First, a note for the sake of full disclosure. As the author worked on finalizing this book, I shared with him a similar report I had written as my thesis when testing for 1st degree black belt. We Battleshipped back and forth about various factual and stylistic questions after he had read my report. He was even so kind to include me in the acknowledgements and bibliography.
While I consider Mr. Anslow a friend, and I might have contributed in this book in some small way, I am not obligated to give the book a positive review. Just as I would expect him to provide constructive criticism of my writing or taekwon-do technique, I will do the same for this book. I certainly can’t be critical of his taekwon-do technique since he outranks me. :)
That said, let’s get to the brass tacks of this review.
Taekwon-do practitioners who perform the Ch’ang Hon patterns or, as is the case with my school, a derivation of them due to various splits over the years will be familiar with the pattern set that goes from Chon-Ji through Tong-Il. As students, we are expected to learn the meanings as put forth by General Choi Hong-Hi in the ITF Encyclopedia. Often after a student gives a correct meaning during class or testing, I will ask them, “Correct, but what does that mean?” This is my way of telling the students they need to do more than just rote memorization of the meanings. It’s no different than learning how to perform a pattern correctly but not understand the applications of the various techniques.
As noted at the outset, when I tested for 1st degree black belt in 2002, my thesis was a 97 page (what, you complain about a two page report for your belt testings? :) ) history of the patterns from Chon-Ji through Kwang-Gae (at that time the highest pattern I knew). I had started at blue belt with Joong-Gun, as I found his life and patriotism fascinating. It continued until black belt, when I went back and did histories for the patterns prior to blue belt.
That said, I might have more insight than the average person when it comes to analyzing this book my Mr. Anslow. And, without a doubt, I was not disappointed.
He provides detailed information about each of the 25 patterns from the ITF curriculum (including both Juche and Ko-Dang, for those expecting 24) as well as the six GTF patterns created by Grandmaster Park Jung-Tae prior to his death in 2002. Included as part of of each pattern is a listing of the definition as put forth by Gen. Choi, even if it is incorrect (such as the birth year of Do-San Ahn Chang-Ho), then Mr. Anslow proceeds to dissect and analyze the meaning, determining, if possible, the reason behind the number of moves in the pattern.
Mr. Anslow also provides much detail about the history behind the person or concept for which the pattern was named, supplying many pictures about the people involved and giving very detail footnotes. These footnotes naturally tie to an extensive bibliography at the end of the book.
The author is also not shy about pointing out errors in the original meanings, not in an effort to discredit or demean Gen. Choi, but rather point out that Gen. Choi was first and foremost a solider and martial artist, not a historian. Consequently, it’s not unheard of that some facts may not be as accurate as at first glance.
Overall, I am very impressed with this book. Mr. Anslow has been doing research on this for decades, and it shows. I can also know from personal interactions with him that if he was not able to validate as factual something he ran across, he excluded it from the book rather than risking the integrity of the book. There are some stylistic things that annoyed me, but those have no bearing on the overall quality of the book. Naturally, I did find a couple of items that I believe are factually incorrect, which is inevitable in a first edition. If those due bear out to be inaccuracies, I have no doubt the author will make every effort to correct them prior to the next edition.
YMAA Publication Center provided me with this book, via NetGalley, for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Even though it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
In many ways, I may be one of the perfect people to review this book. As a third degree black belt in taekwon-do, I have the foundation in the art to perform the techniques required for these two poomsae. But as my black belt is in another style of taekwon-do, where we perform the Ch’ang-Hon patterns instead of the Taegeuk / Palgwe / Yudanja sets, I don’t already know these poomsae, so they would be completely new for me.
Overall, I liked the way the authors demonstrated the patterns. For each move, a diagram was shown giving foot position before and after the move. Also included was a picture of the technique being performed by Grandmaster Chun. If appropriate, an inset photo from a different angle is shown for clarification of hand positioning, etc. Each move is also described in detailed steps, showing what stance transitions and techniques need to be performed.
