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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 in the sense it is considered as a martial arts title, but that is a somewhat loose description. Yes, there are charters on self-defense and the martial arts, but this book really comes of as a stream of semi-consciousness no different than some of the odder science-fiction anthologies I read as a wayward youth.
What you, the intrigued reader, get with this book is a collection of tales from the edge. Several different authors come together to present their own 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 outstanding advice and others just seem to ramble.
Overall, the book itself remains a very solid 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 really 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 do not offer a clear perspective on what real life criminal assaults entail. Frequently, this is the case because the person writing the book is a martial artist, but not really someone familiar with person protection or, simply put, is not someone that ever lived in a bad neighborhood surrounded by a lot of bad people.
This 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 outstanding Way of Kata and Marc MacYoung, author of the excellent work The Secrets of Effective Offense. Actually, all three of these authors/martial artists have written several excellent books you should have in your library.
The book does contain a number of 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 the psychiatric ward of a UK hospital or how to deal with a martial arts cult.
Not every writer is offering obtuse subject matter either. There are some segments of the book which offer basic, practical and straight forward 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 simply 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 one on why it is futile to look for secrets in the martial arts offer solid training advice.
The Personal Approach
Among the more interesting aspects of the book is that it comes from so many different perspectives. Writers range from those who lived on the fringes of society 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 personal approach to the writing is what helps the material stick with you.
While Campfire Tales From Hell, like all anthologies, is a bit uneven, it still remains a great read for those interested in different perspectives on the martial arts and self-defense.
The weird tales in this book likely have a bit of exaggeration to them although, quite honestly, there is the gnawing feeling present that the strangest of these tales are likely the truest ones.
Read my hub reviewing the book When Buddhists Attack