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Samurai Spirit: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life    by Burt Konzak order for
Samurai Spirit
by Burt Konzak
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a collection of 'stories that emphasize personal training and development', taken from a literature that 'transforms and inspires us to conquer our fears and insecurities and to be our best', with numerous role models.

Tales are grouped in a set of themes: The Samurai Spirit, The Way of the Warrior, Tales of Wondrous Wisdom, Fighting the Shark, Sharks with Human Faces, Thinking Outside the Box, and Making a Difference in the World. The author has taught martial arts for over 25 years. He includes anecdotes from his own experiences as well as adaptations of samurai stories, and historical accounts. Apt quotations are interspersed throughout.

I especially enjoyed The Fox and the Rabbit, in which the rabbit eludes the predator because 'the fox is running for his dinner, but the rabbit is running for his life'. I also appreciated those tales which emphasize living in the moment, and the need to face our fears. There are those that encourage handling adversity without bitterness, and others which teach of the importance of 'spirit and strategy' over 'strength and skill'.

The sections with Shark themes are very relevant today to any who are bullied or taxed, with examples of how martial arts training can give the confidence to handle dangerous situations, without fighting. And the importance of attitude is developed in a comparison of two samurais who each face overwhelming odds in battle, in which we see that 'It is not what happens to you but what happens within you that determines if you are really defeated.'

My teenage sons have been studying karate for the last few years, and it has been clear to me and other dojo parents, that the training teaches as much in life lessons as in the specifics of blocks and attacks - lessons of self-discipline, perseverance, confidence and community. I recommend this book of samurai wisdom to you; whether or not you train in martial arts, these tales will entertain and will stay with you.

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