Having only seen Koryo pattern in passing on video, and having not seen Original Koryo at all, I was able to take this text and learn both patterns to memorization in under an hour. Certainly, that’s not a level of proficiency required to advance to the next rank, but I believe it’s a tribute to the quality of the book that I was able to teach myself the patterns. While a book should never be used as a substitute for a qualified instructor, it can certainly be a valid complementary tool.
My only beef with the book is the description and demonstration of the patterns do not start until Page 73. All the pages up to that point are filled with a history of taekwond-do from its origins prior to its naming, as well as photos and descriptions of various taekwon-do techniques. As the target audience for this book is, by definition and title, black belts, why spend so much time on this subject matter? On the history of the art, perhaps, although I would hope any black belt worth his or her salt would have that familiarity already. But photos and descriptions of techniques learn at white belt or soon after? I’m sorry, but it comes across as fluff and an attempt to pad the book to a particular length.
That said, it’s definitely worth it as a supplemental resource for black belts wanting to learn Original Koryo or brush up on Koryo.
This book was made available by YMAA Publication Center through NetGalley, and I requested a copy for the purposes of reading it and providing a review.
OK, all the necessary stuff out of the way, how cool is it that you find a book you were willing to pay good money for available for review at no cost? Indeed. Life. Is. Sweet.
This book works off the premise that ground fighting, which is cool in the MMA ring or other competition arena, has to be played by different rules, or no rules at all, when it’s a violent encounter. Or, in the middle space between sport and combat, what the authors refer to as a “Drunkle”, the example being your drunk Uncle Albert at a family reunion. You’re asked to corral him and get him to settle down, but you can’t put the hammer down on him like Anderson Silva or use lethal force. He is, after all, family, like it or not.
The authors do a great job of clearly delineating, as much as possible, the difference between sport, drunkles and combat. They also cover the concepts of what you need to consider before getting involved in a violent encounter, namely Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy and Preclusion (different sources use different terms and acronyms, but the concepts are the same):
Ability – Is the threat able to hurt you? An armed teen with a knife certainly is. An unarmed toddler isn’t (unless they’re dropping Legos in the hallway, to be found in the middle of the night). Opportunity – Does the threat have the opportunity to hurt you? The same teen standing forty feet away with the knife wouldn’t have the opportunity. Once that teen gets within that magical 21 feet, he certainly does. Jeopardy – Are you in what a reasonable person would call jeopardy? Even if the armed teen is cussing and telling you he’s going to kill and describing in detail how he’s going to do it, if he’s walking away from you while doing so, you’re not in jeopardy. Preclusion – Did you, absolutely, have to fight and not have any escape avenues preceding or during the encounter? If a guy is in the car next to you waving a gun, telling you what he’s going to do to you, and you get out of your car and put a beat down on him, you may have the first three points on your side, but not the last. You could have avoided the encounter by simply putting pedal to metal. This is just an example of what the authors cover. They spend a great deal of time talking about what ifs and wherefores and whys of violent encounters, giving you many things to think about. While they rightfully stop short of giving legal advice, they do make sure you understand there is much more going on that what might be going on in your head. Also addressed briefly, but in a solid manner, is the difference between social and asocial violence.
They also cover in detail some popular grappling styles through the centuries and how they fit into the sport, drunkle or combat spectrum.
Finally, they show several judo techniques, not because of superiority of that art, but because of the accessibility of terminology because of the popularity of the art, and put each one into the sport, drunkle and combat spectrum, giving examples of how those techniques might be applied. They also provide pictures of each of these examples, demonstrating how the force applied in each would differ.
Overall, I was very pleased with this book. It definitely covered the continuum I was hoping it would, speaking to the differences between each area, the gray areas in between, and how to tell which part of the continuum the encounter falls into. Not only that, but they also try to give you pointers on identifying when the encounter shifts from one area to the other, such as when drunk Uncle Albert suddenly has his three sober, armed brothers coming to his aid (my example, not theirs).
