Book Review: English Martial Arts by Terry Brown

English Martial Arts book cover

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Terry Brown, the Martial Artist who wrote this book, has trained primarily in “Fong Yang Kung Fu (the beggars art)” and is a 2nd Dan in Karate. He also holds the Anciant Maister position in the Company of Maisters. Many skilled fighters would simply call him a “striker” or “pure striker”, however, as he appears to be limited in his knowledge of grappling.

The book contains interesting information of the origin of the old English martial arts: martial arts schools backed by royal support, public gradings and some very brutal competitions. The historical information in the book is a good read.

The book asserts:

“Sixteenth century martial artists had their own governing body, the Company of Maisters, Which tought and practised a fighting system that ranks as high in terms of effectiveness and pedigree as any in the world”

This is untrue, in my opinion, many of the hand to hand techniques are inferior to other techniques found in different styles, they require superhuman reflexes & brute force to apply on someone in a live combat situation.

The book contains many one step sparring photos, for those who dont know, thats basically “before & after” it’s not “live sparring”.

The photos of the weapon techniques, are pictures of typical block & counter, common in Kung Fu & Karate.

Mostly these techniques are just common sense, if someone tries to chop you in the head, you better put your sword in the way of the strike, that’s if you see it coming.

In some photos, he tries to combine grappling with sword fighting…. maybe that would work against someone who never used a sword before. Anyone else would just slice your hands before they’ve even got the grips.

In another photo, one man applies an armlock with almost no leverage, to a man holding a sword, maybe if you had arms the size of tree trunks, this would work.

Moving on to the hand to hand combat section, as I studied Kung Fu I cant help but notice the postures of the men demonstrating these “English” techniques. I can clearly see Kung fu, Karate, Tai Chi & very weak leverageless Judo techniques being demonstrated.

The “armlock & sweep” might work on a weak man with no fight training, but against a skilled fighter, no way. It’s arm vs arm all the way, no effective technique is being used to overcome the strength of the opponent.

The fighters also stay at arms distance from each other, even when throwing the opponent. I havent seen anything so unrealistic since a “Drunken Kung Fu” practitioner attempted to beat a Kyokushin karate black belt.

The strikes shown are aimed to the head or body, in real fighting, you would aim for the neck. Animals in the wild instinctively go for the neck, through misleading martial arts training and competitions, humans have started going for the head & body instead of the softest parts like the neck.

There are soft parts of the head, temples for instance, but you need to be a good shot to land a decent blow on a moving opponent, for those who are less experienced they should just go for the easy target, just like the animals in the wild would.

In conclusion, I believe there were decent English fighting methods, but in my opinion the writer of this book is a Kung Fu master who took some moves from his art, changed them a bit and slapped English on them.

Reviewed by Al Martin

  • Paperback 242 pages (November 1, 2002)
  • Publisher: Anglo-Saxon Books
  • ISBN:1898281297

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