Dave Lowry juxtaposes his singular experience as an adept student of kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship) under a Japanese teacher in St. Louis with a riveting account of the samurai tradition in Japan. Intertwining tales of the masters with reflections on his own apprenticeship in the samurai's arts, he reveals in their time-honored methods a way of life with profound relevance to modern times. The result is a fascinating, singular autobiography. Lowry captures the sense of wonder and mystery that makes martial arts compelling to so many practitioners. Even those who do not practice martial arts will delight in this unusual coming-of-age story.
The famous Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, originally wrote the work in 1645. Musashi, the Sword Saint, as he is known in Japan, killed his first man in a duel when he was only thirteen. He went on to fight in over sixty duels and never once lost.
In "The Book of Five Rings," Musashi recorded his secrets to success which are applicable to martial arts and any modern situation involving confrontation. Until "The Book of Five Rings," the many translations of his original work are written from an academic standpoint because the authors have little with the sword or martial arts.
D.E. Tarver brings a lifetime of experience in sword training, martial arts and business to this version, and the result is a highly motivating and easy to understand book. If you are serious about winning in any area of your life, "The Book of Five Rings" is the definitive guide to victory.
• How mastering these specific movement sequences known as katas provides a way to deepen one’s martial arts practice spiritually
• Explores the psychological and social importance of the katas in martial arts and Japanese society, including their role in seppuku (ritual suicide)
• Includes many examples from the lives of famous masters, from the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi to 20th-century poet Yukio Mishima
An essential part of the martial arts of Japan, such as sumo and karate, the katas are specific sequences of movement that originated during Sakoku, Japan’s period of closure to the outside world from 1633 until 1853. The dedication-to-perfection philosophy of the katas, ubiquitous in Japanese society, is vital to understanding the spiritual aspects of their martial arts as well as other traditional Japanese arts, such as flower arranging, chadō (tea ceremonies), and kabuki theater.
With examples from the lives of famous masters, from legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi to 20th-century poet Yukio Mishima, this book explores the psychological and social importance of the katas, including their role in seppuku (ritual suicide), the student-master relationship, and gyo (the point at which the practitioner breaks the mold of the kata and begins to embody it). Looking at their origins in the warrior class and how this pursuit of perfection is ultimately a way to accept the power of death, the author explains how performing the katas transmits ancient knowledge much deeper than just technical movements, providing a way to deepen one’s martial arts practice spiritually.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Japanese martial tradition of Budo, for instance, was influenced by the three philosophical traditions of Shinto, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism, and these philosophies are still taught in Japanese martial arts schools all across the world. As Damon Young explains in his chapter, the Japanese martial arts customs of courtesy are derived from Shinto purity, Confucian virtues, and the loving brutality of Zen.
In his interview with Bodidharma (included in the book), Graham Priest brings out aspects of Buddhist philosophy behind Shaolin Kung-Fu—how fighting monks are seeking Buddhahood, not brawls.
But as Scott Farrell’s chapter reveals, Eastern martial arts have no monopoly on philosophical traditions. Western chivalry is an education in and living revival of Aristotelian ethical theories. The Western martial art of fencing is explored by Nick Michaud, who looks at the morality of selfishness in fencing, and Christopher Lawrence and Jeremy Moss, who try to pin down what makes fencing unique: is it the sword, the techniques, the footwork, the aristocratic aura, or something else?
Jack Fuller argues that his training in Karate was an education in Stoicism. Travis Taylor and Sasha Cooper reveal the utilitarian thinking behind Jigoro Kano’s Judo. Kevin Krein maintains that the martial arts are a reply to the existentialist’s anxiety about the meaninglessness of life. Patricia Peterson examines Karate’s contribution to feminism, and Scott Beattie analyzes the role of space in the martial arts school.
Joe Lynch pits the Western ideas of Plato against the Eastern ideas of the Shaolin monks. Bronwyn Finnigan and Koji Tanaka uncover the meaning of human action as it appears in Kendo. Rick Schubert explains the meaning of mastery in the fighting arts.
Moving to ethical issues, Tamara Kohn discovers what we owe to others in Aikido. Chris Mortensen questions whether his own Buddhist pacifism is compatible with being a martial artist. In different ways, Gillian Russell and John Haffner and Jason Vogel assess the ways in which martial arts can morally compromise us.
How can the sweaty and the brutal be exquisitely beautiful? Judy Saltzman looks into the curious charm of fighting and forms, with help from Friedrich Nietzsche.