admits, in the introduction to his book, that in re-reading
these short pieces "I was struck by the fact that a lot of
my writing has, a, oh, I don't know ... curmudgeonly tone
to it." Curmudgeonly? Possibly. But also a tone of passion
and compassion. Lowry, who writes almost exclusively about
Japanese martial arts, is here assembled through essays that
span over a decade and have appeared in magazines such as
Black Belt. And, reminding one a bit of Wendell Berry, the
book here seems to represent the man: his dislike of cant,
his natural attraction for strong values, his stalwart loyalty
to the martial as a refinement of perception as much as a
method for homicide.
find Moving Toward Stillness refreshing in its honesty, thoughtfulness
and - most important - forthrightness of opinion. Lowry has,
for instance, a nice little piece on the martial idea of enryo
or "emotional reticence". He writes the following in relation
to current competitions: "Losers storm and stamp about and
display all sorts of anger and frustration and disappointment.
Winners acknowledge the adulation of the crowd. Losers sulk
or protest. None of these displays of emotion or feeling will
occur at contests involving traditional budoka. There the
spirit of enryo pervades. Without looking at the signals of
the referee at the end of such competitions it will be impossible
to tell who had won, both competitors will be that perfectly
sees clearly the martial in the mundane. He recognizes with
a kind of quiet Yankee dignity that it is not just a Japanese
martial trait to understand the use of ritual, reticence and
control but a civilized trait. And a sign of that seemingly
forgotten word: character.
book of 45 essays deals with not only martial arts, flower
arranging, the perfection of opening a door, the skill of
knowing how to bow, but other important topics that-to our
mind- the martial world is poorer missing. He pithily deals
with many concepts from Zen Buddhism such as "Direct Mind"
"Daily Habits" "Looking to See". If you read Lowry's book
and you are a martial artist you will sometimes find yourself
a little uncomfortable but never uninspired.