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4.8 out of 5 stars
Karate Stupid
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2014
I really enjoyed this book - in fact I devoured it within 24 hours - but I enjoyed it in a different way to other books of westerner's experiences of martial arts in Japan, e.g. Moving Zen, Angry White Pyjamas, Year of the Chicken etc. Scott Langley writes with a brutal honesty about his experiences, although I suspect he has omitted some of the nastier events he encountered - maybe book 2 will be even franker - I hope he writes it. There is a dark theme that runs throughout this book, which all who seek to fulfil their dream of travelling to Japan and being accepted as an equal in Japanese Martial Arts, should take note of. The almost catastrophic mental deterioration due to the intense physical demands of the JKS Instructors Course and the cultural shock of living in Japan is palpable. However, that is not to say that the book is depressing or sad - far from it! Scott Langley interjects some grand, ironical humour in the recounting of his experiences, and taken in context, I think these are a real testament to the integral toughness of the guy. Probably the least romanticised, most compelling book of its type I have read. Well done that man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2014
I have known the author since he was a sixteen year old snotty nose kid donning a brown belt. Since that time besides becoming good friends I had been his sometimes suffering Sempai, training companion, drinking companion, and target practise.
I had just finished the last book in the series of A song of Ice and Fire, commonly known as The Game of Thrones. The following day I picked up Karate Stupid only to find déjà vu with a wealth of violence, bloodshed, alcohol, deception and sex. I also know most of the characters ‘named’ added to my own visits to Japan and so for me this was in colour from the start.
I had visited Scott and ‘Jen’ in 1999 before he embarked on the steps towards the instructor’s course. The book reminded me of the emails and phones calls between us. One particular email still remains in my mind it simply read “I am tired of seeing my own blood.” After much pondering I was at a loss for a reply, after a day it was ‘ganbette’.
Another resemblance to the Game of Thrones is the author’s character change from Jon Snow to ‘Reek’ till finally merging out of the fire as a Dragon.
Those of you who do not practise Karate but enjoy travel and experiencing new cultures, you will find it written here in full colour. I own and read ‘Moving Zen’ (C.W.Nicol), Introduction to Karate (Ken Singleton, my own instructors good friend) and Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger (Aikido) all telling their own experiences training in Japan and Karate Stupid is up there with them.
Osu Philli 5th Dan “Ishii Sensei Disciple”.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2014
I just have to agree with all the rest of the reviews. It's just a funny and brilliant book. Has to be read by all karate-ka. I finished it in two days because i just couldn't put it down. It really does open your eyes as to how hard and strict the training must be in Japan. It honestly shocked me reading this book. It is a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2014
I trained with Sensei Langley last weekend, which was an amazing experience. He combines incredible ability with genuine humility which makes him a perfect teacher. Gentle, and humorous in his style, you are left in no doubt that he is a true master of his art and it is, as I described, an amazing experience to be in the same dojo as him. I bought his ebook and simply cannot put it down. It is one of those rare books that has you hooked from the first moment. It is a combination of several different stories, all woven into one tale, of growing up, of a prodigious karate talent, of travelling and living in Japan, of success...and failure...and fun. It is a story to be awed by, to laugh with, to feel sad for, and yet, throughout his enthusiasm and dedication to life, not just karate shine through.

A great book, about a great person. As with karate, so with this book, it is about so much more than its title! Recommended without any hesitation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2014
Really enjoyed reading this book and what an superb true honest account of the course and more importantly himself . I must ask why have the JKS taken offence at the book to take action like they did ? Or maybe it's me not understanding the Japanese way of thinking ... hopefully when I'm in Dublin next I'll bring my gi with me ...thanks for the book Sensei, Gerwyn Harries Welsh Shotokan Karate Organization.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2014
I have a space on the shelf for "martial arts related books written by British gentlemen"; Scott Langley's offering now sits comfortably to the left of Mark Law (Judo), C.W.Nicol (Karate) and Robert Twigger (Aikido). This is a personalised account of his 5 years living and working in Japan. He was a karate-ka before going to Japan, but his experiences, especially as a kenshūsei (trainee) on the Japanese karate instructors' course, meant that it was a very different man who boarded the plane to fly home. His story is brutally honest, humorous and intelligent. His western expectations and aspirations frequently spar with a Buddhist-like acceptance as he travels unsteadily along his chosen path. There are, in this regard, shades of Moving Zen interlaced with the harsh physicality described by Twigger. Langley makes many observations of Japanese people and culture but is never disparaging. Some of these he struggles to rationalize, while other aspects become part of his self (or 'not-self'), a spirit distilled through perseverance and pain.
On the face of it, this is a story of survival against a backdrop of karate in Japan, but it also an exploration of physical endurance and how it connects with the human psyche.
There is very little technical jargon which makes it wholly accessible, and makes for an easy read. But at the same time this book will be thoroughly enjoyed by those who have an interest in budō and/or Japan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2014
An excellent read which I too finished in 24 hours. Something I only do with the best books. A fantastically frank (I presume) summary of the training he underwent. If anyone from the JKS reads this, I don't know what you have to be angry about? What is wrong in "telling it like it is?"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2014
A mental and physical roller coaster of a journey through the Shotokan karate world in and out of Japan. What Scott went through is a true testimant to all karateka wanting to push themselves to the brink in Karate and still come out with a smile!! I rate this book up there with Angry white pyjamas and Moving Zen which are books that I hold close to my heart and read time and time again. It is an eye opener to how we place the Japanese up on a pedastal in the martial arts world thinking that we will never reach those dizzy heights. Thanks for a great read. Oss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2014
Absolutely loved reading this book - so much so that I not only bought the kindle download but simply had to purchase the hard copy on paperback - just so I could "see" the book. !!
I always saw Scott Sensei as a "tough" chap ( mentally) but to read his true feelings of loneliness and utter despair at times was quite quite moving. I wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug !
This is a very moving book and I totally recommend all sorts of people should include a copy in their library. Karateka or not.
Losus Always. BB
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2014
I loved this book albeit that I devour this kind of read. Be it Moving Zen, Angry White pyjamas, Year of the chicken, Born Fighter or Spirit of the Empty Hand, stories of hardships faced learning Japanese martial arts inspire me. This book is no different. It's funny, moving and full of insights into the inner world of the famed instructors training course. It tells the story of Scott's struggles to overcome his own barriers and those imposed upon him by Japanese and karate culture. At times I felt you could have easily swapped the words Instructor training for Navy Seals BUD/s or SAS selection since all three are extreme training programmes leading to world class warriors. None-the-less, it's fantastic to see the human side of the author and allow me just to fantasize a little about what it takes to reach the top. I've read Moving Zen many times over the years and each time it inspires my training. With Karate Stupid I've read it twice in the week or so that I've owned it. It will become my modern Moving Zen!
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