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The Essence of Budo: The Secret Teachings of the Grandmaster Hardcover – December 21, 2012
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About the Author
After progressing through various martial arts, Masaaki Hatsumi became the 34th Grandmaster of Togakure-ryû Ninjutsu and eight other arts, which he unified into the Bujinkan system. Hatsumi has taught thousands of students and instructed law enforcement agencies all over the world, receiving numerous accolades from politicians and spiritual leaders of many nationalities. He is also the author of numerous books and DVDs on ninjutsu and budo.
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Fortunately, as with his previous works, the original Japanese text is included. This may not be of much help to those who cannot read Japanese but such is life. The fact of the matter is that it is impossible to translate art, it can only be expressed and the author's decision to include the original Japanese ought to be seen as proof of this.
Beyond that though, this book is the clearest expression yet of budo's essence. There is none of the cliched morality and attempts at high-sounding ethics that many martial artists fall victim to in their often patterned expressions of martial arts 'philosophy'. Like his other writings, this book goes beyond the cliche and is expressed through beautiful anecdotes featuring the author's teacher as well as the author's own realisations as to the nature of his art. Creative license has been granted free reign and, at least in the Japanese text, it shows clearly.
This book may seem puzzling to some who will no doubt be turned off by the apparent lack of narration. Others will naturally fall into the trap of thinking that the so-called 'techniques' section is a martial arts treasure chest. Still others will overlay the words and numerous photos with what they imagine budo to be.
All of this is right and proper but if one takes to heart the admonishment by the author that holding on to the horses tail while it travels a thousand miles is impossible, then one will have indeed travelled far in understanding that there is nothing in this beautiful book that cannot be found on one's own.
In terms of content - there s a lot of visually catchy stuff here that sometimes baffles and sometimes confuses, and other times makes you smile. No, Hatsumi-sensei is not trying to be a conventional writer, and I am sure that there are other books of his that are more conventional in terms of their descriptiveness, or structure. But in this book, (as i understand from introduction the 1st one in the series of two for the Kodansha)Sensei of the Ninja traditions is sharing his mature life experiences on the Budo path, that are both very intrapersonal to the point of bafflement (why is he saying that here?) and extremely faceless (is that the same guy?), or multiple (which one is a real Hatsumi sensei?). To summarize, the book is to be relished and definitely reread, or perhaps referenced.
I don't know what draws me to Hatsumi-sama's books, i think it is some kind of ingenuity that i feel to be getting from them. Plus there are always these insights into the more martial part of training that you don't, or barely do get anywhere else.
If this review doesn't make sense, buy a different Hatsumi book FIRST. Shiken haramitsu daikomyo