A while back I was mailing back and forth with one of the blog readers here and he asked me which novels I liked, specifically those related to self defense or martial arts. It didn’t really take long for me to answer as I have my preferred authors. Here’s a list and I’ll explain why.
- The John Rain series by Barry Eisler. Barry’s a friend of mine and I had a great time teaching him private classes several times. He’s a judo black belt and a pretty good wrestler. His background shines through in the Rain series, as you’ll be able to read: John Rain is a half-American, half–Japanese hit man specialized in making it look like his targets died of natural causes. The books are always a great mix of a good plot, exotic locations (extremely good descriptions on these!), trade craft, fight scenes and like Barry says “Hot, steamy sex.” What’s not to like? :-) Here are the relevant parts:
- The fight scenes always incorporate a solid grasp of reality: Rain fights for keeps and ends it as soon as possible, preferably by ambushing his opponents.
- Sometimes, he goes up against other professionals and has more of a duel on his hands than an actual self defense situation. Barry still tries to keep it real in those situations.
- A big part of the books explains the counter-measures Rain uses to avoid getting killed: awareness, procedures, etc. Scale them down for the average civilian and they’re pretty good.
- The best part about the series is how Barry explores the mind set of such a hit man: the good, the bad, the ugly. But more importantly, he lets his character evolve and grow way beyond what you expect when you start the series.