Reviews - What do customers think about Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts?
comprehensive, but ... accurate? Nov 21, 2006
A nice overview of various martial arts taught in obscure and less obscure places. I think I most enjoyed the accounts of Pakistani and Indian wrestlers like Gama. These seem to be forgotten martial artists. There was also some interesting information about the martial arts of Indochina.
I give it one less star than perfect, as these same authors have been known to at least tell some tall tales under a psuedonym ("John F. Gilbey" is one of the two). Since I am no scholar of the martial arts, but rather a sort of consumer of them, I can't really tell if they're pulling our legs anywhere in this book. Some of the Okinawan stuff (which I am actually familiar with the history and practise of) was a bit sketchy, or at least poorly explained. I suspect the farther afield these guys get with the arts covered, the more stuff you might find like that. Who is going to check?
Good Study, Long on Scholarship Oct 15, 2006
If you're looking for a how-to manual on any particular martial art or set of martial arts, go elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you're interested in a succinct history of martial arts from the Far East, then you're in luck. This is an older book in martial arts circles, but I think, if anything, that helps it. It's able to deliver its message without all the politics that have influenced martial arts over the last 35 years. On the other hand, there's been quite a bit more sholarship that would help the book considerably. The book is well written. The authors provide plenty of english translations of the terms they use, so you're never left in the dark. I think the section on Okinawa, rightly seperated from China & Japan, was a bit short. This, and a bit of over emphasis on styles that didn't seem adequately representative of the art under discussion. It's informative and a good read. Hard to say much more good about a book.
The best history of martial arts...ever Jul 7, 2006
I found this book through a memorial to Draeger printed on a martial arts group. I bought several of his books but I am the most impressed with this one. Draeger and Smith do a great job of tackling an intense project. There is an overview of martial arts from around the world. The research for this is amazing. One may have faults with some of their statements but this is still a book that I return to again and again. If you want the history of martial arts then this is perhaps the only real choice. A must for your martial arts library.
Classic but outdated Jul 19, 2005
Still a classic of martial arts literature after many decades. One reason the book has held up at all to time is simply that both authors are great writers and researchers as well as being accomplished martial artists. The writing has an academic quality not usually found in the martial arts books and magazines, which are often aimed at the lesser lights among us. In fact, I am too embarressed to be seen reading a copy of Black belt magazine nowadays, unless I have it hidden inside a copy of Hustler perhaps.
Yet the book has not held up in all aspects. Since it was written, there have been whole worlds of knowledge opened up to martial arts practitioners. This book was written in the dark ages, when real knowledge was kept hidden and what was taught openly was worse than garbage. Not only have many masters brought their arts into the open, but new trends have developed, new paradigms set, myths destroyed and more.
Something of this scope and quality is sorely needed today. Draeger is dead. Smith hasn't publshed anything recently that I am aware of. It may be up to someone else to do an updated survey of the martial arts.
Still a classic and a necessary part of any MA library.
Outstanding Aug 9, 2003
This long standing classic should be required reading for anyone who practices the Asian Fighting Arts. Both Draeger and Smith do an outstanding job in describing the cultures and the fighting arts that evolved from them. Well written, educational, and very informative this book provides a sound foundation for the Asian Fighting Arts practitioner.