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on 16 December 2003
This book is actually a reprint of "Kendo: Its Philosophy, History and Means to Personal Growth". The previous hard-cover edition was ridiculously expensive, so it is certainly a very welcome fact that Shambhala has decided to publish it with a much more affordable price-tag.
One thing that this book is not: it is not a how-to manual, and it discusses no techniques, doesn't teach you a correct way to grip your sword or usual beginners' mistakes in footwork. If you're after this kind of stuff, look elsewhere.
The book itself has two rather different parts. The first chapter deals with fundamental concepts of kendo, and as such contains some of the best and most elegant explanations of concepts such as ma-ai, kamae, ki and so on, and is very easily readable and understandable to pretty much anyone with a slightest interest in kendo or in japanese martial arts in general. The second part, i.e. all the subsequent chapters after the first are quite different and take a seriously dedicated reader to work through. It is not to say that the book suddenly gets worse, quite to the contrary. The author certainly knows his stuff, just that getting this deep into the origins and history of japanese swordmanship is not for a casual reader. At the same time, if this is of interest to you, you'll be hard pressed to find anything even close as thorough and enlightening on the subject as this book.
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