Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forbidden Fighting Techniques of the Ninja (Kim, Ashida)

Rating: 3
Year: 1984
Genre: Martial Arts, Nonfiction
Read Again? Heh.

Okay, unless you want guys in black pajamas attacking you, don't read this review.

No, not really. They'll get me first.

This is an assemblage of badly-lit black & white photos with poor contrast and sketchy text descriptions of those "forbidden" fighting techniques. Took a point off for the pics. They're not uniformly bad, mind you, but I'd like to see a reissue with some attempt at better lighting and background choice.

I picked it up at a used book store for maybe five bucks. Much of the "forbidden" stuff is the same karate I studied for two years back in the early '90s--the same blocks, punches and kicks in the same forms as those of the Shotokan style. I got a good laugh from that! I guess the "forbidden" part is that they wear black pajamas and ski masks?

There's also some stuff about throwing and falling and warmups, but this isn't really a "reading" book. I think I've tried a half-dozen times to read the introductory chapter and some of the rest of the book and failed from boredom. I'll have to yawn another point off there.

There are short descriptions of various weapons--swords, kama, nunckaku, bo or jo staff, shuriken, throwing knives, crowbars, chains, ropes, sai daggers, and all those other things you'd see in a standard mid-'80s ninja movie, any samurai flick from Japan, or any kung-fu flick out of China. It seems like there's just enough in this book to whet a serious student's appetite, but there's also just enough to get an idiot in trouble.

If you REALLY want to learn a martial art, you need a teacher. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but after looking at some of the sword work, I cringe at how amateurish the attacks look. I wonder what the serious-student-to-idiot ratio was for book sales?

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