This tale of a Westemer's involvement in a Japanese discipline seems prompted by -- and modeled on -- Van de Wetering's The Empty Mirror (p. 1402, 1973); but it lacks the modesty and the intensity, and because martial arts are so familiar, it is not as revealing. Nicol learns Japanese customs, meets physical hardships in training (he is forced to fight even when injured), endures excruciating pain and, he insists, learns to control his street-fighter's ire. Karate aims at ""tranquility,"" ""humility,"" and control, and is governed by the strict code of bushido; so Nicol tells us that by the time he was awarded his black belt, he had found a new emotional strength. But had he? He mentions numerous incidents during which he attacked civilians unnecessarily; he cites humiliation as an integral part of training -- a West Point sort of technique which supposedly makes ""men"" of ""strong spirit""; and his self-perspective seems limited to recognizing his uncontrollable anger.