MAA Title (3k)

General Synopsis from Waterstones Marketplace

About this title: This broad survey of martial arts traditions and their evolution to modern Western practice challenging the purpose and effectiveness of many martial arts activities and training methods used in the U.S. today.  By focusing on the most effective and relevant way for Americans to pursue the various martial arts, Orlando's useful insights penetrate a subject too often shrouded in mysticism and marketing hype.  30 photos.  79 illustrations.

Note: This is a general synopsis., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher
Nov. 5, 2013 5 out of 5 stars

Really Good Explanation Of Basic Martial Arts Concepts
This is a really good, plain English explanation of basic martial arts concepts.  It's easy to read and very interesting and informative.
Reviewer: Bobbe Edmonds
Mar. 9, 2009

Martial Arts America is an easy read for a book that tackles the level of controversy Orlando seems attracted to like a prison parolee in a JC Penny's women's underwear section.  Still, although he pulls no punches, Bob is never in-your-face blunt, and usually softens his hard-hitting points with alternative views and the occasional "perhaps".  To the average martial arts instructor, most of Orlando's material comes across as heretical or insulting, but that's only because he addresses many of the points that the conventional martial arts teacher believes are either taboo or simply not to be discussed.  ...

I have seen many posts denigrating his thoughtful and intelligently phrased questions, or dismissively waving them aside as if such thoughts weren't worthy of the dignity of a retort.  Write that one down as "Mistake #1", because the intelligent practitioner of today, armed with youtube, websites and podcasts is far more informed and inquisitive than in the 1980's.  You can no longer tell your students "When in doubt, fake it", and get away with it, a dues-paying adult with a full time job and a family to support won't stand for such nonsense., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: Shawn Kovacich — Author of the Achieving Kicking Excellence series
Nov. 24, 2008 5 out of 5 stars

Very Thought Provoking Look At The Martial Arts From A Westerners Eyes
I found this to be a very interesting book in its approach as it takes a very practical and realistic look at traditional martial arts attitudes, philosophies, and practices as seen and analyzed from a western perspective.  When I read this book I didn't see it as debasing the traditional Eastern approach to the martial arts, but more of a non-traditionalist look at the martial arts that both viewpoints enjoy so very much.

Now although I don't necessarily agree with chapter and verse what the author says, I did thoroughly enjoy this book and would highly recommend it to every martial artist regardless of style [emphasis added]., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: R. Chin
May 26, 2008 5 out of 5 stars

Must Read
Terrific book.  All martial artists should read this book.  This book will not teach you how to throw a punch or kick but explains the questions that most of us had for our teachers and instructors but were always too afraid to ask either out of fear or out of respect., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: Chester (Concord, CA, USA)
February 23, 2008 5 out of 5 stars

Good Book For Newbies
I picked this up at used bookstore for $5 for a quick read.  I've been in martial arts for over 30 years, spent about 5 years as an amateur boxer in my teens and have since kickboxed, and studied shotokan and japanese ju jitsu.  Although the book is entertaining and well written, I can't say there was much new information in here for anyone who has been practicing since the Bruce Lee revolution.  Mr. Orlando addresses topics such as classical versus Western, practical/traditional, chi, kata, street clothes versus gi, barefoot/sneakers, sport karate/self defense, finding a dojo and style, etc.  The advice is all good, and whether you agree or not with his conclusions, if you've never trained and are confused by all the options and styles, it is good food for thought and a good introduction to the modern state of training. ... The martial arts is a big ocean, and there's room for everybody, which I think is Orlando's point.  He does a good job of pointing out the differences, similarities, pros and cons, and potential ripoffs and pitfalls.  I would recommend this book to anyone thinking of starting out in the martial arts [emphasis added]., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: L. A. Kane (Seattle, WA, USA)
October 22, 2003 2 out of 5 stars

Very Disappointing
While this book makes some interesting points it comes across more as an anti-tradition propaganda piece than a useful treatise on martial arts.  My problem with that approach is that while boxing, wrestling, and other sports are currently associated with name-calling, ear biting, tattooed freaks, Asian martial arts have managed to maintain much of their dignity, ostensibly through an adherence to the traditions of such art forms.  ... full review

