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Welcome to the MARTIAL ARTS Book Review!
"We TEST IT so you can BUY the 
BEST and FORGET the REST"
 
Remember The Rating is 1-10 Stars Ten being the Best of the Best.  And all reviews will be Alphabetical and Grouped together.
 

 

Aikido Techniques and Tactics
"The Ultimate System for Street Self Defense"
Rating - 4 Stars 
Gary Bennet
      Let me start by saying that this is only my opinion, but this version of Aikido is certainly NOT the ultimate system of Street Self Defense.  But, like all traditional Martial Arts it may show us the way of the warrior and that is a noble path to choose.  Aikido and martial Arts history;  This book is packed full of information, whether that information is true or not, I cannot personally tell you for sure.  I have read plenty of books on the histories of different Martial Arts and few authors and teachers of the Martial Arts ever agree.  They touch on Bushido and the founders of the style which is kind of interesting.  He talks about the different styles of Aikido and their founders which I feel was very informative.
       They also give an overview of how to choose a good school and teacher which I thought was a great addition to a techniques manual. 
       There is a section that is devoted to all of the Japanese words for techniques and other words that you may use in a typical Aikido school, which is useful if you have never studied Japanese Martial Arts.  
        Honestly the reason I gave it a rating so low is because of the techniques section of the book which I thought was near worthless when it comes to real empty hand hand, gun, and knife defense.  
 
 
 
Anatomy of a Street Fight    
Rating – 6 Stars
Paul Vunack

       A book of Principles over tactics.  I think Vunack was more involved with giving you a base or overview of his system than teaching specific tactics on street fighting in this book.  It goes over everything from beginning with a game plan to ending with Women’s Self Defense in another chapter.  I personally enjoyed reading this book, the tactics that are shown are very easy to follow and learn if you were interested in picking up some techniques, defenses, or drills.  The most informative and the biggest reason anyone should buy the book I feel was his views on knife fighting, ground fighting, and Women’s Self Defense. 

       He also touches on the emotional side of combat and personal differences in the minds of each of us.  That it is sometimes those differences that stop us from hurting another even in defense of our selves at times. 

       Overall I feel that he’s a great Martial Artist and Teacher, but the book seemed broken up into pieces that didn’t fit together well and seemed insufficient in depth and detail.  It lacked a feeling of flow from say empty hand to ground or long range to short.

 

Book Of Five Rings

Rating - 9 Stars

Stephen F. Kaufman

       Another absolutely awesome book.  Very well written, my biggest complaint is that I made the mistake of getting a soft back instead of a hard cover copy of this book.  Seriously though I have read this book several times and will continue to read and study it for years to come, it truly is a very deep text on Miyomoto Musashi's sword style and philosophies of armed conflict. 

      He (Stephen Kaufman) starts the book by speaking of the many interpretations that are out there on this book for business strategies and how it hardly relates to the Martial Artist.  He interprets it purposefully with the Martial Artist in mind.  I personally think that he did a great service to the text although I have not read Thomas Cleary's version yet, it has to be hard to beat this one.

      There are 106 pages in this book and each and every one is packed full of Martial Arts wisdom from an old master. 

      In reading it you may realize that Musashi was truly not a traditionalist when it came to the Martial Arts of his time and yet it contrasted with remmnants of Buddhism and Zen in his writing.

 

      

 

Bruce Lee

The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon

Rating - 6 Stars        

Edited by John Little

    A book based on the documentary "Bruce Lee in His own Words"  The foreward is by Linda Lee Cadwell, which is poetic and brief.    This is a book basically telling of Bruce Lee’s life; from birth until his untimely death.  It has a chronological history of his achievements in the beginning and also has some never before seen family photos.  It was visually stunning in that the pictures were beautiful in quality and sized perfectly along with the quotes and anecdotes from the late, great, martial artist of his time.  The reason it received a rating of six is because of the beautiful pictures and the reason it only got a rating of six is because that was the main content of this book that was edited by John Little. 

