3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A must for all Martial Artists, 4 Dec. 2011
I had been looking forward to this new book of Sensei Clarke and I wasn't disappointed.
"Shin Gi Tai" is a book that may encourage and inspire you or you might not like it at all , but whatever you may think of this book, it will definitely make you think about and reassess what you are doing in your own practice.,
This book, is well- crafted, well balanced, shows the great appreciation that the author has for his art and his love of Okinawa, not only for karate but also the other cultural traditions of this Island, and it is obvious that a lot of hard work and effort has gone into this publication. It is nicely illustrated with old and new pictures, includes very detailed illustrated notes to the main text and there is also a comprehensive glossary of Japanese terms and recommended reading and viewing. It is very readable, includes many anecdotes and although Sensei Clarke doesn't pull his punches, his writing is open and honest with a good sense of humour.
The author talks about the history meaning, etiquette and also the differences between Japanese and Okinawan Dojos. He is well aware of the differences in character of Okinawans and Japanese. It may be that now Okinawa is considered to be part of Japan but their histories are very different, their characters are different and this is reflected in their karate, how it is practiced and how it is taught. He also points out that basically karate is practiced as a sport, for health or as a practice of Budo. Although they all have their own merits he asks us to be aware of the differences and not to fool ourselves about what we are actually practicing and definitely not to be fooled by someone else.
Towards the end of the book he devotes a number of pages to introduce the reader to the music, textiles, language, ceramics, architecture and cuisine of Okinawa, and also goes on to tell us the stories of three Masters of Okinawan karate. In doing this Sensei Clarke really invites us to experience a greater depth and richness of our art by exploring it's place of birth and learning from those that have shaped the art from the past.
The theme of this book is Shin Gi Tai and although individual chapters are devoted to each of these topics, actually as the author is trying to show us, they cannot be separated and the main theme runs throughout the whole book. When karate was taken to Japan from Okinawa many changes were made to meet with the Japanese way of thinking, and then when karate was brought to the West yet again there were changes. Of course it is inevitable that things change and we may never know the original forms of our karate, or for that matter any other art. But although the form may change the very heart, which is the place where all forms and actions spring from must be real. We have to be careful that we are not just practicing something which is similar, something that is just similar is not the real thing therefore it is a fake. Of course also heart without action is of no worth so we need all three, Shin Gi Tai. I believe that this is what Sensei Clarke is trying get us to appreciate, and what he in his 37 years of karate practice and with his interviewing of many masters in his role as a writer, within Karate and outside, has come to appreciate.