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  • books glorious books...

    Ok guys, I was wandering if I could use this thread to get you kendokans to share information about good books that you have read about kendo, or even the practice of japanese swordmanship...I really want to get started on some reading...so does anyone have any recommendations that they would like to share, also please say why?

  • #2
    Kendo: The Definitive Guide, by Hiroshi Ozawa and published by Kodansha international was of great help when I was a beginner. It's not as definitive as the name says but a good source of information anyway.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by alexpollijr
      Kendo: The Definitive Guide, by Hiroshi Ozawa and published by Kodansha international was of great help when I was a beginner. It's not as definitive as the name says but a good source of information anyway.
      oops, maybe i should note down what i have read so far, which is not that much...anyhoo, i have read the one that you have just mentioned (nice illustrations and stuff, just suits a person of my calibre), also i have read "Kendo: An essential introduction to the principles and practice of the Japanese art of swordmanship" by Minoru Kiyota. Anyway thanks for trying.

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      • #4
        Besides Ozawa's book, another good set of books are Classical Bujutsu, Classical Budo, and Modern Bujutsu and Budo, by Donn F. Draeger. It is a interesting set of books to read on the history of martial arts and ways in Japan.

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        • #5
          Ok, so I'm an addict

          Here goes with ones I've read..

          I agree the Ozawa book is not the be-all-and-end-all, but it is really good and spends a fair amount of time at my side being re-read yet again. Its the most "useful" Kendo book I've yet found...

          The "spiritual / historical" side is covered well by Minoru Kiyota, but make sure you buy the Shambala edition as it is about 1/10th the price of the original!

          Donohue's "Complete Kendo" isnt but is still a good read. Its not very waza-orientated as he came to Kendo via Japanese anthropology - go figure.

          I've yet to pick up "The Heart of Kendo", but a look through it seemed interesting, so that will be bought next.

          I'm currently ploughing my way through "Zen and Japanese Culture" by DT Suzuki - a mighty tome, with a fair amount of it devoted to Kendo and sword arts / samurai etc. This one can be hard to find however.

          On a similar theme, "Zen and the Way of the Sword" by Winston L King is worth a read too, questioning how well sword-arts sit with a religion of non-violence, and the historical associations of both.

          Straying further from Kendo relevance, treat yourself to "Japanese Death Poems" compiled by Yoel Hoffman - just beautiful - mainly Haikus written just before, or on facing, death, by Haiku poets and Zen monks.

          And yes, I confess, I've read Hagakure and Go Rin No Sho as well....

          More Kendo, less reading perhaps.....

          <rei>

          Dave

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          • #6
            Some more information here:www.fiendish.com/hizen/kendo/k_resources.html

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            • #7
              Re: Ok, so I'm an addict

              Originally posted by David J


              ...but make sure you buy the Shambala edition as it is about 1/10th the price of the original!

              Dave
              Don't worry about that, that is the copy I have...I am a right scrooge when it comes to money...hehehe.

              But so far by the looks of things a nice selection for me to start hunting for...thanks guy's, but keep them coming.

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              • #8
                Don't know what you're thinking, but I don't find those Kendo guidebooks/practical instructions particularly helpful. You'll be taught by your Sensei according to your level anyway. I would say, if you start writing down everything you've learnt after each lesson... You would have written a "My Kendo Journey" sort of book.

                I would say, everything written down is dead... I mean they're not as alive as your Sensei's live teachings. And you've to pay full attention in the class to carry out everything (at least most of the things) Sensei says.

                BTW, why didn't anyone mention "The Book of Five Rings"?
                *****A Must Read!!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mingshi
                  Don't know what you're thinking, but I don't find those Kendo guidebooks/practical instructions particularly helpful. You'll be taught by your Sensei according to your level anyway. I would say, if you start writing down everything you've learnt after each lesson... You would have written a "My Kendo Journey" sort of book.
                  I have to say in some respect i kind of agree with you. However, (and there is always a however) i feel that books dealing with the historical, cultural and philosophical aspects of kendo and its application can be quite nice to learn about. Furthermore, books dealing with waza, although it will be 100% better coming from your teacher, but for some people like myself at times i just can't be bothered to note down everything after practice because i am far too tired or just won't get the time to do so the following day. i guess "Kendo: the Diffinitive guide" by Ozawa is nice to have as a book to easily look back and reflect on what your sensai has taught you. So the books that have been mentioned above can be useful in respect to other aspects of kendo.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mingshi

                    BTW, why didn't anyone mention "The Book of Five Rings"?
                    *****A Must Read!!
                    Mingshi, meet DavidJ

                    Originally posted by DavidJ

                    And yes, I confess, I've read Hagakure and Go Rin No Sho as well....

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                    • #11
                      kendo readings

                      There are several good reads out there both technical and historical.....

