As part of my preparation for promotion to ShoDan in Shiho Karano, I started looking for good books to broaden my overall knowledge about the martial Way. I wanted quality materials, so I took my time and searched for works by legitimate practitioners. One book I skimmed through was "Traditions", and after reading some chapters decided it was worthwhile.
I discovered that Sensei Lowry has been writing about the martial arts for more than twenty years. He's been a longtime contributor to various magazines, and has authored a number of books as well (after finishing this one, I ordered three of his other books from Amazon). In addition, he began practicing the martial arts back in the late sixties, so he's seen and experienced a lot in the intervening years. "Traditions" is a collection of excellent essays that reflect his hard-earned and well-learned budo lessons.
"Traditions" is well written, and each short chapter clearly reveals many crucial martial arts insights. Indeed, even a non-practitioner would find it to be an accessible introduction to the martial Way. As for budo participants, anyone from white belt to seasoned veteran will learn something new or gain a different perspective on what they already know. Topics include proper etiquette between sempai and kohai, thoughts on learning, the reason martial artists practice barefoot, and the "why" behind the kiai. Sprinkled throughout the book are tales of legendary Japanese bugeisha that demonstrate important budo principles and character qualities.
Now that I've passed my ShoDan exam, I'm particularly impressed by one of Sensei Lowry's quotes: "When you get a black belt ranking it doesn't mean you've gotten a foot in the door. It means you have learned how to find the doorknob (pg. 144)." I'm glad that the black belt is a beginning instead of an end. This is the kind of martial arts wisdom that you'll find in "Transitions." If you're serious about growing in budo knowledge as well as technique, then this book will help you along that path.