Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Favorite Martial Arts Books

Perpetual Beginner gave me the idea of posting a list of books I have read. (She does it periodically on her blog. BTW, go visit her blog - http://perpetualbeginner.blogspot.com/ - very insightful and well written.) If you read my previous post about running into the "psychotic professor" at the book sale - http://martialartsmom.blogspot.com/2008/07/beware-of-man-of-one-book.html - then you already know how avid a reader I am. (Side note: The "psychotic professor" is kind of like my own personal fish story. He gains momentum in each subsequent retelling. In my post, he started out as "a bookish little man", moved on to "the nutty professor" and in my current rendition, is "the psychotic professor". Who knows - next version may have him as "Dr. Dimented"!) Anyway…

Since I'm so effective at staying on subject (NOT!), I decided to narrow my book lists down for my blog, only listing martial arts related books which I enjoyed because if I didn't enjoy them, I'd have stopped reading mid-book or sooner, and also books that are on my wish list to read. I figured since this is a martial arts blog, you probably did not want to know that "sTori Telling" by Tori Spelling is on my full, all-subject-encompassing "want-to-read" list. (See, there I go again - admitting to watching those awful, exploitative reality shows like "Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood" - Do you still respect me?)

Without further ado, my lists:

M.A. Related Books I Read and Loved:
*Living the Martial Way by Forrest E. Morgan
*The Making of a Butterfly by Pete Starr
*American Shaolin by Matthew Polly (E-mailed him and he e-mailed back - supposedly making a movie of this book! That would be a great movie!)
*Solo Training by Loren Christensen
*The Way Alone by Loren Christensen
*Martial Arts after Forty by Sang H. Kim Ph.D
*Dojo Wisdom for Mothers by Jennifer Lawler
*Dojo Wisdom:100 Simple Ways to Become a Stronger, Calmer, More Courageous Person by Jennifer Lawler
*Be Like Water by Joseph Cardillo (This is more a devotional type book for martial artists - haven't read entire book but like what I've read so far.)
*Bow to Life by Joseph Cardillo (Again, more of a daily m.a. motivational book - haven't read it all, but what I have read, I like.)

M.A. Books I Want to Read and Love:
*Gravity Never Stops: The Life & Training of a Martial Artist by Ron Sreh
*Mastery by George Leonard
*The Art of Balance by Ambrose Loughlin
*Steal My Art by Stuart Alve Olson
*Quotations for Martial Artists: Hundreds of Inspirational Quotes to Motivate and Enlighten the Modern Warrior by
John D. Moore
*Persimmon Wind: A Martial Artist's Journey in Japan by Dave Lowry
*The Monk from Brooklyn by Lang Reid
*The Dance of Becoming: Living Life as a Martial Art by
Stuart Heller with Marilyn Ferguson
*Meditation and the Martial Arts by Michael L. Raposa
*Easy Meditation for Martial Artists by Robert Morgan
*The Fighter's Body by Loren Christensen
*Extreme Joint Locking and Breaking by Loren Christensen
*Winning with American Kata by Loren Christensen
*And a ton and half of other books…these are just the ones that come to mind…

I am a huge fan of the St. Louis County Library - the ultimate resource for someone in St. Louis. Most of the books on my wish list must be purchased because they are not available from the library (even via inter-library loan) and I am not in a financial position to be buying books, so I will probably not have the opportunity to read the books on my wish list for quite some time.

I have also found that with my interest in martial arts, I have also acquired a curiosity about eastern culture and history. I have read a few books by Adeline Yen Mah, which were great and have heard of a few more I'd like to look into about the foot-binding custom (how barbaric!) Another favorite subject stemming from my study of martial arts is energy work, pressure points, meridians, etc. Upon the recommendation of one of our teachers, I am reading, or rather studying, a book on pranic energy, "Your Hands Can Heal You" by Stephen Co & Eric B. Robins, M.D. Very interesting. We did one of the energy experiments in class last session and I inquired as to its origins and was referred to this book. As I said, I'm reading it very slowly, highlighting key points and doing the exercises as I go along. I consider it my own, private pranic energy course at the University of MAM (Martial Arts Mom). So, while not technically martial arts related, and therefore not on my official "lists", these books/subjects are related, and important, in my martial arts journey.

What are you favorite martial arts related books? Do you have any recommendations of additions to my wish list? I'd love to hear your thoughts or lists on the subject!


Michele said...

My favorite martial arts book is by Kyoshi Bill Hayes entitled "My Journey With the Grandmaster: Reflections of an American Martial Artist on Okinawa". It is a wonderful book.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Oh, you're right, Michele! I forgot that one for my wish list! I knew I forgot at least one - probably about a hundred I've heard of before and forgotten though. I'll add it to my own personal list though. Thanks!

Alicia said...

I would recommend "Iron and Silk" by Mark Salzman. It is kind of half about martial arts and half travelogue about China. I've read "Gravity Never Stops," but didn't like it at all. I'll be curious to see what you think when you have read it.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Alicia - I remembered about 10 books or so after racked my brain to include all my favorites when I first posted this. Iron and Silk is one I forgot. And I did really love it, too. And I also read Chuck Norris's books and loved them but forgot to include them. I'll see if I can get ahold of a copy of "Gravity Never Stops". What was it you did not like about it?

Alicia said...

Gravity Never Stops seems to focus a lot on violence and anger. And even though it is ultimately about the author's journey to overcome those things, a lot of the book seemed like he was making excuses for his bad behavior. That, and it didn't seem very well written. I haven't heard of a lot of books on your list, so I will have to check them out. It's exciting to learn about new sources! Thanks for posting them.

Martial Arts Mom said...

The negativity is a downer, I agree. Of the ones I've read, I think I enjoyed "American Shaolin" as my favorite non-instructional one and "Training Solo" as my favorite instructional one.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Oh cool! More books to go read!

I haven't read all that many on either of your lists, unfortunately. Our local library has very little - I should really get my butt into downtown Louisville and get a card there - and I've been reluctant to shell out money for a book I know nothing about without a recommendation.

So far my favorite non-training book is Mastery, while my favorite training book is Speed Training by Loren Christensen - speed (or lack thereof) being one of my most intractable problems.

Martial Arts Mom said...

St. Louis County Library even has an entire branch called the "Asian Center" here. I have never visited that branch, but you can request material from the Asian Center and pick it up at any other STL County branch. Like I said - great library system.

Steve said...

A book I read recently and enjoyed very much is A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan. Terrific book.