by John Styers 1952, Paladin Press, Boulder Colorado. ISBN 0 87364 025 X. Paperback, 179 pgs.
Review by Kim Taylor
John Styers is the inheritor and developer of the "Classical" or "Sabre" style of knife as outlined by A.J.D Biddle. When written in 1952, the book was used by the U.S. Marine Corps as a close combat manual, and includes sections on bayonet, knife, unarmed combat, the baton, and, in one of those bits of whimsy often found in books of this type, knife throwing.
Written as a manual of use, just a few years past the Second World War, the book is short on theory and analysis. Styers moves directly into the techniques which are, as might be expected for a book written close to wartime, simple and self-explanatory. While reading the first section, I became curious to see how Styers' bayonet method would fare if used in the Japanese martial art/sport of Jukendo.
Styers' movements are consistent from one weapon to the other (or none), and he has used photos and text well. Anyone wanting to learn a specific style of fighting could use this book as a sound beginning.
by William L. Cassidy 1975. Paladin Press, Boulder Colorado. ISBN 0 87364 029 2. Hardcover, 121 pgs.
Review by Kim Taylor
This book is a good, short introduction to the history and theory of Western knife fighting technique. William Cassidy is the creator and editor of "Knife Digest" a former editor of "American Blade" magazine and has obviously done considerable research in the field.
The book begins with a nice chapter on the development of modern knife fighting, concentrating
on two western streams of thought. The first is from W.E. Fairbairn, through Rex Applegate and
the second from A.J.D. Biddle through John Styers. This classification is a valuable tool for those
wanting more than a couple of quick and dirty knife tricks. Fairbairn represents the "commando"
and Biddle the "sabre or classical" theories and Cassidy analyses both. He then notes the potential
contribution of Eastern methods, especially Japanese iaijutsu and kenjutsu arts.
The second section of the book describes various knife designs, including one from the author which, not surprisingly, he endorses enthusiastically.
The third section is concerned wtih tactics and Cassidy discusses grip, stance, the thrust, the slash, mental discipline, tactical movement, style and maneuver, and finally, defence. The teaching method is very good, Cassidy repeats his points and summarizes as he moves along. There are some small problems in understanding the text, for instance he suggests "If you are cut in the palm, your 'Extending Tendons' will be severed, but you will still be able to make a fist. If you are cut on the back of the hand, the 'Flexing Tendons' may be severed and the hand will be useless" (p.77). I suspect he has it backward, which has serious implications concerning his advice to keep the palm toward the opponent. When reading about grip I had some trouble visualizing just what Cassidy meant when describing the ability to cut to right or left sides, some illustrations may have helped here.
Overall I would recommend the book as a nice starting point for a study of short blade fighting as practiced today in the West.
by Goeff Thompson, 1997, Paladin Press ISBN 0-87364-914-1. 199 pgs.
Reviewed by Kim Taylor
I have an interest in self defence, and so requested this new release to review here, even if it is a bit off topic. A lot of the readers will be interested, I'm sure.
This book has quite a few forwards by various people who have loads of praise for Thompson, a "big name" in UK self defence circles. He is a professional bouncer, which seems to colour his advice a bit. "Dead or Alive" might actually be more appropriate for readers in Canada than in the USA, Thompson's experience would be more similar to a country with a good deal less gun ownership than the US.
Thompson compares self defence to road safety in his introduction, and states that we don't teach kids to deal with the trauma of getting hit by a car, but instead how to avoid getting hit in the first place. A wonderful observation! As someone who deals with the "you can't teach women how to fight, we've got to make men stop abusing them" arguments I gave a little cheer. Thompson also states that self defence is prevention oriented, and that step by step martial art type training is useless. He recommends instead a "target hardening" using the four D's. Dialog, deception, distraction and destruction. He also teaches the awareness colour code, White for "off", yellow for "aware", orange for "warning" and red for "fight or flight". He gives some general advice for consideration regarding the home, the car, walking, and night clubbing. This is a short section and not really missed since this kind of advice is all around us constantly. (I never cease to be amazed at the money available to produce another yet pamphlet but not available to teach women physical skills).
