I love reading martial arts books. Over the course of my career, I have probably read hundreds of them. There are currently a dozen or more on my book shelf. I had to get rid of some that I no longer read to make space for the ones I constantly go back and refer to over and over again. Unfortunately, in recent years martial arts books have become boring and predictable. They have little real content and lots of pictures of techniques that don’t really mean anything unless you are taught them in person. I literally cannot remember the last martial arts book I read in the past few years that was worth talking about. Until now…
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a complimentary copy of Jonathan Bluestein’s new book, Research of Martial Arts
. I am very happy to say that this book is outstanding! I have not yet read the book in its entirety, but have perused it several times, each time stopping and reading snippets from each of the 3 main sections. Each time I stop to read just a short piece, I end up reading more!
Part 1: From the Inside Out – External and Internal Gong Fu
This section is the longest in the book. It is also the most detailed and well presented contrast of external vs. internal martial arts that I have seen in print to date. Jonathan has taken an incredibly difficult and highly contested topic and broken it down into a cogent, detailed analysis of both. I was extremely happy to read his thoughts on fascia as well as his treatment of biotensegrity and how it relates to creating an omni-directional structure, or the Chinese concept pf Peng. The section on dantian is also extremely well put together and worth reading!
Part II: Contemplations on Controlled Violence
Part 2 is a series of essays by Jonathan and several guest articles by other martial arts teachers. Some of the teachers who contributed articles are, Allen Pittman, Nitzan Oren (Jonathan’s teacher), Steve Rowe, and others. These interesting philosophical and psychological looks into the world of martial arts.
Part III: The Wisdom of the Martial Spirits: Teachers, and the Things They Hold Dear
This section contains interviews with contemporary teachers of various martial arts. The interviews are a fascinating look into not only the art(s) represented but also the men, the history, and the culture surrounding them. My 2 favorite interviews were with Chen Zhonghua and Yang Hai.
This book is super easy to recommend – buy it!
I forsee a permanent place on my bookshelf for this particular book on martial arts. I have to thank Jonathan Bluestein for reaching out to me and generously sending over a copy of this wonderful book. And, in case I wasn’t clear – if you have any interest in gaining a deeper understanding of the workings of both external and internal martial arts, I highly recommend you pick up Research of Martial Arts