Recommended reading for the martial arts. This is my personal library list. I practice Okinawan Te or "Ryukyu Ti." My system is derived from two others, one being the main influence of Shorin-ryu and the second Goju-ryu. The branch under Shorin-ryu is Isshin-ryu as developed by Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei.

I wanted to create a library reference blog where I can provide a listing of the books I have in my library, present and past (past in that some have been lost in transit over the years). I will provide a graphic, if available, a short description, if available, and the bibliography. When possible a link to Amazon will be provided.

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

Reader's of this Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Tao of Pooh

Hoff, Benjamin. "The Tao of Pooh." Dutton. New York. 1982.

Review: I was studying the various translations of the Tao Te Ching when my wife mentioned this one. I was intrigued as I assumed it would take a comical Poohish view of the Tao. I was right. I was wrong.

Mr. Benjamin Huff was a serious person who had studied the Tao Te Ching and took the opportunity to teach about it through the eyes, ears and touch of Winnie the Pooh.

This book is a must if you are studying the Chinese classics to gain insight to the culture and beliefs of both Okinawans and Japanese regarding Zen, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.  Mr. Huff through Pooh provides a perspective that enlightens and while your having fun doing it, what a combination.

Seven Military Classics of China

Sawyer, Ralph D. "Seven Military Classics of China." Westview Press. Colorado. 1993.

Review: A one stop shopping for the classics of China to include the Art of War by Sun Tzu. If your not particular about the author/translator then save some bucks with this one book vs. seven distinct ones.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Art of Hojo Undo

Clarke, Michael. "The Art of Hojo Undo: Power Training for Traditional Karate." YMAA Publications. NH. 2009.

Review: This book was my introduction to Sensei Mike Clarke's efforts to provide traditional practice information to the world of Okinawan Karate-do. I had been introduced to these traditional implements of health, fitness and improvement while stationed at Camp Hansen Okinawa but I rather dabbled then made use in a serious fashion. After all, like most Americans the equipment in the special services gym were modern and had greater results.

I now understand that it was not those particular results that mattered it was the process and the connection, much like practice of kobudo, that connected me to the Okinawan Internal systems.

I find it like using free weights vs. weight machines ..... it is just different. I would advocate both actually, these ancient tools and the modern equipment.

This book as the next I will review, Shin Gi Tai, are outstanding and should be a part of your library if for no other reason than to learn of the culture, the beliefs and the traditions of those who came before us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Every BODY is Saying

Navarro, Joe. "What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People." Collins. New York. 2008.

Review: You think you can detect the "tells" of aggression, violence and attacks but you are wrong. There is so much to body language and that is if your restricting yourself to one culture. Take into consideration all the cultures that are mixed in our society today and the task is a daunting one.

Agent Navarro spells out how to read people but don't be fooled by the title. The title is to promote and "sell" the book. It is a complex issue that is alleviated a bit by this book.

If you put this to work for you along with reality based training you can learn a lot. I mean, a lot. Give this some space on your library shelf. Incorporate what he says in your training and practice.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Win a Fight

Kane, Lawrence & Wilder, Kris. "How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence." Gotham Books. New York. 2011.

Review: Perspective, these guys - Kane and Wilder - seem to have a unique perspective on fighting and there is a good reason why. Just read the back or description of the book. These two guys, together and singularly, have written one after another great works in books.

Shit, just go out and buy the books with their names on them and save yourself the trouble of reviewing them all separately - well spent money, time and effort on your part. Yea, just do it!

p.s. I really appreciated the art work that this book uses, really great.

The Japanese Art of War

Cleary, Thomas. "The Japanese Art of War: Understanding the Culture of Strategy." Shambhala. Boston. 1992.

Review: I read the "art of war" long ago for the first time. I read it again many times after but one day I said that I should try and find out of the Japanese had their version of the art of war. I realized long ago as well that Miyamoto Musashi's book of five rings was, more or less, the art of war or swordsmanship that filled that bill but what if they had a book of war similar to Sun-tzu's art of war.

Leave it to good ole Amazon to have one and leave it to good ole Thomas Cleary to have seen the need for an English book on this exact subject, whalla and here is the book.

In order to address any comparison, etc. I would need to read it again. Till that time arrives again I can say that my feelings indicate it was an excellent book and worth the cost to add it to your library.

After my recent studies I am not sure it relates to the Chinese art of war or even the go-rin-no-sho but that does not matter for Mr. Cleary, much like Mr. DeMente, has extensive experience and knowledge that makes this book a value to your practice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Killing

Grossman, Dave LtCol. "On Killing: The Physiological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Back Bay Books. New York. 2009.

