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The Warrior's Path: Wisdom from Contemporary Martial Arts Masters    Editor James Sidney order for
Warrior's Path
by James Sidney
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2003 (2003)

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Sidney's figurative photographs give a sense of the speed and elegance of motion of great martial artists in action. The author, a professional photographer and a fourth dan karate black belt, has interviewed fifteen individuals (thirteen men and two women) who 'have devoted their lives to the ideals of martial arts'. These are some of a 'unique generation' of masters 'who trained under the originators of their arts, who were transformed by the experience of World War II, who pioneered the globalization of modern Japanese martial arts'.

For each one, the author presents a bio and photograph, and then we hear directly from the master. The disciplines represented are Akido, Atarashii Naginata, Iaido, Judo, Karate-do, Kendo, Kyudo, and Shorinji Kempo. There are consistent themes in the masters' words - that true mastery only comes with serenity; that it is important to make one technique strong rather than acquire multiple weak techniques; that one must 'transcend confrontation'. Several express concern about the Western trend to be sports oriented instead of keeping the original spiritual focus in a lifelong pursuit of martial arts. They talk about budo - about responsibility and discipline, courtesy and consideration, patience and humility - all important elements of any martial art.

Most of these masters discuss their approach to teaching, and some mention how it has changed over the years. Nobuyuki Kamogawa tells us that 'a good teacher will walk his student back' once he sees that the student has gone down a false path. Yoshimitsu Takeyasu suggests that 'the teacher shouldn't teach too much.' Mitsusuke Harada says 'You can't teach martial arts, you've got to steal it - you've got to catch it' by practicing with a partner. Hiroshi Tada quotes Seizan Matsuura in an ancient martial arts book, saying 'The dojo is the dressing room of the theater' and continues to tell us that 'Daily life is the real stage.'

The overview of different realms of martial arts is fascinating, and there is much to learn from each master's words of wisdom in The Warrior's Path - whether you are a martial arts practitioner, a teacher, or a student of life.

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