on 16 February 2007
This book is a deceptively easy read, but one that you will refer back to often. Covering a wide range of subjects relating to the logistics, etiquette and practices of the traditional Japanese martial arts, it is a valuable guide for the long term budo practitioner.
The book includes chapters on the roles of bowing, the teacher, and the shrine in the dojo. It discusses the dojo space itself, as well as the community that the dojo represents. Mr. Lowry is particularly effective at weaving real, practical information with interesting anecdotes and probably little-known facts about the origins of many of the rituals found in traditional dojo. I particularly appreciated his comments on visitors to the dojo, and on the kohai-sempai relationship.
Mr. Lowry also takes aim at a number of myths and half truths associated with the martial arts, which a lot of serious budo practitioners will have encountered at one time or another. His comments about the pleats of the hakama were particularly interesting. He reserves particular disdain for a number of practices that he describes as "affectations". From anyone else such commentary might appear to be overly-harsh, but Mr. Lowry's extensive background and experience on the subject matter give him a genuine and authoritative perspective. It's about time that this stuff was debunked and this is the one author to do it.
on 1 May 2009
There are some interesting anecdotes in this book and I was even moved to make notes as I went along for future reference. However, I wonder just how much of what the author suggests is 'fact' and how much is his interpretation, opinion or made up by himself-references would have helped make this more lucid. The writing style is verbose and meandering and Lowry occasionally has an odd, awkward turn of phrase (rather like a foreign language book translated into English) that requires one to reread sentences. This gets a little tiresome over the course of the whole book but when you reread the book the tangents become really interesting. I haven't come across this style of writing in his other books. But he warns us of his tangential writing in the preface, so I was warned and so are you! Having said all that, don't let it put you off buying this book as it does contain some very valuable, interesting pieces of information that will fascinate moat martial arts practitioners.
on 2 April 2009
This book is a simple and easy to read guide to the rituals and etiquette that surround the dojo and the Japanese martial arts.
It is well written and a joy to read, bringing meaning to the traditions and rituals that we observe in the dojo.
The book is a collection of essays that deal with various aspects of the dojo:- The dojo space itself, the shinto shrine that we find in every dojo,its vistitors,the relationship between the student and teacher, the uniform, the training weapons, the martial language and bowing.
It is a must for anyone who practices or has an interest in martial arts and desires understanding the traditions that they come upon during the time spent in the dojo.
`In the Dojo' is a book by Dave Lowry exploring etiquette and ritual in the dojo and their history. Whilst I am a huge fan of Lowry's books, this one seems to be stilted and quite dry to read. It doesn't flow like his other books and comes across as too serious and even a little stiff at times. He comes across as very dedicated and with a great deal of integrity, but whereas previously he came across as more down to earth and slightly more informal when imparting his prodigious knowledge, here he seems uptight and even slightly condescending about the issues explored. I agree with all he has to say about Budo and it's development and enjoy reading about the etiquette of dojo activities and form, but I didn't especially enjoy the way he chose to impart it this time. The topic this book covers are The Dojo, Visitors, The Uniform, The Hakama, Weapons, The Shinto Shrine, Contemplation, Bowing, Martial Language, The Teacher, Money, The Student, The Dojo Year and an in-depth glossary of Japanese terms used . If you a fan of Lowry then there will be something here to engage you, but if you are new to martial arts books, or have yet to try Lowry's other books, then I would suggest you try one of those first before you come to this later on. His two collected essays books are particularly good and worth checking out.
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