Sunday, January 25, 2009


Given my injury, I haven't been training much over the past few months. This lack of training to fuel my thoughts has contributed to the lack of blog posts. This doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about stuff worthy of blogging -- only that my thoughts have been meandering through some of the thickets of the Bujinkan, and martial arts history, theory and philosophy.

In other words, I've been reading. No, you can't learn martial arts from a book, but that doesn't mean books can't help a martial artist (especially an injured one) develop. Here are some of my five favorite martial arts books:

  1. The Book of Martial Power, by Steven Pearlman

  2. Living the Martial Way, by Forrest E. Morgan

  3. Anything by Dave Lowry

  4. Understand, Good, Play, by Masaaki Hatsumi

  5. The Secrets of Judo, by Jiichi Watanabe and Lindy Avakian

You'll notice that only one of these a Bujinkan book, and more importantly none of them are catalogs of technique.

You might also note that none of the typical philosophical texts are mentioned: The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, Hagajure, The Unfettered Mind... I've read those too. Obviously those have their place too. Generations have read them. I can't claim to fully understand the traditional philosophical texts. Even so, I think the Hagakure is over-rated and often misunderstood. The Unfettered Mind is more about Zen than martial arts. The Book of Five Rings is good; but it must be read and re-read, and then the reader needs to find ways to experience what Musashi described. It's a workbook. By the way, the book may be fine, but it is likely that Musashi is over-rated and misunderstood (at least in the West). Among these usual suspects, The Art of War is the most clear and concise. Again, though, be prepared to revisit this again and again.

There are a number of other traditional texts worth looking at, for example: The 36 Strategies, The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts, The Life-Giving Sword, The Bubushi... But these were are not to be read without some grounding in the history and culture of Japan, in addition to some extensive training in Budo.


gene simmons (no relation) said...

Forgive my long absence. I am following the harvest and am now on the west coast. I am off today due to bad weather and a co- worker has let me use his computer. I have read about your injury and am sorry to hear of it. Glad you are mending.

I am training at every chance.I have recently obtained a worn out copy of a knife fighting book by an old man. I am trying to emulate his pictures but am lacking. In this book, Mr. Applegate contradicts alot of stuff I have seen and I am almost certain that he is a fake. Forgive me for falling prey to this. I intend on saving up and buying one of the books on your list.

I have also been reading what I have missed on your blog. I have missed your wisdom dear Teacher and am fortified to read it now. You should, however, dismiss Mr. Kingsley sumarily. It soubds as if he is missing the point.

I have been traveling, as always. I came across a funny workout a few months ago. These karateka were swinging " kettle bells". I tried it but did not see the application. It kinda hurt my arms alittle.

Well, I must go for now dear Teacher. Thank you again for your continued wisdom. I will try to be less of a stranger. I will be moving with the harvest come spring and will check in when I can. And as always I will train. I will walk where you have walked someday.

anonymouser said...

Dude what are you reading? You can get all the philosophy you need by reading DeathNote. It's super dim-mak.