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Angry White Pyjamas: A Scrawny Oxford Poet Takes Lessons from the Tokyo Riot Police

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,403 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Adrift in Tokyo, translating obscene rap lyrics for giggling Japanese high school girls, "thirtynothing" Robert Twigger comes to a revelation about himself: He has never been fit nor brave. Guided by his roommates, Fat Frank and Chris, he sets out to cleanse his body and mind. Not knowing his fist from his elbow, the author is drawn into the world of Japanese martial arts, ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 22nd 2000 by It Books (first published December 1st 1999)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  1,403 ratings  ·  103 reviews


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Natasha Mostert
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Bruce
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A truly entertaining account of one man's experience studying martial arts in Japan.
Matthew Bowen
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best martial arts books I've read. Funny, compelling, would read again.
C
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
This was everything I wanted Falling Hard: A Judo Story to be. Excellent insights and humor.
Kieren
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed it. Well written and entertaining. Much to learn from a martial arts perspective but that's not the point.
William Coles
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jessica
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jack
Dec 08, 2010 rated it 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 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Steven
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this one.

These antiquated styles of training are always worth a read!
Rob
Mar 22, 2011 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
...more
Jennifer Hrabota
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.

Veronique
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Heretic
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jo
Nov 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan
Apr 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Anna
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Hertzan Chimera
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Rachel
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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'
...more
Diane
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Thermalsatsuma
Jul 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-fiction
The gems occur during the narrative, don't expect a karate kid ending!
Adrienne Jones
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
...more
Calensûl
Apr 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I wouldn't.
It was a chore to finish this. It was so empty and repetititve and disgusting that I don't know what to say, so let's just give a quick summary:

- Three thirty-something guys with part time jobs in Tokyo think they are kind of pathetic.
- They conclude that they will be less pathetic if they train aikido.
- Quasi-torture training follows.
- The protagonist enrols in an even more torturous course.
- Descriptions of tough people.
- More training.
- Protagonist thinks he is still kind of pathetic a
...more
Frank D'hanis junior
Pretty entertaining, though my reading lagged at times because of the sheer repetitiveness of some parts of the book. As someone who did Aikido for seven years I found the constant defense of the art vety recognisable, but also kind of annoying. Also funny when the author seems to be going towards conceding that BJJ is a more complete martial art, but in the end just defends the superiority of Aikido instead. BJJ is better, he admits, at one on one in a controlled environment so that you can end ...more
Zhi Wei
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mrt-reads
You could see this as a witty memoir about a year-long, back-breaking training course for Aikido in a traditional dojo, or a not-so-subtle commentary of Japanese culture in the 90s.

The thing about memoirs is that you might not come out of it quite relating to (or perhaps sympathising with) the author - which I didn’t - but they nevertheless provide a fascinating, of curated, peek at one person’s brain. So yes. I still don’t really know if I *like* this, but I know that it made my train rides fl
...more
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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

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