Martial Musings records insightful details associated with Smith's years of absorption in the combative arts in the USA and overseas. He astutely couples combatives with literary panache, quick wit, and penetrating insights. Based on reflections on the people and places that shaped martial arts in the 20th century.
|Publisher:||Via Media Publishing Company|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||18 MB|
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About the Author
As a pioneer in Asian martial arts research in America with thirteen previously published books, Smith shares more than fifty years experience in martial arts practice and research. From his late teens he trained under eminent Western boxing and wrestling coaches and later immersed himself in judo and finally the Chinese martial arts under celebrated masters. He taught many students in the latter arts in the Washington D.C. area where he worked as an intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Martial Musings: A Portrayal of Martial Arts in the 20th Century based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The subtitle, 'Martial Arts in the 20th Century' is grandiose and pretentious. At best the book is a fascinating description of one person's journey thru the martial arts, and at worst, a limited view of a small subset of fighting styles which refuses to recognize anything outside the author's expertise. Smith was a recognized expert on Chinese internal martial arts: Bagua, Taiji and Xingyi. The so-called 'soft' styles of the fighting arts. When he writes within his own experience, he has a definite authority and is well worth paying attention to. However, he was a showy writer, constantly parading his penmanship and knowledge of literature with quote-after-unnecessary-quote. However, the three arts above and Judo are all he knows. When he strays outside his own expertise, his opinions can be ill-judged and often just plain wrong. He denigrates well known martial artists who have helped publicize and popularize the arts and who have contributed something e.g. Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Steven Seagal. He dismisses these as mere paper tigers unable to fight their way out of paper bags. Not so. All three trained and earned their martial credentials, in Tang Soo Doo (Norris), Wing Chun (Lee) and Aikido (Seagal) well before entering the movies. In fact Smith spends considerable time mocking the portrayal of martial arts in the movies. This is simply ludicrous. The movies are for *entertainment* - nobody seriously thinks real-life fighting is like that. Movie fight scenes are exaggerated and embellished for dramatic effect. So what if Robert Carradine as a Shaolin monk was not a real martial artist? He was a competent actor who engaged and entertained us, just as he was paid to do. Smith is very much of the my-teacher-can-whip-your-teacher school. He praises and lauds his own Taiji teacher, Chen Man Ching and elevates him practically to demi-God status. 'No man can stand before Chen!' he proclaims grandly. Really? Smith offers no evidence other than hearsay and some anecdotes about challenges where Chen supposedly triumphed. There are no eye-witness accounts, videos of matches or other solid evidence to support his claims. Apparently we just have to take Smith's word for it. Well, many don't. That said, if you have been exposed to the 'internal' martial arts, the book is an engrossing and fascinating read. Smith comes across as a man who experienced the martial arts first hand, generously shared what knowledge he had, and in general lived life to the full. But, if you have read Smith's earlier books on the internal martial arts and their artists, there is little that is new here. The bulk of the material is covered better and more fully in his earlier books. In addition, the chapter entitled 'My Writers' is sheer self-indulgence and adds nothing to the martial arts theme of the book.
I actually live roughly 15 minutes from the author in western North Carolina and have had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions. My teacher in the martial arts, Doug Perry, is mentioned several times in the book, and I am indirectly mentioned as one of the instructors at a camp he attended. I can say with no qualms that this book is outstanding. I have read it numerous times, not always to gain more meaning from it, but because it's so damn good. Buy it; you will NOT regret it.