If you have any interest in protecting yourself and those you love in a violent encounter that could end up on the ground, this book is definitely for you.
Honestly, I was hoping for more from this book when I first got it, but I have to remember it was written over 20 years ago, when printed sources for...moreHonestly, I was hoping for more from this book when I first got it, but I have to remember it was written over 20 years ago, when printed sources for applications of martial arts techniques were still fairly rare. That said, I would have liked to have seen more applications for each kata than what was shown. But the ones that Morris and Trimble show are definitely very nice, although there are a few that I wouldn't ever try in a self-defense situation. Definitely a good starting point though.(less)
This is an outstanding book. Master Clark takes a single, simple technique that is common in most martial arts styles and shows 75 different possible...moreThis is an outstanding book. Master Clark takes a single, simple technique that is common in most martial arts styles and shows 75 different possible interpretations or applications of the technique. Not every one looks exactly as it would appear in patterns / forms / kata, but the general motion is the same. This is definitely a great book to get you thinking about different applications of moves in your patterns.(less)
Mr. Sylvester does a great job of taking three basic taekwondo patterns and explaining how the various blocks, strikes and stances in the patterns can...moreMr. Sylvester does a great job of taking three basic taekwondo patterns and explaining how the various blocks, strikes and stances in the patterns can be used in real-world self-defense applications. Naturally, they are modified from their original form, or adapted in slight ways, but that's what martial arts is all about. I presume that based on the content so far, and the tone of the book, there will be future volumes covering other patterns.(less)
I was provided a copy of this book by YMAA Publication Center for the purposes of reading and reviewing the book. While it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
That said, go out and buy this book. Now.
Unless you live in a bubble and never interact with others, which not likely the case if you're reading this blog, you have the opportunity of interacting with others in a potentially violent way. Sure, do what you can to avoid circumstances, etc., but things happen despite our best laid plans.
This is exactly where "Scaling Force" comes in. It addresses in extensive detail the six levels of force, in ascending order:
Presence - This can be a law enforcement, bouncer, security or other presence of authority, or it could simply be witnesses when the attacker doesn't wish his actions to be seen. Sometimes it's enough to de-escalate. In the case of social violence, where pecking order and ascension in a hierarchy require validation of actions, it's actually enough to cause the violence to happen.
Voice - Sometimes proper use of our voice is enough calm a situation. Other times the words you choose and how you say it (body language, facial expressions, rate, tone, volume, etc.) are enough to escalate the encounter.
Touch - This can be anything from a girlfriend's "It ain't worth it, baby" light touch on a forearm to grabbing someone on their triceps to redirect or guide them. The point here is that it's intended to be non-threatening, but it won't always be interpreted that way.
Empty-Hand Restraint - This is when you actually are using force to detain or control someone against their will.
Less Than Lethal Force - Notice I didn't say "non-lethal force". The point of this level is intent. A punch to the stomach isn't typically enough to rate as lethal force, but if the other person falls forward and hits his head on a table, killing him, guess what? That's lethal force. This level could also include joint destructions, throws, etc.
Lethal Force - Without a doubt, the absolute last resort in most cases. This is the application of force with the intent to kill.
The authors go into much more detail of each level. They are also careful to express that the above is not a ladder. You don't always move from one level to another in a direct progression. You may have to go straight from Level 2 (Voice) to Level 6 (Lethal Force), depending on the actions of your attacker(s). Or sometimes it fluctuates as tempers cool and then flare again. You have to be able to recognize the appropriate level of response and act.
Miller and Kane also spend a lot of time talking about legalities related to the use of each level. While this is not meant to be construed as legal advice, it will definitely give you something to think about. There is even a break immediately preceding Level 4 where the authors are clear to point out that if you apply anything in Level 4 or 5, congratulations! You've just committed a crime. Sure, it may be justified, and you better hope you've got the attorney to prove it, but once you put make contact with the intent to harm someone, it's a crime.
