October 2022 Book Survey Part 1

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


In October 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This post describes the first 7 books that I surveyed in October. Subsequent posts will describe the last two batches of 8 and 7 books. Read on to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Katori Shinto-ryu Warrior Tradition, Risuke Otake, 2007

Katori Shinto-ryu Warrior Tradition is not an easy book to acquire. I bought my copy from Koryu Books in 2020 but I do not know if they still sell it. My copy is a 7 inches by 10 inches black and white paperback with 317 pages. It is based on the earlier three volume work titled The Deity and the Sword published in 1977-1978. This new edition claims to be retranslated and edited, with 850 new photos. The text offers Japanese and English, usually on facing pages.

Iizasa [Shurinosuke] Yasusada, 20th generation headmaster of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu ( 天真正伝香取神道流 ) wrote the foreword. 

The author passed away last year (1926-2021) after serving as "master teacher" for his style, called by Dr. David Hall "one of the oldest existing warrior traditions in Japan." Iizasa Choisai Ienao (1387-1488) founded the style in 1447 as a sogo bujutsu ("field combat" style). 

The book offers sections on history, techniques, weaponry, and armor. The photos are excellent and this is something of a collector's book, in my opinion. 

Strategy and the Art of Peace: Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu, Risuke Otake, Daniel Lee, Alexander Bennett (translator), 2016

I bought Strategy and the Art of Peace in 2020 from Kendo World. My copy is a 7 1/2 inches by 5 inches black and white paperback with 266 pages. The publisher based the book on a series of 24 articles by the late Risuke Otake published in the Nippon Budokan vehicle Budo, from October 2008 through September 2010. 

The author served in the Imperial Japanese Army for 2 1/2 months, prior to the end of the second World War. He is an engaging writer, with stories of exorcizing fox spirits and training the famous Donn Draeger, who took up TKSR at age 44. 

TKSR is closely aligned with the Katori Jingu, a "top tier" shrine linked to the imperial family whose sister shrine is located at Kashima. The system claims that the founder, then aged 60, "received a divine scroll revealing the essence of the warrior arts" from Futsunushi-no-Kami. Accordingly, the style name means "direct and authentic transmission from the deities."

The book offers five chapters on history, apprenticeship, technical curriculum, strategic curriculum, and philosophy. The technical curriculum includes topics like kenjutsu, iaijutsu, bojutsu, jujutsu, and ninjutsu (!). The strategic curriculum includes weird esoteric magic stuff. 

There is some overlap of content between this book and the previous, but I recommend both for serious students or collectors. The technique chapters in this book could benefit from larger pictures. Overall I'm glad I bought this one and had it shipped to me from Japan.

Bokken: Art of the Japanese Sword, Dave Lowry, 1986

I bought Bokken: Art of the Japanese Sword at a Borders store in San Antonio, Texas in May 1999. (The receipt is still in the book!) My copy is a 1998 13th printing of the 1986 Ohara original. It is a small black and white paperback with 192 pages.

I have no experience with this style, but it claims to derive from the teachings of a 21st generation Yagyu Shinkage practice. It repeats the famous but probably mythical story of Musashi defeating an opponent with an oar, but remarkably acknowledges (for the time especially) that the duel might not have happened!

The photographs show progression via numbers, and make good use of the page. I liked how they showed correct and also incorrect postures.

Samurai Aikijutsu, Toshishiro Obata, 1987

I bought Samurai Aikijutsu to try to get to the heart of the matter concerning the relationship of this system to other styles. Aikijutsu here refers to Daito Ryu Aikijutsu, the origin art for Aikido. If you spend any time with a Daito Ryu practitioner, you might hear them say their art is the origin of all grappling styles, like judo and jujutsu. While there isn't really evidence of this, I wondered what this book would say.

My copy is a second impression from October 1990. It's a 6 inches by 9 inches black and white paperback with 150 pages, translated by Haruko Chambers. I did not have access to the DVD which was published around the same time. 

The book features a fairly dubious "genealogy" which claims lineage back to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1056-1127), "founder of Takeda and Ogasawara schools of archery, Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu (Takeda Ryu) and Kogyu Ryu Gunpo (military strategy)."  (Note the use of Aikijutsu in some places and Aikijujutsu in others.) The lineage as shown ends with Takeda Tokimune, "headmaster of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, son of the illustrious Takeda Sokaku," [1860-1943], teacher of Morihei Ueshiba. 

I liked the photo on pages 26-27 showing judo and jujutsu teachers at the Butokukai martial arts academy. Chances are you've seen a version of this photo of distinguished looking jujutsu sensei with mustaches, but carrying the wrong names, like Mitsuyo Maeda. You can correct it with this photo, thanks to the inclusion of names and arts.

The book offers 44 pages of material on "ancient times," "men of Aizu," Sokaku Takeda, Shiro Saigo, Morihei Ueshiba and the Aikikai, and Gozo Shioda and the Yoshinkan. Pages 45-141 show techniques. The organization is confusing and I could not tell in places what the author was trying to accomplish.

This book is probably worthwhile for specialists, but not for general practitioners.

Daito-Ryu Aikibudo: History and Technique, Antonino Certa, 2007

I bought my copy of Daito-Ryu Aikibudo: History and Technique directly from the author by contacting him in early 2020 through his web site. My copy of his book is a 9 1/2 inches by 6 3/4 inches black and white paperback with 228 pages. This book is nicely composed but I found the organization a bit confusing.

The author claims to have derived it from the writings of the late Takeda Tokimune (1916-1993). It contains history consisting of myths and generic samurai material. Later we see chapters on the principles of Daito Ryu, techniques, history and principles of Takeda-den Ono-ha Itto-ryu, kendo kata, and teachers. 

I like the content in this book but a second edition would benefit from better organization.

A Curious Collection of Jujutsu Manuals, Volume 4, Eric Shahan, 2022

I bought a Kindle copy of A Curious Collection of Jujutsu Manuals, Volume 4 because Eric Shahan's work is uniformly interesting. The book contains translations of material from Japan's Edo, Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras. It offers content on kenpo, a densho, Japanese news articles mentioning jujutsu, standing techniques from an 1887 manual, throwing techniques from a 1912 book, and a 1943 article on judo's spread around the world. 

I liked how the author added complementary contemporary material to the translations, like photos or drawings. This is another recommended buy if you like primary sources on Japanese martial arts and don't read Japanese or have access to the original texts.

A Slow Boat to Yokohama, Syd Hoare, 2010

I never thought I would read a copy of A Slow Boat to Yokohama by the late Syd Hoare (1939-2017), but thanks to a March 2022 addition to the Internet Archive, anyone can borrow a digital copy. 

This book is an autobiography, from roughly age 14 to 28. It details Mr. Hoare's teenage years in the UK learning judo, his service in the UK army, and his experiences competing at the highest levels, including the 1964 Olympic Games in Japan. 

This book is just great. Mr. Hoare is a terrific writer and he has the stories to match his writing skill. Thank you to the Internet Archive for digitizing this otherwise lost book.


My top general recommendations this month are A Slow Boat to Yokohama and A Curious Collection of Jujutsu Manuals, Volume 4. Collectors might wish to pursue the first two TSKR titles.

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