May 2023 Book Survey Part 1


 Welcome to the May 2023 book survey, part one. I decided to break this month's survey into three posts. The themes for this month are judo, judo, and more judo!


In May 2023, I (Richard) continued my book survey plan. This post examines books on judo, specifically the 14 title series by Ippon Books and Fighting Films bearing the Judo Masterclass Techniques banner, usually shortened to simply Judo Masterclass. I will cover all of the titles in one post, with example content from two books.

Armlocks (Judo Masterclass), Neil Adams, 1989

Tomoe-nage (Judo Masterclass), Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, 1989/1992

Harai-Goshi (Judo Masterclass), Jean-Luc Rouge, 1991

Uchimata (Judo Masterclass), Hitoshi Sugai, 1991

Ashiwaza (Judo Masterclass), Nobuyuki Sato, 1992

Grips (Judo Masterclass), Neil Adams, 1992

Osoto-gari (Judo Masterclass), Yasuhiro Yamashita, 1992

Shimewaza (Judo Masterclass), Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, 1992

Ashiwaza II (Judo Masterclass), Michael Swain, 1994

Pick-Ups [Revised ed] (Judo Masterclass), Robert Van De Walle, 1993/1996

Seoi-Nage [Revised ed] (Judo Masterclass) Hidetoshi Nakanishi, 1993/1996

Tai-Otoshi (Judo Masterclass), Neil Adams, 1996

Osaekomi (Judo Masterclass), Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, 1997

Russian Judo (Judo Masterclass), Alexander Iatskevich, 1999

Let's look at the series as a whole.

Obtaining the Books

The first question one might ask is, "does Richard actually own all of these titles?" 

The answer is, yes:

The next question is likely "how did you afford to buy them all?" If you look for these titles on a place like eBay, you see outrageous prices like the following:

The fact of the matter is, with only one exception, you can find brand new reprints of all of these titles if you buy directly from the publisher, Fighting Films. Each sells for 12 British pounds, or roughly 15 US dollars, plus shipping.

When I bought my first copies from this series, I concentrated on the newaza titles. Because I am a completionist, I decided to buy the rest of the series from Fighting FilmsThat worked well enough, at least for 13 of the 14 books.

The Russian Judo Problem

Fighting Films no longer sells Russian Judo

I asked the publisher several times over the last few years when they would restock it, but they told me to wait each time. Eventually they just removed it from their web site. (It used to be listed as "sold out" on their site; see this Internet Archive capture from 2020, for example.)

I ended up buying a copy of Russian Judo through Abebooks for about $100, shipping from the UK included. My copy is a 2006 reprint. I checked the front matter and noticed that Alexander Iatskevich holds copyright along with the series editor, Nicolas Soames. I have a feeling that Fighting Films was unable to get the approval of Mr. Iatskevich to reprint his book, hence its unavailability except on the secondary market.

Describing the Series

Let's discuss the books in detail now. The series ran from 1989 to 1999, beginning with Crowood Press and continuing with Ippon Books and Fighting Films. Each book is a paperback measuring roughly 6 1/2 inches by 9 1/4 inches, with between 92 and 128 black and white pages. 

The books are generally organized to include an introduction, a personal view from the author(s), some history, a technical introduction or fundamentals, and then techniques in general.

We can share some sense of the contents by looking at two titles that are available at the Internet Archive: the 1989 edition of Tomoe-Nage and the 1992 edition of Grips. (Note the cover of the 1989 edition of Tomoe-Nage by Crowood Press differs from the later edition by Ippon Books.)

History Sections

I enjoyed the history sections, especially when they reproduced related content from older books. Here is an example from Tomoe-Nage, although it does not cite the title of the source book:

Note that the text implies that the Europeans learned tomoe-nage from the Japanese, rather than developing it on their own as was likely the case. 

I  really enjoyed seeing the content on the next page. Here we see illustrations by the famous Dutch artist Romeyn de Hooge (1645-1708), from the 1674 book by Nicolaes Petter titled Clear Instructions in the Excellent Art of Grappling, or Klare Onderrichtinge der Voortreffelijke Worstel-Konst. I profiled my copy of this book previously

The authors also reproduce an image of tomoe-nage from the 1905 book The Text-Book of Ju-Jutsu as Practised in Japan by S. K. Uyenishi.

I was again very pleased to see photographs reproduced from the 1906 book The Fine Art of Jujutsu by Emily Diana Watts, probably the first book in English on Kodokan Judo.

I noted that we see more of de Hooge's art in the following titles: Pick-ups, Ashiwaza II, Armlocks, Grips. We see more photos of Mrs. Watts in action in the following titles: Armlocks and Harai-Goshi.

Technical Sections

There are lots of technical photos in these books. Some are staged and some are from competitions. Sometimes they are appropriately sized and sometimes they are too small. 

Here are some examples from the book on Grips.

These sections would seem to benefit from a larger format.

Because I am not a judo expert, I can't comment on the technical material in these books. Each is written by an expert in the field, however. Still, I'm not sure how that material from the 1990s stacks up against modern judo practices today.


If you're like me, buying one or a few of these books will lead you to wanting to buy all 14. I hope anyone interested in them can take advantage of the reprints from Fighting Films and avoid the eBay prices. Russian Judo will likely remain something of a white whale.

In the next post we continue our survey of judo titles.

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