Throughout the book are real-world examples provided by the authors, mostly of their own experiences in security or law enforcement, to help you understand the dynamics of each situation they are discussing. They are also very clear in helping the reader understand that everything they are talking about is still fuzzy in interpretation. What feels like the exact same scenario at different times could have completely different outcomes, even if you take the same course of action. That's why you have to be able to adapt to the situation on the fly. Quickly.
Overall, this is an outstanding reference for everyone, not just martial artists, bouncers, LEOs, etc. Everyone has the chance of finding themselves in a potentially violent encounter, and they certainly don't want to have On The Job training, so to speak, if they can forewarn and educate themselves.
This is an outstanding book by an obviously outstanding man, if the words of those who knew him well are to believed. I wish I had gotten to know him...moreThis is an outstanding book by an obviously outstanding man, if the words of those who knew him well are to believed. I wish I had gotten to know him before his untimely death.
That said, this is a great book for martial arts instructors and future instructors. It outlines everything from class management to answering the phone to sexual harassment / abuse. While the author was primarily a karate stylist, the majority of the information is not style-specific, although certainly most of his examples are within his realm of expertise. Any experienced black belt should be able to draw the parallels between the examples and their own style.
I have only been doing martial arts for 14 years, and while I was able to nod my head in agreement to much of what was in the book, a tribute to the instructors who have trained me more than my own skills, I also found several gems that are food for thought. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and will certainly add it to my short list of books I re-read on a regular basis.(less)
Anyone who has spent any in-depth time studying self-defense knows that the majority of real self-defense has nothing to do with punching or kicking o...moreAnyone who has spent any in-depth time studying self-defense knows that the majority of real self-defense has nothing to do with punching or kicking or any other physical techniques. The majority is in what you do to prevent yourself from having to defend yourself. You should only be using physical techniques if you screwed up somewhere along the way.
That said, Burrese's book is a great reference in how to train yourself in the mental aspects of self-defense. The book touches on several different areas a person needs to develop, from awareness to breathing to decisiveness and so much more. Not only that, but Burrese includes reference to many wonderful resources to further flesh out your warrior or fighter mindset.
This is a must read for anyone who interacts with other people, as you never know when you will need to protect yourself. You can certainly avoid circumstances that are ripe for violence, but you can never completely avoid it.(less)
"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writing, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." --- Socrates
That quo...more"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writing, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." --- Socrates
That quote, in a nutshell, describes my perception of this book. Each story offers some nuggets from the perspective of someone who's been down their particular road, some many times. Many of them are stories that directly relate to situations I might find myself in, so it's very important to pay attention to what they have to offer from their experiences. Others are more obscure, such as a stay in a UK mental institution or a Japanese prison, but I found them no less interesting.
The bottom line is, this book is packed with tidbits and helpful hints from people who've been in the line of fire, who've put their lives on the line, who've done things I not only have never done but, in many cases, hope I never have to. So I'm listening and taking notes. You never know what direction life might take you.(less)
A continuation of Volume 1, this volume is just as good. It does not get into the in-depth discussions of the origin of the patterns and taekwon-do it...moreA continuation of Volume 1, this volume is just as good. It does not get into the in-depth discussions of the origin of the patterns and taekwon-do itself, which is fine, as that's adequately covered in Volume 1. This allows Mr. Anslow to focus on the nine patterns included in this book.
Anyone who is interested in not just taekwon-do, but the applications behind martial arts techniques in general, should check these series out. It will definitely make you think.(less)
This is an outstanding analysis of the ITF patterns and a variety of possible applications of the techniques and combinations of techniques. Mr. Anslo...moreThis is an outstanding analysis of the ITF patterns and a variety of possible applications of the techniques and combinations of techniques. Mr. Anslow does an outstanding job of not only breaking down the techniques themselves, but he tries to get into the history and possible the wherefore and why of each technique or series of techniques.
