What would happen if you took a series of blog posts, social media posts and notebook journal entries, loosely organized them by themes and then published them as a book? You would get something like Timothy Jurgens’ “Thoughts and Rants From a Wanderer on the Path.
The author, Timothy Jurgens, has been studying various forms of martial arts since the mid-1980s. While his martial arts background is quite broad and varied, his primary “style” is Shorin Ryu. As a classical/traditional martial artist, and a former-Marine, Mr. Jurgens has some very particular views on martial arts, training, etiquette, and other topics.
If the author had included various descriptions of kata and specific training techniques, this book has a similar feel to those written by Motobu Choki and Mabuni Kenwa.
What’s in the book?
As I said, it is largely a collection of “thoughts” and “rants” from the mind of the author that covers a wide range of topics.
Rather than stringing together his thoughts completely randomly, Mr. Jurgens gives us categories of posts such as budo, the dojo, student & teacher, technique (mostly principles of proper training and execution), kata, progress & promotion, his teachers, and useful tidbits regarding Japanese & Okinawan culture.
Frankly, there is a great deal to unpack in this book because the topics are so broad. However, some martial arts practitioners may either find themselves violently agreeing with his thoughts and rants, or find some of his thoughts upsetting.
This book isn’t an “academic” work like Clayton’s “Shotokan’s Secrets” or Bayer’s “Analysis of Genuine Karate“. Rather, it is more introspective like Burgar’s “Five Years, One Kata“. That’s not to say that the opinions expressed by the author aren’t grounded in “research”. They are; his research, in this cases, consists of over 30 years of martial arts study in the U.S., Japan and Okinawa.
In many regards, this book has a great deal in common with that of Bayer and Burgar because Jurgens is both a martial arts utilitarian and lover of the classic arts. Personally, I found it difficult to disagree with the thoughts he shares.
What this book made me realize about my own martial arts journey is that I am fairly sheltered. On at least two occasions, I got side tracked by his discussions of “XTREME Martial Arts” (because things that are really cool should be XTREME!), self-appointed “grand masters”, and McDojos. Maybe part of this is because it has been over 15 years since I last competed in a martial arts tournament, and I already stay away from “belt factories”. But the wonderful world of YouTube helps to showcase much of the crap that people buy into whenever it is wrapped in cheap marketing blankets and shrouded with the “mysteries” of Eastern martial arts. I’ve seen incomplete and watered down training methods, but I’ve not had a great deal of interaction with the world of screaming karate gymnasts.
Overall, I think this book is a solid find with one caveat. This book with resonate well with traditional/classical martial artists who likely already share many of the same viewpoints. Those who are of the sport “karate” or XTREME “martial arts” variety are likely to put it down quickly without ever understanding why they find Jurgens’ thoughts upsetting (then again, they are unlikely to read this blog..).
Thank you for reading. Until next time.
The goal of the Shindokai Kobujutsu Research Society is to join the efforts to restore information that was lost about the traditional Okinawan martial arts and elevate their status legitimate self defense systems that are applicable to our times. In some cases, we can piece together bits of information that is scattered around the world like a bunch of forensic historians. In other cases, we just have to experiment with concepts, just like the forbearers of karate did, and figure out what works (and then ditch the rest).