The Martial Arts Book


64 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-55037-777-9
DDC j796.8





Illustrations by Nicolas Debon
Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


This book does a good job of reviewing the history and development of
the confusing array of martial arts. It addresses not only the
traditional practices, but also how the martial arts are part of North
American culture and, specifically, Canadian culture.

As a practitioner of karate, I found the descriptions of the history,
philosophy, and common practices to be accurate and congruent with what
I have been taught. Nicolas Debon’s historically accurate artwork does
a good job of depicting the various forms of martial arts.

Many Canadian children learn about the martial arts through films and,
increasingly, graphic novels, cartoons, and games, all of which present
distorted and rather shallow pictures. This book is a good introduction
for children who wish to take up a martial art. There is sufficient
detail to help them decide which martial art to pursue. It would also
help a child who is practising one form to better understand and
appreciate the other martial arts and to see how all of them are

While the book does contain a glossary, it is rather brief considering
that most of the specific terms in all the martial arts are non-English
words. Overall, however, this is a balanced book that does not have many
competitors in the marketplace. Highly recommended.


Scandiffio, Laura., “The Martial Arts Book,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,