May 2022 Book Survey Part 1

 Welcome to the May 2022 book survey, part one. I decided to break this month's survey into two posts.


In May 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This post describes 8 books that I read in May. A subsequent post will address the other 8 that I surveyed last month. Read on to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Academic Approaches to Martial Arts, edited by Michael DeMarco, 2017

Journal of Martial Arts editor Michael DeMarco donated a print copy of Academic Approaches to Martial Arts for review. Thank you! 

This book is a collection of articles published in the journal, from 1992 to 2019, but mostly from 1992-2002; 12 date from that period, with only 1 from 2011 and 1 from 2019. This results in the articles skewing toward the "dark period" of martial arts studies, where poor sources and less than stellar research prevailed. 

Frequent citations of early scholars like Mr. Draeger are signs you are reading something from this disappointing period. I recommend skipping this book for something more recent. If you have no other context, start with books published in the 2010s. While there are still books using shoddy sources and making false claims, many of the best books started arriving in this period. See previous book surveys for examples. 

My Study of Judo, Gunji Koizumi, 1960

My Study of Judo by Gunji Koizumi (1885-1965) is a book that was once so rare that I shelled out a decent amount to buy an original 1960s-era copy. Thankfully there are now Kindle and reformatted print editions available. Note the Kindle edition is actually an embedded PDF (as a Print Replica), not a reflowable HTML formatted book. I reviewed the Kindle edition and left my 1960s copy safely on the shelf.

I recommend this book for all judoka, including those who practice Brazilian jiujitsu and don't know they are practicing a form of judo. For example, check out the lower image of choking someone in your guard:

I like the format of this book, and the writing is very clear. The inclusion of Japanese terms and their translations is fantastic. There is a decent amount of professor Koizumi's philosophy as well. This is well worth buying if you have any interest in judo and jiujitsu technique and history.

The Founding of Jujutsu and Judo in America, George Rego and Abdul Rashid, 2022

The Founding of Jujutsu and Judo in America is a short book, once you realize the main history occupies pages 1-144. The text is widely spaced and I would not be surprised if the word count was only 20,000 or so words. Pages 145-293 are interviews, which I did not find that interesting. The history section is a synthesis of previously published sources. The strongest aspect is the inclusion of copies of primary sources, like images of letters or contemporary photographs of judo training. 

The text is a bit "exuberant," as the reader encounters far too many sentences ending in exclamation points. That said, the prose is still written clearly and without typos. I was pleased to see the authors generally relying on more reliable sources, although some point to blogs and web pages. 

I was initially excited to read the section on U.S. Grant's visit to Japan. Perhaps the authors had unearthed a new source of information? Then I realized the origin for the material was this blog's own post Five Facts about the 1879 Encounter Between Ulysses S. Grant and Kano Jigoro. I suppose that is progress?

Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts, David A. Hall, 2012

If I had to recommend a single book from this post, Dr. Hall's Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts would be it. This is a Kodansha black and white hardcover measuring 9 1/4 inches by 6 1/2 inches. It's a small but heavy book, with quality paper and 682 pages.

This is the book to get if you do any sort of inquiry into Japanese martial arts. It contains over 4,000 entries, 4 indices with over 7,500 items (in kanji, Sanskrit, English, and Chinese), and 35 page bibliography. There is also informative front and end matter. 

While no encyclopedia should be the end of an historical investigation, this book is a great first stop on the journey. No serious martial arts historian should be without out. I would love to see an equivalent for Chinese martial arts.

Ryu-Te No Michi, 2nd Ed, Seiyu Oyata, 1998/2016

I bought Ryu-Te No Michi after reading the George Dillman books in the April survey. This book is only available from the publisher, Ryu-Te Supplies. The gentleman who runs the store was extremely responsive, helping me understand what books would best suit my research interests. I ended up buying two. I will review the second in the future.

This is an unusual title that shows some of the weaknesses of self-publishing. There is no title on the spine, so I have to remember where I put it on my book shelf. There are a variety of typos, like "he taught is [sic, "in"?] his association" on page 84. 

The content wasn't that compelling, either. For example, pages 33-69 talk about Okinawan castles. (Incidentally, I don't understand how anyone who believes the "peaceful Okinawan" myth can square the number of castles -- war fortresses -- with the myth of peaceloving Okinawans.)

I only recommend this book if you want to know more about Seiyu Oyata sensei.

The Art of Swordsmanship by Hans Lecküchner, Jeffrey L. Forgeng, 2015/2018

I bought a print copy of The Art of Swordsmanship by Hans Lecküchner because I enjoy collecting core texts on historical European martial arts (HEMA). This book is a translation and presentation of the text and imagery from a 1482 book by Hans Lecküchner (c. 1440-1482), originally titled Art of Combat with the Langes Messer. This edition is a 6 inch by 9 1/2 inch black and white paperback.

Lecküchner was a master of the Liechtenauer fencing school. This book is based on the Munich cgm 582 manuscript, which is the second version of the book. An earlier edition from 1478 lacked illustrations.

This book has a great introduction and biography of Lecküchner. My only wish is that the authors had done a better job presenting the illustrations. They are too small on the page and could easily have been bigger.

Anthony Flores and the Evolution of Combatives in the U.S.A., Robert H. Sabet, 2021

Anthony Flores and the Evolution of Combatives in the U.S.A. is one of the newer books from Mr. Sabet, who specializes in discovering and republishing lost combatives manuals in a modern and contextualized format. He was kind enough to send me a print copy for review.

My favorite part of the book was the unarmed combat section of the 1944 West Point Physical Training Manual, pages 122-164, attributed to R. E. Sorge. I also liked the June 1942 Never Unarmed manual by Anthony Flores on pages 168-205. This part had great original illustrations, like the following, showing the unfortunate reality of close-in combat with a spade:

I also liked the 1942 Jiu Jitsu for Military Police material on pages 55-82. Although it was only text, it was illuminating.

Personal Encounters of the Close Combat Kind, Robert H. Sabet, 2022

Personal Encounters of the Close Combat Kind is another book in Mr. Sabet's series. This title is a reformatting of an unattributed 1950 manual titled Personal Encounters. It originates with a military police school and occupies pages 10-195 of the book. There are large black and white photographs from the original manual, which look great on the page. For example:

I must admit to being biased about this book. I reviewed previous works by Mr. Sabet on this blog in October 2021. Mr. Sabet and I subsequently exchanged a few words on his Facebook group, the Rough and Tumble Society

I volunteered to copyedit his next book, which was this title. We then proceeded to work together, although I only needed to provide a few recommendations on organization and adjust some of the language. As a result, Mr. Sabet credited me as editor:

As you might expect, I am pleased with how the book turned out. In addition to the main text, it features two appendices with supplementary material and context. 


May was a mixed bag. The must-buy for the month is Dr Hall's Encyclopedia. If you like combatives, check out Mr. Sabet's books. All judoka and jiujitsu practitioners would enjoy professor Koizumi's book, given that it's widely available again.

Stay tuned for part two, later this month!

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