Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Mastering Eskrima Disarms, by Mark V. Wiley

Book Review --- Mastering Eskrima Disarms, by Mark V. Wiley. Tambuli Media (Createspace). Spring House, PA. 2013. 240 pp., Paper, $29.95

If you are interested in Filipino martial arts, and particularly the use of sticks in the Filipino martial arts, then this is a book you should be aware of. Wiley’s goal in this book was to provide a guide to Filipino martial arts disarms for instructors and others who wish an in-depth knowledge of the subject. As most readers of this review will know, in the bulk of Filipino martial arts styles, training begins with a stick or pair of sticks. In a fight, a person with a stick has a big advantage over a person who is unarmed and has no stick. Therefore one common tactic used in a fight with sticks is to try and take the stick away from the opponent. In fact, in almost any fight using weapons, if the person with the weapon can be disarmed then their threat can be reduced. Therefore in Filipino martial arts, a great deal of time is spent not just on training to strike and block with a stick or other weapon, but also how to disarm one’s opponent.

This book focuses on such disarms and disarming techniques.

The book is basically divided into three sections.

In the first part, Wiley discusses what makes a good disarms work and where and how common failures occur when someone attempts to disarm an opponent. He discusses how one can recognize good and bad disarming techniques that are found within various Filipino martial arts styles, and the components of a good disarm. He also categorizes the disarms normally found in Filipino martial arts styles by dividing them into four categories. He calls these categories modes.

Mode One is a simple strike to the opponent, often to the hand that holds the weapon, without using preliminary blocks.

Mode Two are techniques that involve a party with an empty hand that is used simultaneously with a strike.

Mode Three techniques involve blocking a weapon strike with a weapon, then redirecting the opponent’s energy, and countering.

Mode Four are techniques where a martial artist blocks his opponent’s weapon with his own, while simultaneously using his empty hand to trap his opponent’s weapon hand.

In the second part, Wiley demonstrates several techniques in each mode. These are well explained through words and a series of black and white photographs.

In the third part of the book, Wiley has collected interesting photo sequences of several well-known Filipino martial arts masters demonstrating the disarms they teach in their style. As many of these prominent teachers are now deceased, this is, indeed, an important and valuable resource for people interested in the many varieties of Filipino martial arts styles. Many would argue that this alone is worth the price of the book.

The book is 239 pages, well-illustrated, and a valuable addition to the library of anyone who truly wishes to understand the Filipino martial arts in depth.

Note: Although, according to the introduction, this book was originally set to be published by Unique Publications, a respected and prominent martial arts publisher, that company went bankrupt before the book could be released. Wiley went on to establish Tambuli Media, his own company, to publish books in areas that interest him. Tambuli Media often uses Createspace, a print-on-demand publisher, to produce the physical copies of its books, and therefore I have seen this book listed as being published by both Tambuli Media and Createspace.