________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003


The Martial Arts Book.

Laura Scandiffio. Illustrated by Nicolas Debon.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2003.
64 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-776-0 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-777-9 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Martial arts-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Linda Ludke.

**** /4


It's only been in the past hundred years that people in the West have got to know the martial arts. With faster ways to travel, people and ideas now have an easier time moving around the globe. But why is there such interest in arts that started so long ago in a faraway place? Life in one part of the world may be different than in another, but some ideas are exciting no matter who or where you are. The challenge to be your best - while having a lot of fun - has made the martial arts popular with kids and adults all over the world".

The origins and philosophies of martial arts are explored in this thoughtful and engaging book. As Scandiffio emphasizes, the discipline involves much more than just "punches and kicks.” In training the body to become strong and controlled, a martial artist is following the path, or "do" to spirituality and self-knowledge. The basic tenets of Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are clearly outlined.
internal art

     The different styles of martial arts, such as kung fu, tai chi and tae kwon do, are described as "many branches, one tree." Readers will learn how the Shaolin Temple monks started the first martial arts system. As the monks shared their teachings with others, new techniques evolved. A full-colour map of Asia illustrates how the martial arts traveled from China to Korea and Japan and became adapted to each region.

     The page layout and design is very eye-catching. Sidebars feature information on everything from acupuncture to the world of the samurai. The text is also enlivened with myths, legends, Zen proverbs, and biographies of intriguing characters such as Gitchin Funakoshi, the founder of modern karate, and Seiko Fujita, the last practicing ninja who went to extremes to teach himself to ignore pain and survive poison. Nicholas Debon's vibrant, mixed-media illustrations provide a glimpse into an ancient world.

     For young practitioners of the art, the final chapter includes tips on choosing a "dojo,"or martial arts school. Students will find the glossary, pronunciation guide and index very helpful. Perfect for research or leisure reading, this title fills a void on a popular topic.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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