Review: What is most important about this book all martial arts connections aside is its value to our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who are or have served in combat. I include those civilian combatants such as Police, Jail Officers, EMT's, Firemen, etc. who go into harm's way here at home too.

The best review I can provide is a story, My close friend, a Marine retired, who served in combat over there in Viet Nam was beginning to experience "stress" and I recommended Col Grossman's books both this one and another I will review later.

He wrote me back and said thanks for the books because it made a huge difference. It resulted in his seeking more from the VA and resulted in many venues that have since aleviated the "ghosts (my word)" that seemed to haunt him today.

I would say this set of books by Col. Grossman should be required reading by all military in boot camp, at pre-deployment training, during combat and upon return home.

We as a society "require" our military to go to war so we should also provide them all, I mean all, services and education/training to combat the enemy, both within and on the field of battle.

Bibliography for On Combat:
Grossman, Dave Lt.Col. Christensen, Loren. "On Combat: The Physiology and Physiology of Deadly Colnflct in War and Peace." Warrior Science Publications. 2008.

Review: See above.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hidden Differences

Hall, Edward T. and Hall, Mildred Reed. "Hidden Differences: Doing Business with the Japanese." Anchor Books. New York. 1987, 1990.

Review: Shimabuku Tatsuo-san spoke to learning the culture and beliefs of Okinawa. He was a wise person for his time. This book, coupled with other books on the Asian culture, adds a bit of frosting to the cake.

Often we Westerners assume what we see, the cover of the cultural book called Japanese, is what we get but that is far from the truth. We must not allow our view of those "outward manifestations" confuse us as to the basic underlying culture. It can be more of an illusion and when you gain a bit more insight to such things as "face" you will truly begin to "see" the underlying "face" that is Japan and by osmosis Okinawa and finally China.

A wonderful book for the library and don't be fooled by its cover for it is more than merely teaching one about doing business with the Japanese.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Way of Sanchin Kata

Wilder, Kris. "The Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power." YMAA Publication. New York. 2007.

Review: Sanchin is a core kata in my system as well as in the Goju-ryu system that Wilder Sensei teaches and practices. I have found over the years many variations on this kata. I have observed many variations on its performance and practice. This book is outstanding for anyone who wishes to learn, know and understand more in regards to Sanchin.

I cannot recommend this and other books by Wilder Sensei with more enthusiasm, buy them and add them to your library! You will not regret it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Origins of Human Violence

DeMente, Boye LaFayette. "The Origins of Human Violence: Male Dominance, Ignorance, Religions and Willful Stupidity!" Phoenix Books. Kentucky. 2010.

Review: I, as can readily be determined, am reading yet another book by Mr. DeMente. I am reading his view of Violence. I must say that his view is a bit "different" yet actually the same as others I have experienced. He has a lot to say about "men/males" along with their dominating role in violence. I recommend it as it supplements all the other material nicely.

I mean I had not gotten past the fist two paragraphs before I had to grab the highlighter and highlight both paragraphs. I was flabbergasted and enjoyed those first two immensely.

A teaser: "Throughout human history there have always been elements of ignorance and stupidity in the mindset and behavior of males that have inflected incredible violence and suffering on most of mankind since day one. " - Boye LaFayette DeMente

I am so looking forward to reading all of his thoughts and idea's.

p.s. reader beware, his voice and message can be challenging when you read this one. He really hits hard, fast and without gloves pointing to many uncomfortable views.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Samurai Strategies

DeMente, Boye LaFayette. "Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets from Musashi's Book of Five Rings." Tuttle Publishing. Vermont. 2008.

Review: Mr. DeMente takes his vast knowledge of Japanese culture along with his expertise and association with Michihiro Matsumoto on Samurai and Musashi Miyamoto to bring clarity to the seven traits of the Samurai and the Book of Five Rings.

Like all his books on the culture of the Orient this opens the door to the relations between the feudal era that brought into being the culture, customs and beliefs that drive the Japanese today to the interpretation of the book of five rings along with close insight to the personality of the "sword saint" Miyamoto Musashi.

The book of five rings can be a bit difficult for us to connect to our martial practice but this book brings a strong spot light on that issue illuminating and educating with benefits to all of us be martial artists or just curious.

A Must have book!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Lone Samurai

Wilson, William Scott. "The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi." Kodansha USA. 2004.

Review: A library would not be complete if nothing were on its shelves about "The Sword Saint," Miyamoto Musashi. I started withe the fictional rendition many years ago and then found the book. A complete joy to read.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Way of Kata

Kane, Lawrence A. and Wilder, Chris. "The Way of Kata: A Comprehensive Guide for Deciphering Martial Applications." YMAA. New York. 2005.

