As a martial artist for more than 11 years, I’ve been reading martial arts texts for probably eight. And in my research, I’ve across what I feel may be one of the earliest to start to deconstruct and really analyze martial arts forms.
Rick Clark penned his tome in 2001, an earlier copyright date than I’ve noticed for many of my favorite martial arts books from the likes of Iain Abernethy, Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder.
(By no means am I saying he’s the first to uncover these, as many Asian martial arts masters of the 20th century and before are said to have known about the “secrets” that lie in the forms.)
Clark is an equal-opportunity martial artist, meaning the tips he gives in his book are universal to all styles. He says there are at least seven ways in which we can think of applications for our forms, or kata. These fit in line, albeit using different classification, with the categories of application found in Robert Trias’ Pinnacle of Okinawan Karate.
My main gripe with this book comes from the cover. On my edition, it reads:
It doesn’t matter why it works. It only matters that it works.
If you were to just look through the latter half of the book, that might make sense.
But throughout the book, Clark makes it painstakingly clear that what he provides to us are principles to make these techniques work. In other words, he’s telling you why things work. It matters why it works.
Clark’s precision is demonstrated throughout this book, giving you lucid descriptions of where certain points are located and how to activate them.
If you are passionate about pressure points, this book is for you. It may help bridge the gap where other, newer books just show you applications without giving you reasons why.
The main point, however, is clear: Martial arts forms are much more than just dances. They are very real libraries of information about self-defense.