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RES
05-14-2005, 10:16 PM
At the request of a few members, I am providing a list of books I recommend for martial artists.

When asked this question, the first thing that usually pops into my mind is, "What sort of reading are you looking for?"- some people ask for a reading list, and are looking for technical manuals (I don't put much stock in manuals as training aids, mind you); some people are asking for celebrated works by martial artists (which are fine, if you're looking for someone else's opinion of what you should be feeling and doing); and others are asking because they just aren't too sure of where to start in the martial arts, and asking for a reading list is a painless way of asking "What should I study?".

But then there are some who ask this question, because their intrepidity in studying the martial arts jas progressed beyond a speed with which their instructor can keep up; the members who have asked me the question in that manner, are those for whom I am posting this.

The list is short, but (in my opinion) intense:

- "It's A Lot Like Dancing" by Terry Dobson- This book is, to my mind, the seminal work on the impact of the practice of aikido on one's personal development, and it is as invigorating to read, whether one is an aikidoka or not.

- "In Search Of The Warrior Spirit" by Richard Strozzi-Heckler- I consider this book to be the antithesis of the above-mentioned book, in that it is (in my mind) the seminal work in the impact of one's personal development on their practice of aikido. It examines alot of questions which we ask ourselves (all warriors, aikidoka or not).

- "The Art Of War" by Sun Tzu- This is, to the martial arts, what "Atlas Shrugged" is to political literature- the book everyone says they've read, but very few actually have (or, at least, very few have finished). But the insights in this book are as relevant now, as they were when it was written. If it can be found, I most highly recommend the Thomas Cleary translation.

- "The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do"- by Bruce Lee- This is another book that, it appears, everyone claims to have read and very few actually have. I recommend it because it is a wonderful insight into the inner workings of one of the greatest martial artists of all time. I have discovered that many people read the middle of the book (the illustrated portion, about Bruce's individual fighting method), and ignore the beginning and the end; I recommend it be read the other way around, with the beginning and end being most important, and the middle being less so (although, I wouldn't recommend skipping it).

That's it, just four.

I figured, if I put up a list much longer than this, no one would sit down and read every single book I recommended. So, I am leaving the list short, simply because I hope those who have requested the list, will read each of the books, completely, and then set out to find more on their own.

Remember also, that you're sitting in front of a pass to the greatest library in the history of the world- the internet. There's an incalculable amount of material on the internet.

Guantes
05-14-2005, 10:47 PM
Res,

What is your opinion (if you have read it) of "Living The Martial Way" by Forrest E. Morgan?
How does it relate to either of the first two on your list, if at all?

RES
05-14-2005, 11:29 PM
Guantes:

Yes, I've read it. It is an excellent book, and well worth reading- I considered it for that list, but (like about a dozen other books) I dropped it in order to keep the list short (I figured this thread would incite questions about 'what to read next').

I would say it is very closely related to Dobson and Heckler's books, the one real difference being that Morgan intends to set down a guide, where Dobson and Heckler intend only to tell a personal story. Aside from that, the thrust of the books are very similar.

draco880
05-14-2005, 11:50 PM
Coincidentally I've read the last three, and I thought it might be helpful to warn about some of the awful translations of the Book of War that exist. Unfortunately a lot of translators have produced works intended for specific audiences, or for Western readers that they believe will be impatient. In many cases I think this destroys the pliability of the text, making it much less alive and useful. Sadly the same thing has happened with the Tao Te Ching, resulting in prose translations and similar crap. Personally I found translations written by professional translators, as opposed to martial artists or business men or what have you, to be the most helpful.
I definitely agree that Strozi-Heckler's work has applications far beyond aikidoka. As a younger martial artist I found his emphasis on the bravery of facing your inabilities especially helpful. I believe a lot of the problems that many martial arts have fallen into have to do with their biases against really asking what their students aren't capable of, and in my case the resultant emphasis on what you can do led to overconfidence.In Search of the Warrior Spirit helped me at least to develop a more mature outlook.

Geezer
05-15-2005, 06:01 AM
I have two of the books, just ordered the other two from Amazon.

Are you serious about Atlas Shrugged? I thought it was a great book, devoured it, oh, some 45 years ago in San Diego. I proceeded to read everything she wrote. It was the very first steps in self-liberation.

I know you intended to confine your list to MA books, but the book that has most profoundly influenced my life, my attitude, the way I deal with life, is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. Sort of Wittgenstein in fiction.

The short form, "What is is, what ain't ain't, and it changes, so get over it!" I heard over coffee in a joint in Canoga Park, CA, about 24 years ago.

