Training and Fighting Skills by Benny "the Jet" Urquidez
First review here.
This is the first martial arts book I ever bought, having been impressed with the Jet's record when I was a teenager.
Ah, let's skip the loop-de-loops and just get to the landing, eh?
The first chapters are brief interviews with Urquidez that gather some wisdom from him on speed, power, timing, target areas, strategy, and nutrition. More interviews are found throughout the book at the beginning of each chapter. The interviews give good insight from the champ that can be found useful. However, a lot of the info is outdated, unrealistic, or just not written well. In those regards, they might be the weakest aspect of the book. Still, one should not overlook a lot of the insights Benny gives here, because they are tidbits that one could live by.
The next chapter, Conditioning, gives a fitness regimen that a person who uses a book for training would find appealing: there's little equipment required, as all of the exercises are calisthenic, and at most would require a chair and/or partner. The quality of this regimen is pretty good for these conditions, as strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, and coordination are all covered in depth, and the level of most of the activity involved is useful to beginners and can remain so through moderately advanced levels. To go through and do ALL of the first chapter in one sitting is a great workout you could literally do anywhere (except a hospital bed. Or in a car. Or in a tree. You get the idea. You could do it on a bus, though. Or an airplane, your bedroom, or a cave full of cannibalistic ninjers.)
Impact is the subject of the next chapter, giving drills that a kickboxer uses to prepare for both slapping and pwning impact one should expect to encounter in a round of fisticuffs. This is an aspect of training that I haven't seen covered in a whole lot of books, and Benny's insights here are pretty useful, I think.
Balance comes next, and given are a number of exercises that involve, balancing on one leg, hopping, kicking, and spinning. Pretty straightforward and useful for the beginning striker.
The next chapter gives techniques for evading and blocking. This includes a few moves that look like tai-sabaki, bobbing, weaving, jamming, absorbing, checking, and specific blocks for several strikes. I like how in-depth this chapter is, giving many options for moving to the outside, inside, parrying, countering, etc. I believe this to be one of the most useful chapters in the book.
Hand techniques are the next chapter, focusing mainly on boxing techniques and combinations. The chapter itself is again, very straightforward and in-depth, but here is where you start to notice weaknesses in the training. There is one elbow strike given. (A whipping over-the-top, which is labeled as "legal in the Orient". Bear in mind this was first published in 1981.) There is, however, a lot of the other hand-and-arm strikes that are found in Karate, such as backfists, hammerfists, palms, and forearm strikes. The combination section in this chapter is good for beginners (like me), giving many 1-2-3's. One won't win a Golden Gloves with this chapter, but it shows a solid foundation that can be built upon.
The next chapter covers foot techniques, and I have mixed feelings on it as well. The weaknesses, as I perceive them, are that there is only one knee attack (a leaping knee to the head, again labeled, "Legal in the Orient"), there are perhaps too many advanced variations on things like front kicks (kick with the ball, kick with the heel, etc.) which aren't really in keeping with the beginner's tone found throughout the rest of the book, and there's a lot of focus put into spinning and jumping kicks, which might be a dead end for anyone who's NOT Benny Urquidez. Finally, while the Thai-style roundhouse is given, it's not given in the most straightforward manner, with variations sometimes given pages apart. The kicking shown here is the most in-depth arsenal in the book, and this could be an asset to lead-footed folks (like me). So while the education given in this chapter can be highly useful, the obvious focus is for folks who are training for a kickboxing event, which might be the only venue for some of these techniques. Again, though, there is a good section in this chapter for combination kicking that'll help build these skills.
The next chapter is called Techniques in Motion. The first part here is dedicated to combos that involve punching AND kicking. This section is pretty good, but personally, I think it could've been helped by showing how Benny moves from punching to kicking range in many of the combinations. Example: Switch jab to left front kick to to right uppercut to left hook to right cross. Practicing this makes it obvious that this chapter is intended for more advanced readers, but the holes in the movement are unusual, considering the high level of detail given throughout the rest of the book. Benny closes the chapter by showing a few more new techniques including some headbutts and Judo throws.
The final chapter is Coordination, and you might not want to make eye contact here. It starts you off with some exercises that remind me of the Last Dragon, when Leroy discovers that he does have the power and starts fluttering his glowing hands around like a purty butterfly to demonstrate how tough he is. I guess I don't see how this'll be a better exercise for coordination of the hands than the smacking around that I just looked at for a few chapters. The partner drills that follow are a mix of the slapping games I played in junior high, some useful drills like distancing, and a little activity where you join hands facing your partner (like you would in a wedding, or partnership ceremony, perhaps) and do tandem jumping jacks. I am not kidding. You look longingly into your uke's eyes and hop, hand-in-hand with him. I imagine it eases the tension to have a jumprope song to go with it. A few more solo drills are involved, including one that looks like clinching a fella and kneeing him in the belly. This chapter left me confused, and strangely aroused.
Anyway, in short here it is:
The Good: Insight from Urquidez, lots-o-pictures, mostly easy-to-follow instruction, user friendly for the lonely noob most likely to use it (like me), good fitness and training exercises, and pretty good technique
The Bad: Very little clinch instruction, not enough knees and elbows, not written as well as it could be, outdated on much of the information
The Ugly: Partner jumping jacks:gaygay: