Kurikara: The Sword and the Serpent Paperback – 7 Dec 2010
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book and though it is not a huge volume, not a word is wasted - it is packed full of information that is useful to practitioners of any martial art. Read morePublished on 29 May 2014 by VM
There are a lot of dubious books out there on martial arts etc. but this isn't one of them. He knows what he's talking about and puts everything over clearly without either... Read morePublished on 19 Dec. 2013 by S Mealing
There have been many books written on The Way of the Japanese Sword which have stood the test of time and become literary classics demonstrating the Way. Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2012 by Gagan