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This Is Kendo [Paperback]

Junzo Sasamori
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It is stated in the opening paragraph of the Japanese government's publication, Japan: Its Land, People, and Culture, that the "exact date when the ancestors of the [Yamato] people first settled in the Japanese islands and developed their own culture...remains shrouded in obscurity." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good beginning to learning the art of Kendo April 10 2001
This book is a very good introduction to the art and sport of Kendo. It contains a full description of all techniques a beginner will be faced with as well as some very good suggestions for methods of practice, solo and with others. I do like the fact that the advanced competitive techniques are listed, but they are given very little description, forcing the owner of this book to put it down after about a year of use alongside work in the dojo. The glossary is excellent and useful as well as the introduction to bogu(armour), the shinai(bamboo sword) and the essentials of etiquette and competition. This book, however, completely lacks information about the kata, which are important for grading and it lacks (as I said before) adequate description of advanced techniques, and stances. I found the section on history, which takes up about a third of the book, to be colourful, interesting, and well condensed, but containing useless comparisons between samurai and knight, and misinformation about knights(i.e. crusaders wielding 9 foot longswords [implicitly in one hand!]),a comparison of stances with knights which is completely untenable(i.e. the knight moved body and sword together [how can one generalize like this, especially without any reference to European medieval fighting manuals, which show something quite different?]) and that Japanese armour was not "burdensome" like European plate. What does "burdensome" mean when one is trying to avoid death by deflecting arrows and other sharp objects with one's armour and when most soldiers wore only partial suits of plate supplementing it with other materials? Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Some excellent history Feb. 21 2004
This is a reprint of the book originally published in 1964, if I remember correctly, and is definitely something of a classic, since there were few books available in the U.S. on the art of kendo at that time.
I read this book mainly for the history of kendo, in order to supplement the reading I'm doing on the history of iai, as I am mainly an iaido practitioner rather than a kendo-ka. I'd recently read Karl Friday's Legacies of the Sword, a scholarly work by an American professor of Japanese history on iaido, much of it impressively written from original Japanese sources. It was quite detailed as far as the history and philosophy of Kashima-Shinryu iaido goes, but other styles get discussed too, such as Jikishin Kage-ryu and Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. However, much of the information is relevant to other styles as well. But it was primarily, as I said, on iai, so I wanted to get some background in the kendo as well. I mention it because it would be a good book to read after this one. Just be advised, if you're familiar with Dave Lowry's lively and entertaining books on iaido, this is truly a academic tome, and the style is much denser and dryer than Lowry's works, but it's worth reading for the exhaustive detail and scholarship that went into it. The author says that it was the product of 20 years of research, and it shows.
I can't comment on the technical aspects of the kendo forms and techniques, but I thought the history was excellent despite a few things I found far-fetched, such as the author's mentioning of 9-foot swords. I note one of the other reviewers commented on this too, and he also had a problem with some of the author's facts on European armor.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, a great starting point Sept. 27 2000
Even though this book is older (published in 1964!) it's an excellent source for what kendo actually "is." It has basic coverage of techniques and actual tournament play and practice, and has very good coverage on etiquette and philosophy (in fact, unmatched coverage of these), but lacks in many other areas (such as kendo kata, and a good description of zanshin). This was my first kendo book (and in fact the only one available at the time) and I found it an excellent starting point (and very interesting reading) but as far as a reference goes, Kendo: The Definitive Guide is much more up to date and comprehensive. That's not to say that this book shouldn't be in your library; I still believe that this should be the first book ANY aspiring or established kendoist owns.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dated material, but still essential March 1 2000
I purchased this book many years ago out of a general interest in Japanese history. There were few if any other titles available in English on this subject at that time. I found it gave a great introductory explanation, particularly in the historic background, etiquette and philosophy of kendo. It inspired me to start practicing this martial art. For more specific, practical information I recommend augmenting this title with Ozawa's "Kendo: the Definitive Guide" which, while it has a wealth of explanation and diagrams of greater value to a practicing kendoist, is less involved with the history/philosophy embodied in Sasamori and Warner's work. Still "This Is Kendo" is really an essential starting point.
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