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Learning from Books...

As I sit here in Illinois going through storage and preparing to move north to Wisconsin I've began to look at books as a way for me to learn and practice new things. I've done this a few times previously during my time learning martial arts with many different books.

I do not own this book
From my dad and his huge collection of Stephen K. Hayes books is where I "began" my book learning. I'd read about a cool exercise or challenge in the book and then for weeks I would train it or try the challenge just to see if I could do it. Sometimes I'd actually retain the exercises in there and they'd become apart of my normal training. I did this type of training while I lived in Missouri on the days my dad couldn't teach me or I just wanted to learn something new.

I do not own this book
In California I did more of my own reading through various books. For a time, about a few months, I'd practice Japanese Swordsmanship by myself out in the area I called "the wash". Again, all I had was a detailed book (not the one pictured above) and a wooden sword that could fit into my book bag.

Owned
Also in California, I practiced the exercises in The Shaolin Workout book. Though I never quite made it through the book it was with this book that I realized I already do or have done many of the exercises and drills previously in my Karate classes and my dad's classes. It was probably due to this that I didn't stick with The Shaolin Workout too long but it did make me more interested in Kung Fu; it also gave me a reason to go to New York City in the future so that I could visit Sifu's training facility.

I do not own this book
Then as I continued to train in Karate and my interest grew so did my desire to learn more about the art itself. Thus, I discovered Fumio Demura's range of books. Though many are old they contained a lot of pictures and descriptions on how to do various moves. What I noticed immediately again was that I had done some of these moves but they were different in very small ways. This was when I realized that the style of karate that Fumio Demura did and I was different from each other. I do remember trying out some of the more advanced moves from the books in class sparring but it didn't turn out too well for beginner me.

(Owned)
And then one of the final books I really studied for a while in California was Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu. This little yellow book given to me by my dad was full of pictures, information and so much history that I still haven't studied it all yet. Out of the books I studied, this was the hardest for me to read and comprehend as it was a different style from karate. The only thing I ended up learning was a few of the stances and the hand shapes because you didn't have to move to do those.

(Owned)
So after such a long rant about these books that I've studied... what is my point? I think that books can be used to help people learn a style or art but to completely teach a person the style... I don't know if it is possible. If a person were to study from a book I don't think they'd get the same training if they went to a class or found a teacher. Now if some one deligent enough studied through books and tested what they've studied sparring others then I don't know if they'd be learning that style but more so developing their own style.

So if you're trying to learn from a book or thinking if a book can help your current training then I'd say yes but you cannot learn a complete art or style without the help of others and without sparring or testing what you're learning.

Just a small rant since I'm bored here in IL

-Jonah

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