Jiu-Jitsu For Beginners
I have studied a martial or two in my time; never jiu-jitsu, but with David Walker’s fun and well-organized book Jiu-Jitsu for Beginners: An Illustrated Introduction to the World’s Hottest Martial Art Discipline, the basic moves and principles are clear enough for someone with a little experience to pick up the basics.
For a complete beginner, even a book so user-friendly might not be enough to acquire physical skill. For one thing, though a practitioner (or "jiu-jitsuka") could learn the stances and the movements on his or her own, the practical acqusition of martial arts skills requires a partner with whom to practice, and, ideally, the presence of a teacher, or sensei, who can demonstrate techniques and offer pointers.
Even more important is learning how to apply techniques such as wrist-locks safely. Knowing how to fall without hurting yourself is essential to any vigorous martial art, too, and those skills are best learned in a dojo, or a martial arts school, where there are mats on the floor and instructors at hand to guide the pupils.
As an adjunct to taking lessons at a dojo, this book would be a perfect accessory. For the beginner who is not yet ready to set foot into a dojo, "Jiu-Jitsu for Beginners" will still be valuable--not so much for the physical skills as for an up-front explanation of what marital arts are all about.
The skill of any martial art has less to do with kicks, jabs, and take-downs than with self-discipline and coordination. Not just physical coordination, though that is a useful by-product, but mental coordination: how to focus on a task, how to be present in a moment, free from distraction. That, and a dedicated practice in self-knowledge, are the more fundamental basis of martial arts than spectacular looking displays of fitness and grace.
Anyone looking to learn how to fight for the sake of taking out one’s aggressions would not be served by the study of martial arts, and Walker states the case plainly that it’s always better to defuse a tense situation than to invite a violent confrontation. When it comes to self-defense, of course, martial arts are a good thing to know; but so is boxing. What makes martial arts more than a system of hitting and kicking is the mental--and spiritual--preparation that it allows the practitioner to take into any situation in life. The goal is strength, not brutality; confidence, not aggression.
Walker explains all these things, and adds the voices of jiu-jitsuka in sidebars that relate various anecdotes, some funny, some inspirational.
The book is thoroughly illustrated with photos of jiu-jituska carrying out basic techniques, but for someone (like me) who doesn’t learn primarily through visual cues, there’s no substitute for the real thing: hearing a technique explained and feeling it in your own body are just as essential to the learning process as seeing it done.
As a study guide at home after a lesson, the book would be particularly helpful--but by itself, the book is best used as a means of gaining a fundamental understanding of the essential attitude that a good martial arts practitioner needs to have.
Jiu-jitsu, or most any martial art, is a good way to get fit, clear your mind, and have fun; as an added benefit, martial arts will give the dedicated practitioner practical skills for confronting difficult situations with a clear head. For the beginner (or even the intermediate), this book will enhance the life experience of going to a class and actually doing the techniques.
by David Walker
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing. Publication Date: January 5, 2009. Pages: 176. Price: $14.95. Format: Trade Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-1602393127