How Martial Arts and the Bushido Code Inspired My Latest YA Novel

Filed in Book Writing Inspiration by on August 2, 2017 0 Comments • views: 591

by Jason Brick

JasonThe initial idea for Wrestling Demons jumped on me as I was driving home from a martial arts event in LA.

My protagonist (Connor Morgan) started talking to me, and after a while I turned off my radio and started to listen.

The biggest challenge was getting the voice just right without it just sounding like me. Connor isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Neither am I, but I’m sharper than Connor.

Getting the Voice of the Main Character Just Right

Success came as a bit of an accident. I felt like it was the worst part of the book, really, but was then told by all my beta readers I had really nailed the voice.

The biggest conscious work I did was to go through the dialogue and read it out loud in the voice I use for Connor (which is different from my own voice). Anything that felt off, or like it would confuse Connor, got changed.

I also added a couple of dialogue quirks both when he was speaking and in the narration. One of them is his absolute incompetence with metaphors. The other I’ll leave to the readers to find.

Challenge: Taking Time Away from My Boys to Write the Damn Novel

The biggest emotional challenge of the book was taking time away from playing with my sons to make myself write the damn thing.

It’s a good problem to have, but still a problem. I came to writing after a 15 year career in the martial arts. That background shows in the book’s subjects, but also in the writing of the book.

It’s true what the ads say. Training in martial arts builds discipline.

Making myself write is a matter of keeping a promise I made to myself. I keep my promises to other people who are important to me, as do most people. I have trouble understanding why so many folks fail to keep promises they made to themselves.

Writing an Homage to the Best Last Stands

[Biggest triumph in writing the book?] There’s a scene where everybody’s pretty much convinced they’re going to die. I wrote it as an homage to a few of the best last stands that ever existed in film or on the page, and I feel really good about it.

Even a couple years later, I can still get a little emotional reading that section.

Exploring the Bushido Code with My Main Character

The topic matter (the Bushido Code, a set of ethical principles roughly analogous to Chivalry in Europe) is close to my heart, and Connor’s journey let me explore some aspects of it I hadn’t before.

The Bushido Code is a code of conduct for warriors similar to chivalry as practiced in Europe and England. It consists of seven ethical principles: truth, bravery, courtesy, compassion, sincerity, discernment, and loyalty. It’s a part of martial arts culture, and of folklore, historical fiction, anime, and games from Japan.

I encountered it in my study of martial arts, which first started more than 30 years ago now. My teacher, Lee Sprague, was passionate about it. When he died a few years back, the idea of this book came to me in part as a way of remembering him.

It’s always wonderful when you reach new understanding of something you’ve studied for a long time.

Is Writing A Spiritual Experience or Just Work?

[Is writing a spiritual practice for you?] Not generally. Like all things, I have the occasional spiritual or epiphany moment while writing. But the act itself isn’t inherently more spiritual than gardening, or cooking.

Any time you focus on a task that engages your mind, body, and spirit you have the opportunity for a spiritual experience. And other times, it’s just work.

What’s Next? Quantum Physics

The sequel to Wrestling Demons comes out this winter. Meanwhile, I’m putting the finishing touches on a book about quantum physics and zombies. It has two narrators, one of whom is a teenage girl. I suspect I’ll have some challenges making her sound less like a man in his 40s than the current draft does.

Also, I need to learn more about quantum physics.

* * *

Jason Brick started martial arts as a wrestler at the age of 12. Thirty-two years later, he has trained in five countries and teachers martial arts internationally. Among his other accomplishments, he:

  • Coached a competition karate team — in Japan
  • Turned a zero-income writing career into a full-time living in less than one year
  • Moved his family to Malaysia because he wanted his kids to know what that’s like
  • Did business with a prostitute one time only, and she gave him $15,000
  • Lived in Japan and came home with an American wife
  • Wrote Amazon category best-sellers in two different genres
  • Got his ass kicked by three different men in their 80s, and thanked them for it
  • Coached clients for twenty years and on three continents

When not testing the theoretical limits of awesome, Jason can be found spoiling his family, playing tabletop games, feeding his martial arts habit or learning to cook. He lives in Oregon and blogs HERE.


Wrestling DemonsWrestling Demons: The Bushido Chronicles—Connor Morgan has moved with his mother to Portland, Oregon to get away from his drug-addicted father. But they didn’t move away from trouble. At his new high school, three heavyweight wrestlers chase him through the halls. He runs away, in his underwear, past the girl he likes, into the January cold.

…Then something weird happens.

The next thing Connor knows, he is fighting for his life against supernatural evil with the help of new friends as he learns the powers and dangers of his new destiny. The stakes rise as he discovers a powerful enemy bent on destroying more than just his high school. Ultimately, he must embrace his role in an ancient fight if he wants to save the day.

And he still has to get good grades and a date for the prom.

Available at Amazon.

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