Guide Picks - Top Ten Books for All Martial Artists
Reviewer: James Hom
July 2003

Bob Orlando debunks myths, skewers traditions, and applies an objective viewpoint to "the way it's always been done."  The topics in this book are those you'll consider as you mature as a martial artist.  This book covers many of the fundamental issues surrounding studying ancient fighting arts in the modern world.  How should the martial arts adapt to a modern, polycultural world?  Orlando tells it like it is., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: cjkhum (Carlotta, CA, USA)
May 8, 2003 5 out of 5 stars

Bob Orlando's book Martial Arts America is about how Eastern martial arts are adapted or should be adapted in the West and more specifically the US.  This book has many good examples and suggestions for adapting Eastern martial arts.  For example Orlando talks about how modern safety equipment changed the way most people train today as compared with how training was conducted in the past.  Orlando also talks about where some of the traditions of the martial arts came from and why they are what they are.  He also talks about why some of them should be changed.  I don't agree with everything Orlando says but I agree with the underlying arguement of the book that Eastern martial arts must be adapted to the culture that they are transported too.  This book is thought provoking and should be read by students and instructors alike.

Gospel Martial Arts Union
February 2003
Book Review By John Himes

Martial Arts America: A Western Approach To Eastern Arts, By Bob Orlando.  Orlando is a Christian martial artist based in Colorado with long experience in Pentjak Silat, an Indonesian art, and Chinese Kuntao.  He is also a very thoughtful writer.  This book should cause you to rethink your approach to teaching the martial arts as a Christian in America.  Orlando has produced a thought-compelling book that proves you can successfully teach traditional martial arts from a Western, Christian perspective.

For more information about the Gospel Martial Arts Union visit, Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: C.J. Hardman from San Diego, CA, USA
December 23, 2002 4 out of 5 stars

Ever Wonder about Tradition vs. Modernity in M.A.?
Have you ever done a technique and known in your heart of hearts it was highly impractical?  Have you ever guiltily wondered about some of the promotion, rank, and respectability games some martial artists play?  Have you ever felt torn between ancient methods and recent technology?  Bob Orlando broaches many of these unspoken topics which affect martial artists today.  ... Orlando serves up these topics with good humor, and does not pretend to be feeding his readers any absolute answer. ... full review, Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: Midwest Book Review from Oregon, WI USA
August 11, 2002 5 out of 5 stars

A solid, insightful, "user friendly" presentation
Martial Arts America: A Western Approach To Eastern Arts ... is a solid, insightful, "user friendly" presentation of how martial arts are taught in America today ... If you are contemplating learning the martial arts in a formal program of instruction, begin your search with a careful reading of Bob Orlando's Martial Arts America. ... full review

From Britain:  Jon Broster
June 14, 2002

This book is totally unique.  You have not read anything like this before.
In a martial arts publishing world that is full of how-to's and my style is better than yours titles, along comes something that makes you sit up and listen.  What we have here is a study of how Eastern martial arts are perceived, practised and altered in a Western setting., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: mruseless from Denver, CO USA
April 18, 2002 5 out of 5 stars

If I had a school, this would be required reading
This book is the best book on how to THINK about the martial arts that I have ever read (and I've read quite a few).  Orlando takes on the tough subjects that most fear to touch, or worse, come up with weak or illogical arguments to support.  This book is full of the history behind various techniques and traditions that fill the martial arts.  Kata, tournaments, chambered fists, and chi are a few.  In each case he makes an unbiased presentation of the benefits, then systematically explains the drawbacks for the self-defense motivated student.

This book should be on every student's list., Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: David from Ohio
January 15, 2002 5 out of 5 stars

I came across Bob Orlando's book "Martial Arts America," while doing some research on Asian fighting arts.  I read a number of books on the subject and found Bob's book to be totally refreshing and a highly enjoyable read .. a must read for anyone considering taking up a martial art ... full review

From Belgium:  Wim Demeere
October 5, 2001

The idea [of this book] is not to jam the author's opinion down your throat or any other form of indoctrination.  Mr. Orlando uses logic and sound reasoning to explain his points of view, but his ultimate goal is to get your mind in gear and think. Then think some more.

