Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Review: The Complete Guide to American Karate & Tae Kwon Do, by Keith D. Yates

This book can enrich the training experience of beginning and intermediate students. In class you will acquire martial skills, but unless you spend hours with your instructor outside of class, you will miss learning the background of the martial arts that this book will give you.

I have known the author for years, and so I recognize his unusual ability to write in a conversational tone, complete with his sense of humor. As you read his book, you will feel as if he were with you sharing stories of the martial arts and giving you pointers that will help you progress in your training.

The book opens with a foreword by Jhoon Rhee, who is often called the father of Tae Kwon Do in America, and a second foreword by Chuck Norris. They write about lessons in living that they have acquired from the martial arts.

The section on martial arts history does not read like a dry school textbook. Keith Yates brings history to life, because he knows many of the men he writes about—Jhoon Rhee and Chuck Norris, for instance—and because he started training in the 1960s and has been active in the martial arts ever since.

You will enjoy the many photos in the book. These include photos of Bruce Lee; rare tournament photos of Skipper Mullins, Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, Pat Burleson, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, and Keith Yates; and how-to photos from the author’s classes. Many of the historic photos are from the author’s private collection.

The book even includes basic training patterns (forms, or katas) with enough photos for you to actually learn the forms: the Korean Chon-ji, Tan-Gun, Toe-San; the Japanese Heian 1, Tekki 1; and six one-step sparring drills. Learn the basic moves from the book, and then have your instructor refine your moves in class.

Mr. Yates lists crime-prevention pointers, discusses the legal aspect of self-defense, and includes a few self-defense techniques, such as a pose that makes you appear to be harmless yet places your hands in a striking position; and breaking out of front and rear choke holds and a wrist grab.