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“In The Dojo

by George Mattson

“In the Dojo”, by Dave Lowry

I receive quite a few books from publishers that I try to read and review. those that deal strictly with technique and rehashed material I put aside or send to others to read and review. The Aikido book was an exception, since the techniques were so fantastic to view, try and practice. It was a book that had to be read immediately and savored for a lifetime.

Other books, like “In the Dojo” are put aside for other reasons. Like the Musashi book that took a year to digest and eventually write about, Dave Lowry’s book isn’t one you read for technique or even things that you may someday discuss or use.

It is a book you put aside as a reward. . . a book you will remember, in a special place on your bookshelf, just waiting to be picked up, a chapter selected and read. But you won’t just do this, like picking up your morning newspaper every day as a force of habit.

“In The Dojo” is the kind of book you will reserve for a special half hour – after work – after dinner – after the kids are in bed when you sit down in your favorite chair with your favorite drink, while contemplating the next sampling of what will become one of your favorite martial art books.

As I said earlier, this isn’t a book about fighting or the mastering of fighting techniques. If you are like me; someone who has spent a lifetime practicing the martial arts, yet for whatever reason, valid or not, has not taken the time to explore the substructure and essence of what I do in the dojo.

The first chapter will either clinch your love for the book or, if you are not ready to learn about all those things, then you should put the book aside, but don’t forget about it. I guarantee that you will, within a year or decade, look for the book and quiet half hour.

As Dave points out,

“This book is for . . . the curious who inhabit the dojo of the different Budo. It is for those who wonder ‘Why do we wear this?’ and ‘Why is this called that?’ It will by no means make you an authority on the subject of the Japanese martial arts and Ways. And it will not in the slightest improve your technique. Only by perspiring and training under a competent teacher and not by reading can one master these remarkable arts. Still, if you are the sort who wants to know and who has asked those questions, it is my hope this book will be of some value.”


What are those questions?

The dojo. . . everything from how to enter to its structural organization. . . Things that I’ve always wondered about but never asked.

Visitors, the uniform, the hakama, weapons and the shinto shrine.

Other common place elements of the workout we accept but really didn’t understand as part of a traditional dojo.

Contemplation, bowing, martial language, the teacher, money, the student and finally, something particularly interesting…. The dojo year.

I promise that at some point in your martial art training this book will be of interest to you. Reading it and understanding the contents may just be one of those “high points” in your martial art training. Something over and above the physical experience of simply working out.

Published by Weatherhill and Shambhala Publications, Inc.
207 pages. Available at Amazon and hopefully most bookstores. You can contact the publisher by email:


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