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Hardcover The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts Book

ISBN: 4770030185

ISBN13: 9784770030184

The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The Demon said to the swordsman, "Fundamentally, man's mind is not without good. It is simply that from the moment he has life, he is always being brought up with perversity. Thus, having no idea that... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


This is a masterpiece of warrior philosophy. It is not a casual read and nor is it a story that will provide entertainment value. This is essential reading for martial artists and practitioners of eastern medicine as one of the fundamental lessons involves the cultivation of Qi. The "Demon" in this case refers to the Tengu, which are legendary throughout Japan. The Tengu is many things and comes in many forms. It is known as a mischievous and malevolent spirit that brought terror to the Japanese. The ninja made use of these legends and often impersonated Tengu to strike fear. But the Tengu is also a respected and revered symbol and is associated with Shugendo, or the Way of the Aesthetic. In this role the Tengu can be a teacher, and a protector of Buddhism who punsihed evil-doers. Practitioners of Shugendo often live alone in the mountains and are known as Yamabushi (Shinto), meaning "Mountain (Yama) Warrior (Bushi) Aesthetic" in the deeper sense. They view nature as possessing powerful Qi; in the mountains, rocks, and streams. In the wilderness they train and cultivate their energy. Their ancient roots come from China and the Taoist traditions, which is very evident in this book: "The Demon said, 'The Way cannot be seen or heard. What can be seen or heard are just traces of the Way.' The Tengu, the Yamabushi, and the ninja are all connected. Togakushi is a small village high in the Japanese alps that claims a ninja heritage that is 900-years old. There are 3 shinto shrines in the valley, and countless sacred spots throughout the mountains, which have many small waterfalls and streams. The Tengu of Togakushi takes the form of a raven. Tengu are also common in many other ninja villages like Yagyu-zato. What's incredible about this book is its really the only one on this subject in english. While sitting high on a precipice in the mountains above Togakushi, I watched a raven high above tuck its wings into a steep dive and it sounded like a katana slicing the air as it passed 15-feet away before continuing another 1000-feet down and leveling off just over the tree line. It was an odd display and there was something really powerful about it. That spirit is alive in this book, and it sheds light on where these ideas originated. The Tengu are also high techers, but only to the select few. They often took a keen interest in people who retreated to the mountains for extended training. Morihei Ueshiba, the Aikido founder learned some of his martial arts from a Tengu in the 1920's. Sword master Yagyu Muneyoshi had an epic sword duel with a Tengu during a violent lightning storm in the mountains above the village. There is rock there where supposedly his sword cut through the stone after the Tengu dodged him that is now known as Itto Seki, or "one sword stroke rock". This book deals a lot with the movement of a warrior, but perhaps a more powerful message relates to the Shugendo concepts or more specifically the cultivation of Q

An excellent resource for the aspiring martial artist

This book adds to the martial arts (especially swordsmanship) canon, already populated with works by Musashi, Munenori, and Nitobe. Musashi deals with technique, Munenori explains the consequences of training in a school. Nitobe provides the ultimate primer into the warrior ethos. Chozanshi asks and answers questions raised in the course of training. Chozanshi explains how swordsmen differ from Zen monks; why sword training has secrets; and which kind of weapon is most advantageous (the answer begins "How can you ask such a stupid question?"). He also shows why several methods of training in "the Way" are incorrect and how they compare to the true path. The sales literature says this is the first translation of this work into English. I would like to see another translation, perhaps by Thomas Cleary, to determine how much of the work has been altered by the translator. His footnote on "remaining mind" reflects only one view and, I think, differs from the explanation in the text.

An indispensable classic of traditional Japanese culture and martial arts philosophy.

Written by 18th-century Japanese samurai Issai Chozanshi and translated into English by William Scott Wilson, also known for his translations of "Hagakure" and "The Book of Five Rings", The Demon's Sermon On The Marital Arts is a uniquely insightful and philosophical contemplation. Presented in the format of an imagined discourse between a tengu (a mythological birdman) and an anonymous swordsman, The Demon's Sermon On The Martial Arts is much broader in scope than a simple list of strategies and maneuvers taught by assorted Japanese disciplines, extending into wisdom gleaned from Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto. The result is a guide for martial artists to perfecting the mind, rising above hesitation, indecision, or distractions, and harnessing the flow of the dynamic energy of ch'i to empower transformation. An indispensable classic of traditional Japanese culture and martial arts philosophy.

highly recommended

this volume is a hidden jewel, what a wonderful discovery! A fascinating interweaving of several traditions, well told, very readable.

Exceptional work Deserves to be widly known

Though designed for the martial arts audience the work actually encompasses a profound religious view that many who have only a marginal interest in the martial arts would find inspiring. The work is by turns a funny, brusque, burlesque and serious. If one has an interest in Zen one will find this little volume of interest. The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts by Issai Chozanshi, translated by William Scott Wilson (Kodansha International) Woven deeply into the martial traditions and folklore of Japan, the fearsome Tengu dwell in the country's mountain forests. Mythical half-man, half-bird crea¬tures with long noses, Tengu have always inspired dread and awe, inhabiting a liminal world between the human and the demonic, and guarding the most hidden secrets of swordsmanship. In The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts, a translation of the 18th-century samurai classic by Issai Chozanshi, an anony¬mous swordsman journeys to the heart of Mt. Kurama, the traditional domain of these formidable beings. There he encounters a host of demons; through a series of discussions and often playful discourse, they reveal to him the very deepest principles of the mar¬tial arts, and show how the secrets of sword fighting impart the truths of life itself. The Demon's Sermon opens with The Discourses, a collection of whimsical fables concerned with the theme of transformation--for Chozanshi a core phe¬nomenon to the martial artist. Though ostensibly light and fanciful, these stories offer the attentive reader ideas that subvert perceived notions of conflict and the individual's relationship to the outside world. In the main body of work, The Sermon, Chozanshi demon¬strates how transformation is fostered and nurtured through ch'i--the vital and fundamental energy that flows through all things, animate and inanimate, and the very bedrock of Chozanshi's themes and the martial arts themselves. This he does using the voice of the Tengu, as the reader is invited to eavesdrop with the swordsman on the demon's revelations of the deepest truths concerning ch'i, the principles of yin and yang, and how these forces shape our existence. In The Dispatch, the themes are brought to an elegant con¬clusion using the parable of an old and toothless cat who, like the demon, has mastered the art of acting by relying on nothing, and in so doing can defeat even the wiliest and most vicious of rats despite his advanced years. This is the first direct translation from the original text into English by William Scott Wilson, the renownedtranslator of Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings. It captures the tone and essence of this classic while still making it accessible and meaningful to today's reader. Chozanshi's deep understanding of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto, as well as his insight into the central role of ch'i in the universe, are all given thoughtful treatment in Wilson's introduction and extensive endnotes. A provocative book for the gen¬eral reader, The Demon's Sermon
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