Redemption : A Street Fighter's Path to Peace

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Michael Clarke was an angry,vicious kid, a street fighter. He grew up in the late sixties and earlyseventies in Manchester, England, in a tough neighborhood where, he writes,"Prostitutes worked the pavement opposite my home, illegal bookmakers took betsin back alley cellars, and street brawls were commonplace." He left school at fifteenand began his education as a pugilist on the streets. He fought in bars andclubs, at football matches, in parks, and in bus stations-and he was good. He reveledin the victories and the admiration they brought. It was a life of knucklesand teeth, of broken bones and torn flesh-and the arrests that followed. Clarkewas seventeen when a judge sentenced him to two years in Strangeways Prison, aninfamous place also known as "psychopath central." In prison he resolved tochange his life and stay out of trouble, but trouble was everywhere. Hediscovered a world of violent gangs, abusive guards, and inmates engaged in anendless struggle for dominance. Strangeways was a place where a person couldget stabbed to death for taking the bigger piece of toast. In time Clarke was released,but the transition was difficult and he almost fought his way back to prison. Thenone night he entered a karate dojo and his life changed forever. He began alifetime pursuit of budo, the martial way. He sought knowledge, studied withmasters, and traveled to Okinawa, the birthplace of karate. Redemption: A Street Fighter's Path toPeace is a true account of youthwasted and life reclaimed. Michael Clarke reminds us that martial arts are notsimply about punching and kicking. They forge the spirit, temper the will, and revealour true more

Product details

  • Paperback | 269 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 15mm | 363g
  • YMAA Publication Center
  • Rolindale, MA, United States
  • English
  • 32 black & white halftones
  • 1594393788
  • 9781594393785
  • 701,534

Review quote

A British "karateka" offers a bone-crushing, lip-splitting, and often elegant memoir of a tough guy searching for highermeaning through the study of martial arts.As a youth, Clarke was the kind of hard-as-nails teen who was fond of communicating with his fists. He was good at it,and despite his diminutive size, he could be counted on to win most scraps. But when the Irish emigre'srough-and-tumble ways ultimately landed him in the aptly named Strangeways Prison in Manchester, England, herealized that breaking noses and cracking ribs had limited value beyond the strict borders of his hard-pressedneighborhood. The author describes his prison experiences in wonderful, almost lyrical prose that delivers bothpoignancy and punch: "During the visits, no physical contact was allowed; there was no chance to feel the warmth ofanother person who was dear to you, not your girlfriend, nor your mother, or even your child if you had one." Sadly,Clarke doesn't linger on this rich material for long before he's deep into his karate chronicles, introducing the numerousschools, teachers, and training techniques he encountered during the late 1970s and early '80s. He discusses variousclashes in great detail, which resulted in a variety of injuries. He also addresses the sensitive politics specific to the worldof karate. What's missing in these sections, however, is the sobering, sure-handed universality that Clarke brings to theportrayal of his earlier days. He makes cursory references to the dissolution of his first marriage and the stresses that hissingle-minded pursuit of karate placed on his personal life, but it's clearly evident that Clarke is much more interested indelving into dojo dynamics than anything else. This approach may shut out a large segment of non-karate enthusiastswho might otherwise have found Clarke's life undeniably fascinating.A compelling story that nevertheless will appeal almost exclusively to karate fans. Kirkus Reviewsshow more

About Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, Kyoshi eighthdan, Okinawan Goju-ryu, has practiced karate since 1974. He has written overfive hundred articles for international martial arts magazines and authoredfive books. A young street fighter in England who became a disciplined studentof budo in Okinawa, Clarke continues to pursue the tranquility that comes from"the ecstasy of sweat" associated with the practice of karate. Michael Clarke resides in Tasmania, more
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