Out of print for nearly ten years, Shambhala Press makes this masterpiece available to another generation of martial arts students and Westerners who are interested in the Japanese "student-teacher" relationship.
As a young teenager, Lowry learned of a "Japanese swordsman" living in the same University town. In the tradition of old Japan when a student seeked an instructor, Lowry stopped by the house every day, asking the woman who answered the door
if there was an instructor who would take him as a student. Lowry's persistence paid off and he was "adopted" by Kotaro Sensei (teacher), a master of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu swordsmanship.
Lowry instruction was by no means limited to the physical techniques of the sword. As the subtitle implies, Kotaro Sensei transformed this wet-behind-the-ears teenager into an "American Samurai." Lessons learned within and without the dojo (training hall) taught Lowry that a "samurai" has to live ALL aspects of his or her life to a higher standard. While his schoolmates were busy experimenting with drugs and worrying about the Viet Nam war, Lowry's spare time was spent learning honor, respect, courage, virtue and justice through this sacred relationship between Sensei (teacher) and kohei (student).
Lowry takes an interesting and very effective approach to the assembly of the book, alternating chapters that chronologically detail his experience and historical anecdotes about the martial arts that reinforce the lessons he learned. Lowry is a true "master of the sword AND pen," his masterful re-telling of his experience almost allows the reader to experience the same struggles and joys he experienced, yet he keeps this writing accessable. This book would be equally valuable to a nine-year old beginning karate student as it is to a 80 year old master of the arts.
I have been involved in the martial arts for only ten years, but have read and collected more than 100 books on the subject. If I had only one book to recommend to students of the arts seeking the "definitive text" on what the "teacher-student" experience is SUPPOSED to be, this would be it.