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10th February 2003, 21:52
What would be the best book about zen related to martial arts?

Martin Durette

Jake McKee
11th February 2003, 05:50
Here are some that I recommend:

Fudochi Shimmyo Roku
by Takuan, Trans. by Tanouye Tenshin Rotaishi

Zen and Japanese Culture
by D.T. Suzuki

Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master
by Hosokawa Dogen Roshi

Zen and Budo
by Sogen Omori Rotaishi


Andy Watson
11th February 2003, 12:45
Zen and the Art of Archery - Eugen Herrigel

11th February 2003, 14:58
I highly recommend Herrigel's Zen and the Art of Archery, but anything by Professor Suzuki is also good.

What about Alan W. Watts's The Way of Zen (the 1957 edition is from Pantheon Books) ? I haven't read it through myself but have used it in some bibliographies since my dad's got it.I find it easy to read sections from it.


13th February 2003, 03:47
.....and Martial Arts are Martial Arts

Zen tradition is somewhat unique and the style(s) of meditation found in Zen-shu are not for everyone, although they remain the best known.

For basic guidance in meditation practice, with a primary focus on Vipassana (Insight/Analytical) Meditation:

Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Henepola Gunaratna, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-321-4

For an understanding of the difference between Shamatha and Vipassana Meditation (written from the point of view of the Tibetan tradition, but widely applicable):

The Practice of Tranquility & Insight, Khenchen Thrangu, Shambhala Publications, ISBN 0-87773-943-9

In brief, shamatha (aka tranquility or concentration) is common to both Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems. Vipassana is (in general) somewhat more closely identified with Buddhism.

Stories involving misbehavior of various kinds seem to be relatively less common in the Vipassana lineages, which make them a good place to start if you are looking for a teacher.

Fred Little

R A Sosnowski
13th February 2003, 15:15
As a practicing Kyudo-ka, I would not recommend: Zen and the Art of Archery - Eugen Herrigel. It really misses the mark (pun intended :D), although it has been the inspiration for many (myself included). I refer you to the published essay "The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery" (http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/jjrs/pdf/586.pdf) by Yamada Shoji.

For Kyudo, try:

One Arrow, One Life: Zen, Archery, Enlightenment by Kenneth Kushner, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 2000. ISBN 0-8048-3246-3, paperback. US$16.95. 112 pp.

DeProspero, Dan, and Deprospero, Jackie, 1996. Illuminated Spirit: Conversations with a Kyudo Master, Kodansha International, Tokyo. 144 pp. (Highly recommended.)

Stein, Hans Joachim, 1988. Kyudo: The Art of Zen Archery, translated from the original German text by Frauke and Tim Nevill, Element Books, Dorset, England. 181 pp.

Morisawa, Jackson S., 1984. The Secret of the Target, Routledge, London, 142 pp.

For sword arts (I do Iaido and Batto-do, and did Kendo), try:

Cleary, Thomas (trans.), 1993. The Book of Five Rings [by Miyamoto Musashi] including Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori, Shambhala, Boston. 114 pp. (for the Yagyu family writings.)

Sato, Hiroaki (trans.), 1985. The Sword & the Mind, The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY. 133 pp. (a more complete set of the Yagyu family writings.)

Sayama, Mike K., 1986. Samadhi: Self Development in Zen, Swordsmanship, and Psychotherapy, SUNY Pr., Albany. 160 pp.

Takuan, Soho, 1986. The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master (William Scott Wilson, tr.), Kodansha Intl., Tokyo. 101 pp. (the sword master here is Yagyu Munenori.)

I also have the previously mentioned texts by Deshimaru, Dogen, Omori, Takuan (Tenshin Tanouye, trans.) on my short list.

I do not recommend:

Shaw, Scott, 1999. Samurai Zen, Samuel Weiser, York Beach, ME, 1999. 156 pp.

and have said so much in print:

Sosnowski, Raymond, 2000. “Book Review: Samurai Zen by Scott Shaw,” Journal of Japanese Sword Arts #106, 12(3-4), 23-25, March/April.


R A Sosnowski
13th February 2003, 15:55
FWIW, there is a thread on this forum on the Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5556). That is where I originally found the reference for the Yamada essay, thanks to Prof. Will Bodiford.

Jeff Hamacher
14th February 2003, 05:07
in my opinion, Alan Watts' The Way of Zen is the English-language source of most basic information that readers need on Zen, its origins, and its influence. it's available in trade paperback reprints. his son has also collected several of the father's writings and published them in paperback, but i'd try reading "Way of Zen" first. some of Watts' statements on martial arts are a little out of date, but the foundation of his comments on Zen in general is rock-solid.

Mr. Sosnowski's recommendations for Sato's The Sword and the Mind and Wilson's "The Unfettered Mind" are also excellent, as i understand it. both are available through the Koryu Books website, overseen by Diane and Meik Skoss.

i would be less inclined to read Musashi if i were looking for a relationship between the martial arts and Zen, since Musashi repeatedly states in "Five Rings" that he "always respected but never relied upon the gods or the Buddha" in following his life's path. on the other hand, Musashi makes the point that good sword training is good Zen training, and it seems widely accepted that Musashi regularly practised zazen (at least later in life), as well as painted some impressive zenga in his time. draw what conclusions you will.

BTW, if you want information for Japanese-language editions of the last three books, i can pass that along.

Gene Williams
14th February 2003, 11:26
Read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," by Shunryu Suzuki and everywhere he talks about sitting, substitute "kata." Probably the best book on zen I have ever read. Western authors talk too much, and when you add the phrase, "and the martial arts" to zen, you just limited your understanding. Gene

R A Sosnowski
14th February 2003, 15:12
Jeff Hamacher, and Bobar57,

My recommendation for the Cleary text was for the writings of the Yagyu family, and not for Gorin no Sho.

However, I agree that the Cleary translaton is not the best translation of Gorin no Sho. I have discussed this on other threads in other forums. In the 1990's, I would have agreed that the Nihon Services Corp. text was the best English translation of the lot.

But there is a new translation that I believe is better:

A Way to Victory: The Annotated Book of Five Rings, translation and commentary by Hidy Ochiai, The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY, 1996/2001. ISBN 1-58567-038-3, hardcover. US$29.95. 162 pp.

and have gone on record saying so in my book review (http://ejmas.com/tin/tinart_sosnowski_0902.htm) of it, which has been posted to "The Iaido Journal" of the the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences.


Jeff Hamacher
17th February 2003, 02:39
Originally posted by R A Sosnowski
>> My recommendation for the Cleary text was for the writings of the Yagyu family, and not for Gorin no Sho. <<

and just for the record, it was Bobar57 who took issue with the Cleary "Five Rings"; i didn't say anything about that specific edition. i don't feel that "Five Rings", regardless of edition or translation, is the "first-choice" source of information on a Zen-budo relationship, though others far more knowledgeable may disagree. on its own merits, however, it is a valuable read for any martial artist, or at least anyone training in Japanese martial arts.

Joseph Svinth
19th February 2003, 02:41
Professor Bodiford has several outstanding essays (one on religion and Japanese martial arts and another on the historiography of Japanese martial art texts) in Thomas A. Green, ed., "Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia" (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2001).

The encyclopedia is a library edition, and therefore expensive (about $175 for the 2-volume hardback set). Nonetheless, a lot of libraries, both public and academic, have it. (And if they don't, ask 'em to buy it for their reference collection. What's the worst that happens, they say no?)

Meanwhile, for good books, don't forget Trevor Leggett's various books. He's deceased, but his website lives on: http://www.leggett.co.uk/ .