Book Review: How Sachin Destroyed My Life by Vikram Sathaye

How Sachin Destroyed my Life – Now, that is a very brave title for a book released in India, where the name Sachin is synonymous with GOD. But Vikram surely got 50% of the attention and hype that is very much required for a non-fiction work with that title.

There were many books on cricketers and especially Sachin. People have spoken at length about his technique, temperament, character and his special hundreds. But Vikram offered a rare perspective. I cannot think of many cricket humorists and stand-up comedians other than Vikram Sathaye and Andy Zaltzman. In a way, the book voices the feelings of the entire male population of India. Sachin, in fact destroyed many lives. At some point or the other, Sachin played a part in our personal and professional lives. Vikram touches upon those aspects wonderfully. He just captures exactly what we, as the cricket mad population, went through watching Sachin grow from strength to strength. He, in fact, balances the feelings wonderfully. He laces each sentence with wit and humour. The moment you think he is hurting the Sachin fan in you, he makes you laugh out loud with those witty punch lines. The fact that he has not played the game at the highest level makes us perceive him as one of us – a common cricket fan. The fact that he lived the dream of every Indian cricket fan, without being a cricketer himself, gives us a sense of hope. The initial chapters focus very much on the struggles of Vikram as he tries to perceive his cricket dream. These chapters provide enough justification to the first half of the book’s title. You sympathize with Vikram all the way and you wish he was as successful at cricket as Sachin. When he does cross paths with his idol incidentally, you wish you were Vikram. His success story emphasizes the role of destiny in one’s life.

The most touching part of the book is the story of Mane Kaka, the team’s masseur. These are the people we never get to know. These are the people who take care of our heroes. It’s a great story and it ought to be told. Vikram should be lauded for introducing us to Mane kaka. In a way, I think both Vikram and Mane Kaka treaded the same path. If Mane Kaka’s was the most touching aspect of the book, the references to Virender Sehwag were heart warming. Sehwag is one of a kind player. He has a natural style and aura to his batting and character. Vikram dedicates a chapter to Sledging and it was great to learn how Sehwag reacted to Michael Clarke sledging Sachin. These are the aspects of the game a common cricket fan craves for. There are many such anecdotes in Vikram’s book. He touches up on some rarely discussed aspects as well in a serious tone. Commentators with a non-cricketing background were one such topic. He explains how difficult it is for a commentator or a presenter with no background of professional cricket, to survive in the cricket world.

The book is a wonderful read and it leaves you craving for more. Well done Vikram. You are now a Sachin for many, in your own right.

The Martial Way and Its Virtues – Tao De Gung – A Review

“The Martial Way and its Virtues – Tao De Gung” by F.J. Chu was an enjoyable read that made me think of my own martial art journey. I agree with William R. Connors’ foreword in that rather than a technique book, this book uses martial arts as a core to provide an insight into martial arts as well as a blueprint for a way to begin the journey of achieving mastery of one’s body, mind, and spirit. This is an endless journey that those of us who have chosen to follow a warrior’s path realize is worth taking. This book offers guidance to anyone who chooses to follow that path, and assisted me with my training, thinking, and teaching.

Chu’s goals with this book included wanting to show the relevance of philosophical thinking on “real life” martial arts practice through this text, and I believe he accomplished this. Chu believes that philosophical discourse, like martial arts practice, is a way of life. Therefore, the values he wrights about are incorporated into a martial artist’s life through disciplined and regular practice.

The study of martial arts empowers individuals with the capacity to harm or even kill others, Chu states because of this power of life and death, the martial artist has the responsibility to behave with greater calm and judgement than the average person. This book is about personal development; it is about becoming a whole person through martial art study that includes the philosophical practice of warriorship. For those who are following the spherical path of the martial way, this text is enlightening and thought provoking. As Chu points out right at the beginning of this book, the Tao De Gung is a purist’s vision of the martial arts. This is the higher calling all of us that follow the Way aspire to. It is this higher ideal that separates warriors from predators.

The longer I practice martial arts and the older I become, the more I realize that my training is but a journey toward self-betterment. Yes, I still train for self-defense, and from past experiences I know I can defend myself. However, my training is much more than that. Following the Way is a part of me now. I continuously strive to better myself and live by warrior ideals passed on throughout the years, and then pass these lessons on to others through my teaching and writing. F.J. Chu’s text has helped me grow as a martial artist, warrior, and person. I recommend it to any martial artist, warrior, or person who also wants to grow and further develop themselves.

Book Review Crescent Kick

Crescent Kick is the fourth book of the Achieving Kicking Excellence series by Shawn Kovacich. Just as he did with the other volumes of the series, Kovacich attacked the instruction of the crescent kick with meticulous detail and thoroughness.

This book is the most detailed written description you will find on executing the crescent kick, and should be included in any martial artist’s book collection who incorporates kicking into his or her training. This is not a book you just sit down and read cover to cover for enjoyment. It is a resource text to be studied and referred to at various times during your training or teaching. Yes teaching! I think instructors will learn tips on how to teach the crescent kick by reading this manual.

The most valuable sections of this book are the chapters that teach the basics of the crescent kick and then the variations. The variations Kovacich covers include: Step-Back Crescent Kick, Back Spin Crescent Kick, Hop/Slide Forward Crescent Kick, Hop/Slide Backward Crescent Kick, Front Leg Crescent Kick, Switch Crescent Kick, Off-Setting Crescent Kick, Butterfly Crescent Kick, and the Back Spin Crescent Kick. The chapters do have some repetition, but this enables the book to be more easily used as a reference tool, since you can pick the book up and review any of the kicks without having to refer back to different chapters. Kovacich uses plentiful photographs and illustrations to demonstrate all aspects of the kick, striking angles, foot placement, and the arc of the kick. As I mentioned, he attacks this with meticulous detail and you will not find a more complete written account of the crescent kick anywhere.

The chapters on strength, speed, and power are the weakest chapters of the book. While it is nice that Kovacich included a bit on these topics, the real strength of this book is with the detailed instruction of the kick itself. There are many other resources out there that cover strength, speed, and power in more detail and depth than Kovaich does here. The good thing is he introduces these concepts and any good martial artist will further his or her study of these to incorporate into their training with different resources.

The trouble shooting guide offers some good tips to better your kicking, and Kovacich also includes a short chapter on crescent kick applications.

If you want in-depth instruction on the crescent kick and ten of its main variations, this book with over 200 pages of text, photographs, and illustrations is a must have addition to your martial art library. It is an excellent resource for any martial artist regardless of style.