“The Art and the Way”

Karate HistoryOne Secret, One family, Ten Generations

“The Art and The Way” brings karate history to life.

“He could not have taught you anything. What he knew could not be passed on. He knew life. He understood death. It is the same with you. You know these things already. You already know Chinese Boxing. The practices that you go through are nothing more than tricks to make you think you are learning something while your mind accepts what it already knows.” “I have taught you to punch, to kick. Now it is for you to become them. To let them pass through you to others. Once they have done that you might understand. Then, of course, you might not.”……

“He could not have taught you anything. What he knew could not be passed on. He knew life. He understood death. It is the same with you. You know these things already. You already know Chinese Boxing. The practices that you go through are nothing more than tricks to make you think you are learning something while your mind accepts what it already knows.” “I have taught you to punch, to kick. Now it is for you to become them. To let them pass through you to others. Once they have done that you might understand. Then, of course, you might not.”……

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Correspondence from readers – The Art and the Way.

  •  The first great novel of karate. – Dan Ivan
  •  I am enjoying it a great deal and agree that it is the “first” great novel of karate. – George Mattson
  •  I just finished reading your book. Excellent. Well written and very well researched. I read a lot of books and this one I could not put down. I will recommend this to all of my students. – James Otter
  •  First, thank you very much for writing this. Quality and entertaining fiction about the marital arts is a market that is greatly lacking. I found it a very fun and fast read. As a student of the eku-bo, I may be a little partial. Also I wanted to tell you that you really helped me look at katas differently. Previously, I understood intellectually that they were fights, but until I read the section at the end where Useshi recreates Peiching’s fight – I never understood it emotionally. It was very moving. Nice touch. – Shanley Wells
  • Congratulations on your book. What an undertaking.Some of my favorite passages: “He touched the edges of death once. He knew he could also touch the energy of life.” “…that to be come wise is to learn silence.” “…the ancient meaning of the word “dojo”…” the place to lose the ego’ Page 280 the entire 7th paragraph and the top half of page 281 I admire your skill. – Jacki Long
  • I just finished your book and can honestly say that it is great. I love the way that you made a seamless transition between the past and the present. The “moral” issues regarding traditional v. competitive karate are thought provoking. I also enjoyed the history lessons interspersed throughout. Best of all I have a new favorite line: “Death, at their hands, could take a lifetime.” Incredible! – Doug Stein

American Samurai – Review

The prolific British author G. K. Chesterton once said, “Tradition does not mean that the living are dead, but that the dead are living.”

Robert Hunt, in his new book The Art and the Way, embodies that concept as applied to the world of the martial arts. Hunt effectively uses a writing style that shuttles the reader from the present to eras gone by, and back the present, which indeed leaves the impression that the “dead are living”

The Art and the Way is a story of tradition and heritage and how those steadfast values are under assault in today’s society. The book opens 400 years ago in the Ryu Kyu islands, where we meet Peiching, a lowly commoner. Through nothing but the instinct to survive, Peiching uses an oar found lying on the beach and not some store-bought system of defense as might be available today, to successfully defend himself against the swords of a group of samurai. As Hunt successfully does throughout the book, the reader is whisked into the scene and can actually feel Peiching’s terror while he contemplates what he thought would be his inevitable death.

Fast forward to present day America where we meet David Cody, a young martial artist with family roots in Japan. After suffering a humiliating defeat in a challenge kumite match at a local tournament, David consults with his seasoned instructor and decides to rediscover his roots in Japan. David moves in with his grandfather, who is the master of a very old, but unassuming dojo outside of Tokyo. David’s family heritage is the martial arts and we soon learn that David is a descendant of Peiching. At his grandfather’s dojo, David discovers an ancient book known as the Bubishi. The Bubishi is an accounting of David’s family dating back to the days of Peiching, and passed from one generation to the next, each adding the stories of their respective times.

David begins to secretly read the book and Hunt, brilliantly devoting alternate chapters to centuries gone by, allows us to join David on his journey through his past.

While in Japan, David encounters many difficulties and the story is interposed with mystery, intrigue and, of course, love interest. But the true brilliance of this book is the manner which Hunt uses an artifact such as the Bubishi to connect the past with the present, and guide the reader through an anecdotal history of how the martial arts, and the true principles upon which they are based, developed.

Through his study of the Bubishi and his experiences while in Japan, David reaches an enlightenment and realizes that the purpose of martial arts is not to win the next challenge match or impress others. Rather, the purpose of training in the martial arts is to improve oneself from within.

Hunt’s historical research shines through the pages and his ability to tell a story with descriptive detail make this book a treasure. Simply stated, The Art and the Way is 282 pages of enjoyable reading. The reader will finish the book with a much improved understanding of the importance and meaning of martial arts training, and will have received an interesting history lesson on the way, I highly recommend this book for all martial artists or not.

I eagerly await Robert Hunt’s next book.

Doug Stein Miami, Florida

Doug Stein is head instructor at South Florida Shotokan in Miami, Florida and is the author of the much acclaimed book – Karate: Scattered Reflections of a Traditional Art in a Modern Society.