Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On August - 28 - 2014

K068Recently, I went into a local used book store. The store is literally packed from floor to ceiling in books. I am not sure how anyone can find anything in there. I had a feeling that I would find a gem if I had a little bit of help, so I asked the owner if he had any martial arts books. He lead me through the maze of stacked books, shelves and old musty periodicals. He stopped in front of a shelf that was a sea of paper.

“There are some here,” he said as he pointed to a section of the shelf.

I thanked him as he squeezed passed me and returned to the cashier counter. Carefully, I took down some of the books and looked through them. I set aside some that I was interested in. They included a book by Bruce Lee, a program from a JKA Championship in Japan and a couple book dedicated to Martial Arts in general. I then took down another pile of books and found some that I already had, some of the Best Karate books by Master Nakayama. There were also some other books that I had. Then at the bottom of the pile I found a small book that I have been interested in reading for some time. The book showed a bearded man kneeling in a karate gi with big blue lettering beside him, “Moving Zen”.

C.W. Nicol tells the story of his introduction to the art of Shotokan Karate and his training in the JKA headquarters in Japan. The book takes us on his journey from a beginner to 1st Degree Black Belt and tells of the obstacles that he had to overcome as a Caucasian in Japan in the 1960’s.

Nic-san, as he was known, fell in love with Japan and immersed himself in the culture. He would marry a Japanese girl and live a large portion of his life there. I believe that he still lives in the Japanese Alps.

He was born in England and has lived an amazing life. He was on expeditions to the Arctic before he was 21 years old. He has also explored Antarctic, Africa and many other parts of the World. He is a Canadian citizen and live in the Canadian North for some time working as a research assistant. He has also been a professional wrestler, comedian and singer.

Nicol went to Japan with the goal to train in both Judo and Karate. He was working out and living at the Kodokan studying judo and travelling to the JKA Headquarters to learn Shotokan Karate. He would be approached by one of the Masters at the JKA headquarters and told that he would have to follow one discipline. He immediately stopped training in Judo and focused 100% on Shotokan Karate. Shortly after this he moved into a traditional Japanese home with several other non-Japanese martial artist, including Donn F. Draeger. Who has written several martial arts books including the Practical Karate series with Master Nakayama. Nicol was one of the “attackers” in the photos for the books.

Early in “Moving Zen”, he was told by an instructor at the JKA that there were many styles of karate and that he should experience them all before he chose which one to focus on. He tried everything but loved Shotokan the most. The book tells of his relationship with Master Kanazawa and many other instructors. He also mentions training with Master Nakayama and Master Yaguchi. You can almost picture the old JKA headquarters from his narrative.

At times this book reads like a novel. It is very descriptive and paints a beautiful picture of what training was like in Japan in the 60’s. It tells of how each Master that he trained with added pieces to the puzzle. He tells of how kata is the most important part of training. Something that today is falling to the wayside in may forms of martial arts. You can lose yourself in Kata. Kata is “Moving Zen!”

I highly recommend this book.

Categories: Book/Video Reviews

2 Responses

  1. Ian L Benjamin says:

    Dear Sensei Norm,

    My name is Ian from Trinidad and we met at Master camp afew week ago. I sat with Sensei Andrew and his wife Gillian. I have been reading your wonderful post and learning a lot. Would you consider grantig us permission to republish one or more of them in our TKA newsletter.Thanks for your consideration.


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