Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge Review

Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge Review


Every once in awhile something new comes along that changes the way we think and the way we learn. It may be something newly designed or something that brings many useful articles together into one. BJ Penn’s Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge does both of these in an incredible fashion.

The book itself does not focus on one specific style of fighting, nor does it contain them all in a segregated fashion. Instead it takes a truly revolutionary approach in MMA fighting instruction; it fuses all styles of martial arts into one elaborate system. It will be difficult to find one “technique” that doesn’t represent this innovation. The book truly does take instructional books to the next level, in my opinion.

I will first give my initial impressions of the book, and then follow it up with an analysis of each of the major fighting categories (striking, wrestling, ground fighting). I will finish with my overall thoughts on the book, its layout, and so forth. So, let’s begin shall we?



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First Impressions

This is a simple technique given at www.victorybelt.com . For size issues, I made it smaller. I have to say that I had some unrealistically high expectations for this book. And I also must say, honestly, it was even better then I hoped! The only way to possibly describe my feelings would be the phrase “blown away”. I saw the table of contents for it awhile ago, and while I knew it was going to be pretty big, I had no idea just how all out BJ Penn and the guys at Victory Belt went! They held nothing back, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. I expected it to be about the same size as Eddie Bravo’s newest book, but this is tremendously more expansive and I daresay even more comprehensive and potent (especially for mixed martial artists). The content looked phenomenal and there were thousands of color pictures to feast your eyes upon. Each move was broken down into more steps then I have ever seen in an instructional, allowing every key point of a move to be analyzed from multiple angles by the reader. Now, enough of my babbling about my impressions, I’m sure I’m boring you. Let’s move on to the categories it covers.


Striking

When one reads this book, he or she must realize that you won’t find a traditional kickboxing (or even BJJ or Wrestling) instructional. It is hard for me, an enthusiastic martial arts book reviewer, to comment on things like striking in this specific volume. The reason this is hard is because when first looking at the “striking” section in this book, you will not be extremely blown away. The reason for this is, simply, that BJ includes only the fundamental punches, stance information, and defensive tactics (yes, there are no kicks; BJ doesn’t feel that they are practical for every single person so he didn’t include them, but he does acknowledge their usefulness). If you just assume this is the only striking in the whole book (as I somewhat did, initially), you will soon be in for a huge wakeup call. Just because the section is relatively small compared to other, striking-specific books out there does not mean BJ failed to cover striking adequately. What does this mean? Simply, he teaches you how to strike from EVERY position imaginable. On top of that, he teaches you how to set up almost every move you will ever use with some form of striking (knees, elbows, and punches). This includes places like clinches, on the ground, against the cage, setting up the takedown, and so on. The striking is very, very versatile in this book. However, if you are looking for a specific kickboxing ONLY book that teaches just the art of kickboxing and nothing about the other aspects of fighting, I would suggest Muay Thai Unleashed, one of the best and affordable kickboxing books on the market.


Wrestling



Another technique found on the Victorybelt website
In this day and age it is somewhat difficult to draw precise lines as to what is wrestling and what is BJJ, so I will try my best to draw the line somewhere. The techniques utilizing wrestling in this book are actually very good. The bread and butter techniques used are the double and single leg takedowns, which are shown with tremendous variations. In fact, there is an entire two sections dedicated to those two. On top of that, there are many body lock takedowns, takedowns from counters, some Greco-Roman (upper body) takedowns, some really good duck-unders to the back, and a bunch of really cool other little “tricks” that help you to dominate your opponent with grappling on the feet. He shows you how to use strikes with these as well to make them even more effective in MMA (the strikes don’t need to be applied for the techniques to work, meaning you can still use these moves in grappling matches if you wish). Other then the takedowns, BJ shows many wrestling principles on the ground especially with regards to weight distribution and holding the opponent down. Some wrestling transitions and even some pins (from which strikes can be unleashed) are shown as well. To sum things up, I was not expecting the wrestling in this book to be extraordinarily proficient. However, all my doubts were silenced when I saw, to my surprise, actual incredible wrestling techniques that can be applied in MMA.


Ground Fighting

Now, finally, I get to review the absolute greatest (in my opinion) aspect of this book! It is also, not shockingly, BJ Penn’s best trait in MMA: the Jiu-Jitsu game. And boy, does it deliver. This book covers everything you need to know about the BJJ game in MMA. It covers everything from the basic escapes and positions to super cool advanced things, such as utilizing the knee on belly position to attack from multiple angles effectively and causing heavy damage. All the submissions are both practical (the thing to look for in MMA) and easy to learn and execute. Every position is covered, offensively and defensively (something not recognized in most books which tell you all these cool offensive techniques but don’t give you even a hint on how to defend it). Ground fighting is often tricky, but things are broken down very clearly and almost every move can be learned quickly without have to do much interpretation due to the easy-to-follow set-up of the book. The most important aspect of the ground fighting in this book, in my opinion, is the fact that it is actually geared to MMA. Almost every grappling book out there is geared towards use of the gi, but this book is specifically designed to offer techniques that work in MMA without having to use the “handles” utilized in Gi-Jiu-Jitsu. I can remember some books offering about 30 of their 100 techniques being JUST collar chokes; this would not have helped anyone one bit in either No-Gi or MMA, two sports where the gi is not used. However, this book is absolutely superb with ALL aspects of ground fighting, period. If you want BJJ that will work especially well in MMA and No-Gi BJJ (to an extent), this is undoubtedly the best book to get on the market, and that’s a promise.


Overall Opinion on Book/Structure/Layout

Alright, I’ve pretty much summed up all the technical information about styles and such, so let’s go into a little detail about the book itself. It is pretty lengthy, over 300 pages in total. It doesn’t have an overly drawn out introduction that takes up ¼ of the content like some other books out there. It is actually quite interesting which gives the reader some great inside looks at BJ himself. It turns out the rumors of his dislocated rib in the second Matt Hughes fight were actually true, which is extremely unfortunate. It then goes into detail about some good training regimens which appear to be made by a personal trainer since each circuit offers a complete muscular system workout. Many people will talk trash about BJ’s cardio, but other then the Georges St. Pierre fight, the man has never gassed (extensively) once in his career. Moving on, the book is structured in a very, very good way. Random moves aren’t just thrown together in a jumbled mess as in most instructional books. Things are broken down into two big sections, stand-up game (striking, wrestling, clinching) and ground game (wrestling, ground and pound, and BJJ). In each of those, each position is given a section (an example would be the Double Leg Takedown Section in the Stand-Up Game section). Inside of these smaller sections are even more specific sections, which cover things in even more detail (A failed-double leg section inside the double leg takedown section). Every section is color coded in two colors to help the reader find exactly what he is looking for just by glancing at corners of the page. This structured system and layout makes reading the book a joy and will make it quite the reference book for all MMA fans and practitioners out there.

To conclude, this book is without a doubt the best MMA book on the market, especially since it is the first to be made on the subject that does it right and instructs with high quality and many desirable characteristics (such as ease of use and effectiveness of all moves). I highly recommend this book to any MMA fan who wants an idea of what MMA truly is or any practitioner who longs to improve his or her own game by leaps and bounds. I typically love playing devil’s advocate and looking for faults within a product. However, with BJ Penn’s Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge, it is just physically impossible to find any true fault within this astounding book. It is the best book in the world for MMA at the moment, and should be for years to come. 5 Stars out of 5 Stars.
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