My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Quite the spiffy and informative book. It's small for an encyclopedia, but covers a wide range of martial arts' history and rational. With regard to it being "ultimate," the authors must have used this word to describe, not the depth of material, but the breadth of the subject. No singular martial art is covered deeply, but the authors spread out to cover numerous modern and ancient styles, as well as from different continents: Asian, European and African.
Beyond the subject matter on the different styles, there are chapters to inform and help broaden the thinking, perception and motivation of the martial artist. These chapters are nicely written, drawing out finer points, and explaining the importance of more technical elements in punches, kicks, and blocks. For example, there's the chapter that emphasizes the fluidity and artfulness of any particular technique, so that "a lock is a block is a blow is a throw." Another piece explains how to turn a back fist into a powerful force. There are other sections that deal with angular kicks, ax kicks, conquering fear and pain, and the secret of middle aged martial arts, to name a few.
In the end, this is a resource book for broadening out a martial artist's knowledge of style, concepts, and strategy, as well as helping the learner become better at their particular style. It would make a solid addition to any martial art school's lending library, as well as to personal collections. I recommend the book.
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