Authored by Chun Sik Kim and Joe Goss, I feel obligated to start my book list with this text because it’s it’s pretty much the Bible of my Federation. The reason why I see it as such is because of it’s value in forms practice. This book takes you from white belt to the highest level Master’s form; and while the pictures of Grandmaster Kim in action are fun to look at, it actually has a lot of value when refining your forms. You also get an overview of all basics, terminology, and other aspects that are the heart and soul of the International Tang Soo Do Federation. If you’re in the ITF, you need it. If you’re in another federation, get the primary text. If you’re an independent, use this as a reference.
Essential Anatomy for Healing and Martial Arts. This one is by Marc Tedeschi. I actually discovered this book right before the instructor that taught me for more than 10 years. Once we found it though, we both absolutely loved it. Granted, parts do read like stereo instructions. Sometimes, I feel like I need a degree in acupuncture to understand the entire thing. Still, once you get past the tough parts, it’s an EXCELLENT reference book for picking targets. You’ll actually see a lot of Marc Tedeschi books reviewed here (particularly his Hapkido series, which was broken down into different books); but I see this one as a cornerstone. If you prescribe to the Asian philosophies about how the human body works (like I do); then this one is worth the investment money.
(by the way, never mind the ‘click to look inside’ thing….it came with the Amazon image I lifted……)
Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere. Before I became a lifelong Tang Soo Do student, I was seriously involved in Shotokan karate. At the green belt (intermediate) level, my instructor would have each of us begin taking his Aikido class as well. That instructor, who’s name was Don Covington, instilled within me a deep belief in yin and yang (or um yang in Korean). In other words, you can’t learn the hard without the soft. I actually have one of the original versions by A. Westbrook and O. Ratti (like the cover you see above); and not only does it give the uneducated a good cross-reference of this particular martial art, it also gives the reader an idea of the ways of life in feudal Japan as well. While I wouldn’t try to learn to actually learn any of the techniques that are very clearly illustrated (this guy is really talented) here without formal instruction; if you want to a frame of reference about the philosophy of the art, the physical perspective, and its roots as well, buy it. It’s fun to read too.
The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings. I have actually read from more than one source that this is actually a poor translation of the Musashi’s classic on martial arts strategy. Still, I find myself coming back to it over and over again because it’s the first version that I ever discovered. I would dare say that I have learned and applied more to fighting from this translation that any other single book I own. Don’t get me wrong, there probably are better interpretations out there; but the longer I put my thoughts into this blog, the more often you’ll see me quite this particular one. It’s authored by a gentleman named Hanshi Steve Kaufman, who is evidently the founder of the School of the Snake, and a 10th Dan. While I’ve never really looked into his credibility, or investigated more about his school, this book will always maintain a favorite spot in my library.
Budo Secrets “Treat every encounter as a fight to the finish”. Author John Stevens does an excellent job of compiling some of the best quotes and philosophies ever to come of the Asian warrior era. If you are ever running short on quotes for your class or simple thoughts upon which to meditate, pick this one up. If nothing else, read “the Marvelous Techniques of the Old Cat” by Neko No Myojutsu. It’ll give you a lot of insight into what it means to be an older and experienced martial artist.
Attack Proof. Believe it or not, this book actually helped both my sparring skills and the tenure that I spent as a bouncer when I lived in Baton Rouge, LA. Admittedly, I don’t agree with everything that authors John Perkins, Al Ridenhour and Matt Kovsky say, but they bring up a lot of valid points about the realities of fighting. Sort of reminds me of Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do in their approach. Much like the other book I’ve mentioned before, Management of Aggressive Behavior by Roland Ouellette, it takes a layman’s approach to some of the basic rules (if there indeed are any) to self defense. What you get is something that applies to both the seasoned martial artist and the self-defense newbie that’s looking to make sure he or she knows what to do when faced with a situation. If you’re a traditionalist like me, read the book with a critical eye and pick out the the things that apply. You’ll look at fighting, be it a sparring match or getting rushed by a mugger, very differently.
The Art of Weapons is the second book by Marc Tedeschi that I’m reviewing here. Again, this guy has like 4 or 5 books out on the various aspects of Hapkido training, and they’re very well laid out indeed. Not only does he re-brief you on a lot of the points that he brings up in his book on anatomy, but he has some very practical techniques for a variety of ‘easy to put your hands on’ weapons, including knife, short-stick, long staff, cane, rope, and other common objects (which, by the way is a really neat chapter where he covers common household objects). See, while the ITF has standardized long-staff forms, my original instructor never spent much time on practical applications. Because Grandmaster Kim allows us to venture out on a little self discovery and training on weapons, it makes for excellent reference material. While I will review all of Tedeschi’s books here; I will go ahead and say either buy all of them or get the comprehensive text (which is the unexploded version of the 200 page topic-based books). You’ll find yourself coming back to his works over and over again.
Warrior Speed was a present from http://www.turtlepress.com that I was given specifically to review. Granted, it took a lot longer than I expected to finish, but when I was done; I found myself happy that I had. Granted, certain sections of it read like stereo instructions, but I believe Weimann does so in order to explain his position on certain things before going into the meat of training. The chapter on plyometrics I particularly enjoyed because I’m such a fan of thay kind of training. Be you an instructor or just a student looking to improve speed in general; it’s worth picking up. You’ll see me refering back to this book in future posts.
Beyond the Known by Tri Thong Dang is one of the first books I ever read when I started training in martial arts. It tells (in sometimes fantastic fashion) the story of a young man’s journey from beginner to the master’s level. Needless to say, this is one of the books that shaped my way of thinking when I decided years ago to make this a lifelong pursuit. It has a very Asian approach to training philosophy; which is, in fact, very consistent with the way I choose to do things in my training today. Want to peer into my soul a bit? Read this book. You won’t be disappointed. There is actually a sequel called Toward the Unknown, but I found it rather preachy and the message seemed to be lost somewhat. Read this one as a stand alone and ponder the messages it has within the chapters. Good reading.
Okay, I must admit that The Bodhisattva Warriors almost made my head hurt. I had originally purchased this book to delve into the Shaolin Monk origins of Chinese martial arts. What I wound up with was a mildly-entertaining and sometimes difficult to follow plunge into the author’s interpretations of the origins of “Chuan Fa”. Loosely translated, Chuan Fa is defined as the original Buddhist-derived martial art that (supposedly) most closely folows the spiritual teachings of the religion. I don’t want to try and get any more into that part because I’m afraid that I’d misinterpret some point that Shifu Nagaboshi Tomio (or Terrence Dukes) was trying to get across to you, the reader. I’ve had this book for the better part of 10 years and I’m only just getting to reading it. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading reviews on Amazon.com before starting into it. Seems that much of Mr. Dukes’ interpretations and study that went into this book has been questioned by many a practicing martial artist. I think that may have partially tainted my expectations going into it. If you dare to give it a try, it is NOT an easy read, and you will find yourself scratching your head over some of the logic. Many times, I felt like I needed to be in a library to do some fact checking behind a passage I’d read. Now keep in mind that the art of Chuan Fa is still largely practiced all over the world; and were I a follower of the art, I’m sure that this text would have made a lot more sense; but keep in mind that The Bodhissatva Warriors spends a good deal of time talking about the author’s interpretations of the spiritual side of the art (some of which may seem kinda hokey). Borrow it from a friend. Judge for yourself; BEFORE you add it to your collection.