Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Angry White Pyjamas” as Want to Read:
Angry White Pyjamas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Angry White Pyjamas

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,103 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Only at one point did I suddenly think: What the hell are you doing here? Why don't you just walk away? I banished the thought quickly. I knew I couldn't afford the luxury of such thinking if I was going to stick it out for the whole year.

When Robert Twigger found himself training alongside the Tokyo Riot Police, he realised two things: He'd never been fit and he'd neve
Paperback, 316 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Phoenix
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Angry White Pyjamas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Angry White Pyjamas

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Elaine Axten
Oct 13, 2012 Elaine Axten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Angry White Pyjamas is the only book which I have not only re-read, bought for other people and re-bought for myself.

I have a passing interest in martial arts - I studied tai chi for a few years and in the class that I took we did sparring as well as form, but I don't think you need any interest in any sport to read this memoir.

I know very well what it is to spend time after college pissing about not knowing what to do next. Twigger has a good degree and decent prospects, but he is caught in a
Natasha Mostert
Feb 16, 2014 Natasha Mostert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this book when I was doing research for my martial arts thriller: THE KEEPER and was immediately blown away but it. If you're at all interested in martial arts, this is a must-read. An Oxford-educated poet joins the Tokyo riot police in their brutal Aikido training. Funny, poignant,fast-paced, this non-fiction book reads like a thriller. Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award.
Jun 21, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A truly entertaining account of one man's experience studying martial arts in Japan.
Matthew Bowen
Aug 23, 2012 Matthew Bowen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best martial arts books I've read. Funny, compelling, would read again.
Jul 18, 2009 C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He starts out by pointing out the profusion of power lines in Japan. On he continues with a humorous and interesting perspective of a white guy's experience living in Tokyo and taking the Riot Police course.

Very enjoyable for a "fish out of water" theme book.
Shawn Mcvay
Aug 08, 2013 Shawn Mcvay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was everything I wanted Falling Hard: A Judo Story to be. Excellent insights and humor.
Sep 10, 2013 Kieren rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed it. Well written and entertaining. Much to learn from a martial arts perspective but that's not the point.
May 03, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading other reviews I was ready for a sexist, racist drone. Far from it. I thought his cultural observations were sound and balanced. I also thought his story of a foreigner deep in the world of budo and bushido rang true, based on my own martial arts experience. I would never sign up for such a course, but I did find myself longing for the dojo while reading about his training. Perhaps to someone without that experience the writing might see overly critical or whiny, as the other reviewers ha ...more
Robin Ward
Apr 14, 2012 Robin Ward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended to read this book when I started Yoshinkan Aikido last year. Regardless of how interested in aikido you might be, this is an amusing, at times fascinating, depiction of Japanese martial arts culture from the perspective of an outsider. Yoshinkan Aikido is a pretty small world it seems, and some of the characters in this book, although sometimes given a kind of fear/awe-filled celebrity by Twigger, are likely to cross your path if you take up the art. Robert Mustard in particula ...more
William Coles
Aug 17, 2014 William Coles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twigger is an absolutely outstanding author. I was given the book six years ago - and since then I've devoured every single word he's written. I could not commend his books more highly.
Dec 08, 2010 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Twigger writes an entertaining story of his time in Japan not falling into what I would assume to be the all too easy form of technical jargon rather revealing the human side of what it takes to survive such a punishing course.It should be noted that this isn't a book aimed squarely at martial arts enthusiasts I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. It was interesting to read his physcological journey of ups and downs being absolutely honest about his fears and character flaws. A ...more
Goran Powell
Feb 19, 2009 Goran Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A scrawny Oxford poet finds himself adrift in Tokyo and joins the formidable Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo where the Tokyo riot police learn their trade. Soon he finds himself immersed in an intensive course that teaches him about Japanese martial culture the hard way!

Funny, engaging and shocking in places, Angry White Pyjamas is less about Aikido and more about Japan and its culture. It is also widely regarded as the most readable book ever written about martial arts, with real mainstream appeal. Enjoy
Feb 15, 2014 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one.

These antiquated styles of training are always worth a read!
Jun 16, 2012 Ahsan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, travel
A very good read. I came across this book while browsing the internet for Aikido books (I started learning Aikido a month ago).

Winner of the "Somerset Maugham Award for Literature" and the "William Hill Sports Book of the Year", it's an Oxford-educated poet's story of his stay in Japan and his enrollment into a gruelling year-long Aikido instructor course designed for the Tokyo Riot Police force.

It works well as both a travel book and a sports book. I wish Robert Twigger had gone into greater de
Mar 22, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sport
Really great memoir of a year spent learning Aikido in a Tokyo dojo. Lots of interesting rumination on the philosophies of martial arts, the nature of Japanese culture, personal development through physical challenges and the like. Giggles and anecdotes aplenty alongside some real inspirational stuff.

RT has a brilliant sense for characterization, but unfortunately there are just a few too many transient characters that drift through the pages and it's a little bemusing flipping back and forth tr
Jun 23, 2014 Veronique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good read. I think I found it especially interesting because at the time I read it, I trained in Aikido quite intensely. It was fun to read about people I had met and/or heard about quite a bit.
Nov 05, 2010 Jo rated it really liked it
Wussy English bloke takes Mr T's advice (get some nuts) and joins a martial arts course that trains the Tokyo riot police. This memoir takes us through his development from novice to black belt and describes the joys and hardships of the author becoming a 'real' man. I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would as in between all the description of the Aikido is a sense of the Japanese and English fighting spirit. It's both emotional and amusing and kind of gross in parts as Twigger descri ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Heretic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely effective way to dissuade one from wanting to learn serious Aikido (a Japanese self defense art from the Samurai). Interesting in several ways, particularly in depicting the masochism required to "fit in" with the macho requirements for the most aggressive form of Aikido. The author later admits the softer form of learning resulted in just as good or better mastery of the art. Its also a good look at the dark side of Japan, something Japanese are not excited to admit to foreign visi ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though this was amusing at times, I really grew to dislike the author and all the characters. The mild undertone of sexism didn't have me necessarily hating them, but by the end I found myself cheering when bad things would happen to them and I thought they were all dumb-asses.

