This book informs us in a most stimulating and informative manner about the martial arts phenomenon Thom Harinck and the many champions he has trained. It portrays a man with a passion for the martial arts and all that is related to them. That passion has led to the development of a highly specific style 'Chakuriki' (for Duch readers Ontleende kracht). This style has been shaped by Harinck through taking elements from diverse martial arts - including judo, karate, boxing, savate and not least Muay Thai - and combining them. The discipline, the tough training methods and the mutual respect are further typical of the Chakuriki style. Thanks to the charismatic personality of Harinck the Chakuriki style has led former students to adopt it as a lifestyle which has allowed them to distinguish themselves in society.
The now 71 years old Harinck has undoubtedly earned his spurs in Muay Thai kickboxing. The effectiveness of his training methods has resulted in a large number of champions, both male and female, whom he has trained in his forty-year career as coach and mentor. The books author has done his background research well which has resulted in rich portraits of the fighters and matches. This leads to a varied insight into the personalities of those who practice Muay Thai and other styles of kickboxing. Some are modest and withdrawn youngsters but who are transformed in the ring into real gladiators while some can end up in a criminal environment. Most turn out well - in some cases aided by Harinck and his positive influence over his young disciples - but others have been less successful in finding a "wholesome" career, to put it mildly. The dividing line between taking the criminal path or enjoying a successful career in sport or business can be narrow and this is a recognizable picture for police forces in many western countries. That it is why it is important to learn in depth about this subculture in order to be alert to any signals of degeneration within it (writing as a former police officer with knowledge of this issue).
What in any case is perfectly clear is that Thom Harinck as the 'founding father' of the martial arts in the Netherlands has had a colourful life during which hes experienced diverse personal dramas. He is an interesting individual who has meant a great deal in the world of kickboxing in the Netherlands and elsewhere. What we now see during matches on the various commercial television channels, for example, would not have been possible without his dedicated involvement in the sport. This book by Julio Punch provides an insightful history of the rise of the martial arts in the West which is full of rich portraits of matches and fighters and which strongly conveys that next to physical prowess a sound mental attitude is crucial as a bedrock for a healthily balanced life. - Willem Broer
Thom is a legend and this book is great.