I can strongly recommend this book to any serious martial artist. I first read it about twenty years ago but have been back and re-read it many times since. It is easily read and, with only 151 pages, it is disappointing to have finished it because the content is so good and the end comes too soon.
Born in South Wales in 1940, C.W. Nicol always had an eye for adventure and joined an arctic expedition at the age of sixteen. In 1962, fascinated by the martial arts, he went to Japan on a visit that would change the rest of his life. The book tells of his study first of Judo and then of Karate plus brief encounters with other art forms.
Staying in Japan for almost three years Nicol recalls the good times and the bad and his journey from white belt to black. On a deeper level the book is a story of a tough streetwise violent young man who became disciplined and honed through the study of karate. Eventually through many arduous hours in the dojo he finds tranquillity. As one of his instructors told him “Karate is moving Zen", a state of mind all karate-ka must strive for.
On a lighter note the book gives details of life in Japan, relationships with his instructors and with Japanese ladies too! In graphic detail he also excitingly recalls some actual confrontations in and out of the dojo.
Finally the book also explains of his growing fondness for Japan as a country and for it's people and how he came to marry one of them.
Sensei's verdict: Strongly recommended; only a small book but with a big content.
Score 9 out of 10