You must come up with some term for people who find Aidido truths elsewhere, people who are not martial artists, but butchers, carpenters, fry cooks, waitresses, harness bulls and such. You notice that I haven't included any lawyers, professors or CEOs in that group. The sense of one's personal eliteness is probably the greatest barrier to understanding and accepting life that exists.

God bless and y'all be mindful out there.

BB82
05-15-2005, 07:03 AM
Hey, let me add one book that I just finished. It was recently released, and is titled, "Shotokan's Secret--The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins" by Bruce D. Clayton, PhD. It's by Ohara Publications and only costs $16.95.
If you have studied any of the traditional martial arts (not just Shotokan), this book is treasure-trove of information. This book must have taken Dr. Clayton years to write. He has totally changed the way I view martial arts.
Clayton delves into 'why' katas were developed as they were, and covers all known versions and changes, and most importantly, WHY katas were changed.
He discusses the 'masters', and tells the truth as to the types of people that they were. This is shocking stuff. They weren't the honorable men that we often times revere them as.

I made it required reading for my black belt students 2nd dan and higher. All of them came back to class with their mouths hanging open, and couldn't stop talking about it. It's really that good. None of my students knew that Americans were the cause of karate being developed!

You really should check this book out, no matter what style of traditional martial arts you've studied.

Guantes
05-15-2005, 07:26 AM
It would appear his (Clayton's) interest in how, why, who, where. etc has not changed. Though somewhat of a directional change, it would appear he is still interested in the same questions as when he wrote, "Life After Doomsday" twenty-five years ago.

RES
05-15-2005, 10:51 AM
"Shotokan's Secret--The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins" by Bruce D. Clayton, PhD.

I've read it (back when I was a full-blown karateka), and it was, at that time, foundational to my understanding of Karate.

RES
05-15-2005, 10:55 AM
You must come up with some term for people who find Aidido truths elsewhere, people who are not martial artists, but butchers, carpenters, fry cooks, waitresses, harness bulls and such. You notice that I haven't included any lawyers, professors or CEOs in that group. The sense of one's personal eliteness is probably the greatest barrier to understanding and accepting life that exists.


Geez, I've been trying to come up with a term like that for awhile- and, frankly, it escapes me. Language is so complex a thing, and the fundamental understanding of how aikido works is so fundamentally simple, that the two don't often jive.

As far as "professors" on your list- One of the authors on my reading list is a professor of psychology. :p

bluemeanie
05-15-2005, 11:28 AM
Thanks, Roundeyesamurai. Just the thread I was hoping for. I've ordered the Dobson and Strozzi-Heckler titles. I will find in my "library" (boxes in the garage) The Art of War and Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

I have to admit, though, that Lee's book was a difficult read for me, and my first attempt at it didn't yield much for me. Maybe now that I've trained for a few months, I'll be in a better frame of mind for it.

I have read and liked "Living the Martial Way". As far as good info on the internet, My poop-filter is better calibrated than it was when I first started reading about MA (again probably a result of actually having begun training) and I do occasionally find some good material. One site I sorely miss is one related to Shotokan, I believe it was 24fightingchickens.com . The link has been dead for a year or so, and if anyone can point me to a new URL for this guy's site, i'd appreciate it.

Shdwdncr
05-15-2005, 11:35 AM
....None of my students knew that Americans were the cause of karate being developed!

BB82,

I've never heard of this before. Could you expand on it?
Thanks.

S.

Geezer
05-15-2005, 02:33 PM
RES posted: "As far as "professors" on your list- One of the authors on my reading list is a professor of psychology."

OUTSTANDING! This proves that an education is not a barrier to humility and understanding, and takes away any excuse or justification from the balance of academia, strangling on their eliteness and wonderfulness.

God bless and y'all be mindful out there.

Belisarius
05-15-2005, 03:13 PM
I think a so-called "elite" education is, in one sense, the height of practicality: if you want to be a lawyer, it is probably a fairly practical idea to attend the highest-quality law school that you can. It depends on your goals, which in turn may or may not depend on what society seems to value and how you feel about society's values. Hopefully you are doing things for yourself.

In another sense, academic quals can become like having a Lamborghini Diablo in the garage between your ears (often at a comparable $ investment). You can use it at the kinds of pretentious cocktail parties where people are impressed by such things, you can use it to hurt yourself/others in a particularly spectacular fashion, you can admire it and amuse yourself with it privately, you can take it as an opportunity to quickly get access to something you need (particle accelerators, etc.). Someone without class, common sense, EQ, humility, or experience will not learn these things in school, but that's what life is for---to teach hard lessons and to impart wisdom.

