It’s my turn on the BlogTour Memoirs of a Karate Fighter by Ralph Robb.
About the Author
Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter.
About the book
Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.
It’s a fascinating account of the heyday, as the author calls it, of the British karate sport. The author recounts his personal experiences in a way that keeps readers captivated – not at all like a dry memoir.
Although I think it was unintentional the author draws a comparison between what type of stance, attitude and thought process was attached to the sport of karate then and now. The winning streak not just born out of talented athletes, but also out of the connection to the original art or fighting skill of karate. The violence, the origins and how both of those fuelled what became a very regimented sport.
The question is whether there is a correlation between the way the skill and methodology has been watered down by Western attitudes over the decades and the winning during the 1970s.
It’s very much a story of a common denominator bringing young men together and feeling connected, especially when the world seems so disconnected from what they need in life to succeed and thrive. With that in mind Robb doesn’t delve into the systemic racism he must have dealt with on a daily basis, instead he just gives certain glimpses. Or rather he doesn’t delve too deeply into the fear, anger and sense of disillusionment he must of felt at having to deal with racist organisations such as the National Front on a regular basis.
Being a part of a successful sport club must have been a respite at times in the sense that a brotherhood and friendships were born out of it. It’s a really interesting read, regardless of whether you like sport or not.