Campfire Tales From Hell: One Very Unique Martial Arts Anthology Book
Musings on Thuggery
Campfire Tales from Hell: Musings on Martial Arts, Survival, Bouncing, and General Thug Stuff remains a unique book. Categorize the work as a martial arts title, but that is a somewhat loose description. Yes, there are chapters on self-defense and the martial arts, but this book comes off as a stream of semi-consciousness no different than some of the odder science-fiction anthologies I read as a wayward youth.
What do you, the intrigued reader, get with this book? You receive an odd collection of tales from the edge. Several different authors come together to present their prose reflecting on experiences in martial arts and self-defense situations. This is not to say these tales are over the top, fantasy land stories of street fighting glory. They are not. They are a mix of different charters on different topics written by different authors. A number of these chapters contain excellent advice, and others seem to ramble.
Overall, the book itself remains an excellent read and a good addition to your (hopefully growing) martial arts library.
Putting the Reality in Reality-Based Self-Defense
One of the main problems with books on self-defense is they are not about self-defense. They revolve around fighting in one form or another. In some cases, the fighting they are teaching does not very well directly apply to reality-based self-defense.
Even more troubling with numerous martial arts books is the fact they fail to offer a clear perspective on real-life criminal assaults. This is often the case because the person writing the book is a martial artist, but not someone familiar with person protection or, simply put, is not someone who ever lived in a rough neighborhood surrounded by many bad people.
This point brings us back to Campfire Tales From Hell.
Top Authors Present and Accounted For
Several well-known names are present in this volume, such as editor Rory Miller, the author of the seminal classic Meditations on Violence, Lawrence Kane, author of the intriguing traditional martial arts tome Way of Kata, and Marc MacYoung, author of the excellent work The Secrets of Effective Offense. All three of these authors/martial artists have written several worthwhile books to add to your library.
The book does contain several chapters written by folks that wish to remain anonymous. Some of their tales are a bit off the wall, such as a full chapter on how to survive in a UK hospital's psychiatric ward or how to deal with a martial arts cult.
Not every writer is offering obtuse subject matter, either. Some segments offer basic, practical, and straightforward advice on how to deal with violence.
Among the more lucid chapters would be an excellent one by MacYoung that discusses the need and necessity for avoiding violence due to the unfortunate results that can occur when you mistake fantasy fights for reality. Alain Burrese delivers a very simple chapter on the topic of how merely being nice and polite can keep you out of a lot of trouble. A section on how to use losing in competition as a path to further improvement and why it is futile to look for secrets in the martial arts offers solid training advice.
The Personal Approach
Among the more interesting aspects of Campfire Tales is the book comes from many different perspectives. Writers range from those who lived on society's fringes to those who faced violence in the form of war action. The material is unflinching at times, humorous at others, but always personal. The uniquely unique approach to writing is what helps the material stick with you.
While Campfire Tales From Hell, like all anthologies, is a bit uneven, it still remains an excellent read for those interested in different martial arts and self-defense perspectives.
The weird tales in this book likely have a bit of exaggeration to them, although, quite honestly, the gnawing feeling presents that the strangest of these tales are likely the truest ones.