I’m a firm believer that something as complicated and intricate as martial arts can’t be learned solely from a book. I know some people who have tried. The problem is that even the best illustrated book will lack the context, body movements and essential coaching one needs to properly learn the art. That being said, books can definitely be a good addition to one’s learning and supplement your in-person training. Certain books can also be read simply for the purpose of curiosity, allowing the reader to explore a particular art or skill that they aren’t actively studying.
I keep a varied library of training books, as seen in the photo above. Some are a bit more on the philosophical side, such as Bruce Lee’s “Striking Thoughts.” The first three books on the left are the ones I got for Christmas that I wrote about in a previous post. Despite the philosophical nature of these books, they still contain knowledge and lessons that can be valuable to a martial artists. As I write this, I notice that my copy of the Book of Five Rings ins’t there! Where the fuck did I put that thing…? But I digress…
For the past fourteen years or so, I’ve had to train in karate on my own, with Sensei being 3,400 kilometres away from me. I’ve had the opportunity to train with him an average of once a year during that time, which has slowed and hindered the rightful progression of my learning path. because of this, I’ve had to lean on my books for a certain amount of training. The red book entitled “Uechi Ryu Karate Do” is a comprehensive manual covering the art of Uechi Ryu, written by George Matteson, who brought Uechi to the United States from Okinawa. It contains illustrations of all the basic exercises and forms one needs to learn Uechi Ryu karate.
This works in my case because I already know all the forms and basic exercises. This allows me to use the manual as a corrective tool to smooth out and perfect my techniques as opposed to trying to learn from scratch, which I stand by the opinion would be improbable. What I particularly like are the Men’s Health manuals that teach a number of different weight workouts. Either way, building a personal library of reference manuals can be a good addition to your overall training and help you out on the occasions where you need to be reminded of a technique or exercise and your instructors aren’t readily availability. ☯️
One thought on “Because Sometimes, You Have No Choice…”
As you probably recall, I did a very similar post over a year ago, and came to nearly the exact same conclusions. Books and videos are a good supplementary training tool for somebody that has experience in the art. If the book or video is good enough, it’s even possible to pick up some of another style.
Even then, that depends upon the amount of experience of the practitioner, the similarity of the styles, AND the quality of the book or video. Some styles are just plain tricky regardless. Wing Chun being a perfect example there. Learned from a quality instructor, it’s brutally effective. Many of the defensive moves collapse completely though with something as simple as the improper position of an elbow by an inch or two.