I was hoping to be a little more inspired, a little less disappointed. It was interesting, none the less, so I didn't hate it.

Feb 05, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed 'Angry White Pyjamas'. It's part martial arts memoir, part meditation on Japanese culture, and part flat-sharing comedy. Twigger could easily have slipped into tedious macho territory, but never does. Instead, the book is alternately hilarious farce and thoughtful commentary on finding your focus and goals in life. A really fun read, albeit one that will probably put you off ever trying aikido.
Apr 21, 2011 Ryan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Weakly written, misogynist, and more than a little insulting to Japan and its people. Always annoying to find a wastrel Briton who takes it upon himself to go on an adventure to another country, then thinks it worthwhile to write a memoir about their narrow view of a country and its culture. Pepper that with a few complaints about not getting enough female attention while calling working 1 day per week a 'part time job' and you get an disappointing read, to be sure.
Feb 23, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
I really enjoyed this book, largely because I used to live in Japan and saw many of my experiences played out before me in this novel. Although I never took martial arts in Japan I can see how the author experiences it through a Japanese mentality and tries to assimilate it into his own way of thinking. I know people who train at the author's dojo, they don't seem too thrilled with the book. Im not sure why, I don't feel that he paints it in a negative light. A good book, to be read by japan lov ...more
Bernie Gourley
Oct 01, 2011 Bernie Gourley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: martial-arts
Twigger takes one inside a course in which people train several hours every day for week after week. While it's been a while since I read it, I particularly remember the discussion of suwari gata (seated techniques) which are hell on the knees. Twigger talked about bleeding through one's pants legs until one's body learned to heal from the bottom up rather than scabbing over, as the scabs would constantly be upset.

It's a must read for those interested in martial arts, and in studying abroad. It'
Hertzan Chimera
Mar 27, 2008 Hertzan Chimera rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: aikido practitioners, sports lovers, readers
I'm learning Shudokan aikido at the moment that originates out of Gozo Shioda's Yoshinkan style via Malasia and Joe Thambu (Australia) and it was about time I "read the Goddamn book".

I didn't necessarily agree with the whiny attitude of Twigger, but that's what these sort of anecdotal culture trips are about - seeing how the other half lives. It was rivetting reading from start to finish - you cared about Twigger's little cabal of misfits.

In summary, a great book worthy of all the plaudits and p
Sep 15, 2009 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I probably wouldn't have picked this up on my own, but my husband studies aikido and borrowed it from his dojo. The book details the 11 months that the author spent studying a specialized form of aikido in Japan. I found the author to be somewhat flip in his attitude towards Japanese and their culture. While there definitely is humor in the book, there is a fair amount of whining as well. The writing is decent, but I was put off by the author's attitude.
Rich Taylor
Jul 25, 2007 Rich Taylor rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: generalfiction
A fairly dull book about a bloke who lives in Japan and decides that he isn't getting beaten up enough.
Jul 07, 2007 Thermalsatsuma rated it really liked it
This is an autobiographical tale of the year that the author spent in Japan where he decided to take a stand against the malaise in his life by signing up for the toughest martial arts black belt course available. Whilst the story meanders in places, there are plenty of details of the training process, including some rather unpleasant injuries along the way. Worth reading if you have any interest in martial arts or Japanese culture.
Justin Hemming
Feb 07, 2014 Justin Hemming rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction
The gems occur during the narrative, don't expect a karate kid ending!
Adrienne Jones
This book tries to be many things to many readers, and in so doing ends up plodding at times despite interesting content and good writing.

The book had many strengths, particularly an armchair journey to a Japan that someone not speaking Japanese might miss entirely. Small details throughout the book (e.g. mention of an apple polishing movement to dismiss praise as hollow flattery) charm me.

I couldn't muster such interest in the endless catalog of mundane beat-downs. Yes, being thrown a lot injur
I was surprised to see that this book had never been entered into the site so that honor falls upon me. I thought the book was very good considering that I am not into martial arts and certainly long discussions about it. The book is a little heavy on that subject which is to be expected but it is quite readable. The minor topics that plays into this book is teaching ESL and the quirks of Japanese living,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Better photo - Robert Twigger 4 20 Dec 07, 2014 03:40AM  
  • Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere: An Illustrated Introduction
  • Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness
  • Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan
  • Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan
  • Japan: A Reinterpretation
  • A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting
  • Nan Goldin
  • Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self
  • American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
  • The Way of Aikido:  Life Lessons from an American Sensei
  • Design for Dying
  • Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld
  • It Must Be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science
  • Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters and other Japanese Cultural Heroes
  • Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan
  • Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike
  • Dynamic Aikido
  • An Introduction to Japanese Society
Robert Twigger is a British author who has been described as, 'a 19th Century adventurer trapped in the body of a 21st Century writer'. He attended Oxford University and later spent a year training at Martial Arts with the Tokyo Riot Police. He has won the Newdigate prize for poetry, the Somerset Maugham award for literature and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.

In 1997, whilst on an
More about Robert Twigger...

Share This Book