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Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police Paperback – 1 Feb 2007
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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)
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The book is funny at points, but comes across as a truthful account - it is not played for laughs. You don't think (in contrast to many "I did something wacky" memoirs) that it was a project mainly to publish a book all along; something which can be fatal to the sincerity of the book. It has fascinating insights into what it is like to experience Japanese culture as a foreigner, and to be involved in traditional Japanese training methods. It has interesting things to say about doing martial arts.
It also as exciting as a novel: you watch the characters with fascination as the class fight (literally and metaphorically) through the challenges of the course.
The writing is fine, and in an unobtrusive style which depicts events and observations clearly without becoming distracting - quite a feat in a book which could just as easily have become a hubristic memoir as a play-it-for-laughs. Quotations from Tesshu, Mr Twigger's 19-th Century samurai-poet-swordsman hero are interesting, and are nicely interwoven with the text.
While Mr Twigger's martial arts experience is very different from my own, he captures some things which I really recognized, and I felt I learned a couple of things too. But explanations are kept very easy to follow, whether they are factual - about training drills - or more philosophical - about mindset of martial arts. You could certainly enjoy this book if you'd never done any martial arts (though it might encourage you to try).
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I would defiantly read more in the future it was entertaining, funny and serious.Read more