January 2022 Book Survey

 Welcome to the January 2022 book survey.


In January 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan that prioritized print books that have been on my shelf for months, or years. This post describes a mix of print and digital books I read in January. Read on to separate the wheat from the chaff.

A Complete Guide to Judo: Its Story and Practice, Robert W. Smith, 1958/1961

I bought A Complete Guide to Judo: Its Story and Practice by Robert W. Smith strictly for the martial arts book bibliography at the end of the volume. I chose the hardcover, but in the two years since then, Amazon has released paperback and Kindle editions. The Kindle version appears to be a print replica, meaning it's a PDF wrapped in Amazon formatting. The hardcover is a reproduction of the 1961 third printing of the original Tuttle version.

The book, beyond the bibliography, is a collection of material from other sources. I made the following notes on the contents. Page 29 begins with an article by judo founder professor Kano Jigoro. The source is not cited, but I discovered it is reprinted from a 29 July 1922 Japan Advertiser / The Living Age collection. Incidentally I discovered incorrect citations involving this content on Wikipedia, confusing it with a 1932 Journal of Health and Physical Education article by Kano. (I fixed it.) 

The reprint of the T. Shidachi article from 1893 unfortunately does not include the neat illustrations from the originals are available via Google Books. For example:

One reprinted article from a 1904 Arima text shows a young Donn Draeger as an uke. On the downside, an article on page 131 repeats the myth the former president Roosevelt earned a brown belt and trained 3 times per week for 3 years. For the reality on Roosevelt and judo, see the post Answering the Top Five Questions on Theodore Roosevelt's Judo

Finally, the book includes chapters on karate by Funakoshi and aikido, with pictures from each. These two arts were in the ascendant in 1958, when the book was first published. 

If you are interested in early martial arts sources from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the bibliography on this book is enough to warrant buying it.

Judo Evolution: A Guide to Rules Changes and Innovations, Neil Adams and Oon Yeoh, 2011

Judo Evolution is a great book that was probably more significant when it arrived 10 or so years ago. The book is a response to the changes in rules regarding grabbing the legs. As I am not a judo competitor, I do not know how applicable the book is to competitions in 2022.

Nevertheless, this title is worth a look. It is short but offers beautiful pictures and expert commentary. I like the comparison of banned and legal technique variations (again, as of 2011). Many photos appear from competitions and show frame-by-frame details. 

I noticed the book cited Japan at First Hand by Joseph I. C. Clarke, but not by name. The authors called him "the writer."

This book is worth a look if you're interested in how the judo competition world responded to rule changes in 2011.

Mastering the Guard Pass and Its Submissions and Mastering Side Control and Its Submissions, Pedro Sauer and Kid Peligro, 2012 and 2014

Mastering the Guard Pass and Its Submissions and Mastering Side Control and Its Submissions are two books by professor Pedro Sauer and writer Kid Peligro, first published in paperback in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Although I have the guard pass book in paperback, both titles are basically impossible to find in print now. Thankfully the authors published the two titles via Kindle in reflowable format, meaning they are legible on all Kindle platforms.

The books are mainly collections of techniques, although the first title contains more biographical information on professor Sauer. I noted the Kindle edition has more personal photos than the print edition of Mastering the Guard Pass and Its Submissions. 

I recommend this book if you prefer to learn in a print format, especially from someone as highly technical as professor Sauer. (I trained with professor Sauer at his then-headquarters in northern Virginia, prior to Covid-19.)

Olympic Judo: History and Techniques, Nicolas Soames and Roy Inman, 1990

Olympic Judo: History and Techniques is a history of Olympic judo from 1964 to 1988, with detailed accounts of all matches in the six Olympiads that took place over those 24 years. The book features neat explanations of techniques used in the Olympics, with accompanying photos. I thought it was cool that the authors noted on page 17 that Donn Draeger helped demonstrate the nage-no-kata with John Cornish at an early Olympic Games.

I wish the book had included the following photo, showing Anton Geesink winning his gold medal in 1964.

The photo shows Mr Geesink warning off onlookers who wanted to storm the mat as he won his match. This display of integrity and decorum impressed many witnesses, including the Japanese hosts.

This book is best for historians who want in-depth coverage of the early Olympic matches.

Modern Judo: Techniques of East and West, Peter Seisenbacher and George Kerr, 1991/1997

Modern Judo: Techniques of East and West describes the personal stories of the authors and their approach to judo. Mr Kerr seems more traditional, while Mr Seisenbacher is more sport-oriented, pursuing Olympic gold. The book features great black and white photographs, showing a mixture of competition and gym settings.

