Recently, a new book regarding the history of kendo was released by the publishers of Kendo Nippon Magazine. The book, A Bilingual Guide to the History of Kendo, is, as its title suggests, a bilingual guide to the history of kendo. The author is Sakai Toshinobu, expert in sword history and professor at the University of Tsukuba. The English translation was done by me.
The book is comprised of a number of essays outlining the earliest sword ideals from the continent and how they were introduced and developed in Japan, right through the international situation of the art in the 21st century. They were originally published every month for two years in Kendo Nippon (2007–2009) with the accompanying English translations always done at the last possible moment by me. A significant amount of work went into re-jigging the English translations and the Japanese content ready for the publication of the book, but I think the finished product is a beauty.
As the book is bilingual with Japanese text on the left-hand pages, and the English translation on the right, the content provides important reading for kendo enthusiasts who want to know more about the history of the art, and also for people who are engaged in promoting kendo outside of Japan. I also think it may be of particular interest to people who are studying Japanese!
If I had been the author, I possibly would have spent more time looking at kendo in the modern era. However, being an expert in ancient sword ideals, Sakai sensei placed a fair bit of emphasis on introducing the meaning of swords portrayed in Japan’s myths, and also the religious significance of swordsmanship to the old kengo such as Tsukahara Bokuden and Miyamoto Musashi. It was a great privilege to be allowed to translate Sakai Sensei’s work, and I believe that this particular volume will certainly help fill the knowledge gap in the international kendo community. The following is from the TOC. You can purchase the book here!
Section 1 Kendo Tradition
29 1 Kendo as a Martial Way
43 2 The Beginnings of Kendo History
57 3 The Evolution of the Japanese Sword (Nihon-tō)
71 4 From Bows and Arrows to Swords Giving up the Gun
83 5 The Age of the Sword Masters – Tsukahara Bokuden
97 6 The Age of the Sword Masters – Miyamoto Musashi
109 7 The Creation of Martial Art Schools
121 8 The Three Great Kenjutsu Ryūha and their Offshoots
135 9 The Formulation of Kenjutsu Theory
149 10 The Origins of Fencing with Shinai
151 11 The Rise of New Schools and the “Three Great Dōjō of Edo”
175 12 Kenjutsu in the Nineteenth Century
189 13 The Modern Period
203 14 The Development of Modern Kendo
217 15 Kendo in the Shōwa Period (1926‒1989)
229 16 The Current Situation and Globalization of Kendo
Section 2 Kendo Culture
241 1 Sword Ideologies Part 1: The Origins
253 2 Sword Ideologies Part 2: Sacred Swords in Mythology
267 3 Sword Ideologies Part 3: “Kusnanagi-no-Tsurugi” and the Imperial Regalia
279 4 Sword Ideologies Part 4: “Cutting the Self and Others”
291 5 Ascetic Training of the Masters‒The Sanrō Kaigan Legends
303 6 Kenjutsu and Religion
315 7 Lifelong Kendo
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