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THE MARTIAL ARTS BOOK by Laura Scandiffio


by Laura Scandiffio & illustrated by Nicholas Debon

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: May 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55037-777-9
Publisher: Annick Press

From Lao Tzu to Bruce Lee, Scandiffio traces the history of the major branches of Asian martial arts, making a brave (if futile) effort to distinguish fact from legend. Arranged in topical spreads, her account establishes the connections between the various styles and Taoism, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism, differentiates between the “soft” and “hard” approaches, and covers the modern transformation of some martial arts into formalized competitions. Many of Debon’s small scenes show women or mixed groups, and the author likewise alternates the gender of her pronouns to emphasize that these arts are not exclusively male territory. Rather than describe specific moves, Scandiffio takes the safer course, filling in historical background and giving young readers looking for a martial art that’s right for them a glimpse of their options—without, however, providing the lists of books, Web sites, or organization addresses necessary to take the natural next step. These missing elements reduce this to the status of an acceptable alternative, but not a replacement, for such introductions as Susan Ribner’s thoughtful Martial Arts (1978) or David Mitchell’s Young Martial Arts Enthusiast (1997). (Nonfiction. 9-11)