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Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police Paperback – 23 Oct 1997
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Only at one point did I suddenly think: What the hell are you doing here? Why don't you just walk away? I banished the thought quickly. I knew I couldn't afford the luxury of such thinking if I was going to stick it out for the whole year.When Robert Twigger found himself training alongside the Tokyo Riot Police, he realised two things: He'd never been fit and he'd never been tough. In fact, as a student and poet in the relatively cosseted world of Oxford, he had done nothing to uphold the family's military reputation established by his grandfather.
But once he joined Japan's most famous Aikido "dojo", (academy) he came up against all the challenges a life of tough physical action had to throw at him: Sadistic teachers, even more sadistic friends, repetitive training, broken limbs and the ominous "nobbies".
At more than one point throughout the year-long course that would change him from pondering intellectual to "bodyguard" for two elderly Japanese women, Twigger thought of quitting. So what kept him going--his friends in Fuji heights, Chris and Fat Frank? Sara, his Japanese girlfriend? A Zen belief in overcoming the will of the self? It was more to do with sheer grit and determination-- a refusal to be beaten.
Though winner of the William Hill 1998 Sports Book of the Year, this is no ordinary sports book. Intelligent, witty, and downright compelling, the story of a self-confessed "softie" who took on some of the world's toughest and made it through, is one of the best books you will read this year. Peppered with insight into the exclusive Japanese culture and ex-pat life, Twigger's book will make you want to get off your couch and travel to the land of the rising sun straight away-- or at least, once you've finished the book. --Lucie Naylor
A frantic, very funny, urban quest. (Simon Garfield Mail on Sunday)
A book of unexpected brilliance. It is subtle, funny, stimulating and original - a rites-of-passage story, an explanation of an alien culture, and an inspiring work of philosophy (Patrick French)
His fine eye for eccentricities makes this an entertaining travelogue (The Observer)
A rattling good yarn and very funny into the bargain (Tim Hulse Independent on Sunday)
This is a splendidly written adventure, something sane at last on the craziness of martial arts (Independent on Sunday)
His explanation of how to come to terms with intense pain should be read to every footballer who has ever writhed about in agony after a kick on the shin... It is a clever, enthralling book (Ian Wooldridge Daily Mail)
Brilliant ... everyone should read it (Tony Parsons Late Review)
Wonderfully oddball ... Here is a cult book all right, which could do for Japan and the martial arts what Hornby did for Highbury and the football terraces (Frank Keating Guardian)
Poetry in motion (Sue Townsend Sunday Times)
Communicates the existential purity of his elective regime with irrepressible passion ... it also has the unmistakable stamp of authentic experience (Daily Telegraph)
Twigger vividly captures the wince-inducing physical and emotional trails endured by those who would wear the black belt. But he also offers a rare insight in aikido's peculiarly Darwinian group dynamic and how it fits into modern Japanese society. After this marvellously insightful account I will snigger no more at Steven Segal's po-faced chop-sockey (Ben Farrington Literary Review)
The most intriguing sports book ever to win the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award (Daily Mail) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Buy it for the romp.
I would defiantly read more in the future it was entertaining, funny and serious.
I didn't want to put it down once it was started I really got sucked into the writers life and felt I was there watching the struggles and triumphs.
10/10. Will read again
Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brings back so many of my own experiences in martial arts training.Published 6 months ago by Alicia
Very well written and informative. Of course it is an individual point o view on many things Japanese to be taken with a pinch of salt, but surely the most compelling book on... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gianni ELVEZIA
A very funny and insightful book about Japan. Well.worth reading if you ate remote interested in the country and it's culturePublished 8 months ago by Stephen