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Review : Robert W. Smith's Martial Musings | Martial Arts Planet

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A Beginners Guide to Tai Chi. Theresa Dufrane. Bruce Lee. Zofia Stone. While he occasionally departs from the title subject, martial arts is definitely the axis around which Smith's life has turned. Smith's writing style is lively and engaging; he's an experienced storyteller. Much of the book, except for sections that have previously been printed in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts or elsewhere, has a rambling, non-linear style.

Readers who are used to getting to the point quickly may become impatient. Smith makes it a journey to get to the heart of the matter, but the scenery is worth the trip. His digressions often profile a teacher, student or exponent of the martial art or sport he's discussing.

Early in the book, he gives an affectionate portrait of Jack Johnson, whom Smith describes as "the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time" and a warm human being as well p. At only one point does a lengthy digression, entitled "My writers: an interlude" pages , where the author details portions of his career as a writer and interviewer for the Washington Post and other newspapers, does the book not wind its way back to make a point regarding martial arts. Though readers with an interest in the subject will find this section interesting in itself, it does seem out of place for a book entitled Martial Musings.

Smith's writing is filled with clever quotations and original turns of phrase.

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Generally speaking, this technique serves the material well. Unfortunately, however, he uses so many authors' quotations in his introduction that the reader may fear the entire text is that way. It is not. A s a pioneer in Asian martial arts research in America with thirteen previously published books, Smith shares more than fifty years experience in martial arts practice and research.

Martial Musings records insightful details associated with Smith's years of absorption in the combative arts in the USA and overseas. He astutely couples combatives with literary panache, quick wit, and penetrating insights. Based on reflections on the people and places that shaped martial arts in the 20th century. From his late teens he trained under eminent Western boxing and wrestling coaches and later immersed himself in judo and finally the Chinese martial arts under celebrated masters.

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