25, 2016

3.5/5 Ninja Stars for Filipino Martial Arts by Mark V. Wiley

Title: Filipino Martial Arts: Cabales Serrada Escrima

Author: Mark V. Wiley
Publisher: Tuttle (no longer actively being published)
Format: Softcover
Pages: 151
Price: $0.79 (Print) or $9.99 (Kindle) on Amazon

    I picked this one up at a used book store a couple of weeks ago to broaden my knowledge base.  I haven't read a lot on the Filipino Martial Arts, and decided to add it to my library.  Since it was titled "Filipino Martial Arts" I figured that was a good place to start. In my root martial art of Atemi ryu, we have a component that is an Arnis system, called Atemi Arnis.  However, I was always more interested in the Japanese portion of aikido and kenjutsu.  So I've never really paid it its deserving attention.  I decided to at least get some more background information on Arnis and Escrima.

    This book goes through a brief version of the history of where the Filipino martial arts came from.  The author then tells the story of how this particular branch, Cabales Serrada, was developed by its founder, and how it made its way over to the US. Once the background history is done with, the philosophies and basic movements are then described.  The last third of the book is dedicated to showing the basic techniques of the system.


    I really like how the author went into the history of the martial art, and its development.  This gave the background for the demonstrated techniques.  By describing the philosophy, it allows the reader to appreciate the mindset of the techniques presented later in the book.  The other thing that I really like about this book was that as a non-escrimador, I could still take out pieces that were useful to me and my martial arts.  The author describes the "zoning" theory of the Cabales Serrada system that I'm definitely going to steal their explanation for.


    There is some dating that is apparent with this book (originally published in 1994).  Some of the ideas that are presented here that are supposed to be new have migrated their way through most martial arts now.  Not that they're any less valid, but since FMA are a little more main stream now, the ideas have become a little more common place.
    Also, the pictures could use some work.  I know its a point I make about most of the books, but if you're trying to capture motion, such as a martial arts technique, its very difficult.  Sometimes the pictures jump a little too much and its hard to follow the motion.


    Overall, I think this was a very good book for its time, and for its purpose.  I learned some things about Filipino martial arts, including the history and philosophy.  I was able to see how they physically exemplify their philosophies and in doing so, what their techniques look like.  I think I lucked out in that this is a good book to start out with for learning about Filipino martial arts.  I was a little disappointed that the book called Filipino Martial Arts didn't go more into the different Filipino martial arts, but I understand that this was what the author studied, so he wrote what he knew.  
    I do think it was a little dated, and the pictures could have been a little more fluid, but apart from that it was definitely worth the read.  For those reasons I give the book 3.5 out of 5 ninja stars.  I enjoyed the writing style and organization of the book and I look forward to reading more about FMA.

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