I am very selective when it comes to giving interviews and editorials and rarely give book reviews, however, having read Jamie O'Keefe's latest book 'Thugs, Mugs And Violence' I felt the urge to put pen to paper. I do this for many reasons, it's written in plain understandable in your face English, it tells the truth about martial arts and it touched a nerve as I have lived a similar lifestyle and this book made me think about myself, not many books can do this.
You may think that this in itself does not necessarily make a good book, but this is where Jamie is different. He highlights martial arts as a sense of belonging, be it good or bad martial arts, the belonging can help some people through times of hardship. His book gives hope and understanding in as much that no matter how bad things are there is always something or someone to guide you on to better things.
All the above although good and useful is not the main reason I decided to review Jamie's book, as many people I know have similar stories to tell. What I took pleasure from was that this man made mistakes and learnt from them, for me this is a book about growth. Jamie started with nothing and throughout his life had problems and yet when opportunities came he took them, some were beneficial and some were not, nevertheless he took them.
He re-educated himself, and now he educates others and this book gives inspiration to anyone who thinks life is hard and has passed them by. I respect Jamie for having the 'bottle' to change and improve his life and also for taking the time to write an account of his past without falling into the ego trip that others fall into when writing about themselves. I hope another book on his life will be written in ten years time to show how much more growth is still within him, especially when he finally loses what's left of the anger inside him.
STEVE TAPPIN 5th Degree for Latosa-Escrima UK-EWTO Representative