Review: “Karate on a Cushion: A Journey into Zen” by Goran Powell (2020)

I have read several of Goran Powell’s fiction works, because I loved that, as a long-time martial artist, he brought aspects of martial arts, along with realistic combat, into his writing. It also doesn’t hurt that those books were also well-written to boot.

He has also done several non-fiction books, and while I was aware of them, I never checked them out. However, when I found out about this book, I was definitely intrigued.

I’ve practiced martial arts for over two decades, and I’ve also tried to follow the middle path of Zen Buddhism, although it’s more via practice and principles than actually putting butt on cushion. I do try to connect mentally with nature when I’m outside, engage in walking meditation, consider all beings part of the sangha, etc.

The premise of the book is that Powell decides to venture into Soto Zen, something he has a passing familiarity with but had never practiced. Nice and simple, but the journey, as with anything Zen, is the point.

One thing I really liked about Powell’s story is that he was brutally honest about himself, as I would hope a long-time practitioner of martial arts would be. If he struggled with sitting still, focusing, judging others, or what have you, he would call himself out on it. It would be easy for someone with all the years of discipline, not to mention full-contact competition, Powell has gained to say that simply sitting still was a breeze and no big deal.

I also liked the comparisons between his Zen practice and martial arts training, most of which I had noticed before. So, it was good to know I was not alone on those fronts.

Overall, this was a good read, in a very casual laid-back prose style, that I zipped through in no time. I even made some notes in the Kindle document for later reference. Who knows, maybe I might just start spending more time with butt on cushion.

You can get this great book at Amazon, among other places.

Rating: Five Stars (Out Of A Possible Five)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *