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About The Pyjama Game

The first full dramatic account of the origins and development of judo and behind-the-scenes view of the modern international tournament circuit.

Publisher’s description

It is a sport of balletic beauty and extraordinary violence - where else are you allowed to strangle an opponent unconscious? But while its aim is to inflict symbolic death, judo is a form of combat which also rigorously insists on the most formal courtesies.

When Mark Law joined his local judo club he was able to observe at close quarters the sport practised at its highest level. He even found himself having to face some of the finest fighters in the business - World Champions and Olympic medallists from Japan and Europe, men like Brian Jacks, one of the all-time greats of British judo.

He went to the World Championships in Japan and to the Olympics in Athens.

And he explored the history of this martial art rooted in the traditions of the 17th century Samurai warriors through such legendary figures as its creator Jiguro Kano, Anton Geesink, the Dutchman who was the first to shatter the hegemony of the Japanese, and Yamashita, the greatest of the modern champions.

The result is a fascinating journey into this most enigmatic of sports which, in its own ferocious but highly codified regime, feeds man’s immutable warrior instinct for combat. It tells the story of how judo conquered the world, and how the world has tried to conquer Japan. We meet some of the most fearsomely single-minded and self-denying competitors of all time. Through a series of colourful encounters - sublime, grotesque, comic and tragic - we experience the irresistible drama of tournament judo as figures fly through the air or grapple as they fight for a submission to end their contest in that symbolic death.

Funny, alarming and mesmerising, The Pyjama Game is one of the best sports books of recent years.

The Pyjama Game artwork