Thompson uses a series of stories and interviews to show the attacker and his rituals, the steps from eye contact to attack by the "amateur" and the deceptive actions of the professional mugger. He discusses "types" of killers and rapists but makes the point that this typing is next to useless to the victim. I like this author more and more, of what use is it to think you know why you are being attacked? You are being attacked, that is sufficient information. A good discussion on the progress from selection through approach to attack or abduction and separating the victim from the herd is given.
A series of physical signals such as darting eye movements, adrenal dump (pale face, bulging eyes, shaky hands and voice), hand concealment, false smiles and pincer movements from several people could all indicate a potential attack. Thompson's comments on these are worth considering.
Most self defence books of this type (there are several different types) confine themselves to advice on prevention, danger signals and a few "tried and true" escape techniques. Thompson goes a bit further at this point and begins to discuss the role of adrenalin and fear, as well as giving practical advice on how to reduce your fear levels. Good "practical psychology" on his part.
For the technical stuff, the author deals with the body's weapons in a farily standard karate/tae kwon do/kickboxing manner. He also gives a fairly elaborate description of the national empty hand weapon of the UK, the headbutt. He moves on to brief consideration of chokes, throws, groundfighting, weapons, and knockouts.
I think the most valuable part of the book, which I recommend, is the discussion of the "lead-up" time before an attack, and his related discussions of preemptive strikes set up by verbal disarms. Although aimed at mostly unarmed, physically violent attacks (those facing a bouncer particularly), it is a valuable contribution to the field of prevention training.
by Col. Rex Applegate. 1976 Paladin Press, ISBN 0-87364-084-5. 421 pages, indexed.
Reviewed by Kim Taylor
This is one of the classic texts on armed and unarmed close combat fighting in the West. Rex Applegate is in the commando tradition of W.E. Fairbairn and was in charge of close combat training at the Military Intelligence Training Centre at Camp Richie MD during the Second World War.
This book is a straight manual of technique, no history or philosopy here, just "get it done" training. First written in 1943 the book has seen several additions to make it more applicable to modern law enforcement agencies. This makes the work slightly bifocal, as the author states "The soldier must be trained and indoctrinated in the offensive. Combat between armies is only won by offensive tactics. ... The law enforcement officer has a different problem. He must first master restraint and manhandling tactics." (p. xi)The problem is dealt with by clearly segregated chapters.
It's hard to describe the breadth of the detail in this book, it really is quite comprehensive. If the subject was classical Japanese martial arts, I'd say that Applegate had described the entire curriculum of one of the larger bugei ryu. I'll run through the chapters to give a feel for just what kind of information is contained here.
The book begins with a very short introduction to unarmed combat, and in a rare bit of history Applegate claims that Japanese jiujitsu dates from the 12th century in Tibet. It went to Japan where it became Judo, and from there it got an overemphasis due to it's inclusion in WWII commando training. Applegate believes it is faster and more efficient to use strikes in combat.
The techniques begin with Chapter 2, Offensive unarmed combat featuring knees to the groin, fingers to the eyes, chops to the throat and other such useful "pressure point" theory. No fancy stuff here, after a discussion of balance and its importance we get right into strikes, kicks, throws, strangles and special attacks for special situations. Whew, this is a course in itself.
Chapter 3 deals with Defensive Unarmed Combat. We're right back to eye gouges and knees to the groin, but this time as breakholds. Arm releases, come-alongs and holds are included here, as is a discussion of pain points.
Chapter 4 is Knife Attack and Defence (the reason for reviewing the book of course). Applegate makes the point that you can't reasonably expect to survive defensively against a knife unless you understand how to use it offensively. He discusses the fighting knife and, not surprisingly, spends some time on the Fairbairn fighting knife. A stiletto used by Canadian and British commandos and some US special units during WWII. Other knife shapes are discussed before moving on to unskilled attacks from different grips. Applegate dismisses knife throwing as a serious threat before discussing vulnerable areas on the body and how to kill sentries. Knife concealment and defence using kicks, sticks, chairs, guns, helmets and arms are all covered.
The next two chapters (and almost 100 pages) deal thoroughly, and rightly, with the combat use of handguns and shoulder weapons. A much shorter section deals with disarming people with guns. There is something to be said here just on the relative size of the sections.
After this, Applegate gets more into the law enforcement areas, Chapter 8 deals with prisoner handling and control. This contains information on how to arrest and restrain prisonors, including some techniques using string or rope that look like classical Japanese hojojutsu.
