10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classical text
Munenori's book is a classic work of Japanese literature that explores the Way of the sword through what we in the west might call a philosphical approach. Yet, I don't think the distinction between the physical style and philosophical approach would be seperate categories to Munenori. His book sets out to present the Way as a total approach of mind, body, and spirit, and...
Published on May 13, 2005 by Jason Allen
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mainly for practitioners of "Internal" martial arts.
If you're looking for practical teachings, read the Book of Five Rings and the Art of War.
Published on October 9, 2009 by D. Burt
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classical text,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: The Secret Teachings From the House of the Shogun (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)Munenori's book is a classic work of Japanese literature that explores the Way of the sword through what we in the west might call a philosphical approach. Yet, I don't think the distinction between the physical style and philosophical approach would be seperate categories to Munenori. His book sets out to present the Way as a total approach of mind, body, and spirit, and not merely the development of each independently. Reading the book in any other way will probably make it fairly disappointing.
The other thing to remember about this book is its a classic by one of the most influential sword instructors of his era. In that respect, the book is rich with perspective on early 17th century Japanese culture. Particularly interesting are the reprinted plates in the back of the book showing the original inked pages of technique.
As other viewers pointed out, this is not a book for someone simply learning to wield a sword. Instead, Munenori's book is a fascinating account of swordsmanship that gives the reader insight not only to the richness of the Way, but also wonderful insight on a fascinating historical figure. Highly recommended for those interested in Japanese culture, history of samurai, and the feudal era.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giving life to the sword,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: The Secret Teachings From the House of the Shogun (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)Anyone who looks to a book to learn how to swing a sword will forever be disappointed. Those of us who have actually taken the time train in the sword know that direct transmition is the only way (yes, the schools still exist -- go find one).
What this book presents (along with some very good subtle sword pointers) is the proper mental attitude you must gain in order to progress on the path. Mr. Wilson does a wonderful job translating a difficult text. If you are serious about sword, get this book AND go find a teacher ...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I surely love this book,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: The Secret Teachings From the House of the Shogun (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)Mr. Yagyu Munenori had a crystal clear mind so grounded in Zen, his writings amazingly show how Mankind has taken a big step back in being grounded in the "Now." I find his words so comforting, and when applied to the practice of the sword, they manifest themselves physically into action. It is one thing to seek enlightenment through books, but it seems only through physical experience can true manifestation of that knowledge be put to use. I love how you learn to throw away the mind, "No Mind" and live in the freedom of your actions. If your mind lingers anywhere, it becomes trapped. I see this "sickness" of the trapped mind everywhere today in people. They are trapped in the past, or a future of which they dream, and are looking forward to a reality that does not exist. They are not "here" when you speak to them. Their mind is caught in a dream, like a lotus eater, glassy eyed and harried.
Other than children and animals, it's very hard these days to find people who are absorbed in the present moment. No future, no past, only living for that moment. This book is like a soothing ointment to straighten jagged thoughts of delusion. A must read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Treaty on the Way of the Sword,
The first 60-pages of the book are very interesting, as Wilson takes us through a brief synopsis of the life and times of Munenori with some descriptions of his character and people he associated with. Munenori was a very colorful character who was a teacher and adviser to shoguns, winning the post against Musashi himself.
The Yagyu clan is an old ninja family who live in the mountains outside Nara. Their village is surrounded by rice paddies and is difficult to approach. At one point Musashi traveled there to challenge Munenori (who was conveniently not present) and instead wound up dueling and killing a master of the kusurigama, a sickle with a chain and weight on the end and a common ninja weapon.
The actual Life Giving Sword is about 70-pages long and is mostly a philosophical zen treaty with application for any martial art, but geared to the Way of the sword. Also included are 28 prints from the Illustrated Catalog of the Shinkage-ryu, which offers brief descriptions of the techniques and includes the "Tengu Series".
This is an essential book for any sword practitioner, or anyone involved in the martial arts. I can't recommend it enough.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
I have a number of translations by William Scott Wilson, the most recent being 'The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts', I love them all and have to say that I prefer his translations over any other.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Japanese Swordsmanship classic on the philosophical principles of the warrior.,
In conclusion, this book is a classic for all martial artists.
Rating: 4 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Martial Art Myths--Cafe Press).
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just techniques.,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun (Paperback)For the one who seek the Do inside martial arts, this is a great book. It goes beyond the technical description allowing the reader to use this teaching for every martial art.
4.0 out of 5 stars needs glossary,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun (Paperback)“Life Giving Sword” or Yagyu Family Memorial by Yagyu Munenori has some interest in study of katana, kendo, taichi sword, or taji jian. Alternate English translations by William Scott Wilson in “Life Giving Sword” and Thomas Cleary in “Book of Five Rings” desparately need a glossary for common definition of terms. I have supplied a starter glossary for “Life Giving Sword”. As a common ground between east and west, a Romanji equilvalent text on shujishuriken (paraphrased) terms would be useful. I hope others can make contribution to meaning of shujishuriken and other terms in Life Giving Sword. If we can not build the whole bridge, we can add a few blocks.
Glossary of Yagyu-Ryu terms and words in Yagyu Family Memorial text (c. 1632 CE) . Terms below are from 17th century text, not necessarily same as Modern Japanese usage.
