Polished Steel: Lessons from the Dojo by Shaz Davis

Title: Polished Steel: Lessons from the Dojo

Author: Shaz Davis

Publisher: FirstLine Limited

Date of Publication: 8 June 2017

Genre: Self-Help

Rating: 5/5

This historical non-fiction written by Shaz Davis is a one of a kind book about real stories recalled and recollected by her and other students of Sensei. Teaching over more than 5000 students, Sensei or Lao Tse or Bob Davis is a trainer in various styles of traditional and sport karate, aikido, jujutsu, and kobudo.

In 1985 Bob felt that the worldwide trend of commercialisation and modification of training for sport and competition was not conducive to effective self defence application, health and personal growth. He immersed himself in Chinese civilian defensive art systems with particular emphasis on wing chung kung fu, tang shou dao, t’ai chi ch’uan, chin na and hsing i-ch’uan. He also studied Phillipine fighting systems and Japanese martial art forms. The afterword in the book reveals the massive stroke that Sensei suffered in 2015 damaging the back right quarter of his brain and affecting the functioning of the left side of his body. To see a teacher who has touched so many lives through his hardwork and sincerity become completely dependent to perform basic everyday acts is heart breaking. This book is dedicated towards taking forward his vision and work by his student and wife Shaz.

The book is well detailed and written in a simple language that is easily digestible. “Training in a traditional dojo is only 50 percent technique. Students sign up to learn self-defence or a particular art, but stay because of the holistic body, mind, and spirit lessons that blend with the teachings in almost every class” are lines from the foreword that sum up briefly the endless gains from the dojo that is a place of life long learning and one needs to maintain practicing until one reaches near perfection and then re-learn all over again.

Each chapter is beautifully illustrated with appropriate hand drawn color sketches. The illustrations add to the already vibrant anecdotes that provide meaningful lessons to anybody looking for answers in the struggle of life. Also, each chapter concludes with a haiku on the lower left corner of the page that provides enlightening metaphoric meanings and thoughtful contemplation. The illustrations are very simplistic but the book largely functions on the binary of orange and white. Chapter names begin with the overall moral of each incident such as “leave your ego with your shoes, if you don’t know: ask, what’s in a shout” and so on. Spanning over thirty nine chapters, this book is meticulously done in terms of content, illustrations and layout.

While Shaz spends much of her time caring for Bob and playing Frisbee with their dog Shanti, she is already an award winning writer. This is a very indulging read for trainers and trainees as well as those outside of the dojo who may be contemplating on taking up a martial art form or enrolling their kids into one.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy reading!