Review: "In the Dojo"

In the Dojo
A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts
by Dave Lowry

Synopsis: "Beginning students in Japanese martial arts learn that when they are in the dojo, they must don their practice garb with ritual precision, address their teacher and senior students in a specific way, and follow certain unwritten but deeply held codes of behavior. But very soon they begin to wonder about the meaning behind the traditions, gear, and relationships in the dojo.

"In this collection of lively, detailed essays, Dave Lowry, one of the most well-known and respected swordsmen in the United States, illuminates the history and meaning behind the rituals, training costumes, objects, and relationships that have such profound significance in Japanese martial arts, including the dojo space itself, the teacher-student relationship, the act of bowingwhat to expect—and what will be expected of you—when you visit a dojo, the training weapons, the hakama (ceremonial skirt) and dogi (practice uniform), the Shinto shrine and more."

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Lowry himself admits in the introduction that this sort of in-depth exploration of reishiki (or etiquette) may not interest most readers. Perhaps only the Clif Clavens of the world, those (like myself, admittedly) who love the nuances of the culture and the traditions every bit as much as the art itself, will devour it, as I did.

Aside from that, I enjoyed Mr. Lowry's writting style: educated, articulate, but easy to understand, even when delving into facets of deep history. I look forward to reading some of his other works.