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Book Review: The Way of the Warrior

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Chris Crudelli's The Way of the Warrior: Martial Arts and Fighting Styles from Around the World is a lavishly illustrated, encyclopedia of martial arts styles around the world.

It's the perfect coffee table book for anyone with even a casual interest in the various branches martial arts from all over the world. Almost 400 pages long, the book is divided into seven sections: India and South Asia; China and East Asia; Southeast Asia and Oceania; Japan and Okinawa; Europe; Africa, Middle East and Central Asia; and the Americas.

As with any book of this scope there are oversights and inaccuracies aplenty. But as a starting point for learning more or a handy reference or just a really entertaining book to keep handy when you have a few moments of idle time, it's hard to beat.

I particularly enjoyed the sections on India, China, Southeast Asia and Africa as my ignorance on these topics is vast.  I was frustrated with the section on the Middle East and Central Asia as such storied styles as Iranian Koshti and Pahlavani are not even mentioned. But on the whole these are minor quibbles.

The book is a production masterpiece, comparable to a Time-Life or National Geographic publication. Hundreds of color photos, maps and diagrams make it a visual treat.

As you can tell from the cover, MMA is given serious treatment with a lovely ten page section focused on the sport. There are also sections on Vale Tudo, Luta Livre, and Brazilian Jujutsu (the book uses the traditional transliteration for the Japanese art rather than the more common Jiu Jitsu adopted from the Portuguese ).

Armed combat is given plenty of attention as well with photo spreads covering the weaponry of Shao Lin monks, Samurai and Medieval Knights among others.

All in all, I'd say it's a very fun and informative read that is best regarded as the first word on many topics but never the last as its impossible to cover this much ground and not miss a lot of details.

Crudelli, the author, is best known for his BBC television series Mind, Body & Kick Ass Moves. He's a kung fu practitioner with extensive experience researching Asian martial arts.