The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, May 18, 2009

Martial Arts Books

Here is an excerpt from an article by Meik Skoss, who is a well known practitioner of koryu bujutsu, or Classical Japanese Martial Arts. His article shows that background very clearly. What are some of your favorite martial arts books?

If you click here, you can read the whole article.

To begin, there is The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu. The version I prefer is the one translated by Samuel B. Griffith, if for no other reason than that he was a career USMC officer who fought in World War II and afterward. Later, he continued his studies and this book is a publication of his dissertation for a Ph.D. at Oxford University. The edition by Thomas Cleary (from Shambhala) is good enough, but he appears to be merely a scholar. In my opinion, he doesn’t have the kind of experience or necessary expertise to really understand the subject.


On martial arts in general, Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts, written by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith is one of the first encyclopedic books on Asian martial culture. A bit out of date in some respects, it is still, in my mind, the best over-all introduction to Asian martial culture. Available in a paperbound edition from Kodansha International. Draeger also wrote three books, all from Weatherhill, on the Japanese martial arts and ways. They are titled Classical Bujutsu, Classical Budo, and Modern Bujutsu and Budo. These have long served as the standard books on the subject and are important sources. Buy them!


walt said...

I see that the edition you recommend by General Griffith is available for $1.00 on 'Zon.

And just for fun, I'll say this one is my favorite, since it is a tribute to my original teacher.

Rick said...

You studied under Kuo? Very cool.

walt said...

I wish I'd known how cool at the time! Truly, youth is wasted on the young!

Zen said...

I enjoyed this book, because it dealt with more than just the fighting techniques of Shaolin temple:

The Shaolin Grandmasters' Text: History, Philosophy, and Gung Fu of Shaolin Ch'an

Rick said...

I had seen that book at the bookstore, but never took a close look. I'll have to remedy that.


Michele said...

My favorite martial arts book is "My Journey with the Grandmaster" by Kyoshi William Hayes.

The book I am reading right now - "Meditations on Violence" by Rory Miller.

Rick said...

I'll have to look for those books.