MAA Title (3k), Customer Reviews:
Reviewer: L. A. Kane (Seattle, WA, USA)
October 22, 2003 2 out of 5 stars

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.

This is compounded by the fact that several sections are grossly inaccurate.  For example, the author states that, "today's full-contact fighters throw devastating, lightning fast punches from a distance of less than two feet.  Against this kind of speed, classical blocks and punches simply do not stand a chance.  What amazes me is how a flaw of this magnitude - and one that is taught to thousands of unknowing students every day - still exists in what are, otherwise, extremely potent arts..." Sorry to be blunt, but this kind of nonsense just pisses me off.

Contrary to Mr. Orlando's understanding, in classical blocks the hand that is out (e.g. just punched or blocked) performs the actual block, check, or deflection, while the hand that is in chamber executes a technique designed to control the opponent's limb.  Even though it is often hidden, almost all blocks in traditional karate styles utilize this check/control methodology.  In all cases, there is never ever any "wind-up" preceding anything.

To delve deeper, the word Uke translates more accurately to "receive" than it does to "block."  When viewed in this context, it may be easier to understand that practitioners typically check, deflect, or control an attack rather than meeting it force-on-force.  Using the traditional check/control methodology, a practitioner's outstretched hand need only deflect an attack by a few inches to spoil its effect when contact is made close to an opponent's body.  In this fashion Karateka can easily avoid being hit by even the most "devastating" of punches no matter how fast, or how powerfully, or even how unexpectedly they are thrown.

Don't get me wrong; I certainly do not believe that the author is an idiot.  I believe that he is the victim of bad teaching.  Common misconceptions such as this one are the reason that I believe it is imperative to supplement the traditional modeling approach to martial arts instruction with interactive discussions and other teaching styles.  I hate to see this sort of stuff perpetuated.

Now that I've ripped him down, I will point out that there are some redeeming concepts in this book.  For example, the author also promotes practicing martial arts in the same sort of attire one might be wearing in real life.  If you have spent your whole life barefoot in a Dojo, training with loose fitting clothes, you may well be in for a shock the first time you have to fight in tight-fitting jeans wearing boots.  This is a valid point.  I agree that practitioners should devote some of their training to more realistic conditions though that often must occur at their home rather than in a tradition karate school.

All in all, however, there is not enough meat in this book to spend your hard earned dollars purchasing it.

For some, the questions raised within these pages and the issues they touch will be  too  challenging.  Naturally, we all resist change — I do — but beyond our natural resistance, there will be some for whom change in the art is especially abhorrent.  These individuals are too deeply invested and entrenched in their particular systems and methods to even recognize the need for change, much less accept it.  The ostrich may bury his head in the sand, but simply not seeing the truth never changes it.
Martial Arts America (1998,xxii) 
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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.