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 finding himself face-to-face with world champions and Olympic medallists. His journey into judo took him to Osaka, Japan to see the World Championships and to Athens for the Olympics. He delved into the sport's history, exploring everything from its origins in 17th century Samurai culture, to its legendary proponents - past and present. The Pyjama Game is a fascinating account of this most enigmatic of sports. We are taken behind the scenes of the international tournament circuit, populated by some of the most fearsomely single-minded and self-denying competitors of all time -men and women who have arrived at the apex of a sport from thousands of local clubs all over the world. Through a series of colourful encounters we experience the irresistible drama of tournament judo as figures grapple, whirl and fly through the air or struggle for arm-locks and chokes; each contest culminating in that symbolic death. Funny, alarming and mesmerising, The Pyjama Game is one of the best sports books of recent years.
Mark Law was the founding editor of The First Post (thefirstpost.co.uk), the online news magazine. He was formerly a show business press agent before working as a feature writer and commissioning editor for The Times, the Mail on Sunday, and the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. He is a member of the Budokwai Club in Chelsea, London.