Chapter 9 deals with raids and room combat from a police point of view. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with training courses and fieldcraft, something for the survivalists.
We get back to more familiar weapons in Chapter 12 with discussions of baton and blackjack (including expandable baton incidentally) use.
To show just how thorough this book is, the last chapers, 13-16 deal with "heiho" the strategy of combat. In this case it's the use of chemical and other controls for mobs, riots, communist insurrections (hey, it was the cold war), and other suchlike situations.
All in all this book took my breath away in it's scope. You could set up your own country with the information here, and run it for a while too. Of course, eventually folks might want a bit more than conquest and control but it would be a start.
by Michael Janich, 1993, Paladin Press, Boulder Colorado. ISBN 0-87364-740-8. Paperback 102 pages.
In 1980 Dan Inosanto published "The Filipino Martial Arts" and sometime around that same period the "new wave" of knife fighting appeared. Out went the old WWII based manuals and in came Kali, Escrima and other Filipino based arts.
Michael Janich states in his introduction that he has studied with the police, the special forces and street fighters and has used it all to create this book. The theme of "Knife Fighting" is self defence but it remains firmly in the Filipino martial art orbit.
Janich wanted to create a systematic method of instruction that would be useful to the common citizen, a method that provides a unified approach to using the knife instead of a collection of tricks. Many have promised this but few have delivered. I think Janich is one of the few who have largely delivered.
"Knife Fighting" is organized into short chapters on grip, stance, footwork, attack and defence zones, cuts and thrusts, defence, targets, example techniques, counterdefences and training drills. This seems a logical and well thought out order. I especially like the beginning and ending thought. If you can, don't fight, avoid the situation.
Those familiar with Eastern martial arts won't find a lot of new detail, but the system is worth consideration. The only unusual detail was the advice to leave your thumb sticking up from the handle, along the back of the blade to provide a "neuromuscular aiming tool". All I could think of was what a good target it would provide my opponent. Since the argument seems reasonable I may still try it.
To be honest, a lot of the statements are quite irritating. There is a general tendency toward "tough talk" such as "practice every technique with the intent of following through to the death of your opponent" (p. 6). On discussing the legal implications of using a knife Janich states on p. 7.
"the twisted nature of our legal system might make you the aggressor if the incident were ever tried in court.
Unfortunately, this is true. However it presupposes that 1) your opponent survives to try to press charges against you, and 2) your opponent is willing to contact the police and risk prosecution himself."
We'll leave aside for now the discussion of whether a legal system should or should not investigate a stabbing simply because the "stabber" says he was attacked by the "stabee", and even admit some sympathy with to the statement "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six". Regardless of the tone, the book has considerable merit as a method of teaching the use of the knife. It seems a simple and effective course of instruction which will transmit the basics of combat to the student.
I have no way to know whether the actual techniques are "practical" since I have no experience in life or death knife fights. I do suspect that at times the author falls into the "and then if this happens you can do this" trap, especially in the sections on counterdefence. When you slow down and are looking at the simpler techniques you often find all sorts of little bits and pieces that you can put into the movement. These refinements rarely survive when applied at normal speed during sword or empty hand practice and I suspect the same would be true with the knife. Janich does suggest several ways to practice his method at full speed and these things would work themselves out at that time.
Overall I'd say that this book is worth a look for anyone concerned with personal hand weapons practice.
Review by Kim Taylor (sort of)
I was going to write a review of this book, I really was, but I looked hard at the press release put
out by Christoph Amberger himself and couldn't find a single thing wrong with it. Here then, is
Amberger's release in full, with Kim Taylor's endorsement. I recommend this book (and
Hammerterz Forum) to anyone in the Japanese arts even remotely interested in the sword in a
A revolutionary new approach to evaluating the quality and effectiveness of Western edged-weapons combat systems through the ages, by J. Christoph Amberger, editor and publisher of Hammerterz Forum, whose credentials include the Discovery Channel's 3-part documentary Deadly Duels (produced by Michael Hoff Productions, premier broadcast Jan. 1997.)
