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In Funakoshi's Footsteps by John Van-Weenen

I was a blue-belt (which seems quite a while ago, but is in fact just a year) I, like a lot of my fellow Karate-Ka, was a little confused with all the terminology that was used in the Dojo. I was very fortunate to come across a copy of John Van Weenen's ‘In Funakoshi's Footsteps'.

In the back of this book was a little biography of the man and gave some details of his work for charity after losing a friend to cancer, but also when he saw the suffering of refugees on a television program.

It was with some interest that I saw this listed on a certain internet bookseller and immediately placed an order.

The book isn't just a book about a man's quest to study Karate and how he progressed. It is also the story of a man who used the determination and spirit he learned through Karate to help others. The first part is a highly entertaining one, interlaced with funny stories, such as being trapped in a freezer after attempting to steal Apple Pies and having to perform Kata to keep warm. My favourite story involves the development of a new technique ‘Beer Zuki', which, though wasteful, I'm sure will require some serious practice! Sensei Van-Weenen describes his experiences of training with some of the legends of today's Karate and also touches on his brief movie career. If ‘Clock-Work Orange' is ever shown, make a point to tape it and keep an eye open during the prison scenes. Reading the second part of the book is a very humbling experience as it details his loss of a friend to cancer and the great works for charity that he undertakes. It is a particularly emotional moment when he meets Mother Theresa. There is a surprising moment which involves a certain man and a certain Red book. Although I'm sure one of his former pupils will have a few comments, I think this is a very entertaining and rewarding book which comes highly recommended.

This book can be purchased from Amazon.


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