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on 16 November 2002
I've just finished reading this book, which is good because my life has been on hold since I bought it yesterday morning! It is one of the most readable books I have picked up in a long time, mainly I think due to the excellent characterisation of the author's friends and instructors and some sharp observations of life.
Furthermore, as someone who has lived in Japan and savoured pretty much the same ex-pat experience of teaching English as the author has, I can tell you that his recreations of the country and the people are spot on. I was really itching to get back to Japan by the end of the book, the images and memories he was triggering were so strong. Angry White Pyjamas is 'real', which is about the strongest compliment I can think of to give to a book. Go and buy it now.
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on 20 July 2014
The author, and Englishman working in Tokyo, took up the martial art of Aikido. His dojo ran an intensive and brutal aikido course which is used to train the Japanese riot police. He signed up, and this is the account of what happened.

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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on 9 March 1999
As an infrequent martial artist this book is a breath of fresh air. I have been taught by nprice (a reviewer) and as a low belt, Twigger strikes home the feeling of being the new kid on the mat, looking on with trepidation and respect at the skills practiced by those above. You never think that you will amount to much at the entry level, when you struggle with so called simple skills, but Twigger shows that with grim determination (read the book and you will see what I mean) you will succeed. Do not expect detailed descriptions of locks and throws or heroic street fights. The book is far too good for brawling stories. I takes you into the mind of someone who feels they are going nowhere and does something about it. You are also introduced to a fascinating culture by a very skillful author which adds an extra dimension. Don't waste your money on how to defend yourself books, you should go to classes for that. Buy this and see what mental discipline you need to succeed at any martial art and reassure yourself that it is not too late for that promised change of lifestyle.
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on 6 March 1999
This is NOT abook about aikido; it's a book about a gaijin learning aikido and should be read as such (and it might find a wider readership if UK bookstores didn't stock it under 'Sports'.) So many of us who live(d) in Japan think we have a great story to tell - Robert Twigger actually tells his story well, though he could use a good proof reader. The story is a fine balance of aikido details and a commentary on life in Japan, expressed much more honestly and less pretentiously than by some other gaijin. Twigger has a good eye for the oddities we find in Tokyo, without feeling the need to sprinkle them over every page to show how observant he is, unlike some other writers. He neatly portrays the 'never give up' concept so prevalent in all walks of Japanese life, without getting overly carried away with it. I don't practise aikido, I've never met Twigger or any of his instructors, I'm just an ex-gaijin who was sent the book by a friend and thoroughly enjoyed it. (But I do endorse his choice of best gaijin bar!).
Now, when are we going to get the female gaijin book??
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on 16 April 2005
Having been leant this book by a friend of mine who studied Aikido for a year or so and, being a person that is fascinated by martial arts and an ex practitioner of Judo (a similar martial art) and currently doing kung fu, I was compelled to buy this book myself so that I may own my own copy of it. The book is compulsive reading and once you get into it it is hard to put down. The book is quite comical in places where Robert gets into all number of scrapes and acquires injuries, a Japanese girlfriend and must undertake a visit to the dreaded Japanese dentist!
As someone that has long been a fan of Japan and looking to visit there in the near future this book conjured up all kinds of imagery and ideas of what I might do when I do visit. The book inspired me through hard times during my degree to carry on and make the best of it. From the word go I was grabbed by this book and I have no doubt that martial arts fans and just casual readers will by hooked in exactly the same way. You are with Robert every step of the way through this book. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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on 8 December 1998
For those people looking for an in-depth guide to Aikido forget Angry White Pyjamas, this isn't the one for you. But if you are remotely interested in a Gaijin's life in Japan then give this a go. The book is an intimate look at the year-long Japanese Riot Police course, one of the most demanding martial arts course in the world. Twigger doesn't go into vast details about the techniques he learns, rather, he lets you into his skull so you know exactly how painful, how strict the course is. What is interesting in the book is seeing how he got through this year of hell, how he coped with the constant barracking and abuse... I know I couldn't. By the end of the book you really do feel for Robert Twigger putting himself through what sounds like hell. Perhaps the best recommendation I can give it is that I was disappointed when I read the last page.
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on 11 June 2009
Robert Twigger writes an entertaining story of his time in Japan, not falling into what I would assume to be the all too easy form of technical jargon, rather revealing the human side of what it takes to survive such a punishing course.

It should be noted that this isn't a book aimed squarely at martial arts enthusiasts, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. It was interesting to read his physcological journey of ups and downs, being absolutely honest about his fears and character flaws. A man writing a book such as this would be so easily tempted to write himself into infamy.

I myself have never been involved with martial arts, nor do I have a burning enthusiasm for it. Never the less, even I enjoyed this book. A testament to its broad scope.

I recommend this book.
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on 20 July 2002
Robert Twigger captures the very atmosphere of Japan and its mysterious culture in this very delightful and amusing book. It follows the authors year long struggle with the Tokyo Riot Police aikido course, which is held in the legendary Yoshinkin dojo, lead by a series of Japanese and forgien instructors who tend to like to dish-out bone breaking moves with no remorse. What makes this book so great to read is that Robert Twigger started out on this course not even being able to do basic fitness, showing that anyone who has the slightest will to do something will succeed. If you have an interest in aikido add another star to the rating.
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on 6 October 2000
This is an amazing and clearly true account. I couldn't put it down until the final page. In today's TV world were most of us are content to watch life on the box - it is inspiring and refreshing to learn there are still men (and women) willing to experience real life by living it in all its forms. Pain is the key signature of this book. If you have the courage to suffer, you will in the end learn something worthwhile. A seminal book on the Japanese martial arts - and communicated so brilliantly from the pen of a born writer....
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on 29 April 2002
I just couldn't put this book down. It will defintiely be a hit with martial artists who know themselves the cycles of hard training, failure and success. Non-martial artists rarely understand the rationale behind committing onself to a seemingly goal-less and neverending art. In the pages of Angry White Pyjamas, students will see glimpses and reflections of their own struggle to master their chosen art. Top marks - on a par with Moving Zen but with comedy moments.
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