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Swanson emphasizes sensation of motion in new instructional book

NEWPORT, R.I. – Dr. JD Swanson, Salve Regina University biology professor and a lifetime student of karate, has published a new book that explores the dynamics, motion and sensation of the martial arts that serves to benefit instructors and students alike.

“Karate Science: Dynamic Movement” (Ymaa Publication Center) presents a detailed interpretation about the mechanics of the human body. Swanson draws on examples from several styles of karate, as well as aikido, taekwondo, and judo. Although Shotokan karate is the author's frame of reference, the principles of human mechanics translate to all martial styles, and the book is filled with examples, anecdotes and beautiful illustrations drawn by Swanson’s former student and Salve Regina University graduate Samantha Nigro, a visual arts major and biology minor.

“Karate Science: Dynamic Movement is rooted in the teachings of the masters,” Swanson says. “This book nucleates that knowledge, clarifying and distilling the key principles behind movement dynamics. This is the next evolution of karate books.”

Swanson had searched through piles of books on form and function. “Stand here, they said. Step there. But where movement was concerned, not one of them went deep enough. No one discussed dynamics―the actual feeling of the moves.”

Martial instruction, both in print and in person, tends to focus on stances and finishing positions. “But dynamics, motion, sensation … they are karate's connective tissue―and they are the heart of this book. Whatever your martial background, applying this knowledge will make your techniques better, stronger and faster.”

The book promotes understanding of the major types of techniques, including their outward appearances and internal feelings. It strives to help readers master the core principles behind these feelings by focusing on the biomechanics and dynamics of core movement.

“Professor Swanson’s book is written in such a way that it’s easy to comprehend and applicable to all levels of karate practitioner,” said Hiroyoshi Okazaki, author, chairman and chief instructor of the International Shotokan Karate Federation. “Instructors and students alike would benefit from reading this book and incorporating its clearly explained principles into their teachings and training. I am excited to use Karate Science: Dynamic Movement as the textbook for the karate course I teach at Temple University, Philadelphia.”

Swanson graduated from Penn State with a Ph.D. in integrative biosciences (ecological and molecular plant physiology option). His master’s thesis was completed at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. At Salve, he teaches a variety of classes, including Human A&P for non-majors and Developmental Biology. He has a research lab that works primarily on cell-cell communication using raspberry and blackberry prickles, human stomach cancer cells and algal blooms as models.

He has been involved in the sport of Shotokan since 1980, when he began his training at the age of 6. Swanson has founded several Shotokan clubs along the east coast, including at Salve Regina upon his arrival as a faculty member in 2011. Having achieved the rank of Godan (5th dan) in 2013, Swanson graduated from the ISKF instructor training program, earning his license as an official instructor, examiner and judge. In 2016, he was appointed to direct the National Collegiate Karate Association, and the East Coast Collegiate Karate Union.