BB82
05-15-2005, 06:44 PM
BB82,

I've never heard of this before. Could you expand on it?
Thanks.

S.


Let me answer by quoting a few lines of the back cover of the book:
'Shotokans Secret: karate was invented by the worlds only unarmed bodyguards to protect the world's only unarmed king...against Americans.
In 1853, before the American Civil War, the king of Okinawa was caught in a brink-of-war confrontation between the shogun's implacable samurai and an invading force of U.S. Marines. Trapped between katana and bayonets, the kings unarmed guards faced impossible odds and narrowly avoided a costly bloodbath.
Karate masters Sokon Matsumura and Yasutsune Itosu spent decades reliving that day in their imaginations. They designed a new martial art for the royal bodyguards, making bare hands the equal of razor-sharp steel. This was the first emergence of the hard-style karate that became shotokan, a full generation before Master Gichin Funakoshi took his first karate lesson.'

Seriously, this is a good book. It's cheap. Get it and read it.

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
05-15-2005, 09:00 PM
All:

Not a martial arts book, but one about Aggression as an instinct, called logically enough "On Aggression" by Austrian scientist Konrad Lorenz. (a Nobel laureate btw)

This book's orientation is that of evolutionary biology/psychology (for the record, I find no contradiction between the theory of evolution and knowledge of God).

KL combines a sense of wonder of the natural world with scientific rigor and develops his hypothesis that Aggression is an Instinct and presents his proofs.

Instincts, by their very nature, will express-- so to say that Aggression is an instinct is a very threatening thought, especially for the PC nanny state of mind.

KL, amongst various points, shows that how when the PC (the book was written PC so his terms were different) state of mind seeks to "remove elciting stimuli/triggers" for the discharge of the aggression drive from the environment simply leads to an accumulation of the aggression drive leading to a larger and far less predictable and more dangerous discharge later.

Speaking as a humble non-Christian, to my thinking this is quite harmonious with the notion of many of you here of a "manly Christianity"-- than the manly energy needs to be acknowledged, respected and shown its right way of being in this world.

Woof,
Crafty Dog

Shdwdncr
05-16-2005, 02:59 AM
...karate was invented by the worlds only unarmed bodyguards to protect the world's only unarmed king...

BB82,

Thanks for the information. It's definitely interesting, and I think that I'll be ordering the book, as my curiosity is peaked. I have another question for you, if you don't mind. As I'm not familiar at all with the history of Okinawa, I was wondering how come the king and his bodyguards could be unarmed.
That's something that I find incredibly odd.
Thanks,

S.

BB82
05-16-2005, 06:21 AM
BB82,

Thanks for the information. It's definitely interesting, and I think that I'll be ordering the book, as my curiosity is peaked. I have another question for you, if you don't mind. As I'm not familiar at all with the history of Okinawa, I was wondering how come the king and his bodyguards could be unarmed.
That's something that I find incredibly odd.
Thanks,

S.


From page 12:

"After 1609, Okinawa was in fact a colony of Japan, even though it did not suit the shogun to admit it. Okinawa continued to be a nominal province of China while actually being controlled by Japan, a bizarre situation that historians refer to as 'dual subordination'. The long-suffering Okinawans paid taxes to both neighboring nations."...
..."This created a unique situation that bears forcefully on the history of karate. The Sho kings were not allowed to keep military forces. In fact, even the king had no right to own or carry weapons..."

Basically, China and Japan were both receiving tax money from Okinawa. They both claimed the island, but didn't want to war over it. The money was coming in to both nations, so why fight about it? The best way to keep people subordinate and paying taxes was to take their weapons away.
The U.S. invaded Okinawa because they wanted to force open trade with China, but knew that attacking the Chinese mainland was a losing proposition.
Seriously, get the book. It is absolutely facinating. It is NOT just a history book. It explains different moves from kata that will definetly open your eyes, and more importantly, your mind.
It will add a depth of knowledge to your study. It also has modern day applications of different karate moves that haven't been published before. I promise you that it is worth the measly 17 bucks!

BlackBelt

the spaniard
05-16-2005, 06:35 AM
I don't know if is printed in the States but one of my favourites is "On single Combat" from Keith R. Kernspecht.
He is the Headmaster of the WingTsun organisation for Europe under Leung Ting.
The book is well written and even i don't agree with some things the historical part of fighting is quite good.

bluemeanie
05-17-2005, 06:40 AM
(Meanie furiously taking notes) :D