Review: My first book on kata and what an eye opener. I had read things in the past and had arrived at my own conclusions but this book put many labels and idea's on what I knew and most importantly what I did not know. The gap between the two was not balanced with a much larger gap on the not know side.

If you are trying to work out the why of kata, begin here. Yes, there are other books, etc. on the subject and many are good and informative but this one is great for the first venture into a very complex world of martial art kata (notice I specified martial kata vs. Shikata of Japan).

The only thing better, a solid Sensei who has a solid hold on kata, kata practice and most important teaching kata.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Okakura, Kakuzo. "The Book of Tea." Dover Publications. New York. 1906, 2010.

Review: Not until today have I come across a better expression of the many facets of a custom, culture and belief system. This is the "first" piece I would recommend be studied for it will connect everything into one cohesive understanding - a beginning.

This is something, similar to the go rin no sho and I Ching, that warrants many readings of which my first is occurring in the present. I can feel that my studies warrant a re-read from time to time just to open the door a bit wider and gain increased understanding.

First, I discover a greater depth and breadth to kata. Second, I lean of specific terminologies that transcend the narrow functions of the dojo allowing for a wider view of life. Third, it provides the results from the origins, i.e. Confucianism, Buddhism and Zen-ism.

Let me introduce you to "The Book of Tea" written by Okakura Kakuzo Sensei. Reading his background leaves me not doubt as to his ability to convey sometimes mystically enshrouded customs, cultures and beliefs of a society. This lead into a culture that gave birth to such as martial arts is illuminating.

Rhinoceros Zen

Brooks, Jeffrey M. "Rhinoceros Zen: Zen Martial Arts and the path to Freedom." eCommunities LLC/ 2005.

Review: Well written and wonderful account of one's travels in the martial arts direction with additional insight toward the Zen aspects.

One of the favorites in my library. I have read it twice over the years since it was published. Gaining views and thoughts from as many as possible provides the brain data for retrieval and analysis where it comes into play for practice and eventually application. Well worth the few bucks to purchase.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Angry White Pyjamas

Twigger, Robert. "Angry White Pyjamas: A Scrawny Oxford Poet Takes Lessons from the Tokyo Riot Police." IT Books. 2000.

Review: I read this one a while back and remember I enjoyed and learned a lot from this writer's experiences in Japan. Now that I am discovering some more about the culture in general and some specifics toward martial arts this book becomes clearer and although well explained - more explainable to some spaces between the stories.

This book has many values I can't remember here but I found it a valuable asset to my library and you will too.

Just another indication that a library shall be large simply because no one source can explain such things that took the Asian's centuries to develop into its society, culture and customs. Enlightening ..... besides I kind of like the cover of the karate-gi empty of human's, there is some symbolism here I think ;-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In The Dojo

Lowry, Dave. "In the Dojo: A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts." Weatherhill. New York. 2006.

Review: I can not say enough about the contributions Mr. Lowry has provided by his writing about the many aspects of martial systems. This one in particular is a good start point for the uninitiated before taking on the daunting task of finding a good training facility (dojo).

While your at it, as I will be listing here as we progress, you will find his "Koryu" views meaningful and inspiring. Add this along with the many other recommendations and you can build a good solid foundation of knowledge to build your own martial arts knowledge base.

Remember, the brain needs some data to asses when working so this is a good point to begin encoding such important data but remember it is always, always, open for change, interpretations and new belief systems.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Martial Arts Instruction

Kane, Lawrence A. "Martial Arts Instruction: Applying Educational Theory and Communication Techniques in the Dojo." YMAA. New York. 2004.

Review: So little has been written with any validation on this subject it is criminal and yet this book does a wonderful job of laying out a plan for Sensei, instructors or teachers. Well written and well thought out material. This is a great start point for anyone who want to open a dojo.

You just cannot lose by reading Kane Sensei's book(s) :-)

Japan's Cultural Code Words

DeMente, Boye Lafayette. "Japan's Cultural Code Words: 233 Key Terms That Explain the Attitudes and Behavior of the Japanese." Tuttle. Vermont, Tokyo and Singapore. 2004.

Review: This book supplements the Japanese Kata book more than I would have imagined. After all, I only bought this one because it was the same author but it was an excellent purchase and opened my eyes to many more things that I assumed were martial art oriented and confirmed that many aspects of the martial arts, the dojo and the Sensei were merely the Japanese living their culture into the dojo.

This book explains many terms and how they reflect the culture, beliefs and disciplines that seem to dictate how and why Japanese are Japanese.

You may think this is not necessary when you see it mostly discusses the view of doing business in Japan but don't allow that to dissuade you from reading it for it has many connections to the why and how of the Japanese martial arts dojo, Sensei and system.