September 2022 Book Survey Part 1

 


 Welcome to the September 2022 book survey, part one. I decided to break this month's survey into three posts.

Introduction

In September 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This post describes 8 books that I surveyed in September. Subsequent posts will address the other 16 that I surveyed last month. Read on to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Karate: Its History and Practice: 空手道 その歴史と技法(英語版), Koyama Masashi, Wada Koji, Kadekaru Toru, Alexander Bennett (translator), 2021


Karate: Its History and Practice is a small paperback offering 483 pages. I had high hopes for this book, as one of my favorite martial arts authors, Dr. Alexander Bennett, was the translator. Unfortunately, this book is a largely incoherent collection of material. It contains no real insights into karate's origins. It sometimes repeats what other "famous" instructors wrote in their books, with no analysis as to whether what they wrote was correct or justified.

Some material is interesting, such as the table in chapter one listing sources of knowledge of karate dating from 1667, 1756, 1778, and five from 1881-1867. The book presents yet more translations of Itosu’s Ten Precepts of Karate starting on p 47. Thankfully this book has an index, which is helpful when a title is only available in print format. However, this material did not carry the book for me.

I still have yet to find a reliable book on karate history.

A Judo Warrior's Journey Around the Globe, Part 1: America 1904-1907, Mitsuyo Maeda, Eric Shahan, 2022


I was really excited to receive a free Kindle edition of A Judo Warrior's Journey Around the Globe, Part 1: America 1904-1907. For someone who has heard so much about Mitsuyo Maeda, it was wonderful to read the first translation of part of his autobiography. I'm a big fan of Eric Shahan's other translations, so thank you to Eric for sending this for review.

In paperback form, this title is 205 pages. It is the first of seven (!) planned books. The original work by Maeda (1878-1941) arrived in 1912 in two volumes of over 800 pages, courtesy of his friend Usuda Zanun (1877-1956). After Maeda's death, Usuda published a third volume. This third volume summarized volumes one and two and added more details about Maeda's life from 1912 to his death in 1941. Eric plans to publish volumes one and two in six books, with the third volume being Eric's seventh book.

From the beginning, the reader can tell that this book is partially fiction. It begins with a private dialogue among West Point soldiers, prior to Maeda's famous 1905 visit. As Maeda was not there, there is no way he would have known the contents of this conversation. The reader should accept the dialogue, and related material, as indicative of the zeitgeist, and not as literal facts. 

The writing is engaging, and translator Eric includes lots of supplementary material, like contemporary diagrams and figures, both in English and Japanese. The last 60 pages or so reproduce contemporary news articles, reformatted for easy reading and reference.

I highly recommend this book (and subsequent volumes, no doubt) for judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu enthusiasts, and general martial arts historians.

The Manual of Judo, E. J. Harrison, 1952/2013


My copy of The Manual of Judo is a 2013 reprint of the original likely 1952 edition. I've covered other books by Mr. Harrison (1873-1961) before, like The Fighting Spirit of Japan (1913/1955). Mr. Harrison was a prolific author and genuine judoka, ranked 4th dan. One part of the book claims he was the first English person to earn shodan rank, in 1911, and another makes the same claim for "1904-1905." 

This edition is missing the original front matter from the 1952 edition, but otherwise it appears to be a straightforward republication using the original text and figures. 

Mr. Harrison may be responsible for promoting the idea that judo founder Jigoro Kano earned a PhD, thanks to his use of the honorific "Dr. Kano" throughout. MHT readers know that Jigoro Kano earned the equivalent of a master's degree. I thereby prefer to call him "professor," as he was a respected educator.

The book consists of an introduction on pages 15-32 and techniques with 82 line drawings from pages 16 to 168. The last 7 pages cover atemi waza, or striking. 

Overall the book is a nice historical snapshot of how judo was practiced in 1952, although it seems older than that.

Judo on the Ground: Katamewaza, the Oda Method, E. J. Harrison, 1954


Years ago, Judo on the Ground: Katamewaza, the Oda Method was a hard book to acquire, at least in English. This review is based on a copy that I borrowed via inter-library loan.

The edition I borrowed offered no publication date, although a mark inside indicated the acquiring library got their copy in December 1956. Online sources indicate a 1954 publication date. 

Incidentally, in an early attempt to learn what this book contained, I bought a 2009 Italian reproduction of the book titled Katamewasa. Il Metodo Oda:


This Italian edition is nice, with line drawings as in the original, minus the "horizon line" behind the figures. 

Amazingly, in January 2022, a reformatted edition of this book titled Judo on the Ground became available via Amazon in Kindle and print editions. This screen capture of the Kindle sample depicts how the publisher has reproduced the text in reflowable format, with line drawings as shown:


The line drawings appear to basically be the same, but they may have been retraced.

Returning to the original edition, the book offers an introduction on pages 11-15 and techniques from pages 16-192, with 105 line drawings. Harrison bases the material on work by Tsunetane Oda (1892-1955), who appears to have published his own book in Japanese in 1948.

This book is another neat snapshot of judo in the 1950s. I am thrilled to see a version of it available again in multiple formats for a decent price. If anyone would like to donate a copy to the MHT library, please consider using our Buy Me a Coffee link. Thank you.

My Method of Judo, Mikinosuke Kawaishi and E. J. Harrison, 1955

I'm very pleased to present two options for the next two books. When I started MHT, I bought used copies of these next two titles from a seller in Australia. Here is my copy of the 1955 edition of My Method of Judo:


Now, thanks to an unknown Amazon publisher, you can now buy reformatted print editions of My Method of Judo by Mikinosuke Kawaishi and E. J. Harrison. Here is the copy I bought:


Kawaishi (1899-1969) was an influential 7th dan judoka, known for his work in France. The original edition of this book features 246 pages and 278 line drawings. The drawings by Jean Gailhat are more primitive than those by "JAK" in the E. J. Harrison titles, but they do include arrows to show directions of motion.

The preface by Mr. Harrison complains about the Kodokan prohibiting "dislocation locks" on the legs and neck and the use of "one or both legs on the application of strangleholds." 

This book is another great look at judo in the 1950s. The new reformatted print edition puts a copy in anyone's hands. The 2021 edition is a 6 inch by 9 inch print on demand black and white paperback, with 265 pages.

My Method of Self-Defence, Mikinosuke Kawaishi and E. J. Harrison, 1957

I'm pleased to showcase another book that has been brought back from the nether regions to enjoy a modern reception. The picture below shows my original used 1957 edition. 



Thanks to another unknown publisher, anyone can now buy a reformatted print edition of My Method of Self-Defence by Mikinosuke Kawaishi and E. J. Harrison. Here is the copy I bought:


The original edition featured 125 pages and 88 figures, in the same style as the previous title. It includes kicks, stomps, head butts, weapon disarms, and eye-pokes! The preface by Mr. Harrison calls it a combination of "ju-jutsu and judo."

The new Amazon print on demand paperback is 5 inches by 8 inches, with 184 pages. It's another faithful reformatting of the original book, albeit in a smaller format.

I also recommend this book to historians of 1950s judo and related martial arts.

Conclusion


This post features some real gems. The must-buy is Eric Shahan's first volume of the Maeda autobiography. I'm a fan of the other judo titles, especially now that they are in print again. I would sadly skip the karate book.

Stay tuned for part two, later this month!

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