Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai

Overview

Dave Lowry juxtaposes his singular experience as an adept student of kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship) under a Japanese teacher in St. Louis with a riveting account of the samurai tradition in Japan. Intertwining tales of the masters with reflections on his own apprenticeship in the samurai's arts, he reveals in their time-honored methods a way of life with profound relevance to modern times.

This is the story of a life balanced between two cultures, of a boy who adapted ...

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Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai

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Overview

Dave Lowry juxtaposes his singular experience as an adept student of kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship) under a Japanese teacher in St. Louis with a riveting account of the samurai tradition in Japan. Intertwining tales of the masters with reflections on his own apprenticeship in the samurai's arts, he reveals in their time-honored methods a way of life with profound relevance to modern times.

This is the story of a life balanced between two cultures, of a boy who adapted every aspect of his life to the tradition-bound way of the sword, and who in the end became an expert swordsman. The result is a fascinating, singular autobiography. Lowry captures the sense of wonder and mystery that makes martial arts compelling to so many practitioners.

Blending autobiography and history, Lowry offers an engaging portrait of the medieval Japanese samurai tradition and its survival in modern America. "A well-written, refreshing change from the standard martial arts fare."--Library Journal. 3 drawings. 3 halftone photos.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570626012
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/1985
  • Pages: 179
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Lowry is an accomplished martial artist, calligrapher, and writer. He is the restaurant critic for St. Louis Magazine and writes regularly for a number of magazines on a wide variety of subjects, many of them related to Japan and the Japanese martial arts. He is the author of numerous books including  Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai, Sword & Brush: The Spirit of the Martial Arts, Clouds in the West: Lessons from the Martial Arts of Japan, and The Connoisseur's Guide to Sushi.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Preface ix
1 Meeting with the Past 3
2 The Sixteen Spears of Nagano 9
3 Matters of Concentration 21
4 A Death Among Peach Blossoms 33
5 Autumn and Other Things Japanese 47
6 The Swordsmen in the Shadows 59
7 A Ritual of Style, A Function of Grace 77
8 The Shogun's Master 87
9 Iai, Cutting at Raindrops 101
10 The Swordsman and the Priest 115
11 Lessons in the Warrior's Way 133
12 Things Out of Season 149
Afterword: Two Rivers into the Same Sea 157
Glossary 161
Illustrations 175
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2000

    The definitive text on the Sensei-Student relationship in the Martial Arts.

    I've read maybe 150 books on the martial arts, everything from battlefield theory to instructional texts. If a student or a friend asked me, 'I'm interested in the martial arts, what book should I read?' Autumn Lightning would be THE one I'd recommend. Wonderfully written (and carefully crafted so that any audience--from pre-teen to PhD--can follow), Mr. Lowry shares his experience as a young midwestern adolescent who discovers, and eventually earns student status with a Japanese swordsman. Mr. Lowry alternates chapters of historical anecdotes referencing samurai and martial artists of time past with rich and entertaining chapters of his unique experience. The teacher-student relationship in the martial arts far transcends the Western notion of teacher-student relationships in a way that one must experience to truly comprehend. Through this truly moving book, the reader learns of the shared responsibility between the Sensei and the student, the reasons behind tradition and ettiquette in the 'dojo,' and the unique bond between the sensei and his student. Autumn Lightning was out of print for many years, and is difficult to find even after its re-print a few years ago. It's absolutely worth the search--and should be required reading for anyone interested in Eastern teaching philosophy, the martial arts, or self-improvement topics (even those people who will never throw a punch or a kick). See also 'Persimmon Wind' by Dave Lowry, which chronicles his voyage to Japan many years later to study the history of his art and meet again with his instructor.

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