• Textbook Review

  • The textbook Advanced Karate-Do was reviewed in Shotokan Magazine. While this review was published in the United Kingdom (the price noted is in pounds), the book can be ordered directly from the publisher (Focus Publications, P.O. Box 15853, St. Louis, MO 63114) or via the isbn number [0-911921-16-8] from any bookstore or by phoning the publisher at 1-341-426-5075. By permission, the review is reprinted here:


  •  By Elmar T. Schmeisser, Ph.D.
  •  BOOK REVIEW By John Cheetham.

  • It seems that it is quite a long time since I did a Book or Video review in SKM. To be honest, the real reason is that I have not seen anything - book or video recently worth giving a plug to. However, Mike Burton from MONA Books kindly sent me a copy of a newly published book entitled, 'ADVANCED KARATE-DO' - (Concepts, Techniques and Training Methods) By Elmar T. Schmeisser, Ph.D.

    I started reading the book and could not put it down. This book although 'heavy' in places seems to take over and carry on from where other books on karate have left off or finished. The author Elmar T. Schmeisser 5th Dan (Shotokan) is an extremely experienced karateka who began his training in 1968. He is Associate Professor of Ophthalmology (eye specialist) at the university of Kentucky (U.S.A.) where he also teaches karate. He manages to bring together an obvious scientific background with a common sense and no-nonsense approach that makes compelling reading. I must say that his description of such subjects as stance tension and various breathing methods in kata are quite refreshing and very different from what has been written before.

    I'm trying to think of something I don't like about the book but I can't. Oh! maybe some of the diagrams are difficult to grasp without a Ph.D. but he is forgiven for that. The book is literally 'packed' with rock solid information - The technical details covered are very impressive. There are some really good explanations of body shifting for counter-attacks. Also the book does not lack humour, it's obvious the author has seen it all in his 25 years of karate experience.

    The book is aimed primarily at Karate instructors and Dan-grades but anyone with a brain who is practicing karate, and I would say most definitely Shotokan karate, could learn a great deal from this book. I've re-read quite a few chapters several times and it gets better each time. There are 12 different chapters with subjects discussed like - Timing - Focus - Hip Power - Breathing - Psychological Balance - Styles and Methods - Counter-attack etc. plus very useful (for instructors) descriptions of the difference between thrusting and snapping techniques and targeting and impact.

    Here is an excerpt from the book on the subject of - MUSCLE LOCK..... "Muscle tensions are another component of Focus; however, the stomach muscles are only part of the story. The stance, the muscles in the floor of the pelvis (externally, the perineum), the buttocks, and the back and side of the body also must co-operate, or there is no Focus. Moreover, the tensions must be such that power is projected outwards along the attacking limb and down into the floor, rather than pulled back into the body. Several things must happen in a focus."

    The section on Dojo etiquette is possibly the most thorough that I have seen and you cannot fail to learn things from this unless you have lived and trained in Japan.

    One lengthy section at the end of the book was of great interest to me personally, because I can't think of another book where this subject has been dealt with in such detail. That is - Kata using the 'In Breath forms'. Meaning the more advanced ways of breathing during the various Shotokan kata. For instance breathing 'in' on certain techniques as opposed to exhaling on every technique which makes the kata very stiff and staccato like. I always remember being shocked many years ago when Sensei Enoeda told us that you don't always breath 'out' on 'blocks' and that many times you should breath 'in' once understanding is reached. That was (no pun intended) a real breath of fresh air! And is one of the many reasons why the Japanese get such flow and smoothness in their kata.

    Every Shotokan kata is covered in this way, (in chart form) from Heian Shodan right through to the most advanced kata in the Shotokan system, in fact the whole twenty six kata are explained using this format. Of course you have to know the kata very well for this to be of any use to you. But as the title suggests it is supposed to be an Advanced karate book. This is a very 'different' karate book and I think it is going to become a little gem! I heartily recommend it to everyone especially from Brown-belt and upwards and Dan grades who have started teaching.

    The book is published by FOCUS PUBLICATIONS (U.S.A.) who also publish the excellent books by Randall G. Hassell. All these books along with the book reviewed here, 'Advanced Karate-Do' (I think it is priced around 14.95) are available from MONA BOOKS, advertised in this issue of SKM. Good reading. Editor.