I bought this book almost a year ago already when I went to ABC Books to get some books signed by a local author. I would say that the year has flown, but honestly it’s only because the number of event markers to indicate the passage of time have diminished in the year 2020, not that I had a lot of Big Events to jazz up the metronomic rhythm of middle aged life here at Nogglestead in 2019. As they say and I often quote, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
The author of this book runs (or ran) his own martial arts for peace institute. A psychologist and martial artist, the goal of this children’s book is as much about talking about world peace and how the perspective of a young person as a martial artist can help them bring about that greater understanding and world peace as it is about martial arts concerns qua martial arts. The book is broken into small sections, stories, recountings of teachers instructing the students through lessons or martial arts training (sometimes not the same thing). Each section has a lovely children’s book illustration, so it’s almost half an art book, too.
I can’t help but compare it to the Buddhist sesshin books I have read in the recent years (Everyday Zen and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind). Although sometimes with insights that my own kyoshi has told me (Learn your own tells when you’re sparring because your opponent, if he or she is good, will see them, et cetera).
Still, the appeal of it for me, and the part I appreciated the most, was that practical advice and not the kumbaya bits. Because kumbaya is impossible. The best we can hope for is live and let live, and that’s in short supply these days.