                      Fundamental Kendo by the ZNKR...no longer available in hard cover but available in two volumes soft cover....this is the book on the basics from the ZNKR

                      Looking at a Far Mountain by Paul Budden and endorsed by the AJKF....this is on the Nihon Kendo Kata

                      This is Kendo by Junzo Sasamori and Gordon Warner.....is is a nice overview or intro to kendo

                      The Heart of Kendo by Darrell Craig.....nice history and fair coverage of kendo technique

                      The Sword of No Sword:Life of Master Warrier Tesshu by John Stevens....a biography of Yamaoka Tesshu.....my thoughts are this is a must read on the life a most influential swordsman who lived during the Meiji Restoration

                      Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai by Romulus Hillsborough.....great biography of Ryoma Sakamoto a significant figure in the Meiji Restoration influential in the transfer of power from the Tokugawa Shogunate back to the Imperial Family and the Emperior Meiji.....

                      ....the two above deal with the many changes in life in Japan at this time and the changes in sword training that came about as a result of this....

                      The Sword and The Mind by Yagyu Munenori also know as the Book of Family Traditions....Sword Philosophy of the Yagyu School

                      Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho.....heavy into the Zen aspect of swordman ship....

                      these and some of the others previously mentioned are on my list of worthwhile reads and study.....

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                      • #12
                        Dave,

                        The hizen website's list of books is really comprehensive, thanks for posting the link. I'm looking forward to trying to track some of them down, actually.

                        thanks again,
                        c

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                        • #13
                          You wanted a list...

                          Here's my list, with comments. First, I should note that I agree with Mingshi on one level, your sensei is always your best resource on how to directly improve your dojo-kendo. That said, use the books to improve your spirit and expand your kendo out of the dojo.

                          For purely Kendo-focused books I recommend:
                          - Bokken by Lowry. It's all Yagyu school forms so they aren't directly applicable, but there is a lot of good information about footwork and other nuts-and-bolts fundamentals that might help.
                          - Sword of No-Sword (previously mentioned) it helps to place kendo in context. This is a must read for a kendoka.
                          - [U]Book of Five Rings[\U] also a must read, although I would place it in the general martial arts category because it deals less with specifics.
                          - Looking at a Far Mountain and Japanese Sword Drawing are good resources for kendo kata.
                          - Personally, This is Kendo was not worth it for me. If you have been practicing for more than a few months, you already know 90% of it and the other 10% is so superficial that it is of no help. Hagakure I also found not too worthwhile. (I am going to get it for this). H was clearly written 'after the fact' and is essentially an 'I'd like to get back to that old-time religion' book, i.e. it contains the mythologized and then-current idealized version of bushido as it existed a century after its heyday.


                          On martial arts in general, I recommend:
                          - Three Golden Pearls on a String. This is probably the single best martial arts book I have read.
                          - art of Peace by Ueshiba. Must read.
                          - abundant peace by Stevens. Very good.
                          - Living the Martial Way . If you can get past the author being very proud of himself (I have a low threshold for that in reading), there are some very interesting and applicable things in this book about how to productively integrate martial arts into your life.

                          On Zen in general, Suzuki is a good start, also look at:
                          - Tao te Ching Each translation is a little different and you need to find the one that 'speaks' to you. My personal favorite is translated by Gia-Fu Feng and illustrated by Jane English. For me, it was a must read.
                          - The way of zen by Watts.
                          - Oriental Mythology by J. Campbell. This has an excellent outsider's view of zen and is very accessible by westerners.

                          Sans category:
                          - Musashi by Eji Yoshikawa. It's a fun read. It's all made up, but it gives you a window into the japanese psyche and might you understand some of your sensei's mannerisms. Also, I still run into kendoka that quote it or refer to it as if it all really happened - word for word. (Please remember that just because it is written down doesn't mean it really happened. Try reconciling a British and American history book on WWII.)

                          I've probably read close to a hundred books on kendo/samurai/martial arts and easily another hundred on zen/tao/eastern religions. These are the ones that I keep rereading, or that I hear referred to alot.

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                          • #14
                            hmnnn...

                            -This is Kendo:The Art of Japanese Fencing. Gordon Warner and Junzo Sasamori is pretty decent.

                            -Looking at a Far Mountain: A Study of Kendo Kata by Paul Budden is a good book for looking at the basics of Kata (but it doesn't replace actual demonstration).

                            Meng

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                            • #15
                              Dave,

                              Do any of the books listed on the Hizen website have a comprehensive section on suburi? The budokans where I practice are very focussed on competition and waza training, and they only practice limited suburi. (I know that seems ironic, but its true.) In reading some of the forum posts, Ive run across many types of suburi that are unfamiliar, and a book with at least the names, if not brief explanations, of various suburi would be very helpful.

                              Also, where does one go about buying the Kendou Fundamentals book? Im at school right now, and I cant check amazon.com, but it doesnt look like the kind of book one would find there. . .

                              Thanks in advance,

                              c

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