I got this book expecting it to be slightly tall tales about fighting and other silly things men like to do but instead I was surprised to find an excellent collection of very mature articles related to the martial arts in some way.
The articles are written by many different people and are grouped into six sections
1)Technical A excellent article here called 'All Fighting is On Drugs' about how the adrenal dump makes you go stupid when in violent situations, all your fancy moves that require precision and complex movements will not longer work. Ways to improve your ability to operate under duress are discussed. Another excellent article in this section is advice on how to talk to cops. Other articles are about European sword fighting, the difference between stage/movie violence and real violence, the kinds of injures that can result from fighting, how to read an opponent, a variation on the alpha male and some advice of dealing with traumatic events.
2)Training A wonderful article 'Do You Want to Win? Learn How to Lose.' about the importance of failure and losing to getting better at things. Advice of dealing with tough people that test you. Another excellent article 'Teaching, Training and Conditioning' about the differences between those subjects. Yet another great article 'There Are No Secrets' about ultimately there are no secrets (except practice) in martial arts. There is also an article about board breaking.
There is an interlude of a fictional conversation between Marc Macyoung and fictional assassin John Rain, it is best described as old wise fighters talking about violence (e.g fighting for pride is for amateurs) and is a very good read.
3)War Stories This section is a collection of very realistic violent/near violent incidents (so no fighting off an ambush by 100 ninjas ). Incidents described include breaking up a fight at a football stadium, martial arts teacher dealing with a crazy student, dealing with an angry dad at children's hockey match, being staked by aggressive street beggar and other relatively normal encounters.
4)Places You Don't Want to Go The article "Bouncer Advice: What Your Sensei Didn't Tell You" covers the unpleasant realities of being a bouncer. "How to Stay Out of Trouble-- As A Psych Ward Patient" is recommendations of how to get by in NHS Psych wards. "Martial Arts Cults" is one person's experience of being in a martial arts cult, other articles are about martial arts training in the Antarctic, being in prison in Japan, abusive relationships, religious opinion and a account of how threats changed a persons tough guy fantasies about himself.
5)Advice Advice from a cop about cop related subjects like violence and dealing with the administration, a bouncer talks about importance of being nice and former martial arts cult member talks about leaving cults.
6)Philosophy "Gambling With Your Life" is a excellent article about how there is no magic pill in fighting, violence is very dangerous, the best you can do is increase your odds and ultimately you are gambling with your safety. Other articles are about the dangers of magical thinking, advantages of learning sword fighting and some musings about certainty, life, and pain.
This is a very mature well informed book, I feel its wise words will be lost on a lot of martial artists but it is most definitely recommended.