15 Nov 2010

“On the warrior’s path”. The best martial arts book ever!

Written by: Gianfranco

Not that I got them all, but among the multitude of martial arts books that have been written and published out there, there is one for me that stands out of the lot and that deserves a very special spotlight.

The book is called "On the warrior's path" and the author is Daniele Bolelli, an italian writer, martial artist and professor who lives and teaches in Los Angeles. The book was actually introduced to me by Rick Tucci at the end of a Jeet Kune Do seminar I attended in Brussels, back in 2004 (and here I'd like to express my appreciation for an instructor that, in addition to teach fighting techniques at seminars, takes the time to share other valuable insights, even discussing books).

I ordered a copy of the book at an english bookstore in Brussels, and once in my hands I didn't really know what to expect from it. I mean, you scan the titles of the chapters from the index and you obviously anticipate what each chapter is going to be about, and for some reasons, right then, I didn't believe that the reading would be any ecstatic, maybe because the book seemed to cover a little bit of everything, but nothing really in particular.

Well, let me tell you that right after reading a few chapters away, I was proved wrong: the book was TOTALLY ecstatic!

Bolelli writes about martial arts in an exquisite way, adding the right dose of humor and, there and then, of sarcasm, which makes the reading kind of friendly and easy-going.

Chapter after chapter, Bolelli takes us into a fascinating journey in the vast land of martial arts by visiting many of its territories. The focus shifts from the more philosophical and symbolic side on the subject - in chapters such as "The Body As A Temple", "More Than Martial, More Than Art", "The Princess And The Warrior, The Yin And The Yang" - to some analysis of historical nature, like in the "Six Warriors Archetypes" chapter.

One thing that really blows me away about the book is that with such a wide spectrum of potential topics to pick from, Bolelli chooses to approach the deepest and the most intense portion of the whole matter. "The Warrior As Bodhisatva", for example, is to me one of the most touching and passionate text ever written about the integration of martial arts in life itself, and I love the way it shakes me every time I read it (I got this habit of underlining with a pencil my favorite bits when I read books, and this chapter ended up being underlined from the first sentence to the last).

But in addition to feed us with deep, philosophical insights, in his book Bolelli also provides a few writings about some hot topics that use to arise big discussions in the martial arts world. "Finding The Buddha In A Cage", for example, reviews the Mixed Martial Arts phenomenon , but even in this occation the topic is approached from angles that are quiet unusual, and which are accessible only to a man of acute visions and solid knowledge like the author.

Last but surely not least, the book ends up with a chapter dedicated to Jeet Kune Do, called "Epistemological Anarchism - The Philosophy Of Jeet Kune Do." Again, I have to admit that when I read the words "Jeet Kune Do", I couldn't help myself thinking "Ok, this is where I'll get disappointed", maybe because too much shallow fuzz is made on the subject and because unfortunately it is a subject contaminated by misconceptions of all kinds. But than again, Bolelli proved me wrong. And again, he approached the very equivocal topic of Jeet Kune Do from fresh, interesting perspectives. I can now say that this chapter is a joy for the heart, because it draws a very wide picture of Bruce Lee's mind and spirit, and lays out the possible connections of his art and philosophy with other sources.

Well, in the end "On the warrior's path" is a small collection of essays about various aspects of the fascinating world of martial arts, but it is surely a beautiful piece of work that every martial artist should own. And like many great things in life, it could only have been produced by a man who is an unique mixture of different ingredients (in his case, intellectuality, history knowledge, wisdom, humor, and martial arts mastery).

Because this book has been, and is, so precious and meaningful to me, with this article I want to thank Daniele Bolelli for putting together this compilation of joyful readings, and I cannot wrap this up without saying that it would be a pleasure and a honor for me to meet him in person one day (maybe in my next, planned-but-not-yet-done, martial arts trip to California).

So, there you have it, my personal review of "On the warrior's path". I hope you enjoy the book, and if you've already read it, let me know what you think of it in the comments. Good reading.

So, feel like getting the book? Grab it here:

More about Daniele Bolelli:


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