The Secret History of the Sword is the first book to analyze historical edged-weapons combat
systems within their cultural and hoplological context. It includes:
*a devastating critique of Patton's saber system;
*proof that "renaissance" sword techniques were employed as early as AD150;
*a fighter's perspective on use of cut-and-thrust weapons on foot and horseback from the 1600s to 1918;
*trailblazing analysis of the hoplite fighter's mindset as evident in Socratic dialectics;
*a detailed analysis of historic target areas for cut and thrust fencing on foot and on horseback;
*an exclusive view at an unknown Burgundian baton fencing system from the early 16thg century;
*a heartstopping view at the bloodsports systems of Greco-Roman antiquity.....
Plus, more than a half-dozen first-hand accounts of encounters with edged weapons in the
different combat scenarios. The Secret History is chock full with period illustrations-and
thoroughly documented and annotated.
"Amberger's approach to rewriting fencing history really is a ruthless search-and-destroy mission
that takes the reader on a quest for the truth that starts in obscure Caucasian mythology, crosses
the Greco-Roman past, and then blows through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and modern period
with the force of a two-handed Doppelsoeldner broadsword. " (P. Mitchell Prothero, Blue Steel,
Amberger, J. Christoph. The Secret History of the Sword: Adventures in Ancient Martial Arts,
Baltimore: Hammerterz Verlag, 1997 (2nd ed.); 132 pp., softbound. Price: $29.95 (incl. s/h),
Privately published by and available exclusively from Hammerterz Verlag, P.O. Box 13448,
Baltimore, MD 21203 USA. (Make checks or MO payable to Hammerterz Verlag.)
Author's Biographical Note:
Born in 1963, J. Christoph Amberger grew up in what used to be West Berlin, Germany.
He studied Latin, English, history, dentistry, Gaelic, English and American Literature, journalism,
philosophy, and economics with varying degrees of devotion and perseverance at the Freie
Universitat Berlin, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and the Georg-August-Universitat
Gottingen before obtaining his Master of Arts at St. John's Graduate Institute in Annapolis,
Maryland. He has been living in the United States since 1989. Amberger is married and has two
Amberger today is publisher of the investment newsletters Taipan (http://www.taipanonline.com),
Taipan Trader, World Investor, and The Cutting Edge. A regular contributor to American
Fencing, the magazine of the United States Fencing Association, and to the British fencing
magazine The Sword, as well as the German Einst und Jetzt, he founded Hammerterz Forum in
He has been featured in the Discovery Channel's 1997 documentary series Deadly Duels and is considered one of the foremost experts on historical edged-weapons combat in the United States.
His most recent book is a second enlarged edition of The Secret History of the Sword: Adventures
in Ancient Martial Arts (Baltimore, Hammerterz Verlag, 1997.)
After becoming a member of the Corps Normannia Berlin and the Corps Hannovera Gottingen, two of the most respected duelling fraternities in Germany, he fought seven Mensuren with the bell-guard and basket-hilt Schlager between 1985 and 1987 and acted as a second in 25 more. His weapon of choice on the sports fencing strip is the saber.
by John Stevens 1996, Shambhala Publ. Boston
reviewed by Kim Taylor
It's always nice to have a book or something to give to the folks when they say "What's that thing you do with the skirts?" This book is intended for that purpose for those who want to know about Aikido. It's a paperback of 6 by 9 inches and 132 pages including chapters on: The biography of Morihei Ueshiba, training and teaching, the philosophy and ideals of Aikido, and some reference chapters including a bibliography, a glossary and an index.
The biographical notes contain some new ideas on Ueshiba the environmentalist, a pretty 90's kind of interpretation of his fondness for farming. Stevens notes the power and influence of Ueshiba's father, something that was rarely mentioned in biographies written a decade ago. As might be expected in a short book, this bio is a bit black and white. Sokaku Takeda is presented as a bit crazy, which is fairly common, but Ueshiba also comes off being a bit scary. For instance on page 10 "In addition to such uncanny feats as felling ten men with a single shout and scoring a hole in one the first and only time he swung a golf club, Moirhei demonstrated the incredible ability to dodge bullets--he faced off against a military firing squad (twice!), and they were not able to hit him."
I really fail to see the usefulness of such statements in an "intro to" book. Is the intent to dissuade rational people from taking up Aikido or to attract the whackos who want to learn how to fly?
