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Now with Kung Fu Grip! How Bodybuilders,…
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Now with Kung Fu Grip! How Bodybuilders, Soldiers and a Hairdresser…

by Jared Miracle

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book reads like a very long essay, so if you're not used to reading that style of writing, this book is not for you!

In this book, there is history of martial arts, tidbits of what people think martial arts is and the history of fighting in general. I like how the author explains what some foreign words mean and how it builds upon that particular martial arts.
For example: Bushido, Jared explains the word, how the word is viewed in present time (from the movie The Last Samurai for example), how it the original word actually should be used in a cultural sense,etc.

One thing about this that I didn't like too much was that it focuses alot about the Japanese martial art; not saying that they did not contribute much to America, in fact it was presented very well in the book, but the cover of the book is kung-fu, so I expected a bit more about kung-fu and the chinese influence instead. ( )
  AceArtemis7 | Jun 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It would be understandable, if inaccurate, to assume from its title and description that Miracle's Now with Kung Fu Grip! is a work of popular history. I personally found the subject matter to be interesting and learned quite a bit, however the book is difficult to recommend to a casual reader. While Miracle's style of writing isn't overly academic, it is incredibly dense and as a whole the volume seems unfocused. Most people will do well to simply read the book's conclusion which provides an adequate summary, foregoing the rest of the content unless more explicit detail is desired. The cover image, taken from the Chinese martial arts film Fearless, is somewhat misleading as well as the book is almost exclusively devoted to Japanese martial arts and the ways in which they've been incorporated into American culture. Now with Kung Fu Grip! is less about martial arts themselves and more about their social and historical contexts and the mythologies and stories that practitioners construct around them. In particular, Miracle ties the evolution of Japanese martial arts traditions in America to their commercialization and to the changing interpretations and expectations of idealized American masculinity over time. ( )
1 vote PhoenixTerran | Mar 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first chapter was over long and boring. The rest of the book was more interesting and gave an accurate, yet dry history of the martial arts. Not the best book written on matial arts and not nearly as entertaining as the cover implies. ( )
  dianeham | Feb 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was definitely not what I expected. It is incredibly dry to read and quite honestly meanders around for a while before any kind of narrative is remotely presented. The author regurgitates fact after historical tidbit after fact without really giving the reader any idea what the point of the book is for quite some time. The title appealed to me, but was more misleading than anything in a way. I wish I could have a better opinion of this book, as I was truly interested in the concept, but in the end I couldn't even finish it.

I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. ( )
  polaritynk | Feb 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book wasn't what I was expecting when I requested it. I wish I had not, so that someone else would have gotten this copy and had to write this review instead of me. Since we must review the books we receive for early review or risk not get future great books, I’m writing this review. I’m a senior citizen, but trying to read this book and write a review of it reminds me of being a senior in high school. The difference is that I enjoyed reading most of the classics in school, but hated writing the criticisms that were required, while now the reading is even worse than the writing. ugh...

I had thought this book was about how the various traditional forms of hand combat from the East fit into the current MMA styles now practiced in the West. Instead the book starts off with an excruciatingly boring and long discourse about the history of the YMCA. He goes on forever about their founding philosophy and purpose. He explains that the YMCA’s purpose was to encourage strenuous exercise by the many lonesome young men who moved from rural areas to the cities for jobs in 19th Century. The YMCA hoped that through exercise, the young men could maintain their wholesome Protestant values and not get enticed by loose women in the cities. Through the “Manly Art of Self Defense” (bare knuckle fights) and weight lifting, they could develop “Muscular Christiany” , which are the author’s terms, not mine.

There were suggestions that besides preventing sex with female hookers, if these young men practiced weight lifting (in gym clothes with their peers I presume), it would also prevent them from becoming homosexual. I wasn’t sure which the author thought was supposed to be the greater threat to these young rural boys in the late 1900’s. Was it heterosexual relations, homosexual ones, or were they equally vile? The long discussions about prostitution and the YMCA might have had some tie in later in the book to David Carridiene’s death, but I gave up in boredom before I finished the second half. Besides preventing sexual relations, developing “Muscular Christianity” and eating Kellog’s Corn Flakes were supposed to help prevent women from voting. I failed to understand what any of this had anything whatsoever to do with either modern MMA or traditional Eastern hand combat techniques.

