15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Take that - and zen some!,
This review is from: Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police (Paperback)
I train in Ju Jitsu at a London club and I can relate with many a wry smile to Robert Twigger's experiences in A.W.P. Although not training to the same punishing level, I see all his dojo types in any martial arts clubs; the sadists, the wimps, the show-offs and all us in-betweens - sliding between fear and fascination, bravado and dejection.
Twigger keeps the specifics of Aikido technique to a minimum which is just as well as textualising any complex martial art is pretty redundant - you have to see or even to feel it to understand what a move is really about.
Instead he concentrates on his feelings, which range between a sense of enlightenment and achievement through dedication and perserverence to the detachment of an Englishman abroad doing silly foreign things.
At times it feels that although he has an eye for reporting the superficial oddities that make Japan the most estranged Western country, he fails to really understand or empathise with the Japanese spirit that he clearly believes is at the root of Aikido. The centre portion of the book also seems to suffer from the reptitiveness of the training itself.
If the way of exploding fists and arthritic knees is dear to you or an exotic source of curiosity AWP is a good read.