Chojun: A Novel. Goran Powell. Ymaa Publication Center. December 2012. 240 pages. ISBN #: 9781594392535.
Many years ago, thousands of viewers enjoyed the movie character "Miyagi" in "The Karate Kid." But Chojun is the story of the real karate sensei or teacher Chojun Miyagi and his story is a worthy, very human and therefore real account of what it is like to fully engage in karate in and out of extraordinarily difficult times!
Kenichi Ota is the narrator of this tale, a young boy initially who wants to train with Miyagi but is told to practice holding his breath while underwater in the shores of Okinawa in its pre-WWII period. So he obeys and then begins the phenomenally difficult physical training that reads almost like brutality and yet never daunts the spirit of Kenichi. He helps build and prepare the training tools and his master grants him just enough conversation and verbal teaching to balance out the pain Kenichi is physically enduring. It is training for a daunting future!
Then war arrives after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, the Second World War. One way in which this account differs from other historical accounts from a Japanese point of view is that the people of Okinawa realize very quickly that America is a very strong country whose military are slowly but surely edging their victorious way to overcome the soldiers on Okinawa's land. They believe they are prepared, but Kenichi takes us through the period before, during and after the devastating Battle of Okinawa. This is not to be missed writing as it exposes the stress upon the physical, mental and spiritual strength and solidity of Okinawans. Characters are uniquely traumatized and struggle to hold onto compassion and sanity when all seems to be journeying toward inevitable death in all areas of one's life.
Chojun: A Novel is superb historical fiction as well as an action-packed account of the complete training in mind and spirit of the sport and art, Karate!!! Wonderful and a must read for anyone who loves karate as well as martial arts, war stories, and human stamina in its best and worst forms! Amazing!