I recommend the book if you want a look at one concept of 1980s-1990s judo.

The Gracie Way, Kid Peligro, 2003

The Gracie Way features chapters on the following Gracie family members: Carlos, Helio, Carlson sr., Rolls, Rorion, Carlos jr., Rickson, Royler, Royce, and Renzo. The photographs are excellent and feature many I have not seen elsewhere, thanks to the author's ties to the family. If you put on your Gracie myth filter reading glasses, particularly in the early chapters, you will like this book.

I'll mention a few of the pitfalls, however:

Page 5 includes another fake Carlos and Mitsuyo Maeda origin story. It's tough to count the falsehoods on that page alone.

Page 6 says Carlos was a "Brazilian National Champion" in boxing, which is wrong.

Page 15 repeats the "frail Helio" myth, and page 29 claims Kimura weighed 220 lbs when he fought Helio. He actually weighed 185 lbs. 

I did like the examples of original "teaching cards" on pages 25-27. They persist to today in many Gracie lineage schools.

The chapter on Rolls is great, but sad, due to his tragic death.

If you know enough about Gracie history to separate myth from fact, then you will be able to overcome this book's shortfalls and enjoy the content.

A Study of Taijiquan, Sun Lutang and Tim Cartmell, 2003,1921

A Study of Taijiquan is a great piece of Chinese martial arts history. I had read about Sun Lutang (born Sun Fu Quan, 1861-1933, a contemporary of judo founder Kano Jigoro) in other sources and sought out his works. Sun is famous as an author for the following titles:

The Story of Xing Yi Quan (Form-Mind Boxing), 1915

The Study of Ba Gua Zhang (Ba Gua Boxing), 1916 (manuscript ready date)

The Study of Tai Ji Quan (Tai Ji Boxing), 1919 (manuscript ready date), published 1921; Mr Cartmell translates this text and it forms the core of the present book.

The True Essence of Boxing, 1923 or 1924

The Study of Ba Gua Sword, 1925 (manuscript ready date), published November 1927

The Study of Xing Yi Spear

I noted the following while reading the text.

On page 11 Tim Cartmell tells a story of facing a Shuai Jiao wrestler, who "picked him [Sun] up over his head and threw him... Sun flipped over in the air and landed on his feet." This reminded me of the scene in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon.

Mr. Cartmell mentions that Sun style Tai Ji Quan consists of 1) Ba Gua Zhang stepping, 2) Xing Yi Quan "leg and waist methods," and 3) Tai Ji Quan "body softness," per Sun's daughter Sun Jian (born 1914).

Unfortunately, in the translated text by Sun, the Chinese author promulgates myths of Da Mo (Bodhidharma), Tendon Changing and Marrow Washing, Yue Fei and Xing Yi Quan, Zhang San Feng and Wu Dang, and other stories since debunked.

Overall, this is a great book and I recommend it for anyone who wants a look at what many consider the first modern Tai Chi instructional manual, thanks to its explanations and (somewhat small) pictures.

Fighting Techniques of the Oriental World, AD 1200-1860: Equipment, Combat Skills, and Tactics, Michael E. Haskew, et al, 2008

Fighting Techniques of the Oriental World is a visually appealing book, but I did not like the organization of the material. The books offers chapters on topics like infantry, mounted warfare, siege warfare, naval warfare, and other issues. The content on "ninja" on pages 68-69 is laughable. There are no endnotes or footnotes, and the bibliography only includes 24 books. The volume does include a lovely mix of photos and drawings, but the maps are not great. 

You can probably pass on this book.

Okinawan Karate: A History of Styles and Masters, Volumes 1 and 2, Christopher M. Clarke, 2012

I had previously given Mr. Clarke's book Saving Japan's Martial Arts a three star review in the post Best Book Winner: Professor Kano Biographies in English. I'm afraid I'm not a fan of these books either. The author's use of sources like Wikipedia just do not merit serious attention. Furthermore, he makes questionable decisions while writing. For example, on page 15 he says:

"Traditionally, practitioners were differentiated only as instructors or students, with senior students helping out their juniors. Miyagi Chojun, for example, was said never to have handed out a "black belt" to any student, and licensed only one (Higa Seiko) to teach. (FN 3)"

However, when you read footnote 3, you find the following:

"This is clearly not true, as there are pictures of Miyagi supervising training with several of his students wearing black belts."

In other words, the author writes a myth, then writes a correction of the myth in the footnotes!? This makes no sense.

Avoid these books.


There are a couple books in this list that are worthy additions to your research, so I hope you acquire them while avoiding the others. 

Stay tuned for another book survey in about a month!

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