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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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‘Working with Warriors’ by Dennis Martin tells the story of three mens’ experiences in the Martial Arts and working in the field of security at the very highest level. Most prominent and central to the book however is the friendship of these three men, and how working and training together has developed life-long friendships.

 

These three men, of course are Terry O’Neill, Dennis Martin and Gary Spiers.

 

As soon as I had heard of the release of this book, I was desperate to read it. To Shotokan karateka, particularly in the UK – Terry O’Neill is simply a legend. His life long commitment to the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain), his competitive reputation, his magazine - Fighting Arts International, his reputation on the door, and his all round commitment to the Martial Arts have made him a name that instantly demands respect.

 

Dennis Martin has been described as one of the most influential self-defence instructors in the world. Geoff Thompson, in the foreword to the book, states ‘Dennis Martin is the most credible instructor of real self-defence in the world today’. A pretty decent reference would you say? Dennis, as revealed throughout the book worked the doors and came to become one of the most important figures in the development of the study of physical conflict.

 

Gary Spiers, like O’Neill and Martin came from a traditional background, and trained in some of the most vicious dojos in Japan. His spirit, as perfectly depicted and vocalised through his own words in the large excerpts of interview, meant that he was able to deal with a wide variety of violent encounters – including him single-handedly dealing with gangs, against weapons and all the other all-out scum of the street.

 

This book, through the wonderful writing by Dennis Martin and through superb excerpts of interviews, puts on central stage the lives of these men as ‘Warriors’ in every sense of the word. It is told with vivid and glorious detail the experiences these men had – to not only develop them individually as Martial Artists and all round tough men – but that also developed a unique and life-long bond between them all. It was these parts of the book that caught my attention most ferociously.

 

I loved reading about O’Neill’s superb demonstrations of head kicks, in the dojo and out the clubs when the clientele got nasty. I loved reading about Martin’s time travelling, working in the security field, such a protecting the Miss World’s contestants and spreading his teachings of the Close Quarter Battle (CQB), and Spier’s many violent encounters. It’s an exciting read that draws you in, and even when being asked to do a variety of chores around the house, you will rather deal the consequences of leaving the hoovering for an hour and enjoy the book rather than dare put it aside for later reading. I know this from personal experience. 

 

As I have already highlighted, much of the book is made up of the superb conveying of stories and experiences by Dennis Martin, who excellently gives stories – most of which are quite old –a real vibrancy. They are stories that give you an opportunity to gain an insight into these mens’ lives that you might otherwise be unable to learn of. Every page is a joy, and every turning of one is an exciting expedition that keeps you far away from the hoover, and gets you deeper and deeper into trouble…but some things are worth getting into trouble for!

 

Much of the book however is also made up of interviews with these gentlemen that have been published in the past. It is perfect to have these interviews collected into one book as it gives much of the written text by Dennis a great context for the reader to use and consider. I love all of the interviews here in this book, and I have since – many times round – returned to the interviews alone for additional reads as they exist perfectly both as a part of the wider book, but also as great references on their own…I love this facet of the book!

 

One of the interviews that particularly stands out for me is with Gary Spiers. His honesty – from a reader’s perspective is utterly enthralling – and gives the reader a fantastic glimpse into what he is all about. He has clearly seen much blood covering the floor of many clubs and pavements and certainly much on his own hands too, and always of those who have meant harm to others or Spiers himself. All of the interviews have this intensity and honesty and are so inspirational.

 

While this book is fantastically anecdotal, it is also very educational. Through reading the pages, written by Martin about O’Neill, Spiers and himself, you learn much about the sickening reality of violence. Through the interviews you gain an understanding of the processes of these men and how they operate. Put this concoction together and you get a book that is both re-readable for the joy of it, and for its educational values.

 

The blurb on the back of the book states ‘From the Cavern to Rave, and from Bar Brawls to close-quarter battle, Working with Warriors is the ultimate story of the world of personal combat.’…I wouldn’t even attempt to put it any better. This book is an intriguing, fascinating, funny and vicious smorgasbord that gives the reader an insight into the dark world that no-one wants to see, but is always intrigued enough not to look away from. You will thoroughly enjoy this book, I have no doubt!!!

 

Shaun Banfield