on 2 February 2012
Like many others, I was eagerly awaiting the release of this work. Having been a regular reader of Mr Clarke's books and magazine articles since my early teens, his work to date has been a source of inspiration and encouragement.
What you will find here is a book of experiences. There is no theory inside, no techniques to make you a better fighter, and certainly no gimmicks. There are many other sources available for such distractions. This book is more about confronting you with various questions about what art you are actually practicing, and asks that you answer yourself with honesty. Despite Clarke sensei's often blunt writing style, he manages to do this here without claiming to have all of the answers himself, and the book is filled with the personal successes and failures of an ordinary man's journey through karate-do. It is this personal touch that makes the book so endearing.
What makes karate karate? As a collection of fighting techniques there is nothing unique about the art to separate it from any other, however; Okinawan Karate-Do has the ability to enable a person to realize the human potential residing within themselves if practiced correctly and honestly. This may appear a little 'new age', but the fact is, if karate is to have any real value in modern society, it is through human development and the building of good citizens, rather than good fighters. This book, in my opinion, addresses for the first time how this can be achieved through correct practice.
Many times I was made to laugh out loud, nod in agreement, screw my face up in disagreement, and smile to myself at the information presented. I can say in all honesty that this is one of the nicest books written about Okinawan karate, and is up there with Funakoshi sensei's 'karatedo my way of life' and Nagamine sensei's 'Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters' as one of the most important books that discusses the spirit of Okinawan Karate.
Whether new to Karate or an advanced practitioner, regardless of 'style', I would be very surprised and disappointed if you didn't find something of value in this text.
Congratulations to Clarke sensei, and thank you for the inspiration over the years.
on 17 February 2012
I have been a big fan of Michael Clarke's writing ever since his first book `Roaring Silence'. Mike is one of the few writers in the world who seems to be able to capture the essence of karate in his writing, reflecting not just the practical aspects but also the meaning behind the art, and in a down-to-earth way that makes it very accessible. This is no doubt thanks to his passion for karate and years of dedicated training, and it all comes together in his new book Shin Gi Tai.
Mike writes on all aspects of karate - mind, body and spirit - and I find myself nodding and agreeing with everything he says, not only regarding basics but also some of the less popular `truths' about karate, for example the politics, charlatans and general misunderstandings that that are common in the art, for example the myth of `advanced' techniques.
This is not a book filled with techniques, rather it offers a commentary and insights into everything from finding the right dojo and teacher to physical training and the cultivation of the correct mental and spiritual approach in your training.
Towards the end Mike also offers an fascinating insight into Okinawa, the birthplace of karate and short biographies of three great masters. Mike references his own years in Okinawa, and while his principal training has been in Goju Ryu, he also references Shotokan, Kyokushinai and other style.
If had to recommend one book to a student setting out in karate I could think of none better than Shin Gi Tai. Mike's other works (Roaring Silence and Hojo Undo) are also highly recommended.
on 14 January 2012
Like many others in the world of Okinawan karate I have been looking forward to the release of this book. I was not disappointed. Over the course of eight well crafted and thought out chapters the author takes us on a journey through karate.
It is refreshing to read a martial arts book that is clearly aimed at adults and encourages not only reflection upon the wealth of knowledge and information presented here but also on one's own training and reasons for involvement in karate. In addition to the technical and historical section you might expect there is also information provided on Okinawan culture, music and language. For me an underlying current of the book was the differences that exist between Japanese and Okinawan culture and the effect that this has had on karate in the west, which for the most part was filtered through Japan rather than the original source.
The text is peppered with pertinent anecdotes from the author's time spent in Okinawa and Japan which gave the book a very personal feel.
This is not a book for a quick read, rather it will be something that is taken in piece by piece and re-read many times before the many lessons contained within can be fully appreciated and absorbed. This book goes way beyond the usual level of martial arts text books that usually tend to focus on the physical aspects of the art.
A highly recommended read for the serious martial artist who is interested in the experiences of someone with almost 40 years training in karate.
In short an excellent piece of work that deserves to be read thoroughly not once but many times.
on 17 March 2015
I must admit it took me a little while to fully get into this book, however when I did I found it difficult to put down. The book is a fantastic series of thoughts exploring the principles behind karate, principles that can help you connect with the mental aspects of training karate. Each topic imbued with the author's experience and rich knowledge and depth of understanding, which is written in a clear but detailed manner.
on 30 May 2013
Already widely known and internationally acclaimed for his priceless contributions to the perpetuation and discussion of traditional karate legacy and ethos , with "Shin Gi Tai" Kyoshi Michael Clarke achieves another landmark on martial arts literature.