 

 

Code of the Samurai

Rating - 7 Stars

Thomas Cleary

     It is an amazing insight into the life of a Japanese warrior or Samurai in past times.  This is an interpretation of the Code of Ethics that the Samurai lived by after the Feudal Era called Bushido or Bushi-do (Warrior Way).  

      A very interesting text that shows that even though centuries have passed a lot of the ways they lived are still being carried on today in  modern Japanese culture.  

      It can be adapted to modern living with some work and it still has use in todays world.  

      If you have ever read any of Thomas Cleary's other books then you know well the quality of which he writes.  It is a great book!  I personally have the hard cover, which also has sketches throughout the book that are nice breaks in the philosphies of the samurai code.   

 

 

 

Complete KickBoxing                             

Rating - 9 Stars
Martina Sprague/Keith Livingston
      This Book is exactly what they call it on the cover Complete Kickboxing.  It has to be one of the best instructional Martial Arts books that I have ever read.  It is a step by step guide to start you on your way to stepping into the ring. 
      The pictures are flawless showing correct movement and incorrect movement.  Some Pictures were taken for the book and there are also actual fight pictures to show technique.  
      They even dip in to Muay Thai with elbow strikes in a portion of the book.  Although they don't go into great detail on Muay Thai I still feel this is a very complete book on kickboxing in general.  The last portion of the book has training charts and also workout plans that you can use.  It's a thick one, weighing in at 453 pages of content.  It covers everything from Power delivery in technique to Concepts, and Strategies. 
 
 
Essence of Ninjutsu
"The Nine Traditions"
Rating - 5 stars
Dr. Massaki Hatsumi
       I would have to start off by saying I know that it is very hard to translate Japanese language into english.  Now that we have that out of the way, I was kind of dissappointed in this book.  I wasn't expecting a techniques manual, just his interpretation of what he thought the Art meant to him and it's origins maybe a few old training stories which we all have, but love to hear the ones from our old teachers of traditional styles.  The book is mostly comprised of stories of his teacher and his training and years of hardship, not Dr. Hatsumi's which surprised me at first, but I just kept reading expecting that this was just the begining .  As I read on I realized there really isn't much of a direction that the book goes.  He talks of his teacher and a little about Ninjutsu, but mostly stories of his teacher which he obviously greatly respects.  The stories were good, but even they had no direction that I could see, but maybe this is the Japanese way of enlightening a student through a constant study of the text and pondering.  If that was it than I lost interest too early. 
       Also I have yet to understand the title of " The Nine Traditions."  There are no references to that anywhere in the book that I could
see.
     
 

Floor Fighting “Stomping, Maiming, and Other thing to avoid when a fight goes to the ground"

Rating – 7 Stars

Marc Animal Mcyoung

     I am personally a big fan of Marc McYoung when it comes to self defense.  This book is a personal view of his on ground fighting and it is filled with many reasons for why he has come to this conclusion.  It is a guide that very logically starts out explaining how most fights get the ground in the first place and why.  He then moves on to how to take a proper fall to keep from getting hurt all the way to how to fall to make sure that your attacker does get hurt.  He goes over basic and advanced grabs and some throws that you may encounter on the street.  But, the most important part of this book is learning how to ground fight without getting stomped or Sh** kicked.     

 

 

Jutitsu Techniques and Tactics
"Skills for sparring and self-defense"
Rating 5 1/2 Stars
Doug Musser and Thomas A. Lang
   I will start by saying that this is probably the best book I have read in the Martial Arts Series by the publisher Human Kinetics so far.  The biggest qualm I have with the book is in the sub-title again "Skills for sparring and self-defense."  Again sparring maybe, but self-defense I'm not so sure I will be safer after reading and applying the techniques or tactics in this book. 
    This book again just like others in the series is well laid out from beginning to end.  There is a very thorough history of the style and how it developed in one chapter and another on what to expect in a typical Japanese jujitsu class as far special ettiquette.  It even has a section devoted to the most common Japanese language used in a typical traditional dojo which makes it a useful book for those planning on training in one of these classes.  It is more thorough than others in the series which again makes it a better book. 
    Where it falls short is in how few techniques and tactics that are really shown in the book.  Also the book feels more like a guide to finding a school rather than a intructional book on the aspects of techniques and tactics.  The Self-Defense against weapons section was far too unrealistic for me again, but looked to be better than some I have seen in other books in this Martial Arts Series.         
 
