Harpers: The Spy Who Shoved Me

A blurb from the May 2007 edition of Harper’s Magazine, page 18. The magazine allows the excerpt to speak for itself.


THE SPY WHO SHOVED ME From the preface to Judo: History, Theory, Practice, by Vladimir Putin and others, published in 2004 by North Atlantic Books. Putin is a sixth-degree black belt in judo. the preface is by George Russel Jr., cochairman of the EastWest Institute. Whatever else English-speaking people may know about the career of President Putin, they should realize that he is a judo master. His judo-based senses of discipline, honor, and service to humankind as president of Russia tower over any of the more menial roles assigned to him in the former Soviet Union. Insofar as judo is at his core, he brings a warrior’s presence to the international stage. Judo may not be the answer to the economic woes of Russia, but it does have a broad impact on the philosophy of those who practice it. History shows that the bully who relies on brute force and overwhelming firepower always falls to another empire mightier still. The maturity and poise born of judo practice is an unfailing guide in such matters. A judoka is always in the position to identify his opponent’s weakness and bring about a “gentle” victory. The principles of judo thus suggest a world in which global cooperation and exchange among nations can take the place of reliance on weaponry and threats. If President Putin makes good on his idea to do a judo demonstration at Madison Square Garden, this would be the real thing – politician as martial artist, martial artist as politician. No doubt, he would put some professional wrestlers to shame, but then he would graciously allow himself to be thrown by a precocious American high school judoka. In a judo-oriented realm of politics, the true inner creativity and capacity of the human species may be realized.