Clarke is not a preacher, or a Karate guru, don't expect a "how to" manual or a religious guidebook... As someone who was able to gather an impressive amount of information and insight into one of the most popular and more misunderstood fighting traditions, he has been sufficiently generous to pour is time and effort into his wonderful writings.
This book engages you actively and challenges you continuously. You may not always agree with what you are reading but you can be sure you will be thinking, questioning, discovering and deepening your own views on karate-do.
The wealth contained in these pages makes it one of the most complete pieces I ever came across, it could easily be turned into three books instead of one, if it's objective were merely commercial, which is clearly not the case.
I highly recommend this book and have no doubts it is destined to become a modern classic.
Generous, insightful, informative, and thought provoking!
on 12 October 2012
When Michael Clarke has got something to say, then its worth listening to (or reading)!
An excellent book. A brilliant guide to help you along the martial way.
We seek knowledge, which leads to the truth, and that's exactly what you get...
on 30 December 2013
I have read previously author's Hojo undo book, which was a great souce of information on the exercises, construction notes and also a bit of history.
In Shin Gi Tai author writes about the many aspects of karate, from the attitude of the practitioner, the relationship of the student and teacher, throughout the techniques to body conditioning. The reader can also learn a bit about Michael Clarke's personality, the stories he has to tell and also history of okinawan karate.
I greatly appreciate his attention to details and the depth of knowledge, even I don't practice karate myself, I was able to learn here many things about the life long walk on the martial path (budo).
Truly amazing book. A must read for anyone seriously interested in budo (not only) karate.
on 4 December 2011
I had been looking forward to this new book of Sensei Clarke and I wasn't disappointed.
"Shin Gi Tai" is a book that may encourage and inspire you or you might not like it at all , but whatever you may think of this book, it will definitely make you think about and reassess what you are doing in your own practice.,
This book, is well- crafted, well balanced, shows the great appreciation that the author has for his art and his love of Okinawa, not only for karate but also the other cultural traditions of this Island, and it is obvious that a lot of hard work and effort has gone into this publication. It is nicely illustrated with old and new pictures, includes very detailed illustrated notes to the main text and there is also a comprehensive glossary of Japanese terms and recommended reading and viewing. It is very readable, includes many anecdotes and although Sensei Clarke doesn't pull his punches, his writing is open and honest with a good sense of humour.
The author talks about the history meaning, etiquette and also the differences between Japanese and Okinawan Dojos. He is well aware of the differences in character of Okinawans and Japanese. It may be that now Okinawa is considered to be part of Japan but their histories are very different, their characters are different and this is reflected in their karate, how it is practiced and how it is taught. He also points out that basically karate is practiced as a sport, for health or as a practice of Budo. Although they all have their own merits he asks us to be aware of the differences and not to fool ourselves about what we are actually practicing and definitely not to be fooled by someone else.
Towards the end of the book he devotes a number of pages to introduce the reader to the music, textiles, language, ceramics, architecture and cuisine of Okinawa, and also goes on to tell us the stories of three Masters of Okinawan karate. In doing this Sensei Clarke really invites us to experience a greater depth and richness of our art by exploring it's place of birth and learning from those that have shaped the art from the past.
The theme of this book is Shin Gi Tai and although individual chapters are devoted to each of these topics, actually as the author is trying to show us, they cannot be separated and the main theme runs throughout the whole book. When karate was taken to Japan from Okinawa many changes were made to meet with the Japanese way of thinking, and then when karate was brought to the West yet again there were changes. Of course it is inevitable that things change and we may never know the original forms of our karate, or for that matter any other art. But although the form may change the very heart, which is the place where all forms and actions spring from must be real. We have to be careful that we are not just practicing something which is similar, something that is just similar is not the real thing therefore it is a fake. Of course also heart without action is of no worth so we need all three, Shin Gi Tai. I believe that this is what Sensei Clarke is trying get us to appreciate, and what he in his 37 years of karate practice and with his interviewing of many masters in his role as a writer, within Karate and outside, has come to appreciate.
on 7 June 2013
I'm a big fan of this book, traditional in every way. Easy to read but deep in content this book has helped me in my journey in Karate.
on 10 May 2015
Informative reference bookfor a karate precept