 
 
Living The Martial Way
Rating 10 Stars
Forrest E. Morgan
        You may be asking yourself, "a ten is it that good of a book."  The answer is yes, it's that good of a book.  It is right up there in the top ten books that you MUST read as a martial artist.  Obviously a military man, the author of this book is brilliant not in martial arts per se, but in the depth and quality of his writing in this book definitely.
        This is more of a manual on how to live your life by the philosophies of the warrior more than anything else, it is a guide to that path.  It is long hard road to travel, but he shows you where to begin and how to stay on the path.  He speaks of the warrior
Mind-Set, Strategy and tactics and the difference between them and how to develop your own in whatever style you study.  He also talks about how to choose a martial art that suits you by body type and emotional abilty to apply your art.  It truly is a book for any martial artist of any style because it transcends style and looks at the root of the martial arts and that is the Martial Way. 
 
 
  
Myths and Legends of the Martial Arts  
Rating - 8 Stars
Peter Lewis
         This book was a pleasure to read, and one of my favorite books.  It is a huge collection of parables from the old stories passed down over the years, from Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts styles alike.  I have personally read it five times.  I feel there is a lot to grasp in these short stories if you read them enough and really think about them.  The author of each story was trying to say something without handing you the answer and it really makes you think.  There are 237 short stories and it's worth reading each and every one. 
       
      
 
 
Stick Fighting
Rating 4 Stars
Masaaki Hatsumi and Quintin Chambers  
     This book is written on using three types of stick weapons, the Bo, Jo, and Hanbo.  It starts with basic defenses against a punch, but also has defenses against kicks and lapel and wrist grabs.  The part that I liked was the fact that at several points in the book the author spoke of not forcing a locking technique, but to adapt and flow into another lock is one does not prove effective in combat.  He also spoke of adapting your strikes to the clothing that your attacker is wearing which shows ninjutsu's adaptive qualities in modern day self defense.  It has plenty of pictures and also a diagram showing the foot work and body movement on the lines of attack that are coming at you. 
     Now that you know a little about the book let me give you my opinion.  I think the movements in this book are grossly complicated for anyone using this as Self Defense system with a stick.  Although they may be effective in use it would be far too complicated to learn and apply easily with say a broom stick or umbrella that may be handy in any self defense situation.  The pictures are abundant, but I was also lost several times trying to follow them as they are not well laid out in the book to explain techniques.  The attacker was almost always applying a long range over extended karate style punch grossly out of balance and almost falling forward as the stick techniques were applied. 
          
 
 
Taijutsu "Ninja Art of Unarmed Combat"  
Rating - 7 Stars                                          
Charles Daniel
     The lesser known of Hatsumi's famous Students, but still a superb understanding of Martial Arts and Tradition.  Clearly Master Massaki Hatsumi drilled this into his pupils well.  This book was written in 1986, but Charles Daniel was already talking about the importance of cross-training in the arts and also how one day it would become more acceptable for students to train in several styles to round themselves out. 
      Basically I felt that the beginning of the book that focused on different aspects of his art and tactics held more weight than the actual technique's which was the original intent of the book.
      I felt that the techniques seemed pure to his style of Ninjutsu to the best of my knowledge, but I was disappointed with his writing in explanation of his movements on such long and complicated joint locking sequences.  I was also thoroughly disappointed with the photos themselves as they are black and white and not very focused or there were not enough photos to show the techniques properly.  
 
