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The Shotokan Karate Bible: Beginner to Black Belt    by Ashley P. Martin order for
Shotokan Karate Bible
by Ashley P. Martin
Order:  USA  Can
A & C Black, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ashley Martin, the author of The Shotokan Karate Bible, is a karate instructor and co-founder of Just Karate Ltd. The manual is aimed at students from beginners to black belts. Though many of the details of kata and skills needed for belt progression are specific to the Shotokan style of karate, a great deal of the book - in particular the philosophy and history of karate, specific techniques, terminology and dojo protocol - is generally applicable.

In his Introduction, the author rightly reminds readers that 'Studying from a book is no substitute for a good teacher, but it can complement training with a qualified instructor.' I very much appreciated his history of karate, and in particular the emphasis on its Okinawan origins, and correction of common misconceptions. His Beginner's Guide is also excellent, explaining the three components of karate practice - Kihon, Kata and Kumite - as well as etiquette, training tips, the martial shout (Kiai), the art of focus (Kime), and so on.

The remainder of the book is organized by Shotokan belt progression. Each section covers: the grading syllabus; basic forms and techniques (shown clearly with numbered series of photographs); kata (again in an excellent presentation of numbered photos); and kata application (bunkai), which is very important but not always covered in this sort of volume. At the back of the book is a very handy summary of katas (presented on two pages each with step by step photos), followed by a useful glossary of Japanese terms.

Though practitioners of the Shotokan style will find The Shotokan Karate Bible: Beginner to Black Belt most useful, any karate-ka can learn something from it and use it to polish skills developed through dojo training.

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