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Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite
A Story of Life, Fate and Finding the Lost Art of Koka Ninjutsu in Japan, written by the founder of the Dominican Martial Arts Association and author of several books about Japan, Daniel DiMarzio tells of how he decided to move to Japan, where he would teach English to the locals. Having long been fascinated by martial arts and desirous of studying the arts in Japan, he was keen on looking for a traditional Japanese dojo (school for training in self-defense) that was “steeped in Japanese culture, [military] history, and tradition.” His intention was to find a dojo that could train him in realistic hand-to-hand combat strategies while infusing him with a deep reverence for the strongly spiritual aspect of the training. Fortunately, he finds a Ninjutsu school in the neighborhood, where largely private, one-on-one instruction is given by Yasushi Kiyomoto, with him and his teacher, Jinichi Kawakami, being the only people in the entire world to be officially recognized as teaching authentic Ninjutsu.
The uniqueness of Daniel DiMarzio’s experiences is what makes this work fascinating, as no other materials about Koka Ninjutsu were found to be available in English when he wrote it. Having a Japanese girlfriend who could translate some of the existing material for him was extremely helpful, as he could not speak Japanese that well. My appreciation of the author rose on realizing the amount of respect that DiMarzio shows his sensei (instructor), which emerges in the way that he describes how extremely fit and skillful Kiyomoto is. The book is illustrated with multiple photographs of DiMarzio and his pupils, and a few of the Sagamihara Dojo. A Story of Life, Fate and Finding the Lost Art of Koka Ninjutsu is likely to inspire many a youngster, who is keen on taking up martial arts and who wishes to visit and/or live in Japan, to follow their dreams and do so.