Friday, September 16, 2011



A washed-up English teacher decides to tackle a grueling Aikido training course for the Japanese riot police.


This memoir describes an unusual experience by a Brit abroad. Oxford grad Twigger has used up his sense of direction and most of his money when he decides to enroll in a year-long martial arts course designed for the elite Tokyo riot police. He joins a motley crew of expats in his quest to do something with his life. In the process, he discovers the personal benefits of accomplishing something unique and difficult.

The strong point of this memoir definitely lies in the character descriptions. Twigger conjures up an interesting bunch of classmates and instructors. They have flaws, rivalries and personal triumphs that emerge as they endure the physically and mentally grueling course. Twigger explores the complicated relationship between locals and expats as he tries to understand this niche of Japanese culture. He must come to terms with disillusionment and frustration with the culture even as he comes to understand it better.

This is clearly a book that would appeal to martial arts fans and practitioners. It would also appeal to 20-somethings who are trying to sort out what they want from life. I found it hard to relate to the narrator initially because of his near total lack of direction, though this is of course something he addresses through this journey. Through this effort in persistence and hard work, he comes to be more firmly grounded and he has a better understanding of the culture that he has adopted for a season.


I borrowed this book from a friend.


When have you found that doing something difficult has benefited you personally?


  1. I would love to read this book as I am interested in Japanese culture. It's interesting how another culture can change someone's life. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Well, my weekly Cantonese lesson springs to mind... it is too soon to say if it will benefit me, other than to keep the brain cells growing!

  3. I was looking for this information, thanks for put in this easy way, I mean in a easy way to understand it jajaja, well until the next time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...