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Kurikara: The Sword and the Serpent Paperback – 7 Dec 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books,U.S. (7 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583942440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583942444
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Maki Evans teaches battodo in London. He is the head teacher of the Fudokan Battodo dojo, affiliated with the International Battodo Federation. He lives in London.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
In Kurikara, The Sword and the Serpent, John Evans outlines an approach to training in the Sword that can be applied to all martial arts and indeed to life in general.

One danger of practicing a combat art like the Sword is that in everyday life the conditions for its application no longer exist. Practice can become abstracted to the point where techniques would no longer be effective: it becomes more of a dance than a fighting art. The benefits of practice are negated or, worse, lead to a false sense of ability.

In this book, Evans relates his experiences of Shugendo; the ancient way of the mountain ascetics of Japan (`Shugendo' literally translates as: `The path of training and testing'.). He also talks about his training with Nakamura Taizaburo Sensei, the Japanese sword master and founder of the Nakamura Ryu; a sword school based on ancient principles but concerned with techniques that are truly effective in combat.

Both approaches can be seen as an antidote to schools that enshrine their techniques in unquestioning reverence, becoming atrophied over the years.

In the different sections of the book, Evans shows how a complete approach is built up by combining Tanren (internal work), Kihon (basic techniques), Kata (sequences of cuts and movements), Kumitachi (partner work), Uchikomi (contact and sparring), and Tameshigiri (test cutting).

Later sections deal with the cultivation of sensibility and more esoteric aspects of the Martial Arts: elements that tend to be missing from many of the unarmed self-defence forms widely practiced in the West.

A valuable book, written with passion and dedication, very much concerned with keeping the true spirit of Budo alive.
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Format: Paperback
As a novice to sword discipline with a background in martial practice and Buddhist retreat this text opened my eyes to the depths within Japanese martial arts that I had not previously been aware of.

I am very surprised to read how Mikkyo (Esoteric Japanese Buddhism) and martial practice have been brought together in the traditions of Japanese swordsmanship, as a way of uniting inner and outer disciplines. This path offers an external cultivation through martial disipline and a consistent consideration of the harsh realities of combat. This is joined with skillful use of inner yogas, including relationship with nature and art, that point the practitioner towards greater self-understanding and responsiveness towards the world. 'Kurikara' therefore presents a path of avoiding the extremes of either inner or outer approaches while deriving benefit from seriously engaging with both.

I find the text clear and direct and enjoy that it offers no glib soundbites but instead speaks from the rich experience of the author, including stories of practice that engage and stir me.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a practitioner of a Japanese sword art then this book is a guide written by an expert in the art themselves. If you train in any other martial art then a large portion of the book applies just as much to these arts as it does to training with the sword. I train in both a sword art and an unarmed art and the basic principles in the book apply equally to both these disciplines.

The book goes from the more obvious physical aspects of swordsmanship; kihon (basics), kata (forms), kumitachi (sparring), uchikomi (striking targets) to the far deeper and less understood aspects such as tanren (forging) and shinshin renma (cultivation of sensibility); yet even these deep aspects are explained concisely and allow a view into their importance in underlying all the physical aspects of the art. In addition to this the book covers tameshigiri (test cutting) which is now missing from many sword styles, and yet is one of the key ways to ensure that the cuts practised in kata are being performed correctly.

This is a book written by someone who not only understands the physical aspects of the martial arts, but also the deeper underpinnings that give them meaning in today's world ... katsujinken.
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Format: Paperback
I'd recommend this book to anyone engaged in practice - of a martial art, yoga, even the piano. It is not a technical manual about the sword but a book about how to develop technique and ultimately mastery. John Evans uses his own experience of more than 40 years to illustrate the trials, tribulations and pitfalls that beset anyone who starts on a path to accomplishment in their chosen field. It contains warnings about the illusions and attachments that prevent progress and take you off on tangents. This book is well written, easy to read and very informative about the sword. I have not practiced the sword but found it fascinating to learn about its place in Japanese history and to gain a little understanding of it. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on `Forging Power' which compares the qualities required to make a good sword with the qualities required for a good swordsman, the relationship between the external and internal, strength and flexibility. The use of Japanese terminology meant I had to keep checking the glossary but it gives an appreciation of the eloquence of the language. Above all what comes across is the way technical ability can only be honed by removing mental obstacles. This book will be of interest to anyone engaged in the journey required to know one's self.
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