 
Tao of Jeet Kune Do
Rating - 10 Stars
Bruce Lee
       This is a book consisting mostly of notes and scribbles that a legendary martial artist scratched out over the span of his life.  But, this is a profound book packed full of scientific truths in the martial arts as far as tactics and strategies.  It has small photos of some of the actual papers that the book was compiled from along with quotes and letters to friends in the arts.  If you are at all interested in the Martial arts for self defense or any kind of Martial Arts competition then this book is invaluable.  It is basically his own private notes he was taking during the process of creating the way of Jeet Kune Do.  It's a must have for any serious Martial Artist interested in expanding his mind and growing in the arts.  Not for the extreme traditionalist.    
 
 
 
The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall
Rating - 8 1/2 Stars
Sammy Franco 
      This is a unique book in how it was written but it was put together with unique quality also.  I'm sure by reading the title you have an idea of what it's about, but here we go;  It is a book about how to defend against a larger and stronger attacker on the street and I say street because there is a huge difference between dojo defense and street defense, there are no moving cars and beer mugs in the dojo.
       It is literally a book of questions and answers obviously questions that past students have asked and how he answered them are in the book in this format.  It's kind of hard to get used to, but still a very good format for learning.  It of course starts off with his schools philosophy or Doctrine (Strategy) and then moves on to it's first chapter.  The chapters were well layed out and well thought out.    
       There were plenty of photographs and sketches to make learning from this book very easy which I found were well placed and easy to use to apply the techniques.  But, they lacked some finer details.  I felt the information seemed useful and if applied  gave you a better shot at Self Defense against a larger man.  Of course I agree with him a lot because I have a lot of the same views on Self Defense and Martial Arts except for technique that is.
       The techniques for defense were not as realistic as I would have expected coming from Sammy Franco.  Specifically the outside block (Mid Block) against a high hook punch to your head.  The reason I find it unrealistic is because I have trained such a block against guys my size and no matter how it is applied the punch usually penetrates because of the mechanics of the bone and muscle structure in your arms.  It is almost completely impossible to stop such a punch that is being delivered with a mass amount of weight from a larger opponent.  Just my thoughts on that though.
 
 
     
The Complete Book of T'ai Chi
Rating - 3 Stars
Stewart Mcfarlane
       This truly has to be one of the most comical portrayals of a Techniques manual that I have ever seen.  Nothing against the author as a writer or Martial Artist, but this is just awful when it comes to trying to teach technique from a book.  
        When you first look at the pictures after you get past the man wearing the tight sweat pants you think to yourself this is very detailed and which it is, but you can't teach anything the way they describe it in this book.  It's truly bad.  The photographs are beautiful and well done in this manual on T'ai Chi, but the only thing I found of worth in the book was several quotes from old masters to which their were only six out of 117 pages of content.  Probably more to be learned from those six quotes than the whole 117 pages of descriptive explanation of this specific brand of T'ai Chi.  
        Although I don't blame the book completely for being sub-par, I am currently training in a Chinese style of Gung Fu and it is hardly something that can be explained in words on paper even with photographs.
 
 
 
The Japanese Art of War
Rating - 9 1/2 Stars
Thomas Cleary
        An absolute must have book for any serious martial artist.  It is not for the Martial Artist that trains for a past time, but for one that truly lives the Martial Arts.  An absolute masterfully written book on Japanese culture in the Martial Arts.  Thomas Cleary has shown in this book how deep his knowledge and understanding of the Japanese is. 
        It starts with a breif history of the Japanese and their warring culture as it began.  It goes on to a chapter on Bushido the Warrior Code and how that developed, which was again very well written along with Zen and how that changed the soul of the Samurai.  In these chapters there are also quotes from Miyamoto Musashi, Yagu Munenori, and Takuan.  It is a truly deep study of their culture in the Martial Arts and the quotes of those masters alone is worth the read.  Throughout the book He adds his point of view on what he feels those masters were trying to say. 
 
