Aliens beware! Carl has mastered the art of Kirk Fu thanks to Captain James T. Kirk’s “fascinating” new training manual.
There have been many Star Trek books published over the years. Ever since the original series premiered back in the 1960s, books have been hitting shelves at an impressive rate. Many have been novels about the original crew and their exploits, from novelisations of the episodes they appeared in alongside original stories and standalone titles. Of course, there have been novelisations of the movies along the way and titles that incorporate The Next Generation crew, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and the Discovery crew. Offshoots include the Prometheus series that came in a three-book arc that was outstanding. There have been episode guides, starship manuals, behind the scenes encyclopedias, colouring books and trivia paperbacks. All have their qualities and all bring something to the table. But when I discovered the Kirk Fu manual, I was both intrigued and amused. Intrigued because here was a Star Trek book that offered something new. Amused because it seemed and sounded like completely dumb fun. And so it proved.
Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual-A Guide To Starfleet’s Most Feared Martial Art | By Dayton Ward / Artist: Christian Cornia
The front cover has an animated drawing of the beloved James T Kirk himself. Surrounding him are several black and white illustrations of the Captain going through his various fighting moves he has been using and demonstrating ever since the 1960s. The back cover informs us of what to expect inside the book itself, speaking of how easy the book is to use in learning Kirk‘s fighting style and how it is the official guide in learning everything about Kirk Fu. The book inside is dedicated to William Shatner as it should be. Shatner is the one that springs to mind immediately the fighting style is mentioned. Ok, if you watch the television show closely, you can see in many of the long shots, it is in reality, a stuntman and not the actor himself performing the moves but in the close-ups, it is indeed Shatner performing some of the easier and less intensive moves.
We start with an introduction from Kirk himself. Here, he discusses how the trainees have so far been given the basic self-defence lessons alongside their phaser training. It reads as it’s supposed to as an official training manual for all Starfleet trainees and instantly makes the reader feel at home and amused. Over the page, we are presented with an informative piece designed to explain the purpose of the training and gives the cadet a warning that the techniques we will be introduced to can lead to certain death if not utilised correctly. This piece has been signed off by Admiral Nogura himself, a rather nice touch for the knowledgable Trekkie. We now move onto the basic defensive stance. It is here where we will discover the basic defence and close counter moves every cadet is required to know in three easy steps. We move on and learn about the standard karate chop, an all-time favourite in the Star Trek universe. With a rundown of events and times, the move will be needed, we again are given step by step instructions in how to deploy the move and the likely results.
The book is broken down into sections, mostly about the moves, their history and step by step instructions on how to implement them. After our introduction to the standard karate chop, we are shown how to deploy such moves as the slippery eel, the double-clutch, the head butt, the box lunch, the Tiberius twist, the hip throw (always a favourite on the show), the lateral body block, rolling thunder (another all-time classic), the flying drop Kirk (you can see where this is going!), the Jimmy wall banger (groan!) and the JTKO. Every move is documented and demonstrated with easy to follow steps and drawings of our favourite (He’s my favourite, anyhow) Starfleet captain engaging in the moves. Lovingly drawn by Christina Cornia, the illustrations are wonderful in their simplicity. If the reader REALLY wanted to learn these moves, then by following the diagrams and the wonderfully instructive directions by writer Dayton Ward, it is quite simple to learn and understand.
To complement the feel of the book being a real training manual for the Starfleet cadets, after the instructions of exactly how to use the moves demonstrated in the book, we have an assessment questions section. It is here that the cadet is tested on the knowledge they should have gained from putting the moves into practice and what move should be used in a given situation. Over the page, we discover the answers along with a brief congratulations message for completing the training along with a certificate of completion. This is a nice and quite wonderful touch at the end of the book and gives the reader a feeling of mastering the self-defence moves needed if they travel to an alien planet and have to act against any form of aggression in hand to hand combat.
Just before we conclude our manual, we come to one final bonus section which is my favourite of them all. It made me laugh out loud as it seemed so fitting and a perfect way to end the book. We are presented with a section on Spock Fu! Yes, our favourite Vulcan has his own two-page spread about his own self-defence techniques. It is described as the logical alternative to Kirk Fu. Why did it make me laugh? Because Spock Fu is just a single move! The all-time classic Vulcan Nerve Pinch! The reader has spent the majority of the book learning these masterful techniques regarding Kirk‘s move set and Spock’s is simply grabbing the opponent and engaging the simple neck pinch that disables the aggressor. It seems so simple but is so amusing at the same time.
The Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is a worthy addition to any Star Trek fans collection of books, toys and memorabilia. Not only is it amusing and a welcome little time waster but it is genuinely a delight to hold and read. It is, of course, not to be taken seriously but will inform the reader of exactly what goes into a Starfleet officers hand to hand repertoire. For that reason alone, it is worth buying and adding to your bulging library. It is delightful and deserves to live long and prosper in the reader’s mind.
Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual-A Guide To Starfleet’s Most Feared Martial Art by Dayton Ward is published by Titan Books and is set to be released on March 3, 2020.
Pre-order your copy here:
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy.