Top positive review
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Sometimes Learning is Hard
on 18 March 2013
I have read this book cover to cover in fairly short space of time and given it a couple of days to reflect on it. I've been practising karate and kickboxing for about 20 years. This is the first book I've read which is about the 'way' of Karate, rather than an instructional guide.
My reasons for buying it were to try and understand more about what I can learn from Karatedo, and how. Having become reasonably proficient physically speaking, my training had reached a plateau so I needed further direction - having only occassional contact with my Sensei due to location, I have turned to books to further and broaden my learning.
In that respect alone I have found this book extremely thought provoking.
It goes a long way to dispelling some of the myths and urban legends that may commonly be held in the West, perhaps due to the influence of movies and games and so on. It tries to tell us about the depths of Karatedo beyond the superficialites with which it often treated, and more importantly it challenges you to seek out these depths.
There is also a good deal of practical advice in the book as well, both in terms of actual Karate training, but also what to look for in a Sensei and club, depending on what you want to gain. You will also find yourself thinking long and hard about what you actually want from Karate.
If you simply do Karate for sport/fitness/fun then I would not recommend this book for you. Particularly those who practise Karate as a sport, you may find that Lowry comes across as somewhat superior and almost sneering at your chosen level of depth - I'm sure this is not quite his intention but his style of writing certainly frustrates on occasion in this respect. His position seems to be (this is how I took it) that competitions are at a superficial level and place too much focus on defeating others in a non-realistic environment and placing too great an emphasis on style over substance.
Personally I found that, despite his style being a bit finger-wagging and trying a little too hard to sound sage in places, he nevertheless speaks a lot of sense and indeed delivers a few home truths about training habits and perceptions both here and in Japan.
He has clearly been there and done it, and you can get the feeling that he is reminding you of this constantly, but forgiving some of those indulgences will enable you to learn, or at least seek to learn, a great deal.
To conclude, a little frustrating in places and you might often feel like you're being scolded. Lowry is opinionated to say the least but then such is his entitlement. I'm undecided as to whether I will buy another Lowry book as I find him just that little bit superior in places, but I will dip back into this book as there was a lot of very good and considerd advice in there. For those who wish to explore the deeper meanings of Karatedo, if you are prepared to be open-minded, perhaps prepared for a little constructive criticism and above all willng to undergo some honest introspection about you Karate training, then this book offers some genuine guidance that you will undoubtedly look back on and be thankful.