Whether you agree with him or not is completely irrelevant.  The fact that you reconsider your original opinion and perhaps gain a greater understanding of your art, is.  Before you think the author spends his ink bashing on traditional styles, this isn't the case [emphasis added].  He seems to make an effort to find something positive and valuable in each case.  Sometimes this is possible, other times not.

If you are new to the arts and sometimes feel a nagging doubt that what your teacher does/says, might not be the best thing for your martial study, read this book.  You might just conclude you were right .. or not.  If you have been studying for a long time, read it too.  There just might be some things in the book that make you think again about topics you formed an opinion on a long time ago. At any rate, I highly recommend this book. ... full review

Michael Rosenbaum
June 30, 2001

Martial Arts America is one of the most definitive books on martial arts in America today.

Michael Rosenbaum is a martial artist and the author of Isshin Ryu: Okinawa's Complete Karate System (2001), and The Fighting Arts: Their Evolution from Secret Societies to Modern Times (2002).  Not content to confine his training to a single art, this former paratrooper also studied bando, boxing, and judo.

A Woman Writes
August 28, 2000

... Being a woman, I really liked your chapter, The Yin Connection.. I wish that all martial arts instructors would read it. ... read more, Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: Kenneth L. Herfurth from Abilene, Texas, USA
July 28, 2000 5 out of 5 stars

East Meets West
This book, cleverly written by Bob Orlando, is an enjoyable read.  The book is humorous at times because of his witty style, yet always serious and shedding light on this topic of martial arts. ... read more, Customer Review:
Reviewer: A reader from Lookout Mountain, GA, United States
April 28, 2000 5 out of 5 stars

This Book was Just What I Needed
Great job. I learned a lot from the book, and it was good to receive both confirmation and development on things I was thinking about, myself. I also harbor a dream of becoming a part time instructor, myself, and your book contained lots of useful things to think about concerning how I would want to structure my own martial arts school if that ever becomes a reality. ... read more, Customer Review:
Reviewer: DLloyd
February 25, 2000 5 out of 5 stars

Martial Arts Modernized

Pros:Sensible look at martial arts and where they can/should be going.

Cons:More people haven't read it!
What first caught my attention about Bob Orlando's "Martial Arts America" was the fact that the book was dedicated to Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo Karate – a martial arts system I've been studying for several years.  American Kenpo is all about examining the martial arts and identifying the parts that make sense in today's environment.  I'm a big fan of Ed Parker's system and his philosophy about the martial arts, so I figured any book dedicated to him couldn't be half bad.
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Martial Arts America is filled throughout with examples, illustrations, and some great cartoons that light-heartedly point out some of the flaws in martial arts philosophy and practice. ... a very good book for anyone with interest in the martial arts, from beginner on up to the highest ranks! ... full review

Defend University
February 26, 2000
The Dean's List

Bob Orlando is one of those people who strives for perfection in everything that he does and his writing is no exception.  If you are contemplating studying a martial art, pick up [Martial Arts America].  Orlando articulates many of the concepts that you are probably going to look for in a martial arts program.  Find out why you could miss out if you pick the wrong school.  Well illustrated.  The Dean [Brad Parker] gives it an A+.

William Beaver
October 3, 1999

I left Rainbow Publications in November 92 and moved to Kuwait, where I opened a Kajukenbo school.  One of my students brought back a copy of Martial Arts America from the US last week, and I was astonished when I read it. ... Your book was the book I had always watched for.  The truth hurts a lot of people.  Those who recognize it will appreciate it, so my hat's off to you.  I thought your book was excellent. ... full review

William Beaver is a former editor of Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated, and associate editor of Black Belt and Martial Arts Training magazines (1990-1992)., Customer Reviews:
Dustin Laurence ( from California, USA,
August 17, 1999 5 out of 5 stars

The Emperor's New Clothes
This book is not the best book on my shelf – it would be if it were ever on my shelf, but I loan it out every chance I get.

