Book reviews

Here you’ll find my reviews of martial arts books. If you’d like me to review your martial arts books then please get in touch.

Note on review policy: My reviews have always been, and always will be 100% independent. This is not paid-for content or ‘advertorial’. Books can be returned after the review period if required.

REVIEW: Chen Taijiquan Illustrated, by David Gaffney & Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim

Chen Taijiquan Illustrated is an exploration of pretty much everything that makes up Chen Taijiquan, from principles, and body methods to practical usage and philosophy. But the most notable thing about this Taijiquan book, and the place where we should probably start, are the illustrations, because they are what really separates this book from others of its ilk. Read the review.

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

Matthew Polly’s down to earth and inspiring account of his year spent training with the Shaolin monks at Shaolin village in the 1990s. Read the review.

Nonstop Jiu-Jitsu, by Stephan Kesting and Brandon Mullins

A rare and welcome return to dead tree media for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fans everywhere. Nonstop Jiu-Jitsu is the first new book about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to buck the trend and feature photos and step-by-step techniques, released in years. Stephan Kesting and Brandon Mullins show you some great jiujitsu techniques here. Read the full review.

Introduction to Baguazhang by Kent Howard

Baguazhang has always been the most curious of the three big internal arts, but while its origins are shrouded in mystery, it’s applications non-trivial and its purpose often obscure, it’s actual practice has always been something that is accessible to anybody who can put one foot in front of the other and walk in a circle. Read the full review.

Chen Style Taijiquan Collected Masterworks, by Mark Chen

This excellent book contains translations of selected texts from Chen Zhaopi’s “Chen shi taijiquan hui zong” (“Chen family taijiquan selected masterworks“), published in 1935. Read the full review.

Mythologies of Martial arts by Paul Bowman.

What do martial arts signify today? What do they mean for East-West cross cultural exchanges? How does the representation of martial arts in popular culture impact on the wide world? What is authentic practice? What does it all mean? Read full review.

Xing Yi Quan – A study of Tai and Tuo Xing

The focus of this book is on two of Xing Yi’s 12 animals: Tai and Tuo, but it also covers an awful lot of general Xing Yi theory, featuring translations of the Xing Yi classics as well as a look at how to generate internal power in the martial art of Xing Yi. Tai is a flycatching bird, and Tuo is the Chinese alligator. Their fighting strategies are explored in full. Read full review.

Hidden in Plain Sight by Ellis Amdur


This book by Ellis Amdur offers a thorough investigation of the internal power displayed by Morihei Ueshiba and also contains a massive amount of research into the origins of Aikido. If you’re interested in either subject, then this is a tour de force of investigative journalism. Read full review.

Internal Body Mechanics for Tai Chi, Bagua and Xingyi by Ken Gullette

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Anybody who has attempted to learn Tai Chi in any depth instantly realises that the choreography of a form is just that – choreography – and that the devil is in the details. Internal Body Mechanics is all about the details: How you move, what you move and where you move it to. Read full review.

Strikes – Soul meets Body – Vladimir Vasiliev & Scott Meredith


The new book on Systema by one of the modern gatekeepers of the art. Written by Vladimir and Scott Meredith, this book explores the striking methods of the Russian martial art of Systema, but also looks at the breathing methods and concepts of relaxation that the art is so famous for. Read the full review.

Possible Origins, Scott Park Phillips – a review part 1


A look at how Chinese theatre, religion, and martial arts are all part of the same puzzle. This is a fascinating book and I’d recommend it for all students of Chinese martial arts. Read the full review.

The Taijiquan & Qi Gong Dictionary by Angelika Frtiz


A handy dictionary of all the terms commonly associated with Taijiquan and Qigong. Read the full review.

Notorious The Life and Fights of Conor McGregor

MMA enthusiast Jack Slack breaks down all of Conor McGregor’s fights up to and including his rematch with Nate Diaz. Read the full review.