If you are interested in the history of China and Japan, the next chapter has a some information about their histories, but it’s very badly written and painful to read or understand easily. Wikipedia would be a far better source for this information than this book if you want to read about Oriental history. In this section he explains how the original “Magnificent Seven” movie Western was based upon the earlier Japanese film “Seven Samurai”. The authors does not say this in the book, but as an extreme film buff I’ll add aside that, “Seven Samurai” by Akira Kurosawa is a masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made, while watching either version of the “Magnificent Seven” is much like this book. They are wastes of hours of your life that you’ll never get back.

He spends some time writing about the original snake oil salesmen who convinced people to spend hard earned cash to buy useless potions that promised to make one live longer, feel better, and be stronger. If you’re not familiar with the meaning of “snake oil salesmen” the modern equivalents are anti-wrinkle cremes, tooth whiteners, and Internet offers to increase the size of ones penis.

At about the mid point of the book, the author finally begins to talk about the introduction to the US of traditional techniques of Eastern hand combat. He mainly talks about how two of the early writers about the topic had a long standing disagreement about what to call these fighting techniques. One wanted to call them all Oriental Boxing because he didn’t seem to realize that Boxing was a specific sport not a generalize word for fighting. Because some Chinese written expressions for their fighting techniques used a symbol that meant fist, he thought all of them meant boxing because he had been an amateur boxer himself. He apparently didn’t comprehend that the use of the symbol for a hand might be hand-to-hand combat to distinguish from combat using guns or canons. The second early writer insisted upon only using the term “fighting techniques”, which I agree is a far better term. Both of these guys avoided the term “martial arts”. At first I thought this was to distinguish between weaponless arts such as Judo from other martial which included weapons. As I read further I realized they included Eastern martial arts that included the use of hand weapons such as Shaolin techniques and those from the Phillapines. Even though both of the guys were American for whom English was their native language, perhaps they were dyslexic, as I am, and confused “martial arts” with “marital arts” and didn’t want to anger the YMCA by mentioning sexual intercourse. Since I confess to not reading the second half, the two guys confusing “martial arts” with “marital arts” might better explain the author’s reason for including the long section on the YMCA and sex rather than my other suggestion that might mean for to connect with David Caradine’s dying during erotic asphyxiation after portraying the character of Kwai Chang Caine in the “Kung Fu” TV series in the 1970s.

By the time I got past the mid point, I was disgusted with this silly book and quit reading. I cannot imagine why a publisher would waste paper and ink printing this book, which I doubt the author’s own mother would read beyond the second page. Any potential buyer that reads even part of a page from this book will skip the book and move on. I cannot imagine anyone buying it unless they by it online without having any preview pages available to read. I’ve read many books on the forms and history of different martial arts, and this one deserves being recognized as perhaps the worst ever written about the subject. You can learn more about the history and techniques of Eastern martial arts by watching Kung Fu Panda than reading this book, and you’ll get some laughs from the movie that you won’t from this book. Even more confounding perhaps that why this book was published, is that in his acknowledgments, the author comments on how his writing of the book would not have been possible except that the book is an adaptation of his doctoral dissertation, for which he received university research grants to write for his PhD. While important and brilliant researchers are desperate for funds, why would a university give a student money to write such drivel?

I disagree entirely with Dan Keding’s positive review of this book. Mr Keding’s review is a simple regurgitation of the publisher’s description of the book. This type of review always makes me wonder if the reviewer actually read beyond the book’s cover, if that. Mr Keeding’s expertise is the writing and telling of fairy tales. His review of this book is the only one he as ever posted on LibraryThing. He has an author’s page on LT for his book, but Kung Fu Grip is the only book he’s reviewed here. I have studied several marital arts in the past. I would guess that I’ve read as many as 100 books on the topic over the years. Some were excellent, some average, and some poor. This is the worst I’ve ever read. The title alone is so stupid I wouldn’t have requested it if there had been any other books that interested me that month’s list. ( )
1 vote gtippitt | Jan 31, 2017 |
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