If you are interested in the applications / bunkai / hae sul of any martial art, you should read this book. If you really understand your art, you will be able to apply what Mr. Anslow has put together to your art and further your understanding.(less)
The details of "Slapping Dragons" by Wallace Smedley refer to many of the myths in martial arts, noting the book is an effort by the author to address...moreThe details of "Slapping Dragons" by Wallace Smedley refer to many of the myths in martial arts, noting the book is an effort by the author to address some of them.
I believe that overall, that goal was reached. However, at times I felt like I wasn't sure what the identify of the book was intended to be. Was it designed for novices? Was it designed for experienced martial artists? Somewhere in the middle? I'm still not sure.
I have done martial arts half of the time the author has, so I have no right to claim what he is saying is right or wrong, but considering my experiences and beliefs regarding the martial arts and how they are taught mirror his, I am hoping I am on the right track.
I do have a few quibbles with the book.
First, it seems like it spent too much time on the specific details of the origin of Hung Gar, which is the author's preferred martial art. Very fascinating from a historical perspective, but perhaps too long considering the goal of the section: Not believing all the myths surrounding the origin of all martial arts, or even a specific martial art.
Second, it seems like the readers are hammered repeatedly about chi not being real. I certainly understand and appreciate where the author came from with his claims and experiences, but I believe that part was overdone.
Third, I would have liked to have seen more time spent on myths related to "Reality Based Self-Defense". Those are the ones that are more likely to get someone hurt or killed. While there are certainly outstanding books referenced in the appendix of the book, such as works by Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung, which more than cover the subject, I believe a better balance between those fallacies and chi / supernatural powers in martial artists would have been a plus.
Overall, I found it to be a very good read. As a student of not just the arts but the history of them, it was a quality read from beginning to end. Perhaps just a little bit off from the intended goal, but still a very worth read.(less)
It was refreshing to read a biography about Elvis which didn't attempt to dig up all the dirt, just for sales. Then again, considering I know Professo...moreIt was refreshing to read a biography about Elvis which didn't attempt to dig up all the dirt, just for sales. Then again, considering I know Professor Carman through martial arts circles and you would expect nothing less in a book focusing on martial arts, this is really no surprise.
This book does a good job of discussing not only the time Professor Carman spent with Elvis, both personally and while training, but Elvis's martial arts history. While many believe Elvis's martial arts rank was honorary, there are many first hand accounts that validate his rank. Just imagine someone committed to martial arts from the time he was in the Army in the late 1950's until his death, then throw in all the spare time an entertainer would have between shows and appearances, and you have Elvis.
Definitely recommended for all fans of Elvis Presley and anyone who is a martial arts historian.(less)
I received this book from its publisher YMAA for the purposes of reviewing the book.
As a fairly short-time martial artist, about 14 years as of this w...moreI received this book from its publisher YMAA for the purposes of reviewing the book.
As a fairly short-time martial artist, about 14 years as of this writing, I was excited about learning from someone like Master Michael Clarke, who has been practicing for several decades. The book promises to educate you on the body, mind and spirit of karate, knowing in Japanese as Shin Gi Tai.
While I believe the book definitely touches on each of these areas, it seemed like those concepts were secondary to a history of karate, and specifically Goju Ryu, which the author practices. The origin of karate in Okinawa certainly is important to the mindset of a career karateka, but it almost felt like it was overdone.
The only thing I really have a quibble with is the author's position that a dojo cannot be teaching true budo, or the martial way, if they are a commercial or sport dojo. While I know there are certainly McDojos out there who are looking only to make a buck without going any deeper than developing self-confidence through belt promotion and competition success, I believe it's a fallacy to portray those karate clubs as incapable of teaching anything deeper. I certainly understand the author runs a very traditional dojo, and I respect him for that, as not everyone will look for that as a student or as an instructor, but I don't believe it has to be as black and white as the author purports.
All that said, I did really enjoy the book, especially as a martial arts historian myself, albeit leaning more toward Korean arts. But knowing the arts are all intertwined and have similar origins, the history of one is important to the history of them all.
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about the history of Okinawa and karate in general, especially the more traditional aspects of the art.(less)