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This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Would you ever listen to anything by Oliver Staark again?
Unfortunately, I purchased three books together and found all three had similar traits of being vapid and without any value for the practioner. I am an avid reader and audio book listener -- one of those people who HAS to have a book on a plane or while waiting, but I would honestly rather sit in silence or stare at a wall than sit through this work that seems to be packaged and produced entirely for commercial purposes -- which is fine -- but in this case there just is nothing there of value. There just was not a speck of knowledge I could wring out of any of the three book I purchased. I feel bad leaving such a harsh review -- but I also feel justified, because I really do not believe the author put much heart or effort into this work. I've read dozens of jiu jitsu and other martial arts books, and without exception they all burst with enthusiasm and the obvious passion the authors' have for their practice.
This seemed like Mr. Staark had a lighbulb go off above his head as he thought of using the familiarity of the title that he derived from that masterpiece, 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and using it to put together these books. The titles ARE good, as are the topics - unfortunately he fails abysmally to actually deliver anything of value to a jiu jitsu student.
How could the performance have been better?
So many things - I mean - he basically tells you to make sure to warm up really good. This was the first book I listened to, and it was such a major disappointment. As a martial artist who has been involved into my 50s, there are SO many good pieces of advice to offer an older student, especially a first-timer. Starting with the fact that some gyms just aren't going to be for you if you don't have any experience. Jiu jitsu is called the "gentle art" - but in America we tend to practice an intense, MMA-derived form of jitz, and if it's a fighting gym, there just may not be students there who are willing or interested in working with an older student. The younger student can struggle as well - but the big difference is that as older students, we injure much more easily and tend to take much longer to recover.
Again, he adds some personal anecdotes, but they are not very useful - this is a topic that I think personal experience could really add a lot --
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Zen Jiu Jitsu: Over 40?
Too many to list - Mr. Staark is a fine writer - very well constructed technically - it's just that he really let me down on the content portion. I would have added A LOT of material to this book, and the common-sense stuff is okay to include - but that was the bulk of his material, kind of the basic need to place extra focus on your warm-up, but he could have done so much - chapters worth - of explaining the myriad of ways to warm-up. There is such a vast number of techniques, but it's good to offer the student a lot of choices because in my experience no one likes to warm up much period, and they tend to be picky. Most athletes I know have a set of "favorites" - techniques that they favor for warming up. To me, that's would have been golden to have found in this book - at least some alternative ideas. I have my own set of "faves" - but additional ideas are excellent, and if a student finds warm-ups they like they'll tend to do them - if they find it boring, then in my experience 9/10 people just warm up as they roll.
Any additional comments?
I'm sorry to be so harsh on Mr. Staark - again - his writing alone is well done. The narrator would be an easy fix and would really help alot - I found the narration grating and distracting. The books are a wonderful set of topics and titles - I just wish he'd come through with the content.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Mispronunciations of almost every single proper Brazilian name, and the spelling out of web links character by character made this a tough listen.