I’ve reviewed a number of books on this (apparently) martial arts movie site, usually with a positive vibe as I tend to focus on what I like instead of what I dislike.
But fair is fair, at times I do state it when I truly dislike something. Considering I usually focus on the positive, you know I must have found no value in something when I give a negative review.
So, spoiler alert, I really don’t recommend this book I’m about to review – it’s called “The Way of the Modern Warrior – Living the Samurai Ideal in the 21st Century”.
In saying that, this is all my personal opinion and experience and should be taken as such.
What is this book about?
Well, at first glance I thought this book would be promising. Taking the samurai ideals that we’ve all fallen in love with and romanticized and then applying them to real life sounds not only intriguing but pretty useful.
How you carry yourself, keeping your skills sharp, serving those most important to you, taking responsibility to your actions (thinking Seppuku here lol)– these are samurai ideals that can help people of all ages better themselves (oh, EXCEPT Seppuku in this case).
Now some of the lessons in this book are decent but hardly worth reading the whole book for, so it’s not entirely useless. It’s just that the author, ‘Hanshi’ Stephen Kaufman, goes about explaining these principles to the reader and during the process, often gives crummy advice that seems focused at young (easily influenced) people looking for guidance.
The lessons are usually so basic that I thought this could be a good read for 12-14 year olds initially. But as I read further, I realized that this kind of content can be dangerous for a minor – in my opinion.
At times he speaks of judging people’s behavior based completely off unrelated personality traits, basically saying “that if someone acts a certain way, then they usually they have this other unrelated problem”. Which I think is damaging, as it encourages people to make assumptions about people based on nothing but one man’s opinion. This is a minority in the book, but a lot of the advice here actually seems very immature in nature – to me personally.
The action someone could take based off some of the ideas in this book is a fast way to end up alienating people and yourself.
Who is Stephen Kaufman?
He’s the author of this book. Yep…
Also, he’s a 10th degree black belt!
Pretty impressive! He straight up proclaims it to be the most prestigious accomplishment in all of martial arts right on the back cover. I know a handful of authentic 8th and 9th degree black belts – they’re all humble, none of them proclaiming their rank to be a reason to respect them – but their knowledge and accomplishments. To be honest, they don’t claim themselves as having the “most prestigious” or “best” achievement in their field. They’re quite humble.
So reading abou this, is being a 10th dan more prestigious than being a world champion MMA fighter? Is it better than being a lifetime martial artist who has dedicated his life to helping other people overcome real issues? What about a 6 month blue belt who has saved a life with his skills? I find it a very egotistical statement, even for a man selling himself.
The belt is nothing without results, so why not promote the results of your expertise?
I decided to dig a little…he’s a 10th degree in Hebi-Ryu – his own system of martial arts!
Sure, that doesn’t mean he’s fake, but it doesn’t support his case. Either way, I did some research Kaufman and it just didn’t really inspire any confidence. I don’t necessarily think this guy is a fake, but I personally don’t quite trust his credentials. If I don’t trust his credentials how can I trust the ‘expert’ words he wrote? The words themselves are enough to have you second guess.
It’s also poorly written.
So the book contains simple lessons (whether useful or not), perfect to help young, struggling people looking for guidance…
..but it’s written in such a convoluted way that anyone who struggles with the English language will never understand what the hell he is saying. I re-read a few passages and I got it, but I know people who would throw the book in the bin the second they got to such an obstacle.
Simple lessons, aimed at young people – written in a language made for people born in the time of Shakespeare.
It’s not exactly a long or deep book, the language to me just seems really misplaced. To be honest, flipping to each chapter (lucky to be more than a page long), the titles themselves are the most useful part of the book because they are open to interpretation. So a simple page of quotes would cover this book more effectively than the actual written words within it.
My conclusion – can you guess?
Look, I don’t like negativity. I even hate saying or releasing reviews like this. But if you’re going to have your voice heard you need to get out there and point out the bad stuff too.
In my personal opinion, this book is pretty thin, not very well written and contains some poor advice about life. Give it a miss!
If you’re hell-bent on getting it anyway, you can find it on Amazon here. Thanks for reading!