Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: "Martial Maneuvers"

"Martial Maneuvers" by Phillip Starr is a useful, yet paradoxical book.
Starr has a deep and varied background in martial arts, beginning in 1956. He opened his first school in 1973, and has developed a style he refers to as Yiliquan.
The subtitle of "Martial Maneuvers" reads "Fighting Principles and Tactics of the Internal Martial Arts". Here-in lies the paradox; this is not your typical Internal Martial Arts book.
Instead, Starr draws on his experiance in Kyokushinkai Karate and has written a book based on the elements of successful one-step sparring.
In fact, I think I only saw one technique familiar to Tai Chi Chuan; "Slant Flying". Admittedly there was more emphasis on footwork that reflects Xingyi and Bagua, but most techniques are right out of conventional one-step sparring that could be found in nearly any Karate system.
With that said, his presentation is thurough, and he does have good drills for this type of application. However, very little emphasis is placed on grappling and takedowns, let alone joint locking or other advanced techniques of the internal arts. Starr instead places his focus on squaring off with an opponent and punching. He does have useful tips on timing and footwork, but unlike the close-range work of Taiji and Bagua, Starrs drills are more representitive of sparring at Karate range.
This book would best serve students who face-off in one-step sparring or point fighting, as his drills apply to timing, footwork and strategy at that range.
It has a folksy smash-mouth presentation, but lacks the finer details of internal martial arts that advanced practitioners may be looking for.

This book was provided to me for review by Blue Snake Books, with this title and hundreds of other martial arts books available at their website at THIS LINK.


Wim Demeere said...

Thanks for the review, this one is actually on my list of books to buy.
Just a Q: is there no mention at all about grappling or chin na?
Personally, I don't mind if it isn't included in this book, if the author specifically chooses to focus on other things. God knows there's loads of books on those two topics already... :-)


Man of the West said...

DR, this is completely off-topic, but when I saw this post on xing yi, and saw that this particular blog isn't listed amongst your links, I thought you just possibly might not get to see this, and as much as you are interested in xing yi, it might pique your interest, and it would be a pity if you missed it.

Dojo Rat said...

Not so much, very little on grappling. A few examples, but mostly timing and footwork issues. Not that it isn't some good information, just a little different than what I was expecting.

Thanks so much, I am checking his site out now. The solo form is one I do also, with slightly different energy. It looks like he does the same routine twice in the same direction, I turn and do the second set coming back. I will be looking at it closely. Thanks!

Wim Demeere said...

Cool, thanks for the info.