In the second section on training and teaching, Stevens declares that Aikido is not a sport. Aside from setting up the straw man of sport being only games of competition, the author seems to be completely omitting the Aikido of Tomiki, and perhaps even of Tohei who, according to the latest Aikido Journal, has created the Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Competition. What we are reading, it becomes clear, is an introduction to John Stevens' Aikido. Fair enough. and "reader beware". The section contains many photos illustrating various aspects of training described in the captions.
The third section concerning the philosophy of Aikido is also heavily illustrated. The tone seems to me to suggest that Aikido is the only budo with an aim greater than simply twisting arms. Stevens states "Aikido is more than a martial art" and quotes Ueshiba as saying "Do you think I'm teaching you merely to twist someone's arm and knock him to the ground? That's child's play. Aikido deals with the most important issues of life!". This is a guide to Aikido, but the reader should not be given the idea that this particular philosophy applies only to Aikido. Other "martial arts" might, with some justification, claim and perhaps even demonstrate the same philosophy.
In the section on Schools and Styles one might detect a certain small bias toward Mr. Stevens' own style, again, fair enough, but in the resources I really do wonder at the omission of mention of the Aikido Journal, even while mentioning several of the books put out by the same company. This magazine is, without doubt, the pre-eminent source of information on Aikido, and if the California based Aikido Today deserves mention, surely the Journal should.
Not to get too picky about an "introduction", I'd say the book would be worth a look to anyone curious about John Stevens' style of Aikido.
Kuo, Simmone, 1996. "Shao-lin Chuan - The Rhythm & Power of Tan-Tui," North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-55643-22-91, 150 pp.
Reviewed by: Raymond Sosnowski, New Hampshire.
Mrs. Simmone Kuo is the widow of the late Chinese Internal Arts master, Mr. Kuo, Lien-Ying,
who died on 14 April 1984 at age 93. Sifu Kuo brought the practice of Kuang P'ing Yang style
T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Shaolin Ch'uan, and a form of Chan Chuang (standing meditation) called Yu
Chou Chang (Universal Post) to San Francisco in 1965. All U.S. practitioners of Kuang P'ing
trace their lineage to him. It was customary for T'ai Chi students to learn Shi-Lu (ten routine)
T'an-T'ui (Springy Legs) of Shaolin Ch'uan to balance the less physical demands of T'ai Chi
Ch'uan. In 1969, a second school appeared in El Cerrito (CA) with the immigration of one of
Sifu Kuo's top students from China, Mr. Chiang, Yun Chung, who is also a famous calligrapher
and a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I trace my lineage through Sifu Chiang to Sifu
As I am familiar with the practices of Mrs. Kuo, namely Kuang P'ing Yang T'ai Chi Ch'uan and
Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui of Shaolin Ch'uan (both of which I have learned, but I have discontinued the
latter practice), I volunteered to review her second and latest book, "Shao-lin Chuan - The
Rhythm & Power of Tan-Tui" (Kuo, 1996). I will compare this second book with the first one,
"Long Life, Good Health through Tai-Chi Chuan" (Kuo, 1991). There are many aspects of this
second book that I find problematic, especially when compared to the first one. I will present this
review in two parts: the relevant part of the book and the irrelevant part. The relevant part runs
from page 1 to page 88, about 60% of the entire book. In my opinion, the irrelevant part consists
of random filler that is the other 40% of the book. In contrast, the first book (Kuo, 1991) had a
negligible amount of filler.
To begin the first part of this review, the relevant part of "Shao-lin Chuan" consists of a history,
introductions with respect to the benefits, preparatory notes and difficulties, warm-up exercises,
and the ten lines of T'an-T'ui. The history photo-essay is uninformative with respect to the form
itself, and biased; the history in "Long Life Good Health," although quite biased, was at least
informative. Sanders (1993) gives a short history of T'am T'ui (an alternative spelling), and
Canzonieri (1996) gives a more extensive one of Tan Toi (another alternative spelling). Very
simply, T'an-T'ui is a product of the Moslem community in Northern China during the Ming
Dynasty (1368-1644), and was later adopted by the Shaolin monks and integrated into their
curriculum -- Mrs. Kuo does not acknowledge the Moslem origin. In Kuo (1991), she did not
acknowledge the existence of any other forms of T'ai Chi Ch'uan other than Kuang P'ing Yang,
which is simply not a major style in the overall practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan [the major family
styles are the Chen, (Peking) Yang, Wu, Hao and Sun]. History (at least accurate history) does
not seem to be Mrs. Kou's strong suit.
