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Secret Weapons of Jujutsu

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2000

    Secret Weapons is a good read

    With Secret Weapons of Jujutsu author Don Cunningham has accomplished two significant things. First, he¿s found a martial arts subject that hasn¿t been written to death, and secondly he¿s produced a book that is both informative and readable. It¿s obvious that the author has spent considerable time researching the subject and the illustrations (from his private collection as well as historical photos and prints) cover the subject matter well. The text is very easy to read, and is full of interesting facts, many of which were certainly new to me. The majority of the book is an overview of the history and development of the weapons discussed. There are many photos and in most cases you get a clear idea of how the weapon was used, as well as examples of different types of the weapon. It starts by discussing the evolution of fighting arts in Japan and offers a brief introduction to the history and traditions of Japan. Some of the history relayed is the popular version of events and may differ from some other accounts. The author is certainly not the first to give these versions and specialist readers would recognise them from far weightier tomes than this, so it¿s not a major flaw. In subsequent chapters the author introduces the various concealable weapons that formed the samurai¿s arsenal, and describes why they were used rather than the more famous samurai weapons such as the katana (sword) or yari (spear). Some of these, many readers will be familiar with, but some may be new and the discussions of their development and use are very informative. Another chapter deals with the structure of the police forces during the Tokugawa era, a subject very rarely mentioned in other books I¿ve read. The police were the ones who primarily used the weapons described, and an understanding of why they needed them is very useful when evaluating the techniques described later in the book. There were times that the author left me wanting more. For example he barely touches on the chained weapons, and the variety of concealable blades such as shuriken are totally absent. These last, although most commonly associated with the ninja, were a definite part of the samurai¿s secret weapons and I was surprised that they were not mentioned. The book finishes with a number of techniques from the various styles that specialised in Tetsushaku-Jutsu (use of the tessen and jutte). I would never encourage anyone to learn techniques from a book, and this book doesn¿t presume to teach. But it does provide a number of examples of the type of techniques that can be used with these weapons. I have little or no knowledge of the styles that they are taken from, although some are similar to techniques I have been taught. Even with detailed descriptions it is hard to judge flow from photos, so without seeing techniques live you can¿t make comments on the effectiveness of the techniques. I would suggest that you treat them as illustrations rather than instructions. On the whole this book provides a good introduction to the subject and presents sufficient information for all but the most serious practitioners. I especially like the use of the kanji for the various weapons and schools of fighting. Although meaningless to people that can¿t read them, they are attractive on the page, and for those a little more knowledgeable, provide a good reference when researching in Japanese texts or seeking the origins of the names. The glossary is useful, but I missed a bibliography, as I would have liked to read up on some of the subjects in more detail. In conclusion, I enjoyed the book; the text flows well and is easy to read. The author has used photos and illustrations well throughout the book. It is hard to fault without going to extremes and aside from the points I¿ve already mentioned I¿m impressed with both the style and content. If your looking for an in-depth study of these weapons this book is not for you, but as an introduction or a

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