View Full Version : Who is Nobuyuki Kunishige

Jerry Johnson
7th December 2000, 22:45
I am not sure if I am in the right place to ask this, but what is the martial art background of Nobuyuki Kunishige in the book "The fighting spirit of japan" by E.J. Harrison? I've heard about the book and wonder if it is in print.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Nathan Scott
7th December 2000, 23:52
Boy that name sounds familiar.

The book is long,long out of print. But copies can still be found here and there for a few bucks at the OOP web sites.

It is an EXCELLENT resource - I highly recommend it.


Jerry Johnson
8th December 2000, 06:09
OOP websites???? What are those the Out Of Print websites?

[Edited by Jerry Johnson on 12-08-2000 at 01:11 AM]

Jerry Johnson
8th December 2000, 06:26
At the risk looking like a fool, the book is all over the web. Amazon.com has it. But, still interested in Nobu's history. I found a site that said a Joseph Svinth edited some letters of Harrison. Is this the same guy on this board. If so do you have any info on Nobu?

Thank you and God bless.

[Edited by Jerry Johnson on 12-08-2000 at 02:08 AM]

Neil Hawkins
8th December 2000, 07:06
Bob Smith's Martial Musings is excellent, and as Nathan said so is Fighting Spirit.

Joe Svinth is the same guy as here, his site http://www.ejmas.com can sell you Smith's book, but Harrison is a bit harder there are copies available at http://www.abebooks.com, they are one of the best out-of-print suppliers around, but they are expensive. I just did a search and there are 5 listed in the US, they start at $60 and go up to $200.

I have bought stuff through abebooks before and they are reliable, but you should find a copy a bit cheaper than that if you look around. You could try Alibris (www.alibris.com), their site is down at present but they usually have a good supply as well.



[Edited by Neil Hawkins on 12-08-2000 at 02:08 AM]

Jerry Johnson
8th December 2000, 07:21
Thank you. That was a great help. But, I have a question if I can impose. http://dogbert.abebooks.com/abe/BookDetails?bi=55469747
is sell "fighting arts" for $75.00 bucks. Is this the same book for $11.something bucks at Amazon.com? I am thinking if is the same book on more expensive because it is something like the first edition or rare pint, paper, cloth cover, binding. Whereas the Amazon is just a re-print paper back that is nothing special. But if the two books are different then I am worried that we may be talking about two different books all together. Which book then speaks of Nobu?
Thank you again and God bless.

[Edited by Jerry Johnson on 12-08-2000 at 02:42 AM]

Joseph Svinth
8th December 2000, 11:26

There are two radically different versions of Harrison's book. The original book was published in Japan around 1913. It was then massively revised in early 1955, and this is the version reprinted by Overlook Press.

Some background to the revision. (If there is interest, one of these days I'll reprint additional letters at http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsenablers.htm , but in the meantime, hopefully this will do.)

E.J. Harrison to Robert W. Smith. From the Joseph Svinth collection. Copyright (C) 2000. All rights reserved.


(Nov. 24, 1954)

You must realise that the prospective reprint of Fighting Spirit shall have to a large extent be guided by what Belasco [the editor at Foulshams] wants. Here, for example, is a case in point.

Some weeks ago we had him over here for the evening meal, and after dinner he relaxed up here in an easy chair before the fire and dipped into the pages of said book. When we began to talk about the necessity for abridgement I suggested that perhaps my chapter on the Japanese Eternal Feminine might be sacrificed. Whereupon he put in a most emphatic negative insisting that this was among the most interesting in the book!


(Feb. 9, 1955)

Once I start I intend to do a bit of debunking of the inflated claims wherewith we are nowadays flooded by our prize japanomaniacs. The apparent awe with which these impressionable and credulous worthies speak and write about THE WAY (in caps) is quite ludicrous. So much sublimated crap!


(Mar. 21, 1955)

The revision of Fighting Spirit has entailed an average of six or seven hours typing daily for at least six weeks. I see Belasco in a day or two to hand it over.

The true and basic leitmotif of the book is the fighting spirit of Japan, and we hope to attract the attention and interest of readers as far as possible beyond the category of judo fans and fanatics. I have felt bound to do a bit of debunking in the light of what happened during the last war [WWII] and to make it clear beyond peradventure of doubt that the retention of the old title must not be construed as condoning the ghastly failure of bushido, bujutsu, michi, et al., to live up to their highfalutin professions. And since then the claims put forward by the clamorous votaries of the art to produce a species of superman motivated by the loftiest ethical particulars really give one a pain in the neck.



Harrison limns Kunishige's career in Chapter XI of the Overlook Press edition. (I don't have the earlier one.) Harrison says that circa 1905-1910, Kunishige was about 60 years old. He operated a 50-mat dojo called the Shidokan, situated in the Shimbashi quarter of Tokyo. He taught kendo as well as jujutsu, and was also expert in spear, iron fan, archery, swimming, and horsemanship. His style was Shinden Isshin-ryu.

The quotes below are from "Fighting Spirit of Japan" (New York: Overlook Press, 1982), and are reprinted for educational purposes only. Please buy a copy of the book, it is one of the essential readings in the transmission of the Japanese martial arts to the West.

Kunishige, on the difference between judo and taijutsu: "The difference between the two arts is this, that whereas taijutsu aims more particularly at physical culture, in which its main value lies, judo seeks to invest its exponents with power over life and death, within certain limits, its secret lying in the wonderful aiki-no-jutsu. (The Japanese word jutsu, meaning 'art', is usually by a colloquial corruption pronounced jitsu). Taijutsu, on the contrary, having for its primarty object physical culutre, does not include in its curriculum ate (methods of striking or kicking vital spots in the body in order to disable or kill an adversary); while the katsu (methods of resuscitation included in the overall system called kappo) employed in this branch of judo are also of the most simple description."

Kunishige on aiki: "The clairvoyance so much talked about nowadays is nothing but a part of aiki. But aiki can be acquired only by long and patient study, after one has attained the highest degree of proficiency in practical judo feats. In order to study the art of aiki one must learn the method of shinki kiitsu (shin = 'soul', 'mind', 'consciousness'; ki = 'turn of mind', 'consciousness', 'disposition'; kiitsu = 'unity', '.e. the method of uniting soul and turn of mind). The old masters of my school have sayings to the effect that one with full knowledge of aiki can see in the dar, bring walking men to a full stop, or break the sword brandished to slay him, and these words can be accepted as true. I draw this conclusion from my personal experience of stopping bleeding from the nose and from the modern practice of clairvoyance. I believe that men can enter the divine realm through constant culture of their mental and physical faculties. But one who has not learned shinki kiitsu cannot grasp aiki even if taught."

BTW, that reference to clairvoyance as "proof" is unfortunate, as a few years later Harry Houdini proved beyond anyone's dispute that all the famous clairvoyants were frauds.


So far as I know, there's only one Joseph Svinth. In school, teachers used to thank their deities for that. :)

[Edited by Joseph Svinth on 12-08-2000 at 06:30 AM]

Nathan Scott
8th December 2000, 18:01
Thanks for jumping in Joe-san.

I nabbed the interesting bit on aiki as well. I'm overdue to read this book again - I don't think I've read the later Overlook edition.