5/14/2003 7:50pm, #1
I originally stated I'd have this up a month or so ago, but had some problems with international shipping at masterfighter.net.
They are however, making it up to me so I won't go into detail here.
To the review!:
The reviews will be about the newer bound edition books. The books are enormous. They weigh a fair bit. Paper quality is on the low side and the pictures are in black and white. The books feature a very basic layout with the same basic text font throughout. While presentation is important, this simple, basic layout has allowed them to CRAM these books full of information. There is virtually no wasted space - freaky considering the size of these things.
The book has some text but is mostly pictures with captions. They are not that sturdy in construction. They remind me of the phone book. To be fair though, if they had of used higher quality paper and thicker covers, the books probably would have been twice the size and made it necessary to split into three.
Less than a few pages in, there are typos and some mistakes.
The funniest one shows Bas warming up with a squat and the accompanying text says 'NEED TEXT HERE'. Maybe that's a battle cry he does when he squats? For the price of these books, that shouldn't happen. Luckily, the pictures are very clear and you can easily correct them on the mistakes. Luckily the trend doesn't continue and I haven't noticed continual mistakes as I've gone through them.
Hey, don't let the above put you off, its an instruction manual.
All together there are actually over 1000 pages of mixed martial arts goodness (counting both books). The Big Books of Combat were originally supposed to be one huge volume, but it got so big that it was necessary to split it into two (it probably didn't hurt that allows them to charge twice....). For a detailed index, have a look at Masterfighter.net but in general we can split it into two categories. Volume 1 is striking. Volume 2 is grappling.
Bas states up front in both the first and second book that this is the 'Bas Rutten Fighting System' It is what he has developed for himself over the years while traveling the world extensively to fight.
He states, it works for him, it may or may not work for you. You may have discovered other things that work better, or better for you.
For example, Bas has never been a big fan of weights. So the weight training in the book is very, VERY limited. He doesn't really do much lower body work, preferring to train that by kicking and running.
I should say however, that Bas was never known for having any freakish ability in anything. I don't think anyone ever watched his fights and said 'yeah but a normal person would never be able to do that...', (well maybe the jumping splits in the air...:)). So everything I've seen he lays out in the books is realistic for a normal person to be able to accomplish.
The warm-ups are nothing new to me, lots of dynamic and isometric stretches (although its nice to know I'm on the right track).
He does have some interesting warm ups that involve somersaults, backward somersaults, cartwheels, and kick ups.
The main cardio conditioning drills seem to be swimming and hill running. It actually shows pictures of the hill from the top and bottom and from various angles - I feel I really understand the idea of hill running from this... :)
That many pictures is silly when you're talking about running up a hill, its great when you are looking at the pages and pages of submission holds!. A word of warning though - he does mention his Bas Rutten Mixed Martial Arts workout a few times in the warm up section. It annoys me when you pay a fortune for 2 books and you get recommended to buy another product to get 'the complete picture'
As I said before, the bulk of Book 1 covers the striking side of things. And oh yeah, he covers everything you can think of!. There are separate chapters on punching, elbowing, kicking, kneeing, locking & avoiding, takedowns, and ground striking. There is also information on speed drills and partner drills, as well as drills you can do on your own (with some equipment) The pictures are clearly laid out and easy to understand. He gives good tips on not only what to do, but what NOT to do. At times, he also gives variations of the same thing you may like to try so you can find what is most comfortable for you.
Book 1 for me is good. A tad too expensive for what it is. But look at it like this - this is the one and only book you will ever need on striking.
Book 2 (for me at least) contains so much goodness, I may mount it above my bed and give thanks to it every night. Well....you get the picture. It covers grappling and submissions....from every angle you can think of, with every limb (well minus one, but do you really want to go there...) Bas states that he only puts in there what can actually work. So there isn't much in the way of 'tie his fingers to his toes then go for the belly button' type submissions that you could never possibly use.
The book separates the submissions into sections - neck crank & chokes, arm/wrist/shoulder locks, leg and ankle locks. This is really where Bas' apparent love of taking far too many pictures becomes useful. It is also where the books simple layout and crammed presentation really pays off. Page after page of clearly documented submission holds from every angle possible. Variations of the same submissions are also shown at times, depending on your opponents position, and what he is currently attempting to do.
I'm not sure if this has been done before (I haven't seen it) but Bas takes pictures not only doing the submission holds on an opponent, but without the opponent there. You know when you look at grappling books and think, 'yeah that looks good, but since you're wrapped around the guy, I CAN'T SEE WHAT THE **** YOU ARE DOING!'. Problem solved here. Taking a photo with the opponent there and then one immediately with Bas in the same position but with the opponent gone, lets you clearly see his hand and leg positioning. It works surprisingly well. It is also only done, when it needs to be - i.e. only when the submission can't be clearly seen - so he is not wasting unnecessary pages when he doesn't have to.
He also covers reversals, escapes, and transition from standing/striking to ground fighting in this volume.
As with everything else, it is all clearly laid out and a great read.
If you haven't figured out yet, I think the 2nd volume rocks and should be a part of everyone's collection.
I read a saying in regard to martial arts instruction that went something like this:
A book isn't nearly as good as a video, a video isn't nearly as good as personal instruction.
Bas has attempted to add to his books in a unique way. The books come with 6 (count 'em 6!!!) audio CDs (these must be ordered separately, but the 'super specials' generally include these). If you are thinking about ordering, and have some extra money I do recommend you get the CDs as well. They are not necessary, but do
add something extra.
Bas is an interesting, and unique guy and is easily understandable. He also can be quite funny at times. It is cool to hear him relating moves and techniques to pro fighters, i.e. lines like, "I love it when Sakuraba does this move in PRIDE".
At times he does keep it very basic and doesn't add too much, but in many instances what can you add. In regard to him introducing blocking:
"What do you want me to say here, blocking is of course very important"
To buy or not to buy ?
To buy or not to buy, that is the question.
Well, if you live in the US, you apparently get free shipping now - so its a lot cheaper. If you live internationally you, like myself, are going to get hit with a nasty shipping charge.
Are the books worth the cost?
They are very expensive, but you will never need to buy another book on grappling or striking again (for weights, conditioning, yes you will !!)
The CDs aren't necessary but do help to give the feeling of a personalized lesson and hey, most of us will never be able to afford the real thing.
If you're a fan of Bas Rutten, then go, buy, now.
If you can afford it, go for it. There is years worth of information in here.
El Guapo says, ""You can buy muscles, but you can't buy COJONES!"
--------The Wastrel - So attractive he HAS to be a woman.
5/14/2003 9:13pm, #2
Maybe I don't have a realistic view on the world economy, or the value of a dollar, but if the books contain half of what they say they do I consdier them a bargin.
I'm always amazed when people complain about how much training books or gear can cost. $99 for two giant books? Sounds fair to me since I'll only have to pay it once and and spend $159 a month to train at my dojo.
Like I said, I feel the same thing about gear. People tell me all the time they don't want to buy such and such because it is too expensive. Once again, $100 for a quality pair of gloves, set of headhear, or even double that for a quality gi is a bargin for me, provided they last a year or so, and I'm unemployed!
When I was in college I spent more per year on pizza, beer, and cigarettes than I do now for martial arts.
Cut out your Starbucks every morning for a couple of months and you'll have enough money to buy the books.
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