I particularly appreciated Bob's willingness to state the "obvious" (in hindsight) in print without regard to who will take exception. Like the boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes," he has the rare wisdom of being willing to look foolish by asking the obvious, forbidden, necessary questions. The discussion of punching and blocking in Karate and similar arts is only the most obvious example. ... read more, Customer Reviews: [now] from USA,
February 23, 1999 5 out of 5 stars

A must read
If you are a martial artist or a martial arts instructor this book is a must read.  Even if you don't agree with all of his conclusions, Bob Orlando brings up points we MUST consider before we claim to teach, or know, self-defense via martial arts.  I have nothing but respect for Bob, both as a martial artist and a thinker.

—Marc "Animal" MacYoung        
Marc MacYoung is a an ex-streetfighter turned prolific author with several books and videos on violence, self-defense, and survival to his credit.

Review by David Isenberg
February, 1999

Many of us who pride ourselves on practicing traditional karate will find his ideas unsettling, perhaps even off-putting. I know I did when I first started reading the book.  After all, who are we to question why shotokan, or any other art, is taught the way it is. ... But as I read further I found myself nodding my head in agreement. ... full review

David Isenberg is an analyst at DynMeridian.  He is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and an associate fellow at the Maatthew B.Ridgway Center for International Security Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Isenberg holds the rank of shodan and is a member of the Washington, D.C., ISKF Karate Club.

Nebraska Hapkido Martial Arts Association Bookstore
August 19, 1998
Thought Provoking Books

I really enjoyed this book. Matter of fact, one of the things I appreciated the most about it was in the beginning, when he said this book is for people who practice martial arts primarily for self-defense – and that if you don't, this book either won't make sense, or won't relate to you at all. That kind of refreshing honesty and bluntness characterizes this book, which is a good thought-provoking commentary on modern teaching of martial arts. Worth reading, in my opinion.

The Martial Arts Shelf  (
August 4, 1998

Martial Arts America is a thought-provoking examination of Eastern martial art traditions and their evolution to modern Western practice.  In it, martial arts instructor and author Bob Orlando challenges the effectiveness of many Eastern martial art practices and training methods for modern Western culture.  Traditions like the use of foreign language, the practice of bowing, and the necessity of spiritual training are examined in light of their meaning in contemporary American culture.  By focusing on the most effective and relevant way for Americans to pursue the various martial arts, Orlando's practical insights penetrate a subject that has been too often shrouded in mysticism and marketing hype.  Martial Arts America  is enhanced for the reader with 30 photos and 79 illustrations.  Also highly recommended is Orlando's  Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals  and its companion video,  Fighting Arts Of Indonesia: Combat Secrets Of Silat And Kuntao., Customer Reviews: from NJ,
February 17, 1998, 5 out of 5 stars

A Great Book for MA Students and Teachers
If you are thinking of studying MA or are studying any martial art or you have a son/daughter enrolled in in a MA school you owe it to yourself to read this book. ... full review, Customer Reviews:
A Reader from Los Angeles, CA,
February 11, 1998, 5 out of 5 stars

Great book, very thoughtful.
Bob Orlando is an experienced martial artist whose book on the Indonesian arts was critically acclaimed in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts.  This new book is excellent for the thoughtful martial artist whose main goal is to develop the ability to protect themselves.  ...  This book is a steal at $14.95.  Buy it.  It is superb. ... full review

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Last update:  Aug. 6, 2016
by Bob Orlando
Web Site of Bob Orlando: Instructor in Kuntao-Silat (Chinese kuntao and Dutch-Indonesian pukulan pentjak silat), author of two popular martial art books: "Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals" and "Martial Arts America: A Western Approach to Eastern Arts"; and producer of four martial art videos: Fighting Arts of Indonesia, Reflex Action, Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat, Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat. Offering practical martial arts instruction to adults living in and throughout the Denver metropolitan area including, Lakewood, Littleton, Morrison, and Golden Colorado.