Book Report: Complete Karate by J. Allen Queen (1994)

Book coverThis is another martial arts book I picked up at ABC Books, this one almost a year and a half ago. In the Before Times.

This book is a textbook for starting Karate or its derivative martial arts forms. Judging by the history it presents, most martial arts derive from a karate way in the past, with differences arising in different places (Tae Kwon Do, from Korea, features more kicking than Japanese forms of Karate because the Koreans tended to be taller than the Japanese, the book asserts–I have no idea if the science and anthropology bears this out, but it makes sense).

The book covers early elements of starting out, including pickin a gi (some of the ones in the book are quite spangled). It talks about basic strikes, but mostly with only the two-photo method and then goes into using those techniques in sparring and in kata (forms, where you do a choreographed set of moves). It also identifies some warm-up and other exercises you can do before class or as part of class to loosen up or increase your flexibility.

As it focuses on traditional strikes and not the boxing that my school focuses on, but I don’t wonder if I can see an evolution in the curriculum from sparring. When I started out six or seven years ago, some of the existing black belts threw back fists and jump punches that caught us n00bs by surprise. Except for the instructors, they’re all gone now. We really didn’t cover those strikes back in those days, and only covered the knife hand and ridge hand (karate chops) a little bit. Now we don’t cover them at all, and in free sparring, I can catch the newer students by surprise with the more traditional strikes since they’re trained and have practiced watching for boxing strikes. Also, I am the old man there now. I think one or two students might be older than I am, but none of the instructors are.

Jeez, every time I think of that, I feel the need to ice something.

So this book is kind of bifurcated in focus, perhaps on purpose: It is targeted to people who have yet to take a martial art–hence the talk about gear and gis, but also a source book to remember the different techniques. So it’s pretty good, better than some of the others I’ve browsed.

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