February 2023 Book Survey Part 2


 Welcome to the February 2023 book survey, part two. I decided to break this month's survey into three posts. This is the second. The first is here. The third will follow shortly.


In February 2023, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This month I surveyed grappling/striking/power, exotic arts, and kicking. This post covers the second topic -- exotic arts.

Modern Tahtib: Egyptian Baton Martial and Festive Art, Adel Paul Boulad, 2014

I bought my copy of Modern Tahtib several years ago when it was comparatively cheaper to order from the French publisher directly. My copy is a paperback measuring 8 1/4 inches by 11 inches, with 240 color pages. This is a beautifully presented book with French and English text.

I spoke directly with the author by phone shortly after publishing it. He seemed mainly interested in my cyber security work.

Tahtib is primarily a stick fighting art reverse engineered from archaeological depictions. There appear to be some older practitioners who assisted Dr Boulad with his recreation of the art. In this sense, Tahtib is similar to HEMA.

The tombs at Beni Hasan (or Hassan) are popular for their depictions of ancient Egyptian fighting. My review of The Martial Arts of Ancient Greece touched on this source material. 

In Modern Tahtib, Dr. Boulad reproduces some of this art. For example, a version of the following appears in the book:

This is a drawing of the east wall of tomb 15 appearing as plate V in volume 2 of Percy E. Newberry's 1893 book Beni Hasan. Two issues are worth noting. 

First, not all copies of these volumes on the Internet Archive are equal. The linked copy properly reproduces the entire plate V, which is an extra large fold-out. Other copies only show part of the image.

Second, this is Newberry's drawing. It is not a photograph. I tried to find a photograph of this exact wall, but I could not match it exactly. This Flickr album offers some wonderful photos of tomb 15, however. 

Here is a large view, although I am not sure if it depicts what is in the Newberry drawing.

In another case, the following matches the top middle of the Newberry drawing:

I have not yet found a comprehensive online survey of the tombs with photographs that could serve as proper sources for Newberry. Digital repositories like this at the Heidelberg University Library might have something useful though. Let me know if you find anything.

To read more about this topic, I suggest Andreas Quast's 2016 article Combat Sport Activities in Ancient Egypt.

Returning to the Tahtib book, I'm a fan simply because it's an unusual art presented in an excellent manner. The text includes QR codes which link to videos showing techniques. There are tons of photos, although some show the instructor wearing white against a white background. However, he's holding a stick and is wearing black shoes and a black belt, so readers can follow the movements. Sometimes the author shows techniques using outlines of figures, which is effective and elegant.

Dr. Boulad also published Egyptian Stick Martial Art: Practical Guidebook in 2021. That title focuses less on history and tradition and more on practice.

I recommend this book if you enjoy investigating unusual martial arts, especially those with a weapons focus. 

Kalarippayat: India's Ancient Martial Art, D. H. Luijendijk, 2005

My copy of Kalarippayat: India's Ancient Martial Art is a large 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches paperback with 108 black and white pages. It's tough to find reliable English language books on Kalarippayat (also commonly spelled Kalaripayattu), so I was eager to buy this copy. Incidentally, page vi notes that the term Kalarippayat is based on Malayalam, the language of the Indian state of Kerala. It combines the words for "gym," kalari, with payattuka, meaning to exercise, to practice for a fight, and to learn.

At the time of writing, the author, D. H. Luijendijk, had studied the art for 10 years and was a certified instructor. 

The book provides great photos and takes advantage of the large format page. The content is interesting but it seems to be mainly an introduction, due to the low page count. The author followed this with another book in 2008 that we might look at in the future.

Rumi Maki Fighting Arts: Martial Techniques of the Peruvian Inca, Juan Ramon Flores, Alex Bushman Vega, 2007

My copy of Rumi Maki Fighting Arts is a paperback measuring 7 inches by 9 1/4 inches with 135 black and white pages. I am fairly suspicious of the authenticity of this art, as there seem to be so few sources about it. For example, the authors mention a story recorded by Spanish priest Fray Bartolome de las Casas (1484-1566) saying he witnessed teachers who taught fighting to students ages 10 to 18. 

That's not much to go on, but it supports the claim that there were teachers who taught youths to fight in the 16th century. We just don't know what they taught back then. Perhaps if we had tomb art like that presented by the Egyptians, we would have a better idea?

The term "rumi maki" means "stone hand" in the Quecha language, which is associated with the Peruvian and Incan ancestry of this art. I believe one can only reliably date this art to the 1970s, due to the authors' own experience. 

The book mentions different "levels" of competency, with level 1 and 2 being basic karate-like punches and kicks. 

Level 3 offers what looks like sometimes simple grappling techniques. 

Notice the large amount of blank space.

No specifics appear for levels 4 and 5.

If you want to see more, the Google Books entry has a lot of free preview pages.

I got that sense that Rumi Maki is similar to TKD. Its significance lies more in nationalism than the practice of an indigenous art with centuries of history. Rumi Maki seems like an "invented tradition," but that is fine for the people who enjoy it.

Instructors Confidential Manual Supplemental Handbook, Bud Thompson, 2010

I bought my copy of Instructors Confidential Manual Supplemental Handbook in 2016 after learning some Inosanto-derived stick drills. My copy is a paperback measuring 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches with 272 pages. The book is a collection of notes for those studying at Mr. Thompson's Kali Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. The "17 count" diagram that interested me appears on page 32:

This book is really a reference for students and instructors training in Inosanto and related systems. The history section appears to be a collection of oral myth presented as reality. 

The Google Books preview offers a lot of images if anyone is interested.

Kajukenbo: The Original Mixed Martial Art [4th ed], John Bishop, 2012

Kajukenbo: The Emperado Legacy, John Bishop, 2011

I consider Kajukenbo: The Original Mixed Martial Art and Kajukenbo: The Emperado Legacy to be a two-volume set, so I will look at both now.

My copies of this book measure 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. They are black and white paperbacks with 232 and 237 pages, respectively.

I bought both direct from the author, who was kind enough to sign them. The books include material on many instructors, although Sijo Adriano Emperado (1926-2009) is a major focus. He cofounded Kajukenbo, and had relationships with William Kwai Sun (K. S.) Chow, James Masayoshi Mitose, and Ed Parker Sr., all of whom lived and taught in Hawaii.

These are great books for practitioners of these arts. They are a step above the previous title, but are mainly aimed at their core audience. The photos are large and take up a good amount of space on the page:

Again, the Google Books entry is helpful for the first title. The second does not have a preview.


The Modern Tahtib book is clearly my favorite in this batch. The Kalarippayat book is also worth a look.

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