The Japanese cultural arts of the tea ceremony, calligraphy, and flower arrangement are recognized as paths to self-mastery. Some practitioners have even been officially designated by the Japanese government as "Living National Treasures." The self-mastery path celebrated in this enlightening book is the martial disciplines. Stephen Fabian, a professor of anthropology at North Central College in Illinois, shares with readers the benefits of over 20 years of training in Asian martial arts systems. He spells out these lessons in chapters on embracing a way, accepting responsibility for your actions, controlling the breath, focusing, developing self-discipline, training hard, being patient, persevering, and cultivating a mind of no-mind.

Fabian, who has done field work in Brazil and lived for three years in Japan, observes how martial arts training has tutored him in mental concentration, clarity of vision, and mind-body control. Although in 1989 he became the first foreigner ever to win the Gold Medal in the All-Japan Toyama Ryu swordsmanship competition, the author repeatedly emphasizes that conceit and machismo have no place in the psyche or spirit of a true martial arts practitioner.