Shoto Budo Reviews

Part of the Furniture
Review Written by - Iain Stewart 2nd Dan

To simply state first, I bought this book within seconds of even seeing it. I did not know what it contained, or what the purpose was for. So that should say something about me and Shoto Budo product. However I would just like to say how proud I feel to be part of an organisation that is effectively carving itself a history by creating DVD's, books and memories like these. In future, if I ever gain my own club, I would be proud to show students these items while explaining the histories behind them.

The purpose of this article is quite simple, I, Iain Stewart (1st Dan) recently bought and read the book Part of the Furniture by our own Richard Price (1st Meijin, 5th Dan). As Richard states himself on the back cover, the book is not very traditional in any sense within the ideas of a "martial arts" writing. Instead, Part of the Furniture concentrates on other values, and takes a look at various other aspects of martial arts in how they affect a person and those around him or her throughout life. As such, the centre of focus is around our Pricey, examining close friends of similar grades as well as family, events throughout life and even a little history lesson to see what is behind the man who so often kicks us about the matt.

I would prefer not to tell of the book chapter by chapter, but instead will attempt to put forward what this book contains in simply giving you an idea of the response I found in myself by reading sections.

A very unusual book in writing style, to those who have spoken with Richard, it is very noticeable that he writes just like he speaks. As such one can expect equal doses of humour, analogy and a general friendly tone. Part of the Furniture does not try to sound mysterious and mythic, but rather comes across to the reader in a very amiable, connective way. It is this which I felt allowed me to connect to the contents within.

Part of the Furniture begins with no preface, for a very specific reason, as Richard outlines over the course of a few paragraphs, setting the stage for a unique book. From there it includes such strange ideas as the "Recipe for Richard Price" and "Suck it and See." To people reading this article, these do make sense when you see the meaning behind them, much like Richard's practices!

Among the first sections, details on other 5th Dan's are found. This offers a new outlook for those of us not entirely introduced to some, or may show us another side to the person outside the Dojo. In particular I was interested in the section dedicated to Billy Haggerty, feeling that it shed new light on the man who heads up the entire organisation. Learning new details, hearing some hilarious stories and quotes and of course, seeing how these incredible martial artists came to their standard is quite inspirational. When reading, I did notice that as a Shoto Budo student, I could relate to many sections, in jokes and old stories I've already heard. However it is written that someone who has never even entered the Dojo before could see some meaning, humour and history within these pages.

Throughout these pages, one thing I found quite unique and interesting was Richard's inclusion of pictures and photos based upon martial arts or his own sculptures and art. Very often they hold meaning to the surrounding text, or could be related or inspired somehow. This is most noticeable around the sections detailing Vinnie Strachan, the man of Shoto Budo who after his tragic death had a trophy created and awarded in his honour. It was no surprise to me finding a section related to this great man within the book, and having never met him myself, the photo of Vinnie along with information was of great interest to me.

To go back slightly, it is worth noting that the tale of Richard Price is spread out among all of these, before and after the 5th Dan Chronicles (Like that one?). Parts of this tell of a late childhood, of early martial arts, and of modern events. In particular I found this section of the book (throughout, as there is no singular "history" section.) to be quite emotional in a way. From the comedic stories that garner giggles and laughs to moments that Part of the Furniture effectively communicates as tragic (and they are) that bring a feeling of sadness for the reader. After finishing, there is, I found, a multitude of feelings of what has just been read. It is at this point I actually found myself reading sections again in order to examine what I had gained from the book.

I am no doubt confusing some slightly by that last paragraph, but I will admit that it is difficult to explain clearly in a more general sense. This is due to the book being quite interpretational. Each reader should, I believe, find a very different experience within. For myself it was a vessel of knowledge along with being "food for thought" as to how martial arts affects us not just physically, but mentally and even spiritually as people. How it might change our lives or might have already done so. Others may see it as a biography or a history book; indeed it's all of them, only changing for each reader, or indeed for each reading.

One thing of particular note to myself more than the book I must mention though, upon purchasing, Richard signed the inside cover with a message and (of course) signature. I, again, feel extremely proud to have this as a memento to treasure and keep safe throughout the years. However I do not intend to simply leave it under lock and key, rarely seen. I intend to read it, and probably a good many times. There's a lot of fun stuff within the book, and as Richard himself states near the beginning, a well read book that is showing age is nothing to be ashamed off:

"It's a well worn warrior on your bookshelf, with an energy that cries out to be passed on to a friend and shared."

I intend to do the same with this book.

Really, best advice I can give you? Talk to Richard Price or Billy Haggerty and get your copy pretty soon. I highly recommend it to any Shoto Budo student.

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