Looking out my window right now, and sadly — it looks like Summer is over in my neck of the woods.
Fall officially began last Saturday, but back then we enjoyed a last few glimpses of warm and sunny weather here in the Pacific Northwest.
It appeared something like a fighter knowing his fate, but still fighting those last few rounds out… for the sake of pride… or something.
Anyway, the inevitable finally came, in the form of a nasty rainstorm two days ago. Now, we’re getting an extended forecast calling for more rain and grey skies.
So ends a beautiful Summer which featured, yes, an entire month of July without rain in Seattle. (Stop laughing. Believe it or not, that’s almost unheard of here.)
Still, it had to end. In these parts, that means more time to enjoy a good book and a good cup of coffee.
Maybe… something away from the norm?
So, today I’m digging up two great pieces of writing which cast some attention on MMA — and the combative sports which helped spawn it.
Rather than the typical fighter autobiography, these are writers from entirely different origins, who chose to take on a combative sport. The results? Totally unique. Two “Top Writers” turned “Top MMA Writers.”
Check them out!
1) The Last Wrestlers by Marcus Trower
On the surface The Last Wrestlers (2007, Ebury Press) is a travelogue, not unlike Fighter’s Heart or The BJJ Globetrotter (both reviewed earlier in the year at MMA Frenzy), where the author travels the world training in the martial arts. But on closer look, it’s something else entirely.
Author Marcus Trower loves wrestling, but he’s saddened by the sport’s state in his native Britain. So, he travels to India, Mongolia, Nigeria, and beyond; trying to experience other grappling traditions to uncover what the rest of us are missing. “The Last Wrestlers” documents those travels, and offers Trower’s insights on how the grappling sports impact these varied cultures.
What sets Trower apart is a very intellectual approach to that question which we really haven’t seen elsewhere. He turns a great phrase, too. Unfortunately, probably since he often ends up kept at arms-length by his subjects,”The Last Wrestlers” actually ends up a bit downbeat much of the time — and even a bit confused.
It’s Trower’s visit to Brazil late in the book where he finally connects emotionally to his subject. There, his memorable portraits of jiu-jitsu artists, especially Allan Goes, really made it worth the journey. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA just don’t often appear in graceful prose like Trower’s. Every fan should track it down and give it a look, even if it means skipping his adventures along the way.
2) Falling Hard / The Pyjama Game by Mark Law
Here’s another unusual perspective: Mark Law is a longtime British journalist who decided at the age of 50 to begin judo training — and finds himself hooked.
His Falling Hard (2009, Shambala Press), originally published in the UK as The Pyjama Game (2007, Aurum Press) explores both the history and application of judo, but it really ends up a love letter to the “gentle way” — which really isn’t a bad thing. Judo deserves one.
It’s brief, but expansive: spanning the days of Kano & Kimura, all the way to a visit with Roger Gracie towards the book’s end.
“Falling Hard” is a treat for anyone with any interest in judo or jiu-jitsu, but the prose is so graceful that I think anyone should enjoy it. Law dedicated a long life to English letters; to have someone like that turn his pen to the martial arts — can’t go wrong, there.
So, there you go. Two top writers who decided to be top MMA writers, for at least one project anyway.
Something to savor… for a rainy day, or any day!