A Book Review or Two
By Sensei Neil Prime.

I read two books back to back by the same author, Peter Urban. I had heard many great reviews about his writings so when Sensei Henry leant me these books from his own personal collection I thought this was a great opportunity to explore this man's work. The two books in discussion are "The Karate Dojo" and "The Karate Sensei".

Part 1

The Karate Dojo - Traditions and Tales of a Martial Art
Author: Peter Urban
Published: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc
First print: 1967

This book is very well organized giving the reader an overview of what to expect in the martial arts from a perspective of today's martial arts and how they have evolved. Through out the first 8 chapters the author explains the traditions of a modern dojo and how the belt ranking system works. He explains that a karateka is a person with a strong will, and how that strong will can grow through karate training.

Although some of the topics discussed can lead into personal views of how things should be, he does not go in that direction. The author interjects some opinions of his own regarding today's society; how it has been degraded over the years and respect levels just aren't what they used to be etc., but he doesn't dwell. It is more of a statement of fact rather than opinion, and since that is the way things are, the values of karate become even more important.

As I read through the pages, I couldn't stop thinking about why we karate people stay in karate. After all, the work involved is often tedious, the discipline required can be overwhelming at times, and the sparring requires a lot of tenacity. Sometimes, just the physical pain of it all is enough to discourage most "normal" people. I guess that's why we struggle through. We're not of the "normal" genre.

The book explains some of the history and evolution of karate. Although some of the training techniques of yesteryear may seem a bit harsh, the author mentions these techniques to help the reader better understand where the traditions of the dojo today were derived from.

Once the setting has been placed in the reader's mind, the author then tells us a number of "famous dojo stories". These stories are simply enjoyable to say the least. Some of the stories have been well documented, and some of the stories really stretch your imagination, but nonetheless they all make for great reading!

You don't have to be a karateka to enjoy this book, but it sure adds a level of fulfillment if you are.

Back for More Great Reading