Here in the Northeast U.S. things are starting to turn cold. That means a lot of my physical fitness is going to take place in the dojo or my apartment.
As such, I’m always on the hunt for new and interesting perspectives on ways to enhance physical activity and keep away those winter doldrums. That’s why I was pretty pumped when I got a chance to read The Warrior Fitness Guide to Striking Power, by Jonathan Haas.
The WF Guide promises low tech fitness routines specifically suited for practitioners of striking arts. I definitely fit that target audience.
Found Within the Pages
This ebook is focused on a select few tools that you can utilize to enhance your training. The author spends the first part of the book going over fitness basics and the importance of breathing, posture, and good habit development. He also introduces the reader to a handful of valuable principles and studies on the topic of training routines and method.
For those inclined to get active right away, don’t worry – the author provides the needed information in a brief and easily digestible manner. He seems to know that the focus of the book is on action and moves the pace of the book along nicely.
After the initial exercise theory, the reader is introduced to the following low tech training tools:
- The Sledgehammer
- The Medicine Ball
- Resistance Bands
- Empty Hand Bodyweight
By keeping things very fundamental, the author stays focused on the dynamics of the body and how each exercise closely relates to martial art movement. He shows how to isolate the muscles and rotational components that are often used in striking techniques, along with means of strengthening posture and impact transmission.
I consider this book a timely and valuable addition to my information library. In a style like karate, striking power and speed are always high on the priority list. Furthermore, the methods described by the author keep the same spirit as Hojo Undo in classical karate, practiced for generations and made a mainstay in many karate styles.
Western practitioners don’t have easy access to chiishi and kongo ken, but they can easily obtain the items used by Haas.
Another positive aspect of the book is the images. Although I would certainly enjoy video or extensive image series of each exercise in order to ensure proper technique, the images provided are clear and of good quality.
At 53 pages, this book is a manageable size and could even be printed for travel and dojo use.
I’m not a fitness buff, but I am a fitness enthusiast and am always on the prowl for ways to improve my art. As such, I feel like this book’s tone and content was right for me. If you’re in a similar boat it might be right for you as well.
As martial artists we often get bogged down in details. Techniques, training, research…it’s all very technical and thick.
Every now and then it’s fun to explore the ‘what ifs’ of martial arts. Luckily, for those times, we have authors like Sarah Gerdes and novels like Chambers.
Chambers is a martial arts mystery whereupon two teens are thrust into their father’s world of unusual artifacts, double crosses, and historical intrigue.
When Ms. Gerdes asked me if I might be interested in giving the book a read, I was happy to agree. The martial arts world is filled with spiritual and magical possibilities if we give ourselves permission to enjoy them (if only from time to time). When I found out that this book was interlaced with historical flavor from 15th Century China (an area and time not my specialty), I knew I’d be able to enjoy the read.
The story begins…
with two protagonists, Cage and Mia, who are a brother/sister team. They are both teens and exhibit some classic American qualities. Cage is a fiery martial arts student who is fairly confident in his own greatness. Mia is a very self-assured soccer player, aware of her budding attractiveness but often underplaying it.
The two find themselves mixed up in a scuffle between their dad and his boss, and before they realize the scope of their situation, they find themselves transported to a distant time and place – Ming Dynasty China, face to face with the 14 year old emporer.
As you can imagine, there is significant “fish out of water” elements to the story as the youngsters attempt to find their dad and save him (without altering history).
This book is good for…
any martial artist who wants to let imagination take over. The story is threaded with tidbits of real history and real training (the author is a martial artist herself), but for the most part raw action and magic rule the day. Cage exhibits skills well beyond his years and commands some intriguing powers as the story develops.
I think the best readership for this book is the teenage bracket, although adults (like myself) can certainly enjoy it. The mindsets and situations faced would speak most clearly to a teenager, especially one who is starting a martial art and is experiencing all the vast possibilities and unknown benefits that comes with it. Romances, conflict, and martial encounters (often with large groups of baddies) keep the pages turning and the story progressing.
The good news is…
if you like this book, there will be more to come. Ms. Gerdes plans to create a total of 5 novels in the series, following the adventures of Cage and Mia as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of their father’s research. Furthermore, Chambers has been optioned by Warp Entertainment and producer Lucas Foster with plans to adapt the book into a movie. Certainly the scale and far-off-setting of the story will translate well onto the silver screen.
Right now Chambers is available via Kindle (which you can use on any Kindle ereader or PC via the free Kindle software), Nook from Barnes and Noble, and for Apple products. The price is extremely manageable at $2.99 a copy.
Do you remember vinyl records? Scratch that, do you remember cds? On a cd or record you had a finite number of songs carefully constructed and placed just so. When done right, the cd represented a few separate works of art which came together to form a grander piece of art. While the actual number of songs was limited, they were worth revisited over and over again in order to explore the creator’s vision.
I feel that The Karate Code was built using this kind of “traditional” model.
Jesse Enkamp, author of KarateByJesse.com, set out many months ago to create something he felt was missing from the pantheon of martial texts. He knew there were plenty of books on technique, kata, self defense, etc etc, but didn’t think anyone was getting to the heart of karate. That’s why he went about contacting some of the most senior sensei in the world to ask them a simple question: what does karate mean to you…and why?
The result is an intriguing collection of thoughts by individuals such as Takayoshi Nagamine, Teruyuki Okazaki, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Yoshio Kuba, and more. They each express their beliefs in a succinct, creative way that leaves the reader with plenty to ponder.
Jut like the aforementioned record or cd, this book is a collection of thoughts that go by all too quickly. You can read the whole thing in one sitting. Despite that, the return value is significant and you’ll find yourself flipping through the pages to sneak another look at a line that won’t let go of your imagination.