• Martial Arts,  Reading

    Reading Formats and Martial Arts Books

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    When it comes to fiction, I’ll generally consume it in whatever medium is convenient: traditional paper, ebook, audio, hypertext. It’s all good, it’s all valid, it’s all fun.

    But when it comes to non-fiction, and especially to my martial arts reading, I have a vast preference for paper, which isn’t to say I don’t do a lot of reading online, but when it comes to heavier or longer stuff, I’d really rather hold it in my hand or put it on the table or desk in front of me.

    Because I highlight stuff, make notes, mark stuff for additional research, and circle or underline things for emphasis so things jump out at me when I pick up the book again or decide to make my own notes from it. I’m studying this, not just reading it. It’s more involved and it takes longer.

    So I won’t, usually, buy an ebook of a martial arts text even if it’s vastly cheaper or otherwise out of print. I’ll wait until I find a used copy, someone mentions they have one I can borrow, or it comes back into print. Whenever my supply of marital arts reading gets low, I’ll look at the first eight or ten books on my ‘to read’ list that I don’t have, check prices and availability, move the OOP stuff out of the next 10, check on the OOP titles that are really appealing in the moment, and order a book or two to carry me through for a while.

    I’m within spitting distance (what a weird expression) of finishing my current book and down to only one left to read after that, so I went through the list a few days ago to complete the ritual. A book I’ve wanted for a long time that I can’t remember the last time I saw as available when I checked was listed as in stock and at a price tag that surprised me a bit. Into the cart it went, arriving this afternoon in the mail.

    If you’re interested, the book is Fortress Storming by John Burke and is supposed to be as detailed a breakdown and analysis as has ever been done in book form on one of my favourite kata, Bassai Dai.

    It may have moved to the top of the reading pile. Mostly because I’ve been waiting for it for so long, but maybe just a little bit because of the last sentence in the warning in the front of the book, something I haven’t ever come across before in a technical martial arts manual, though I’m sure I just haven’t picked up the right book before now. “Everyone should be aware of the Law and how it pertains to ‘Use of Reasonable Force’.”

    My interpretation of that is two-fold. First, the author is being responsible to his audience and reminding us that some of the stuff we practice in martial arts can be very dangerous. Second, he’s telling that audience that he considers at least some of what’s in this book to fall into that category.

    Now, I know there’s some nasty stuff in Bassai Dai, and I know that I’m probably only scratching the surface of what’s there to find, even remembering that I practice two different lineages of this kata. There are a lot of things in the kata that only make a little bit of sense or I haven’t figured out how to look at yet and there are a lot of things hidden in the transitions that I just haven’t seen. That’s the beauty of karate and, I expect almost every martial art: there’s always more to learn.

    And I’m hoping this book will show me more than I know now. I expect it will and there will be pencil marks and highlights to trace the path.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Reading

    2017 Reading Summary

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherBut if 2017 was a weak writing year, it was a strong one for reading. Paper, electronic, audio, I consumed a lot of written words this year.

    Without going into a lot of detail, because there will be plenty when the 2017 Reading Journey file is done, my category break outs are mostly pretty favourable.

    Historical Award Winners: 17, and 4 DNFs

    Last Year’s Award Winners: 6, and 1 DNF

    Spec Fic Breadth: 7

    Other Fiction: 40, and 2 DNFs

    Martial Arts: 4

    Non Fiction: 16

    Which I make a total of 90 books. Add to that several hundred pieces of short fiction (including almost a million words of slush pile reading as a Publishing Assistant for Bards and Sages), and hundreds of comic books, and I read a lot this year.

    I hope to match or beat it in 2018.

    As far as things go, I gave exactly three 5-star ratings to book-length works this year, to:

    The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett – the last Discworld book, and it’s entirely possible that the fifth star was due to my sadness in never getting another new story in this world again.

    Abaddon’s Gate (Expanse #3) by James S. A. Corey – loving this series. Of all the works in this universe so far, only a couple of the novellas have gone below four stars. But now I’m almost caught up. One novella and one novel, and I’ll have to wait on new work with everyone else.

    So, Anyway by John Cleese – I very much enjoyed Mr. Cleese’s biography, only disappointed by the fact that it left off just as Monty Python began. Hoping for a sequel.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Karate,  Reading

    What I’m Reading: Martial Arts After 40

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherI don’t really talk about it a lot on here, but it’s no secret I train in karate, and have been for about four and a half years now.

    It’s also not a secret that I’m in my forties, and while I trained for six months or so just before my son was born, I didn’t take up karate seriously until a little while after my 39th birthday. Four and a half years on, I’ve learned a lot and definitely ramped up my fitness level, but I’m not ready to start feeling my age yet, so I’ve been trying to expand my personal definitions of what I need to do in order to keep pushing my limits without injuring myself.

    Hence, Martial Arts After 40 by Sang H. Kim.

    The book is broken into four parts, of which I’m just starting the third

    1. Beginning Your Journey 1-4
    2. Getting Fighting Fit and Staying that Way 5-15
    3. Your Martial Arts Journey 16-25
    4. Mastery Points

    The first section breaks out things like fitness basics, nutrition, and a little bit of motivation. This is the first four chapters. And is light reading, a preaching to the choir section that doesn’t hurt to get you into the right frame of mind.

