One Man’s Journey to the Heart of Karate is a multifaceted work with ever-surprising depths. It is the story of a young man arriving in Japan to come to grips with an alien culture; his first two, hard years studying the technique of, and spirit behind, Karate; and, finally, the story of how he learned the art of gentleness through strength.
Twenty-two-year-old C. W. Nicol, born in Wales, a student of Judo since fourteen, the youngest pro wrestler in England, and a member of three arctic expeditions, arrives in Japan in 1962 to study Karate. He shortly finds that the study of this martial art engages his whole being and transforms his outlook on life. Joining the Japan Karate Association, or Shotokan, he discovers that Karate, while being extremely violent, also calls for politeness and a sense of mutual trust and responsibility. He learns that the stronger the Karateka, the more inclined he is to be gentle with others. The dangerous ones are those who have gained a measure of skill but have not yet achieved spiritual maturity–a fact he observes not only in others but in himself. Studying kata, he comes to realize that these forms are, in essence, moving Zen and that the ultimate goal of all the martial arts is tranquility. Eventually C. W. Nicol, through the help of many wonderful teachers, gains his black belt. In the meantime he has taken a huge step forward in achieving the goal of tranquility. This saga–must-reading for all martial artists and anyone interesting in “moving Zen”–was first published in 1975 and has achieved the status of a modern classic. C. W. Nicol is now a seventh-dan blackbelt in the Shotokan Karate International Federation. Now with a new foreword by Hirokazu Kanazawa and a new afterword by C. W. Nicol.