Anatomy of a Streetfight by Paul Vunak

I purchased this book in the hopes of a realistic treatment of combat in a non-sporting context. I was mostly pleased with what I received. The book is ambitious in scope – it covers tactics, instinct, Jeet Kune Do concepts, Filipino arts, HIV implications, women’s self-defense, and legal issues. The preface poses the question, ‘who is the best fighter’, and then tries to define a streetfight, combining a variety of definitions. After the preface, the book veers dangerously close to silly ranting in the ‘No-Holds-Barred Tournaments are not Streetfights’ chapter, complete with an anecdote about he and some wrestlers losing terribly in a mass barfight against a large group of people. He claims he was hospitalized after a severe beating because his friends each took one opponent to the ground, leaving a large group to pound down the unfortunate Mr. Vunak. It even has the desperately cliched pull quote:

This wasn’t a no-holds-barred tournament. This was the street.   

 

The rest of the book is a relatively nice jaunt through JKD, Filipino Arts, and some ‘biting’ art called Kino Mutai. Many photos are included, making the concepts clear, but in a lot of them, Mr. Vunak appears off balanced or out of posture. I’m not certain whether it’s intended to show the ‘fluid nature’ of combat, or whether he’s just off. This book reads alternately like an ambitious manual, manifesto about the superiority of ‘the streets’ over the cage, or JKD guide, but there is a lot of useful information between the covers. So, as a serious manual, it doesn’t reach its potential, as the 125 pages just don’t have the room to cover the topics in depth. However, if you have an interest in Paul Vunak’s Rat or JKD programs, this book certainly provides a nice broad look at what he does and how he thinks about combat. It’s pretty good.  

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