Book review: Fight Like a Physicist – The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts by Jason Thalken

A while ago, I read the book “Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts” by Jason Thalken.  I read it mostly because it received such rave reviews. Several people I know also recommended it to me, so I decided to buy it and give it a try. I have a particular interest in the physics of martial arts and conditioning, so I was eager to start reading.

The book has several sections and first talks about basics like center of mass, energy, momentum and glancing blows.

The second section is slightly different and covers protecting yourself with knowledge. It dives deeper into the mechanics of a knockout and how it damages your brain both in the short and in the long term. There is also a piece about how safety equipment works and how it can be improved.

Both these sections are interesting and I don’t really have any issues with them. The main negative point is that they are all rather basic. If you have trained for several years in the martial arts, you have probably heard of these concepts before or have studied them. The odds are good that you therefore already have a good working knowledge and the book doesn’t necessarily give you much more information. So I would look at it as a basic primer as opposed to an in-depth study.

 

Book review: Fight Like a Physicist - The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts by Jason ThalkenThe second section is slightly problematic. Once again the first few chapters are relatively basic and don’t offer knowledge that isn’t freely available elsewhere. However, I take issue with the two final chapters.

First, there’s a part about guns, knives and the “Hollywood Death Sentence.” Though the author gives some basic information, he tends to put things in extremes as opposed to add nuance to the debate. The chapter about chi and pseudoscience in the martial arts also shows a limited understanding of Chinese martial arts. For sure, there is fake mysticism involved, but the practice is not by definition useless, despite the misgivings of the author.

If it sounds like I’m harshly criticizing this book, that is not my intent. Mostly I’m just disappointed because I expected more from the book. Perhaps you will find it more useful and interesting than I did, I sincerely hope so.

 

Conclusion

This book is great for beginners and if you haven’t really given the physics part of the martial arts and self-defense systems much thought. In that case, it is a good introduction to this topic. If you already have a solid working knowledge, then I would suggest waiting for another one to come along with more in-depth and nuanced information.

 

This review was first published in my Patreon newsletter of September 2017, available at Yellow Belt and up.

Podcast episode 27: Self-defense techniques Q&A

First, my apologies for the massive delay on releasing this episode. There were technical problems with my microphone and then some more issues cropped up. I finally managed to get it all sorted out, so the regular schedule of releasing episodes will now resume.

In this episode, I answer Cain’s questions on getting attacked by rushdowns and several more.

Enjoy!

Show notes:

1. Updates:

2. Self-defense techniques Q&A:

 

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Patreon SPECIAL OFFER and overview

It’s been a while since my last Patreon update, so here’s another one for August through October. I also have a special offer which I think you might enjoy. I’ll explain that first:

Sinterklaas is a tradition here in Belgium, similar to Santa Claus. It’s mostly geared towards children, but that doesn’t stop many adults from adhering to it as well. In short, if you’ve been good during the year, you receive a gift from a saintly figure. If you’ve been bad, you get spanked by his companion.

All my Patrons have been pretty awesome, so I felt like giving them something and I’m extending this offer to everybody who joins us:

All my current Patrons and  all who join before December 7th 6PM CET, will receive a 60+ min. video on stretching and mobility for martial arts and self-defense.

The video covers my personal  full-body stretching routine, geared toward injury prevention and countering the side effects of  intensive martial arts training. I’ll explain some of the basic principles for increasing flexibility and mobility, as well as show a large number of exercises that you rarely learn in martial arts classes. These are the ones I, as a personal trainer, use with my clients every day, so they are all functional and effective.

It doesn’t matter at which level you join, everybody gets the video, as long as you do so before the deadline.

This is a one-time offer. On December 7th, it ends and doesn’t come back.

Another benefit you can get if you’re fast, is this:

There are 10 spots left to become one of the Founding Fifty, which offers special perks for as long as you are a Patron.  Once we hit 50 Patrons, that benefit closes forever.

Sinterklaas, ready to rumble…

My Patreon page is in essence a membership site where I post unique content. There is now over 31 hours of unique video content available and this library grows by about 75 minutes every month.  This excludes the monthly 1-hour Livestream hangout we do in our private Facebook group. Those videos are available to re-watch as soon as we end the livestream. You get full access immediately after joining, so get a cup of coffee and dive in. :-)

Here’s an overview of all the posts from August, September and also October.  Just scroll down the page to see everything.

For a quick visual representation, here are all the videos per category. Click on the text link or the image to see all the videos in each category:

 

Violence analysis

 

Instructional videos

Quick Q&A

30min. Q&A

I’m having tons of fun creating all this content and there’s lots more to come. If you want to join us there and support my blog and podcast, head on over here and sign up at whatever reward tier works for you.

Patreon Overview for May, June and July 2018

I slacked off a bit on these Patreon updates, so here’s another big one for May, June and July.

My Patreon page has become quite the video library: in total, there is almost 25 hours of unique video content available and this library grows by about 75 minutes every month.  This excludes the monthly 1-hour Livestream hangout we do in our private Facebook group. Those videos are available to watch again too as soon as we end the livestream. New Patrons have told me they have a lot of catching up to do, which is the best kind of problem I can create for them: loads and loads of content without, no extra charge. :-)

I’ve also experimented a bit with long-form discussions on specific topics:

Patreon discussions

So there’s a lot happening over on Patreon and some of it was a huge surprise for me: somebody sent me a 4K digital camera as a gift so I could improve the quality of my videos and pictures. That was completely unexpected and I’m looking into how I can make the best use for it, including making 4k instructional videos.

Here’s an overview of all the rewards of the last few months; just scroll down all the posts:

To make it a bit clearer at a glance, here below are the topics covered in the videos. This excludes the bonus videos, which you can find here.

Click on the text link or the image to see all the videos in each category:

Violence analysis

Violence analysis patreon wim demeere

 

Instructional videos

Patreon instructional videos martial arts self defense

 

Quick Q&A

Patreon quick Q&A martial arts self defense wim demeere

 

30min. Q&A

Patreon 30min Q&A martial arts self defense

I’m having tons of fun creating all this content and there’s lots more to come. If you want to join us there and support my blog and podcast, head on over here and sign up at whatever reward tier works for you.