Showing posts with label mark wiley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mark wiley. Show all posts

July 25, 2015

Tambuli Media

For those book worms like me there is no better source for Filipinio Martial Arts titles, nor Chinese for that matter, then Tambuli Media, and I am very happy to announce a new affiliation with Tambuli.  For any order placed via the link to your left, or by clicking here, The Ground Never Misses will get 25%! 

So if you are looking to add a new title to your collection, or you have a martial artist with a birthday coming up make sure to use the hyperlink and the rest is taken care of.  Simple.  Check out Tambuli Media today and see what you have been missing.  And check back for some future reviews of Tambuli titles here on the Ground Never Misses. 

February 16, 2015

The Bible of Ngo Cho Kun - Book Review

Mark Wiley and Tambuli Media have become known for offering titles on a multitude of styles and topics, but it is rare for us to get some a special, personal insight into a project that is so near and dear to his heart.  Though probably better known for his FMA background, Dr. Mark Wiley has been studying Ngo Cho Kun (Five Ancestor Fist) for decades.  Not only is Ngo Cho Kun rarely seen in print format, it is rarely openly taught here in the west.  This translation is an absolute gem for Chinese martial arts enthusiasts the world over. 

Originally written by Yu Chiok Sam under the title "Chinese Gentle Art Complete" in 1917, Tambuli's edition was translated into English by Alex Co, with additional editing and translating by Russ L. Smith and Mark Wiley.  Five Ancestor Fist is a southern Chinese martial that incorporates a wide range of tactics and traditional weapons, and this manual represents the fundamental movements including strikes, stances, kicks, and partner routines.  I am certainly not familiar enough with Ngo Cho Kun to critique the breadth of the art encapsulated in this text, but as an outside reader it certainly seems comprehensive of at least the basics. 

Broken into five volumes, 27 chapters, over 240 pages this text is thoroughly illustrated with clear, concise pictures of what the author is trying to convey.  Again in some of the partner pictures I would have liked to have seen one person in lighter colored clothing to offer some contrast for ease of the reader.  As far as a manual goes this translation is exactly what students look for, it is precisely how I envision a treatise of the systems I have learned.  The Chinese text is offered in traditional hanzi.  Directly below that the authors offer the English translation followed by a series of photographs demonstrating the translation.  Mark Wiley annotates the entire text with pertinent footnotes. 

Overall I must say I am quite happy with Tambuli's "Chinese Gentle Art Complete: The Bible of Ngo Cho Kun."  A professionally edited and presented text on a rarely seen art.  A welcomed addition to the martial collectors shelf. 

Click here to order The Bible of Ngo Cho Kun

November 25, 2013

Mark Wileys "Mastering Eskrima Disarms" - Book Review

Dead Turkey day is literally right around the corner and I cannot think of a more appropriate martial art to discuss then the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) of Eskrima / Arnis / Kali!?  And what better topic then Mark Wiley's latest book; "Mastering Eskrima Disarms?"  A long overdue text on common defensive measures found in all styles and subsystems of the FMA (and really in all martial arts), addressing disarms would seem simple, but when looking at the broader scope of the subject we find it to be much more difficult to organize and pedagogically formulate.  I am grateful that a seasoned researcher such as Mark Wiley tackled this subject, as I consider him the Tom Clancy of FMA writing. 

Mark Wiley is a special kind of duck.  Not only are his research skills top notch, but he has a kind attitude and honest love for the arts that grant him unprecedented access to teachers in all sub-styles of the FMA; something unheard of within a traditionally closed off and paranoid culture.  Without this kind of relationship within the community taking on a book of this scope would be incomplete at best.  Indeed Wiley dedicates the ninth and final chapter of the text to a photo collage of various teachers from a multitude of styles showcasing a number of different disarms.  Just shy of 100 pages these photos collected over years of travel and training throughout the USA and Philippines, are meant to showcase the similarities of each system based on the foundation of principle found across all systems of FMA.  It is brilliant to see old friends such as Dan Medina and GM Remy Presas included, as well as some great shots of the legends! 

Discussing disarms is tricky as many feel they are impossible to pull off in real combat, and Wiley acknowledges this straight away by organizing "Mastering Eskrima Disarms" into two parts and eight chapters.  Discussing assumptions that are dangerous, how to progress in your training, and then guiding the reader through ranges, gates, and positional footwork.  ALL key aspects often overlooked by zealous students who want to train the "cool" disarm!  Another fundamental mistake is the difference between training for edged combat versus bladed combat.  Whereas with one it is completely safe to grab the weapon, but with the other it could be a decisive mistake!  Again Wiley addresses all these issues by laying out foundational principles that are universal. 

Part one of the text is broken into three chapters:
  1. Principles of Effective Disarms 
  2. Supporting Structures (includes joint control concepts as well as modes of engagement)
  3. Grip Release Concepts (arguably the best chapter, encompassing a wide variety of techniques into five fundamental concepts)
I like Marks approach to categorizing as he avoids using style specific terms regarding footwork and the like.  As any practitioner of the FMA knows terms are relative and often confusing.  Within one system one can find five different names for the same technique or footwork pattern, but Mark avoids such pitfalls by employing the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid)!  This is so important when writing a general text that covers techniques found in all martial arts. 

Covering all aspects of weapon engagement as well, Wiley hits the note addressing stick vs. blade, double vs. single, as well as weapon vs. empty hand.  Any student with more then 2 years under their blade will be able to learn these principles and apply their own styles disarms and variations without any trouble.  Wiley has showcased the principles but has avoided trying to become a repository of every single disarm from every single angle!  That would be redundant and distracting. 

One area of discussion missing from this book is that of the clinch and ground grappling.  I confess
this may be a separate subject in the authors mind and thus the exclusion.  But it has been this reviewers limited experience in my 20+ years in the FMA that when dealing with the real threat of a weapon, the bull rush into a clinch of some sorts is VERY common!  This also often leads to the ground.  I would love to hear how  Prof. Wiley would deal with such threats and disarming from the perspective of being nearly smothered.  Again this is less of a criticism and more of question, as Mark may look at this subject in a totally different light (hinting at a book idea Mr. Wiley ;). 

"Mastering Eskrima Disarms" includes over 950 photographs and really these are the only criticisms I have of the otherwise excellent book!  The instructional sequences are pretty clear but can be a bit dark at times, shot in black and white I confess I am never a fan of both parties (demonstrater and demonstratee) being dressed in the same color.  White and black lay better contrast and allow for some depth in photo's such as these.  Though not cost effective, color photo's and/or multiple angles have become the norm in martial art texts and when discussing weapon based arts are almost essential. 

Retailing at $29 (Amazon has it listed under $25), "Mastering Eskrima Disarms" is a must have for any practitioner of the FMA, and really anyone interested in a great text on joint manipulation and weapon engagement.  Wiley addresses the subject honestly and with real world wisdom that is often washed out in the world of weapon work.  This also makes a great gift for the martial artist on your holiday list, so before grabbing the Golok and carving that Turkey take a moment and order this fundamental text! 

You can order "Mastering Eskrima Disarms" by Mark Wiley by clicking here and you will be redirected to Amazon!