on 1 September 2015
I have scarcely read a martial arts book which has been so enjoyable, so smooth to read, so full of insightful and funny stories, lessons and thoughts, and at the same time being so full of heartfelt feeling. The Japanese quality of wanting to be polite and civil at all times is present throughout.
This is a great book if you want to hear about how karate was trained 20-30 years ago, you'll discover it was incredibly similar to what boxing training is today; lots of drill and pad work, lots of discipline, physical training galore, and sparring practice every session (yes, every session), and this for 5, 6 days a week. The training attitude really highlights why Japanese karateka or judoka can be so very good; they train often, they train hard, and often they've got a great teacher to coach them.
Nicols motivations for wanting to learn martial arts come through strongly, as does his reflections on his journeys and his frailties. As the book unfolds so too does his personal journey unfold and come to fruition.
This is really satisfying to read, it re-inspired me to consider practicing karate, or at least an art which applies similar training methods and philosophies.
on 22 August 2016
I bought this small unassuming book in the 1970's. I found the authors description of his harsh Martial Arts training in 1960's Japan, highly evocative. I also loved the little pencil drawings, adding to the feel of a kind of personal diary. Albeit a very entertaining one.
I would heartily recommend that anyone with a serious interest in Karate, Budo, or Japanese traditions and customs reads this book. In order to gain a better insight into the Japanese mind set.
I recently bought the Kindle book, as I have a Fire HD. But was a little disappointed that although you can zoom in on the pictures, they become slightly blurred. Hence the 4 stars and not 5.
on 3 June 1999
This book tells the story of a British man seeking a Japanese dream, to study the martial arts in Japan. Mr Nicol was a wild youth getting into many street fights, he goes to Japan to learn Judo and Karate. He soon realises he must choose between them; he chose Karate. Whilst studying he learns inner peace and tranquillity, he also meets and marrys a Japanese girl.
This book is brilliant for those wishing to discover the culture of Japan through a martial arts (specifically Shotokan Karate) perspective.
on 16 April 2015
What can I say from the first page I was hooked, its like Shakespeare for Karate. Extremely well written. Beautiful, amazing, timeless classic. Someone who truly understands Japanese culture. If I had to some up one word. Pure. So pure, so good, you will have a glint in your eye at the end. This is how to live in Japan, how to treat Japanese, how to adapt and earn their love and guidance in return. I will never forget, 'Rank and championships are fine, but it is the path, the way, that is of most importance.'. Thank you Sensei Nicol for showing us the path.
on 2 May 2015
A wonderful book, not a karate manual, nor a self help book, but a beautiful reminiscence of a man's time in Japan and his shaping by the rigour of karate. It's gentle and personal, the story of an inner and outer journey through a society and a "sport" which works through to the author's soul like water shaping a stone. I practice karate, and so have an interest, and I came away with a greater understanding not only of the practice, but also an insight into the weft of zen in its fabric. As a piece of writing about a life in Japan, I found it gently moving and genuinely interesting.
One last thing, a shame a previous reviewer spoils it slightly by telling us how he ends his time in Japan. Also a shame they seem to have got the details wrong. But I'll let you find that out yourself.