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The Way of the River: Adventures and Meditations of a Woman Martial Artist [Hardcover]

B.K. Loren

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A martial artist for twenty-five years, the author recounts her years of study under various teachers and in numerous disciplines including her experiences as a women's self-defense teacher.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the River - Enlightening! 24 July 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
"The Way of the River" is a compelling, beautifully written book that goes far beyond the subject of enlightenment through the study of martial arts. Ms. Loren has the uncanny ability to draw the reader completely into her autobiographical anecdotes, to the point that I absolutely shared her hopes, fears, triumphs and losses keenly. It is a page turner, and I learned a great deal from reading it.
Martial artists and students will benefit from her insightful perspective on life and perhaps confirm or renew the spirital and philisophical core of their chosen disciplines. Non-martial artists will be equally captured by her flawless prose, lovingly-crafted descriptions, and beatifully-paced chapters. Ms. Loren has a bright future as a writer, and she will definitely join Mark Salzman's company as an author who secures mainstream popularity outside the martial arts genre.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a gift to share. 13 July 2001
By John Dziadecki - Published on Amazon.com
I have just finished reading this book. I have not yet read this book. This is a book you will want to read and revisit and cherish.
BK Loren uses words like brushstrokes in painting intimate images quietly charged with feelings, emotions and insights gathered from a life well lived and grounded in the flow of the martial arts. Unpretentious, she directly shares what she has learned and experienced and seen and felt. Her essays -- meditations -- gradually unfold and grow on you with the resonance of life and clarity. They grow like flowers, well rooted in the earth and opening to reveal personal memories and lessons learned. The cumulative effect stays with you.
I don't know that my words do her book justice. At the very, very least this is a great read. But it goes beyond that. This book is a gift to share with others. Read it and you'll know why.
Highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing that is Qi... 17 Jun 2001
By Susan Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
This is an exciting and beautiful collection of essays that does the near-impossible: combine body and spirit into language that is so clear you are there, holding those poses with Loren. Many of the experiences here were scary--for where the body travels, yes, but also for where the mind and spirit go. This book expands, and so will you reading it. It's a book probably every woman should read, to feel strong, to feel elated, to feel alive. Oh, and every man should probably read it too, for all the same reasons. But for women--we don't have enough of these stories, honest in every way.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the River 5 May 2011
By Lauren Bishop-Weidner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I hate the subtitle--let me just get that out of the way. I find it sexist, demeaning, unnecessary, and misleading. Can you imagine referring to Hilary Clinton as a "lady lawyer" or to Danica Patrick as a "woman driver?" But even without the offensive gender distinction, I'm not sure I see this as a book about martial arts. The title holds its own. The way of the river is expansive, fluid, powerful, evocative, and provocative--like this lovely collection of essays. The opening quote nabbed me:

The gums are soft and remain.
The teeth are hard and fall out.
(Lao Zi)

These essays are about finding the sublime in the ordinary. In an exotic setting unfamiliar to most of us--those ancient disciplines known collectively as martial arts--Loren shows us our own strength and resilience. She weaves stories with bright threads of common longing and communal victory, touching and surprising us along the way. Her prose takes us beyond the mats, into our own real lives. On one level, Loren seems to target women, hoping to show us that we don't need to be afraid physically, that our "softness" can "remain," even against the "hardness" of men's more showy muscles. But on a deeper, more lingering level, the softness and hardness aren't about bodies or self defense or hours of training. Loren shows us a way to approach life flexibly, courageously, head-on, like the river of the title.

There is much to love in the words of this slender work. "Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain" is the title for one of the essays, and an apt metaphor for the purpose of this book. Loren's voice is predominantly earnest, sincere, heartbreakingly honest; but occasionally she hits your humerus (I do love a pun): "In my life I have had little opportunity to snap spears with the tender part of my throat, and if ten people tried to push me off balance, I'd likely walk away and let them push each other" (p. 7). And then there are the characters, people you aren't likely to forget anytime soon. Jack, the talented but terrifying teacher in whose studio you could lose a toe or sever a tendon; Sifu, the venerable Chinese master who never quite mastered English; Laura, the survivor; Mickey, the resourceful mother; Natasha, the Zen priest.

At first glance, some of the stories seem implausible, especially taken alone, out of the context of the others. Come on, a skinny broad takes on a gang of swastika-tattooed Skinheads? A gawky 13 year old girl lays out three guys? A high school kid intimidates an abusive father? Only in the movies.

Or in this book, where rigorous training meets vigorous prose, lending credibility to the incredible. Loren confronts cruelty, poverty, and assorted other control issues of the inexorable sort. Yet I ended this book with a feeling of calm, squinting at the glint of the sun on the river.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giving Hope to An Older Woman WIth Chronic Illness 2 Aug 2008
By C. Farley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Yep, that person above is me and I hate it. I hate the limitations my chronic illness puts on me and hate how I constantly have to adapt exercise programs for my different abilities each day. When a 5th degree black belt mentioned he was interested in working with me and had worked with people in similar situations--I was both scared and intrigued. What if I couldn't cut it! I had been in SO MANY gym classes where the high impact and intensity of the work out locked me out of the workout. This book gave me a new window to view body movement and encouraged me to try.
That alone is such a blessing. Because discouragement is our most potent enemy-- BK Loren delivers a stunning death blow to that block. Fell comfortable giving this book to anyone and make sure and keep a copy for yourself. Excuse me, I have a 4:30pm martial arts class I'm on my way too.
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