Takuan Soho, Yagyu Munenori, and Miyamoto Musashi used homonyms, puns, or specialized terms, which are not found in conventional Romanji dictionaries.
Romanji dictionaries contain homonyms, which are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Special combined terms in martial arts (Buddhist traditions) are noted by capitals, hyphens, or quotes.
bo: wooden staff
bocuto: wooden sword
bokken: wooden sword, usually heavy wood for exercise.
chi: vital energy, or broadly energy from earth and sky. Sometimes in Japanese texts by extension, chi or ki refers to manifested chi or force. The manifested chi in Chinese texts is called jing (muscular power), jinli (martial power), or jin ( combination of emitted chi and muscular power applied to a specific target spot).
daiki taiyu: divine transformation. Usually, transformation from potential or resting energy to active motion and force.
human, or heaven in Chinese philosophy.
chudan: sword held in middle position
gedan: sword held tilted down
hakama: pleatted skirt or culottes, usually worn for exercise.
hara: navel or belly
heihou : “strategy”, literal “dark hidden deception”
inka: martial arts diploma
isshin, “One Mind”
isshin itto, “One Heart, One Sword”
kan: listening with mind and contemplative insight.
ken: sword or used as homonym for “plain sight or ordinary sight” as opposed to contemplative insight (kan).
kendo:way of the sword
kenjutsu : swordsmanship.
kannen:mind should see through one’s emotions or mind should be clear of emotions.
jo: preliminary attack
jodan:sword held above forehead
kage-ryu: shadow sword style, sometimes refers to following, reacting, and basing actions on opponent’s shadow. Especially, staying outside opponent’s cast shadow until closing for attack.
kami: shinto diety or dieties
kanshin: seeing with mind or insight.
katana: long sword.
katsu: refers to attainment of essential nature or “Life-Giving”
katsujinken: “Life-Giving-Sword”, sometimes refers to resolution of problems without force.
kenshogodo: seeing into essential nature.
ki: vital energy
kiai: focused shouts, loud scream used to disturb opponent.
koku: empty space
kyusho: vital point
kuji: 9 hand signs or mudras used in kendo training.
kyu: counter strike
majutsu, techniques of invisibility
mondo: question and answer in Zen dialogue.
mu: “Non-existence”, sometimes refers to Yin side (left) of opponent or hidden side (shadow) of object.
mu-kyu: “Non-existence counterstrike”, sometimes refers to circling counterclockwise (in Yin direction) around opponent for one or more paces and attacking the “Non-Existence” (left,Yin) side of the opponent. Here, “Existence” may refer to sword held by right handed swordsman and “Non-Existence” may either refer to empty hand on left side or the palm of the right sword hand viewed from the left (by the opponent).
munen muso: (literal) No-Desires, No-Thought
muto: “No-Sword”, sometimes refers to resolution of problems without force. Also techniques of unarmed combat.
munen: “No-Thought” or refers to actions under suspension of consciousness.
mushin, "No-Mind", suspension of consciousness, usually during meditation.
mushinjo: suspension of consciousness, usually during meditation.
myo (na) : strange, odd, without reason
naginata, long spear with heavy blade.
nakazumi: “mysterious-sword” is holding sword around navel or hara.
nitto ryu: “two-swords-style”
ryu: sword style or school
setsuninken: “death-dealing-sword”, sometimes refers to solving problems by force only as opposed to solving problems without force.
satsuninto: “death-dealing-sword”, sometimes refers to solving problems by force only as opposed to solving problems without force.
seiza:kneeling position for meditation practice
shinken sho-bu: contests with “Real-Sword”.
shinku: emptiness of mind
shinmyo: “Mysterious”, refers to the combination of mind (shin) and strange outside action (myo). Usually found in combination as “Mysterious-Sword” or implied sword.
shinmyoken: “Mysterious-Sword” , refers to the combination of mind (shin) and strange outside action (myo) holding the sword (ken) around navel, just as hara is considered center of being/energy.
suigetsu, literally moon on water, refers to keeping 3 pace distance from opponent or out of opponent’s cast shadow. Note: sun and moon both cast shadows.
shuji: crosspattern sword block (literal from Sino. characters, hand ji (noun suffix)). Sometimes refers to crosscounterpoint target on body of opponent.
shujishuriken: (literal from Sino. characters, hand ji (noun suffix) hand inside see) perception of abilities and intentions. By extension, see inside technique of opponent. Sometimes refers to the 9 healing sounds and ideographs (mudras) used to increase alertness, warmup shoulders, and loosen hands prior to combat.
tachi: great sword
tsumeru: deflection or block leading to counterstrike. not a hard block.
yang: positive energy or active principle
. heavenly energy. clockwise movement.
yin: negative energy or inactive principle. earthly energy, counterclockwise movement.
tai: substance or fundamental property of all things
tao: way of philosophy
wakizashi: sidearm sword or short sword
zazen: meditation practice
zen: meditation practice towards Self-Realization
Katsujinken, “life-giving-sword by Yagyu Munori,C. 1632 CE”.Heiho Kadensho of Yagyu Munenori.Also known as Yagyu Family Memorial text in paraphrased Romanji terms,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book,
This review is from: The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun (Paperback)Very good book ..good knowledge for all
Karate instructors library.Buy this book and add to your collection today or give as a gift.
5.0 out of 5 stars great book!,
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The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun by Munenori Yagy? (Paperback - December 11, 2012)