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Hanbo: The Aiki Way

Book Summary:

This is a technical text devoted primarily to defensive use of the hanbo, or half-staff. Covered are the use of the hanbo against empty-hand and knife attacks. A larger and re-edited second edition, much improved from the first, is now available (see purple photo). ISBN for the Second Edition is 0974560324.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This is the first book by Goss Sensei. He has specialized in the hanbo and hanbo-jutsu since the late 60's, and may certainly be considered an expert on this particular subject. Nearly the entire content of this book deals with the use of the hanbo in various self-defense scenarios. The defenses are primarily from empty-handed or knife attacks, and there is some added flavor from the variations used with a cane or an umbrella. The printed description indicates that there is special significance to the added elements of aiki in the techniques, because of the "fluidity" and "connectivity" therein, but doesn't explain exactly how these elements make the techniques different. Your perspective may differ from mine, but I think a certain level of fluidity and connectivity can be expected in any bukiwaza, whether from the realm of aikido or elsewhere. It's food for thought. The only statement that I take issue with is the one that describes the hanbo as a "modern defensive weapon". It is a stick, which makes it probably the oldest weapon in human history, except for maybe a rock. Only the definition of hanbo-jutsu could be considered "modern" IMHO.

This is a good book, and an easy read, since the bulk of the text is simply captioning for the wealth of black/white photos contained therein. The type is a bit on the small side for the "old eyes" out there (like mine) but otherwise easy to follow. The cover price of twenty bucks seems a little steep for a soft-cover book this small, but the numerous online outlets for this book mean you won't have to pay this much for it. It is also one of the few titles that you are likely to find devoted entirely to this topic.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

I just want to add to my previous review of this book to let readers know that I have recently looked over a copy of the new Second Edition (see purple cover photo). The new edition is much improved over the original. It is a larger footprint, with larger photos and text, and has additional techniques (total pages: 208). The text has been re-edited as well. A much better presentation, and more book for the money (cover price is still $19.95). Get this edition if you have a choice.

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