Friday, 21 January 2011

Some martial arts reading......

The most popular post I have published on the SSK blog (by far) is one I wrote a few months ago where I provided a reading list of martial arts books (Do you read about martial arts?). Since the SSK students seemed to have an appetite for reading I have just posted a new list of books for them that I have found good reading material. I thought you might like to see it too!

The title of each book links directly to Amazon (UK) in case you want to purchase it or find out more about it. (I do not receive commission for any books sold via this post).

Getting fit for martial arts.

My new year’s resolution was to get fitter and more flexible to enhance my ability to do karate. My ultimate goal was to get fit enough to endure my shodan grading in the summer (assuming I’m invited to grade). I’m no real expert on fitness training so I have looked to a few books for help. Here are the ones I’m finding useful:

Ultimate Flexibility – a complete guide to stretching for Martial Arts, by Sang H. Kim

This very comprehensive book covers all aspects of stretching from the basic physiology and science behind stretching to easy to follow exercises for all areas of the body. It has chapters on body mechanics, the effects of aging on flexibility, muscle recovery and developing the right mindset for stretching. It then takes you through how to plan your own stretching program. The exercises themselves are ordered into areas of the body such as legs, back, hips, arms etc. There is then a series of suggested workouts depending on what you are trying to achieve e.g. a light contact workout, kicking workout, boxing workout, grappling workout etc. I am finding this book invaluable so I’m sure you will too.

Fighter’s Fact book: Over 400 concepts, principles and drills to make you a better fighter! By Loren W. Christensen.

If you want to improve your endurance, speed, reaction times and power then this is the book for you. It is packed full of training ideas and drills that you can work on at home alone or with a partner. It also looks at ways of improving punching, kicking and sparring techniques and provides tips of how to pass a black belt test. Part two focuses on mental training – alleviating stress, mental imagery, coping with pain and conquering fear.

Solo training: the martial artist’s guide to training alone, by Loren W. Christensen

Don’t have a training partner at home? Then you need this book! Again, this is a collection of drills, techniques and exercises specifically tailored to the needs of a martial artist. This book is designed to add a bit of spice and variety into solo training routines so that you don’t get bored. It aims to help you get the maximum results from the shortest training session, so if you don’t have a lot of time to train at home this book could become your best friend!

Martial Arts After 40, by Sang H. Kim Ph.D

If, like me, you are now on the wrong side of 40 then it may be worth getting this book. It outlines the changes your body undergoes as you get older and how this affects your training. It is also full of common sense tips and exercises than enable you to continue to train safely and effectively as you age and how to prevent injury. The book is very positive and motivating and will help the older practitioner get the best out of their training.

Martial Arts Instruction books

Fancy yourself as a future instructor? Helping out as an Assistant instructor? Or, maybe you just want to feel more confident about teaching when sensei asks you to show a junior grade how to do something or explain something to them. I bought the following books when I started helping my instructor in the junior class. I have found them very helpful:

Martial Arts Instruction – applying educational theory and communication techniques in the dojo, by Lawerence A. Kane.

This book deals with understanding different learning styles and assessing your student’s learning style preference. In fact it is quite useful just for helping you understand your own learning style and preferences even if you are not interested in teaching. It then looks at different methods of teaching, fostering a positive learning environment, lesson planning and class management. The book is very practical and readable and doesn’t get too dogged down in educational theory, despite the title. Worth a read if you are interested in teaching.

Martial Arts Instructor’s Desk Reference – a complete guide to martial arts administration, by Sang H. Kim, Ph.D.

This book has something for every budding instructor from assistant or new club instructors to experienced instructors looking for new ideas to liven up or refresh their teaching methods. There is a lot of information and ideas about teaching children, including children with disabilities or behavioural problems. There are lots of suggestions as to how to deal with the unruly or non compliant child and how to keep all students motivated and enthusiastic. If you are serious about starting a club then there is information on how to go about it including how to promote and market a martial arts club. This is a book that can be dipped into when you need some teaching inspiration!

101 games and drill for Martial Arts, by David and Elizabeth Lee.

If you are looking for some fun ways to spice up a class then this book is full of games and drills. Using stick type drawings it guides you through each game or drill, outlining its purpose and what level of student it is suitable for. There are games and drills to improve balance, reaction times, speed, kicks, punching, sparring, pad work and more. There are team games, solo drills and partner drills. Many are suitable for warm ups, warm downs, end of class games or as serious training drills. A great book to dip into for ideas!

Martial Arts and general life:


For many people martial arts are not just about fitness and fighting but are about self-improvement and a guide as to how to live a better life. If you are into the Way of martial arts then this next session may interest you:

Living the Martial Way – a manual for the way a modern warrior should think, by Forrest E. Morgan, Maj USAF

This book is fast becoming a modern classic. It is a comprehensive guide on how to integrate the lessons learned in the dojo into everyday life. The book is designed to be a systematic, step-by-step approach to applying the warrior mind-set to martial arts training and daily life. It is divided into three sections: The Way of training – how to approach training and how to gain the most from it, The Way of honour – an approach to ethics and how to develop a powerful sense of character and will, and finally, The Way of living – a guide to a ‘warrior’ lifestyle; living a healthy life with dignity and wisdom. The book aims to provide you with a road map for determining your own martial destiny.

The Essence of Budo – a practitioners’ guide to understanding the Japanese Martial Ways, by Dave Lowry

No martial arts book list is complete without a David Lowry book! This is his latest book, following a familiar formula for which his books are well known and loved. This time in his explanations of what it means to live the martial Way, he focuses on issues that a martial arts student should consider as their training develops. He looks at fitness and gives some practical advice on improving posture and movement. He questions what students and teachers should expect from each other, the meaning of rank, how to train with less experienced students, the importance of dojo etiquette, teaching children and much more. It is all written in Lowry’s easy going, plain speaking style. A good read as usual.

What are your favourite martial arts books?
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6 comments:

Charles James said...

Yes, I do read voraciously, my reading list is now on that Shelfari and linked to my blog post.

You do present some interesting books I have not read yet, thanks Sue!

Journeyman said...

I haven't been reading as much as I'd like to lately so thanks for the list of screened selections. I'll be sure to check some out.

John Vesia said...

You can't go wrong with Dave Lowry. He's like a laid back version of Donn Draeger.

I posted my list of faves a while back, but one book I forgot to mention was Beyond the Known: The Ultimate Goal of the Martial Arts, by Tri Thong Dang. It follows the life of a young novice who eventually ascends to mastery. It's a little metaphysical, but worthwhile for the "way" or -do aspirant. A quick read, too (160 pages).

blackbeltsuze said...

Thanks for this - you've saved me many hours of trawling!!

SueC said...

I think it's a good idea to share reading lists ocassionaly. It's an easy way to find out what the best reads are at the moment. I haven't read John's recommendation, Beyond the Known:.... before so I'll be checking that one out. If anyone has any more interesting suggestions let me know :-)

SenseiMattKlein said...

Great list here Sue. I have many of these books and continually refer to them. Always on the lookout for new ones, so I might give some of them a try.

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