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Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai [Kindle Edition]

Dave Lowry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £13.17
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Book Description

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.



Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications (3 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H2SCMHM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #712,441 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
`Autumn Lightning' is another well written book by Dave Lowry that explores the history of the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, as well as his own start in martial arts. Each chapter alternates between life in feudal Japan and the development of the Ryu and life in America and Dave's personal development. This makes for compelling reading and creates a sense of real connection between martial arts of the past and their practise in up-to-date, contemporary times. Lowry writes with his usual candour and descriptive language and from the first page you will be gripped and your interest held until the very end. Lowry's martial arts integrity shines through and you see how this developed under the tutelage of his Sensei and this makes for encouraging reading for those of us who practise martial arts today. If you've read any of Lowry's other books then you know how good they can be and this is no exception, it has rich, tight language and great martial arts history and left me feeling motivated and inspired. Well worth a look.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 28 July 2009
By Ryuto
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well written, insightful and full of fascinating observations on the Japanese martial arts and their symbiosis with the country's culture-all from a Westerner's perspective. This should be purchased together with the follow-up, 'Persimmon Wind' which is equally superb.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 27 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ostensibly the autobiography of an American bugeisha (practitioner of Japanese martial arts, in this case kenjutsu, "sword techniques"), this book is much more as it delves into an easily-read discussion of different bugei (Japanese martial arts), zanshin (the state of "continual mind"), special skills and hidden methods, the precursors of jujutsu, warrior monks, Zen Buddhism, seppuku and much more. Even if you do not practice a martial art, you are likely to find this a fascinating read, and if you do practice a martial art, this book will inspire you no matter what your own art is (I practice eskrima, which has no relation whatsoever to kenjutsu and yet I found many principles in this which I can apply to eskrima).
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5.0 out of 5 stars really nice present for my husband 16 Feb. 2013
By annette
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was shown to me by a friend
Arrived really promptly from Glastonbury
very happy with price of purchase, love this company
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be MANDATORY reading for students of the martial arts 16 Aug. 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Out of print for nearly ten years, Shambhala Press makes this masterpiece available to another generation of martial arts students and Westerners who are interested in the Japanese "student-teacher" relationship.

As a young teenager, Lowry learned of a "Japanese swordsman" living in the same University town. In the tradition of old Japan when a student seeked an instructor, Lowry stopped by the house every day, asking the woman who answered the door
if there was an instructor who would take him as a student. Lowry's persistence paid off and he was "adopted" by Kotaro Sensei (teacher), a master of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu swordsmanship.

Lowry instruction was by no means limited to the physical techniques of the sword. As the subtitle implies, Kotaro Sensei transformed this wet-behind-the-ears teenager into an "American Samurai." Lessons learned within and without the dojo (training hall) taught Lowry that a "samurai" has to live ALL aspects of his or her life to a higher standard. While his schoolmates were busy experimenting with drugs and worrying about the Viet Nam war, Lowry's spare time was spent learning honor, respect, courage, virtue and justice through this sacred relationship between Sensei (teacher) and kohei (student).

Lowry takes an interesting and very effective approach to the assembly of the book, alternating chapters that chronologically detail his experience and historical anecdotes about the martial arts that reinforce the lessons he learned. Lowry is a true "master of the sword AND pen," his masterful re-telling of his experience almost allows the reader to experience the same struggles and joys he experienced, yet he keeps this writing accessable. This book would be equally valuable to a nine-year old beginning karate student as it is to a 80 year old master of the arts.

I have been involved in the martial arts for only ten years, but have read and collected more than 100 books on the subject. If I had only one book to recommend to students of the arts seeking the "definitive text" on what the "teacher-student" experience is SUPPOSED to be, this would be it.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An autobiography of great merit 8 Aug. 2003
By Joanna Daneman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I met David Lowry quite a few years ago, appropriately at the St. Louis Japanese Festival held in Forest Park's lovely Japanese tea garden. It was a good thing I had a chance to meet him--otherwise I might think this story was fiction. It's not, though it reads like a novel, maybe titled "Karate Kid meets Yoda."
Lowry, a country boy living in Springfield, Missouri, went on a youthful quest to find his sensei, his teacher, after hearing rumors that there was a sword master living in town. Unlikely as that was (Springfield is better known for the Ozark Mountains and being near Laura Ingalls Wilder's homestead) it was true. In scenes that follow, Lowry gets training not only from the sensei but from his equally fierce consort. The Japanese couple become a second set of parents and teachers, and they make their indelible mark on David's life.
Not only is this an fascinating tale of coming-of-age and two cultures meeting, but it is written with great style. Lowry is a journalist and freelance writer with many, many bylines from top publications. His writing is crisp and visual, and above all, humorous. This is one of my favorite memoirs.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about life, not just Japanese sword training 9 Sept. 2001
By Erehwon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having previously read the author's book, Moving Into Stillness, I expected this to be a fine book--I was not disappointed.
The book interweaves chapters on how the author, as a teenager in the Midwest, came to undertake the arduous study of kenjutsu with chapters concerning the lives of the masters of his art in feudal Japan. I was captivated by both threads.
The anecdote that explains the title, Autumn Lightning, is evocative of the essence of this book. The book is suffused with a subtle melancholly. The author is well aware that his art is nothing more than a museum piece, without any practicality and receiving little appreciation. Yet it is pursued because it is excellent, beautiful and transformative. In that way it is far more "real" than the ugly, debased "reality" of the modern world.
This book will delight natural aristocrats who are at odds with the spirit of the age.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than an interesting and inspiring autobiography 27 Jan. 2002
By Modern Viking - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ostensibly the autobiography of an American bugeisha (practitioner of Japanese martial arts, in this case kenjutsu, "sword techniques"), this book is much more as it delves into an easily-read discussion of different bugei (Japanese martial arts), zanshin (the state of "continual mind"), special skills and hidden methods, the precursors of jujutsu, warrior monks, Zen Buddhism, seppuku and much more. Even if you do not practice a martial art, you are likely to find this a fascinating read, and if you do practice a martial art, this book will inspire you no matter what your own art is (I practice eskrima, which has no relation whatsoever to kenjutsu and yet I found many principles in this which I can apply to eskrima).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The roots of the samurai 7 Dec. 1999
By Stephanie Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Many books are written on the samurai or budo...often the stories of the master's master are left out. The budo has changed and apdapted to modern society, however the traditions remain. Autumn Lightning tells of the roots of the bushido. "The sword that gives life not takes life." A must read for not only studiers of budo but of the martial arts in general...two thumbs up, way up.
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