A chatty, agreeable essay that humanizes the martial arts and trivializes Zen. Hyams is a freelance journalist who has tried, or dabbled in, the whole lot--sho-dokan karate, judo, jujitsu, hapkido, aikido, tae-kwon-do, wing-chun, etc. He does a good job of explaining how the martial arts are not a series of esoteric techniques for splitting bricks or immobilizing muggers, but a kind of psychic discipline, where the supposed opponent is really ""a partner engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully."" They lead, at best, not to bulging muscles, but to spiritual tranquility. If you have any doubts about this, Hyams will stand up and testify how all the years (27) he's spent in the dojo (practice hall) have paid off: he's more relaxed and efficient on the job. He's improved as a father, husband, friend, even as a tennis player. He's also made some unforgettable acquaintances among the various sifus (masters), including the late Bruce Lee, and saved his own life once by using breathing techniques learned from one of them. And somehow this Oriental version of positive thinking is supposed to equal Zen, which Hyams defines as ""merely good sense."" While Bodhidharma and all his successors turn quietly over in their graves, undemanding American readers may nonetheless enjoy Hyams' cheerful little book. He writes with clarity and economy, and though he grossly oversimplifies, he doesn't cheapen.