I first heard of Wim Demeere through an interview he did with the (I think now defunct) Warrior Traditions podcast. I liked what he had to say, so I went and found his blog, and have been following it pretty closely ever since. Wim has a very authentic way of writing that I find engaging--he doesn't get preachy, and he's very willing to acknowledge his own limitations--but he's also got a good deal of knowledge and experience, and his posts are often thought provoking, entertaining, or both.
Martial Arts, Self-Defense and a Whole Lot More: The Best of Wim's Blog, Volume 1 is exactly what it says on the tin. It is a collection of posts from Wim's blog, edited and revised for an print format (it's available in paperback as well as on the Kindle). The process of deciding that these posts were "the best" is not made clear, but in this kind of collection, the question is kind of moot. Along with the blog posts, there's also an article from an issue of Black Belt Magazine, and contributions from Mark Mireles, Kris Wilder, Alain Burrese, Rory Miller, Marc MacYoung, and Loren Christensen.
However Wim went about selecting these articles, he made some good choices; there is a lot of solid, thought-provoking information in this collection. I say "thought-provoking" quite deliberately. These are not articles on "how to punch harder in five minutes" or "ten secrets to kicking success". Just about everything in here requires you to put a little bit of skull sweat into it in order to get the most use out of it. Even some of more "actionable" articles, like the "How to learn techniques from a video" series, still require you to put a bit of effort in. If you are looking for simple, easy checklists, look elsewhere.
On the flip side, if you are looking for some information that could really improve your martial arts training and thinking, there's a lot in here. Because this is a collection of disparate articles, I have a hard time imagining someone from any martial art reading this and not getting something out of it. Again, the title says it clearly: there is stuff on martial arts, self-defense, and a whole lot more.
The book does suffer a bit from the weakness inherent to many anthologies; while Wim returns to certain themes in his writing, there's no overarching theme to the book. The first three articles, for example, are "How to piss off your training partner", "How to avoid shoulder injuries in the martial arts", and "How to learn techniques from a video". There's no particular connection between those three (unless you've pissed of your training partner by injuring his shoulder with a technique you learned from a video). If you're reading this book through, cover to cover, you may feel like the author is jumping around a bit.
But in the end, reading this book cover to cover is probably not the best way to get value out of it. This is the kind of book that you might read through once, but then go back and revisit certain pieces or articles to think about them more deeply. It reminds me of Dan John's Never Let Go in that respect. One read through probably isn't enough.
Regardless of the martial art you practice, or how much practice you have, you can learn something from this. Honestly, you could probably keep revisiting it for a long time. The Kindle price, at three dollars, is an absolute steal, and even the paperback price is worth it. Check this one out.
[A personal request: if this review induced you to buy this book, please click on the link below to do it. Yes, I get some small fraction of profit off of you doing so, but hey, I convinced you to buy the book...that should mean something, right?]