The first thing that strikes you with this book, is that it is not like any other "wot kata's about" books. The photographic imagery fills you with subliminally reinforced messages of the secrets of kata to which the text alludes. Taking you from the first day, and the first test - walking into a strange dojo filled with trepidation, up to becoming an accomplished fighter, fit and ready at shodan to begin towards the next step of "Waking Dragons" in your 30 man kumite. A smooth transition from shade to shade, and kata to kata, showing the meaning of each kata and why it is has that place in the order. Showing the kihon and training drills that are the basics for that stage of progression, and the sequences with the reasons for order of moves, yet each with the menace of the fighters always in the shadow, never in full view. Mind games, because the mind is where fights are won and lost, before a blow is landed. But look closer at the stunning photography, they haven't even bothered to get the creases out of the gis. Look closer still, they are frayed and repaired. Work clothes. These are without a doubt clothes worn to 'go to work', not your standard costume in which to pose. There is nothing lightweight about this book. It shows that the 30 man kumite Goran Powell writes so vividly about isn't about a six month training regime. It's about taking on a five year or so apprenticeship, where the tools and skills are ingrained into you, making shodan a natural - though not foregone - conclusion, so that the 30 man test is just the next step. Terrifying, like that first step into the dojo, or seeing that violence on the bus.... no more no less, because the level of fear never changes, only the level of the challenge. The book itself is stunning in its artistry, and a credit to art director Adrian Nitsch and photographer Richard Pullar. The text, as you would expect from someone so experienced and well versed in the nuts and bolts of Goju Ryu in both the dojo and on the street, and the workings of the mind under pressure is educated, aware, no nonsense and politely direct. Martial fine arts. The perfect companion to Waking Dragons. Just as you don't need to practice Wado to gain from Iain Abernethy's books, you don't need to practice Goju to have this book make you look at your own styles kata in a completely new light - and start asking questins.
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