Saturday, June 09, 2007

'Mixed Martial Arts - The Book of Knowledge' with BJ Penn

When I recently read Victory Belt's publication 'Mastering the Rubber Guard' with Eddie Bravo, I was impressed. It made considerable strides in improving over his last book 'Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed' and gave a detailed insight into one of the most misunderstood positions in today's Jiu-Jitsu world. Well, as far as I'm concerned, Victory Belt has done it again with BJ Penn's 'Mixed Martial Arts - The Book of Knowledge'.

Giving a book a title like that one is a fairly bold move. Those words suggest that this is more a tome - or even "bible" - than a book. And at first glance, it looks like it might be the goods. The black and grey reminded me of later editions of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding' - a book with a similarly anticipative title. At 308 pages, it also fits the bill size-wise, as well.

Opening up at the contents pages, you'll soon see that the book is very comprehensive. After the introduction, you see that the book is divided into two parts - 'The Standing Game' and 'The Ground Game'. Each of these parts is then subdivided into positions and then further into techniques. One of the things I most enjoyed about the book is the introduction. Most newer martial art books open with a discussion from the authors, but Victory Belt's introductions seem to speak to me a little more.

In this case, the introduction gives you about ten pages of BJ's philosophy and how he arrived where he is. From his early days boxing with "old, ratty gloves" through his eventful MMA career, he gives a little insight into his life. He talks about the sport and how he trains for it. He discusses his philosophy for both technical and physical training and gives some broad ideas the reader can take on board.

I won't get into too much detail about what you'll find in the two fighting parts of the book. I will say this, though. While it looks like a "technique catalogue", it's not really. The book shows BJ working many techniques and combinations against opponent's from his gym. However, each technique fits into his particular fighting structure. What you see here is a collection of the techniques BJ Penn actually uses in a fight and how he strings them together.

If you want to see what BJ would do if he finds himself on his back against a skilled ground 'n' pound guy, the answer's here. So is how to use your striking to set up a takedown (a subject not discussed often enough) and vice versa. Another thing I like is that we see what BJ does from a defensive perspective. We see a lot of defensive postures and escapes, which suits me fine as I'm often the one getting hit. Too often, books like this ignore that part of the strategy and just assume your awesome technique will win out.

As I'm not much of a standup fighter, nowadays, I can especially see myself making use of the simple strategies in the section 'Striking for the Takedown'. That is pretty much my weak point. Honestly, though, there's something here for everyone. You'll see how the various open guard positions play out in MMA. You'll see how to minimise your exposure if you're weak in one area with the more defensive oriented techniques. You'll also learn how Penn counters some very common and tough positions.

From a quality perspective, I didn't notice any grievous spelling or grammatical errors (a small problem I had with 'Mastering the Rubber Guard'). All pictures are colour and are clear and easy to interpret. The descriptions are also quite clear to me, another bugbear I've often had. Although the entire field is getting a lot better in that area.

All up, I really like this book. From this point on, I consider this essential reading for anyone considering a foray into Mixed Martial Arts. However, it's probably more important for coaches and athletes who need to move their game to a multi-dimensional approach. That's something Penn himself has done and done well. I think this makes my "Best of the Best" category.

Victory Belt Publications

1 comment:

Allen Klosowski said...

Great review, we just posted a link to it over at my blog Thought our readers would really like your review.