 
 
The Making of a Butterfly
"Traditional Chinese Martial Arts as taught by W.C. Chen"
Rating - 9 Stars
Philip Starr
       A detailed account of a young man on his journey down the path of a true martial art.  The title truly explains this great book 'The Making of a Butterfly.'  
       Not only an enjoyable read, but also full of little words of Martial Arts wisdom that you so rarely hear anymore from todays martial arts teachers.  Truly some of the knowledge of the Martial Arts that were passed down to Mr. Starr from his teacher alone makes this book worth purchasing.   
       I strongly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys reading about Chinese Martial Arts, studies Traditional Martial Arts, or who is interested in learning the Secrets of the Martial Arts, because they are often hidden in sayings and explanations of basics rather than actual techniques. 
       
 
     
The Ninja and their Secret Fighting Art
Rating - 7 Stars
Stephen K. Hayes
       This book is an introduction to his training with Master Maasaki Hatsumi in Japan.  It takes you from a short history of ninjutsu including his ryu (school) and others that are known all the way to his meeting the Master of Togakure ryu ninjutsu and his training with him.  I really enjoyed this book and have read it several times, it has some really great photos and explanations on technique and strategy of this school of ninjutsu.  I wouldn't call it a technical manual on Ninjutsu technique, but it definitely gives you enough of an idea of how they use their art to fight.  It goes through several weapons that the ninja use and how they are employed along with philosophical beliefs of the style and of course empty hand techniques.  It is a basic foundation of what he learned in Japan while becoming a ninja which I felt were put together well into a nice little book.  
      
 
 
Tiger Scroll of the Koga Ninja
Rating - 6 Stars
Jay Sensei 
       This is a book about the Koga ninja from which it was supposedly written. It comes from the Tiger Scroll that was passed down from Clan Master To pupil over many years.   I found it to be interesting and realistic in it's view of the style that it represents, it wasn't as far fetched as some that I have read on Ninja, their techniques, and history.  It's a small book at 81 pages, but a very interesting read.  It has a short history of the ninja and both of their major groups, the Iga and Koga.  
         Unlike most books on Ninjutsu this one wasn't all about techniques, but seemed more about actual devices, weapons, and tactics that they developed in their secret group; which is what I actually enjoyed about the book.  There are no photos in this paperback, just pencil drawings, but they are very well rendered.  I also found it surprising that the author chose not to use his full name and used a Japanese title for teacher with, I think, his first name.  You may want to take a look, before purchasing, in case this isn't for you. I felt it was an average book at its core.
      


Aikido: Techniques & Tactics (Martial Arts Series)
Gary Bennett  More Info
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Bottom Line:
If you like soft Martial Arts or are looking to join an Aikido school then this is a good introduction, but if you are truly interested in Self Defense then keep looking there are much better books out there for this.          

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Anatomy of a Street Fight
Paul Vunak  More Info
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Bottom Line:

I think that if you are interested in the Filipino Martial arts or are looking for a good system to train in for Self Defense than this book might guide you in the right direction.  I don’t agree with Paul Vunack on all aspects of Self Defense, but his (Progressive Fighting Systems) is a very well rounded effective system from what I have seen.        

 

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The Martial Artist's Book of Five Rings: The Definitive Interpretation of Miyamoto Musashi's Classic Book of Strategy
Steve Kaufman  More Info
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Bottom Line:

This is the Martial artist's handbook.  It should truly be in every martial artist's library.  There is more to gain from this the more you read and study it. 

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Bottom Line: 

It’s worth having only if you’re a Bruce Lee fan as I am, but only if you’re a fan.  The pictures are stunning, but not worth buying the book if you aren’t a fan of his.   