    The second focuses on specific attributes like Agility, Flexibility, Power, and so on, providing important points in each and ten or so exercises targeting each attribute with a slant towards developing for martial arts. Eleven Chapters.

    The third looks at fitness in martial arts in detail. This, for me, is the meat of the book. Upcoming chapters target skill development, forms, sparring, and a lot of martial arts specific skills and fitness. This is where I start taking notes, I think.

    51e5yJoFdMLThe fourth section is the shortest, and titled “Mastery Points”. I’m refusing to read ahead, at least at the moment, but I’m anticipating the wisdom of the ages here. Or at least some solid advice and ways to think about things to continue to grow in your chosen art as your number of birthdays continues to grow.

    Available on Amazon and probably wherever else fine books are sold.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Reading

    The Reading Backlog

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherSo one of our family goals this year was to de-clutter and clean up the house. All I can say there is that the year’s not over yet and we’ve made some progress.

    But, in the process of things, I’ve been able to get a clear idea of how many books I have in the house. More importantly, how many books I have in the house that I haven’t read yet.

    It’s a scary number.

    You see, I used to work for a large book retailer. The last several years of that particular career were in a couple of different incarnations of an office environment, so there were a few freebies here and there, but mostly in the non-fiction vein. However, whether I worked in the office or the stores, I enjoyed a nice discount on books purchased new, and I took advantage of that.

    I’ve also, at various points in my life, been a frequenter of used book stores, accumulating out of print genre books by favourite authors, discovering dozens of new authors, and picking up the occasional edition of one or more of the Lord of the Rings books (I have eight complete, plus one of the unauthorized Ace printings of Fellowship).

    Since moving to this house in late 2002, I’ve done several book purges, sending some books to the local library, some to my children’s school library, and more than I like to think about to a used bookstore that didn’t deserve them (I’ve learned better since). It’s made a significant impact on the size of my personal library in my mind, if not my wife’s.

    This is all background to lead up to the note that, if I count correctly, I have 317 books classifiable as Fantasy or Science Fiction that I have yet to read. Yes, really. They span decades, from the late 1960s to about 2010.

    Knowing I have a lot of books I haven’t read never seems to stop me from picking up just one more when I see something I really like. I think it has slowed me down, but never stopped me.

    When I left the retail book industry eleven years ago, I calculated that I had between five and six years of reading material available. Based on my reading speed in 2013, that number is closer to ten at the moment.

    Yikes.

    But brings up the problem of other changes in my reading habits. I have a hard time finding time to read paper anymore, having almost all at once switched to e-books. Electronic text is portable and convenient and I can read on my phone while waiting to pick up a child from school, standing in a particularly long line at the grocery store, or wherever I feel like it. Paper gets read in that last little bit of time before I turn out the light.

    Consequently, paper books have become books to savour while e-books are to consume. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy reading both, but these days new physical books only come into the house if they fall into the first category.

    Which makes me wonder how long it’s really going to take me to read those 317 books.

    Or if I should even try.

    I mostly read on a screen these days, and I don’t think I see that changing. I think that 317 number isn’t likely to shrink in my lifetime. Maybe electronic versions are in order for most of them.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Writing

    Things I Brought Home from World Fantasy Convention 2012

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherA list, if you hadn’t guessed.

    1. Virtual friendships made real: I met quite a few people I’d only known on twitter up until this weekend. Uniformly an awesome group, I’m happy and better to have met them all.

    2. More new friendships than I’m going to try counting. See point number 1, but also people that I met randomly or was introduced to by other people.

    3. Tonnes of awesome experiences. In the bar, restaurants, panels, hallways. And all about the people.

    4. Two (or maybe three) semi-crystallized ideas of potential novel scope and I don’t know how many short story possibilities, all rubbing up against each other inside my head.

    5. Eight (8!) signatures in my contributor’s copy of Rigor Amortis. I am strangely, still inordinately pleased with “And Yet In Death”, my sonnet opening the book, even more so after one of the other authors, the awesome Renée Bennett, confessed to me that she’d nominated it for an Aurora. Stunned does not begin to describe my reaction to that compliment.

    6. Signatures in both of my Sarantine Mosaic hardcovers by Guy Gavriel Kay (plus the memories of cornering him at the Tor party and keeping my inner fanboy under enough control that I didn’t gush too much).

    7. This pile of (mostly) books:

    Which includes two signed by authors whom I got to spend some time with while there, the awesome Tanya Gough and Amanda Sun.
    8. 8.77 GB of uncompressed audio (14 hrs 50 min 22 sec = 16 panels).

    9. A hippocampus, sketched in 7 minutes on the table of a Korean barbeque restaurant a few blocks from the con by the talented Rebecca Blain. She felt bad for me that I’d promised not to buy any art and resolved to make sure I had something to take home.


    10. A hole in the wall of my shyness in unfamiliar group situations. People who know me will be surprised at that statement, and I’m fine once I get through the initial barrier, but going into an unfamiliar environment with a large group of people I don’t know and expect/hope to interact with makes me anxious and a bit withdrawn. I get through it, but it’s not easy. A little assistance there from Tanya, Stefon Mears, and Andy Taylor.

    11. Some awesome conversations with Brian and Anita Hades (of Edge Publishing, Brian wearing the mantle of publisher and Anita being, at the very least, in the running for sweetest lady on the planet).

    12. The desire to start it all over again.

    Happy World Fantasy weekend, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather