April 2023 Book Survey Part 1
Welcome to the April 2023 book survey, part one. I decided to break this month's survey into three posts. The themes for this month are kendo/swordsmanship, Bruce Lee, and Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do.
In April 2023, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This post surveys books on kendo/swordsmanship.
Kuk Sool Won Sword Techniques, In Hyuk Suh 1991
I bought my copy of Kuk Sool Won Sword Techniques when I was completing my certification in Jungshin Fitness. The founder of the system, Annika Kahn, is a fourth degree Kuk Sool Won black belt. She developed Jungshin as a physical and mental conditioning program.
My copy of the book is a paperback measuring 6 inches by 8 3/4 inches, with 133 color and black and white pages. The book has no ISBN and is undated, but online sources tend to provide a publication date of 1991.
Jane Hallender took the photos, and I have other books featuring her work. The photos in this book are excellent. There are 7 chapters, with a "sword meditation" in chapter 3, techniques in chapters 4 and 5 and two forms in chapters 6 and 7. The "origin story" in the early chapters is likely a myth.
This book is really only useful to those looking for more on this specific art.
Sports Illustrated Book of Fencing, Edward Vebell, 1962
I bought my copy of Sports Illustrated Book of Fencing for a few dollars at a local used book store. My copy is a hardcover measuring 5 1/2 inches by 8 3/8 inches with 90 black and white pages. Bruce Lee had this title in his library, according to a photo from James Bishop.
This book features 4 chapters, on the art, foil, epee(with Michel Alaux), and sabre (by Csaba Elthes). The drawings in this book are great and I consider this a neat historical find on Olympic fencing of the era.
The Kendo Grading Book: How to Pass Kendo Exams 4th to 7th Dan Book & DVD, Yoshiyama Mitsuru, Alexander C. Bennett, 2006.
I bought my copy of The Kendo Grading Book: How to Pass Kendo Exams 4th to 7th Dan Book & DVD while taking an introduction to Kendo book several years ago. My copy is a paperback measuring 5 3/4 inches by 8 1/4 inches with 91 color pages. I have not taken the DVD out of its sleeve.
This is a lovely little book. Whenever you see Alexander Bennett involved with a project, it's likely to be worth considering. It's tough to find a lot of books on Kendo in English, at least compared to other arts. I'm not sure I would pursue it today, but take a look if you find a used copy.
Kendo Fundamentals and Waza to Win, Nobuo Hirakawa, Michael Ishimatsu-Prime, 2019
I bought Kendo Fundamentals and Waza to Win well after I decided Kendo was not for me. I bought it because it looked like a beautiful book. My copy is a hardcover measuring 8 7/8 inches by 10 3/8 inches with 176 color pages. It appears to be print on demand.
Alexander Bennett is one of the Kendoka photographed in the book.
My notes for this title summarize the main problem: "Why are the photos so small in such a large format book?" The content is still useful, but I'd like to see a new edition with a better layout.
Flashing Steel: Mastering Eishin-Ryu Swordsmanship, 1st Ed, Masayuki Shimabukuro, Leonard J. Pellman, 1995
Flashing Steel: Mastering Eishin-Ryu Swordsmanship, 2nd Ed, Masayuki Shimabukuro, Leonard J. Pellman, 2008
Flashing Steel: Mastering Eishin-Ryu Swordsmanship, 25th Anniversary Ed, Masayuki Shimabukuro, Leonard J. Pellman
I do not own the 1995 edition of this book, but I have the second edition and the 25th anniversary edition. I bought my copy of the second edition and the publisher sent a free copy of the 25th. You can find a digital copy of the second edition on the Internet Archive.
I'm impressed to see this book progress through three editions. The first features 270 pages. The second has 338 pages. The 25th anniversary edition offers 570 pages! One of the original authors, Masayuki Shimabukuro, passed away in 2012; he was born in 1948. The second author, Leonard J. Pellman (born 1951), is still with us. That means sensei Pellman was the lead for changes introduced in the 25th anniversary edition.
My copy of the latest version measures 8 inches by 10 inches and contains black and white pages. The photos seem too small to me, despite the large page format. I don't understand how that happens.
The system described is MusoJikiden Eishin-Ryu, an iaijutsu school founded by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu (b. 1542 or 1549 - d. circa 1621). I found the history section to be unnecessarily confusing. Someone with a more historical mindset should rewrite that material.
Overall, this is a pretty neat book with value to anyone interested in iaijutsu. The Kindle edition appears to be reflowable, meaning it is not a fixed format (like a PDF). However, at the time of writing, the Kindle edition is about $0.50 more expensive than the paperback.
Those who would like additional commentary might want to read the book review I wrote for Martial Journal in 2020.
Samurai Swordsmanship: The Batto, Kenjutsu, and Tameshigiri of Eishin-Ryu, Carl E. Long, Masayuki Shimabukuro, 2011
I bought a copy of Samurai Swordsmanship: The Batto, Kenjutsu, and Tameshigiri of Eishin-Ryu because it looked like a cool book. My copy is a paperback measuring 8 3/8 inches by 10 7/8 inches with 256 black and white pages. The publisher is Black Belt Communications.
One of the co-authors, Masayuki Shimabukuro, is the same as the previous titles. The other, Carl Long, was born in 1956 and appears to still be with us.
This title provides information on sword-drawing forms, kenjutsu, test-cutting, and paired drills (kumitachi). The layout is great and I think the content is solid, although this is not an area for which I have expertise. There is a Kindle edition available in reflowable format.
If I had to pick one book for readers, I would suggest Samurai Swordsmanship, thanks to the nice layout.
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