The essays on benefits, preparatory notes and difficulties are concise and to the point. The basic warm-ups are well done, but they are the same as those in Kuo (1991). There are 6 pages of photographs in this section of 14 pages that are really filler, and could be cut; on the other hand, there are 3 pages with pictures of supplementary exercises and drawings of hand forms that really need associated explanations. The solution here is to cut the 6 pages of filler, and use it for text to accompany those 3 other pages, which would not cause an overall increase in page number.
Finally, we get to the central theme of the book, namely the ten lines of T'an-T'ui, that is, Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui. Canzonieri (1996) highlights the other aspects of what constitute the T'an-T'ui system of (Chinese) boxing. There is also a related T'an-T'ui form of 12 lines [see Chan (1984)]: lines 1 through 5 are the same, 6 through 8 are different, 9 and 10 are somewhat similar, and 11 and 12 are unique to the 12-line form (Canzonieri, 1996). Structurally, Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui is a simple form -- it is ten lines, that is, linear forms. There is an opening sequence. The first line moves away from the origin, and the second line returns to that origin; likewise, the remaining pairs of lines go out and back along the same path until the tenth line returns to the origin, and then there is a closing sequence. Within each line, there is a unit form which is repeated an even number of times, because each unit form alternates sides, that is, there are right-hand and left-hand versions. In my prior practice of Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui, for each line we would do each unit form six times (four times if we were short on space).
The text and photographs for the ten lines of T'an-T'ui are complete, but the transitions at the
ends of each line are missing -- this is a major omission since Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui is practiced as a
linked form. Also, the lay out could have been better. First, the photographs and the associated
text (as one long paragraph) are segregated on a per line basis. Considering that each line
represents one form, it would have been better to group the photographs and text into logical units
(i.e., postures) within each line (at least the text could have been broken up from solid paragraphs
into a series of short paragraphs based on the postures of the line); doing this would have
increased the size of this relevant part of the book, but there is 40% filler material that could be
reduced to meet this expansion without increasing the overall size of the book.
Second, because the motions of T'an-T'ui are big ones, the photographs could have been marked
up to reflect this aspect as was done in Chan (1984) for the 12-line version (although not
professionally done, these marked-up photographs make the descriptions so much easier to
follow). T'an-T'ui has both deep side squats (not recommended for people with knee problems)
and large arm movements going in opposite directions. The transitions between the still
photographs are really what makes the form; I have seen only one commercial videotape of
Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui by WTN (Woo Tchi Nyu) Kung Fu Productions [Perrysburg, OH] produced
several years ago (I don't know if they are still in business) -- the motions were stiff and stilted,
quite unlike the dynamics of the movements I had learned (fortunately, I do have two
good-quality, privately-shot videotapes for reference). In contrast, the text and photographs were
arranged on a per posture basis in "Long Life Good Health" (equivalent to about 10 lines with 64
postures total without counting repeated postures); the number of photographs were sufficient to
greatly reduce the need for marked-up photographs. I am being quite critical here because I had
difficulty working with the layout in "Shao-lin Chuan" even though I had previously practiced
Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui, and I imagine that people unfamiliar with it would have even more difficulty.
You can, of course, mark up the book, but that is generally unnecessary in a well laid out text.
Turning to the second part, let us look at the irrelevant aspects in "Shao-lin Chuan." As I said
above, about 40% of the material is just filler. This filler includes essays on "Chinese Philosophy
and Religion Related to Shao-lin Chuan," "Yu Chou Chang/Universal Stance/Post of Life" in
English and Chinese and "Hua-Tu, the Great Physician" (creator of the Five- Animal Frolics, a set
of health exercises), two essays by Mr. Dan Wang on "Sources of Tai-Chi Philosophy and
Modern Science" and "Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Wu-Shu," a photo-essay on the
"Beijing Opera and Chinese Acrobatics," and miscellaneous photographs of student classes, the
late Mr. Kuo, Lien-Ying (with the Shaolin staff, Shaolin saber, and T'ai-Chi sword along with
postures from the other Chinese Internal Arts of Pa Kua Chang and Hsing-I Ch'uan), and the late
family dog and cat. The essay "Yu Chou Chang/Universal Stance/Post of Life" is both
redundant, appearing in Kuo (1991), and irrelevant, being derived from Hsing-I Nei-Kung
(form-and- will health exercises), which is totally unrelated to Shaolin Ch'uan. The rest of it is
simply miscellaneous filler, also totally unrelated to the practice of Shaolin Ch'uan. It looks to me
as if this material was hastily assembled to get the total page count up to a respectable 150.
