Thursday, October 20, 2005
If you ever wonder whether you can learn to protect yourself to some non-shameful degree, this could be your answer. Ken Shamrock knows all about fighting and how to "neutralise" the other guy. They are not your ordinary moves being taught in school. All the tactics expounded in this book are meant to "take down" a misguided guy with a bad attitude.
BEYOND THE LION'S DEN
The Life, The Fights, The Techniques
By Ken Shamrock with Erich Krauss
IF you are a pacifist, or contemplating on entering the seminary, this is one book you should avoid at all costs.
Ken Shamrock is not the kind of man whose life you would want to read about. He was born with a mean streak and had to punch his way through to "see the light".
Considering his early years, it is a wonder that he's not on Death Row or resting eternally beneath a grave with the epitaph "Here lies a man who fought himself and others to death."
Fortunately, Shamrock's life story does not have a tragic ending. He's very much alive and literally kicking. His training centre, aptly called Lion's Den, is today a self-defence-cum-martial arts institution that churns out some of the best fighters in America.
There can only be two results upon completion of reading this coffee-table book. One, physically tensed and two, emotionally brutalised. If you are a yoga or qigong practitioner, you may yet be unaffected by this semi-autobiography accompanied by pictorial chapters of 70 techniques of effectively taking down a mugger or defending
yourself successfully against a bigger and meaner guy.
This book does not leave its reader in a peaceful state of mind. Shamrock started early in life by surviving with his fists. In his tough neighbourhood, the boy who did not know how to defend himself either grew up psychologically scarred or regularly got beaten senseless.
In Shamrock's case, his raw physical energy was backed up by a constantly ncontrollable rage that frequently put many an opponent to flight. A boy who grew up hating almost everybody was bound to learn violence first hand.
This Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) fighter earned his spurs during a stint with the Japan-based Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).
It was in Japan that Shamrock learnt some of his deadliest moves like kickboxing blows and submission holds. For those who are groping in the dark about these terms, they simply mean that if you are caught on the receiving end of these blows or holds, you either admit defeat quickly or you will hear the crunching of your bones (hands, legs or arms).
This book is neither recommended for anybody born with a violent temper nor is it suggested reading for individuals with weak physical constitution. For the latter, the strenuous training can mean an unexpected heart attack. For the former, a long jail term could be just around the corner.
However, Beyond the Lion's Den can also serve as a good reference for some of those intricate moves employed by professional wrestlers to neutralise their opponents in front of an audience of thousands, consisting of screaming, halfinsane individuals.
Not all professional wrestling matches are staged for general entertainment as Shamrock points out. He has a medical record of broken limbs to testify to the authenticity of innumerable matches that became rather violent. Mad Max would have been quite proud of Shamrock's professional career.
Beyond all those graphic and detailed descriptions of breaking bones and getting assaulted to the point of near death, this book also shines a path into Shamrock's character that tells of a boy with a very bad temper who, by the grace of God, has managed to live a fairly stable and happy life now.
That's the redeeming feature of Shamrock's book. Now at 41, he finally tells the world, in a no-holds-barred manner, that he had gleefully beaten a number of people into unconsciousness and he himself had been thumped into oblivion.
This book labelled him as "the world's most dangerous man". Even though commercially, it's good advertisement, few of Shamrock's opponents in the ring or outside would actually dare to refute that statement.
This book of violent beginnings, a brutal career and middle-aged redemption is an interesting read. However, you have to control yourself because it tends to awaken your predatory instincts. If you become too engrossed in some of its chapters, you will need to reach out for a holy book or at least a Chicken Soup book and read a few chapters to neutralise its insidious effects.