The Iaido Journal  Oct 2005
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Review: Advanced Stick Fighting

copyright © 2005 Ken Morgan, all rights reserved

advanced stick fighting
Advanced Stick fighting
By Masaaki Hatsumi
Published by Kodansha International, 2005.

Hardcover  208 pages
190 x 260mm  820g
ISBN : 4-7700-2996-9
Price : $35.00

    I was initially hesitant to write this review as I am not a student of Bujinkan and was thus uncertain as to whether I could adequately comment on this book. However as I thought on it further I realized that I would be an ideal person to comment simply because I was not a student of Bujinkan. I would bring no preconceived opinions or biases to the table and I could be objective in my review.

    In reviewing this book I’ve taken on the task of looking at it as an instructional manual. The book tries to come off as everything, to everybody. It has history, it contains the author’s philosophical thoughts, it contains instruction, it tries to draw them all together into one cohesive unit. I have little idea as to the validity of any of the history contained within it, I make no comments as to the effectiveness of the kata nor do I comment on the ability of the individuals portrayed in the book. Quite honestly they are all irrelevant to me. The most important question to me is, is this a well written, well presented instructional manual?

    The short answer to my question is, no.

    I found the writing in the book to ramble on, taking the reader on a long, and labourious journey to irrelevancy. Quite honestly I found much of the writing to be disconcerting. I felt as if the author would relate stories for no other purpose then to hear himself speak. The content of these stores would have little or no relevancy to the final conclusion of the section. They seemed to be merely dryer lint. Interesting to look at, amusing to play with, but of no real purpose. 

    The instructional part of the book is no better. The photos are quite confusing. They are not numbered to show any sequence, and at times the reader can easily be confused as to which way to go. Many of the photos are multi imaged to show a range of motion, but it doesn’t work. It only serves to confuse the reader, and create ambiguity as to what the photo intended. The written instructions that accompanied the photos also lack the detail needed to walk away with any positive from this book.

    This book could easily have been written with half its original length. The author should have included more photos, simpler photos, better organized photos, more detailed written instruction, with much less filler material. As is, I would not recommend this book for instructional purposes. 

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TIN Oct 2005