In summary, this book does break new ground -- it is the first readily available, English language
text that I know of on Shi-Lu T'an-T'ui. However, it is a difficult book in terms of the lay out and
the content with respect to the primary relevant material. It is also filled with a lot of irrelevant
material, but you can skip that. My initial impression has not been altered over time, this book is
simply disappointing, which is especially heightened by the contrast with the first book "Long Life
Good Health," which was so well done (it does have other serious problems, but lay out and
content are not among them). Because of its unique subject, I find that I can recommend this
book only with reluctance and only to those who would really be interested in pursuing Shi-Lu
T'an-T'ui as a practice (you will really need a teacher for this one, and it is a physically
Canzonieri, Salvadore, 1996. "A Moslem in China," Kung-Fu, 19-22, June/July.
Chan, Kin Man, 1984. "Northern Shaolin Twelve Tantui Boxing Series," Chan Hong Heung Kung Fu Association, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 276 pp.
Kuo, Simmone, 1991. "Long Life, Good Health through Tai-Chi Chuan," North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. 134 pp.
by John Sanchez 1980. Paladin Press, Boulder Colorado. ISBN 0 87364 188 4. Paperback, 67 pgs.
Review by Kim Taylor
In contrast to Cold Steel by Styers (1952) and The Complete Book of Knife Fighting by Cassidy (1975), I found this more recent effort to be weak. There is no background information on Sanchez or his style of knife so it is hard to put it into proper perspective. It seems to be a mixture of several influences, both Eastern and Western.
Sanchez states in the introduction that this book is not for those who seek trivia, but is a training aid, no more and no less. As a training aid it falls a bit short. The book is almost completely text based and it is very difficult to visualize many of the instructions. The seeming lack of consistancy in the underlying theory makes this even more difficult. There are not many techniques described, the book is more a discussion of tactics, including such familiar themes as grip, stance, targets, and grappling. The book concludes with a discussion of throwing blades.
by John F. Gilbey, 1992 North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-126-0. 175 pgs.
Reviewed by Kim Taylor
What a howl this book is. John Gilbey (rumoured to be Robert W. Smith) is a well-moneyed
(textile millionaire), well-qualified (7dan judo, 5dan karate, master of Chinese boxing, Ph.D.,
seven languages) world traveller and the book is sponsored by the "Society for the Study of
Native Arts and Sciences" (I've gotta check the internet and see if any such thing exists).
Gilbey gives us a lot of "tall tales" here, as he did in his earlier book, "Secret Fighting Arts of the
World", that hide a hell of a lot of advice. This advice kind of sneaks up on you while you are
grinning at Mamma Su's lightning bolt spit or Chang San-Feng who eats but once a year. Gilbey
has a lot to say about why we study martial arts and why we fight, as well as the value of fighting
just to win fights. I was a bit disturbed with his advice to women in danger of being raped, but
after some thought had to admit that he got me. I didn't blink when he stated that men were idiots
to fight, but got irritated when he said the same about women. (I remain convinced that women
can and should fight back when being sexually assaulted).
The book deals with several well known arts and presents some real history, but it's the
steetfighters that hold my affection. Gilbey describes it all with a cool mix of fighting advice and
philosophy that shows the author to be either very widely read or a whiz at finding the right
quotation in Bartlett's.
I read this book right after finishing Jay Gluck's "Zen Combat" and I think these two guys would
have some dandy arguments, as well as a hell of a lot to talk about.
On another topic, I think these two authors, being "seniors" in the martial art world, and pretty much beyond reproach or fear of criticism, might do our community a great service. I'd very much like see the two of them get together and write a biography of their mutual acquaintance, Donn F. Draeger. I believe they could write it without blinkers and in a style appropriate to the man. Someone of his generation should do it now or we'll be left with only the memories of the next generation who won't be able to see as clearly.