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The Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke
Yuzan Daidoji  More Info
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Bottom Line:
If you are even remotely interested in the Samurai, Japanese Martial arts, or Philosphies then this a must to own and Thomas Cleary's interpretation is the one that you want to have.   
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Complete Kickboxing: The Fighter's Ultimate Guide to Techniques, Concepts and Strategy for Sparring and Competition
Martina Sprague  More Info
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       Bottom Line: 
       If you are looking to learn kickboxing technique on your own or learn a little before joining a gym for some sparring then this is the book.  It is nearly flawless in it's detail and layout.  I paid 29.95 for it at a local book store and it's worth every penny!
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Essence of Ninjutsu
Masaaki Hatsumi  More Info
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Bottom Line:
I gave this book Five starts out of respect for the author and his style.
I don't personally recommend this book unless you are a Serious Ninjutsu fan or just like Hatsumi's books.
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Floor Fighting : Stompings, Maimings, And Other Things To Avoid When A Fight Goes To The Ground
Marc Animal MacYoung  More Info
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Bottom Line:

Obviously he teaches and writes from experience so this is a great asset to anyone that wishes to learn real street self defense. 

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Bottom Line:
It's a good book to prepare you for any Traditional Japanese Jujitsu school, but far too broad to be a good intructional jujitsu book.  It's great if you are looking to find a school and need a guide or a book with a few very basic techniques.
 
 
 

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Living the Martial Way : A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think
Forrest E. Morgan  More Info
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Bottom Line:
Everyone that trains in the Martial Arts or is planning to train in any serious amount should own this book.  This book can be applied to any Art or style because we are all training in the MARTIAL WAY.
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Myths and Legends of the Martial Arts
Peter Lewis  More Info
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        Bottom Line:
       This book comes to 241 pages of fun reading whether to tell your students a story they haven't heard about their Martial Art or just for your own reading enjoyment you have to get this one. 
 
 

Bottom Line:
If you are a serious student in the Japanese stick arts and have a little experience then maybe you can learn something here and translate it into your own uses. 
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Taijutsu: Ninja Art of Unarmed Combat
Charles Daniel  More Info
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       Bottom Line: 
       Overall I felt that the techniques shown were very effective compared to other traditional martial arts, but his views on the arts, training, and Martial Arts history definitely outshined the techniques section of the book for me.  I would recommend it to anyone interested in True Ninjutsu from someone with a background.  Great techniques, but the photos and descriptions could use some more polish. 
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Bottom Line: An excellent book for any fan of Bruce Lee, or anyone that wants a fresh new look at the Arts.
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THE BIGGER THEY ARE, THE HARDER THEY FALL: HOW TO DEFEAT A LARGER AND STRONGER ADVERSARY IN A STREET FIGHT
Sammy Franco  More Info
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Bottom Line:
It definitely makes you more prepared to face a larger (hulking) threat, but you may want to take the strategies and choose the techniques. (Pick and Choose)
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Complete Book Of T'ai Chi (DK Living)
Tan Hong  More Info
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Bottom Line:
Save the money and start training in T'ai Chi with an instructor of some experience.  It does have a very nice quality to the book as far as binding and the brief history on T'ai Chi was interesting   
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Japanese Art of War
Thomas Cleary  More Info
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Bottom Line:
I truly have gotten a lot from this book and I feel it should be in EVERY traditional Martial Artist's library.  The Philosphies in this book are truly invaluable to the Martial Artist.
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Bottom Line:
This book reads like a page turning novel that pulls you into his world as he trains with his traditional Chinese sifu.  
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Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art
Stephen K. Hayes  More Info
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Botton Line:
It's an enjoyable read by a good writer.  It's a basic introduction to Togakure Ninjutsu through the eyes of a personal student, Stephen K. Hayes.
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Tiger Scroll Of The Koga Ninja
Jay Sensei  More Info
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       Bottom Line:  
       If you are looking for glossy photos and training techniques then this isn't for you, but if you want a different perspective into the Martial Art, history, and tactics of the Ninja then maybe it's worth a try.                       
                  

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