The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts: And Other Tales

The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts: And Other Tales

by Issai Chozanshi
     
 

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This collection of parables written by Issai Chozanshi, an eighteenth-century samurai, is a classic of martial arts literature. The tales are concerned with themes such as perception of conflict, self-transformation, the cultivation of chi (life energy), and understanding yin and yang. These parables seem light and fanciful, but they offer the reader valuable

Overview

This collection of parables written by Issai Chozanshi, an eighteenth-century samurai, is a classic of martial arts literature. The tales are concerned with themes such as perception of conflict, self-transformation, the cultivation of chi (life energy), and understanding yin and yang. These parables seem light and fanciful, but they offer the reader valuable lessons on the fundamental principles of the martial arts. This version, translated by William Scott Wilson, is the first direct translation from the original into English and he captures the tone and essence of the text while also making it accessible and meaningful for a contemporary audience.



The "demon" in the title story refers to the mythical tengu, who guard the secrets of swordsmanship. A swordsman travels to Tengu Mountain and in a series of conversations he learns about mushin (no-mind), strategy, the transformation of chi, and how the path of the sword leads to the understanding of life itself. Some of the fables in the collection--such as "The Mysterious Technique of the Cat"—are iconic.


Chozanshi's deep understanding of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto, as well as his insight into the central role of chi in the universe, are succinctly explained in William Scott Wilson's fine introduction and extensive endnotes. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to truly understand the philosophical underpinnings of martial arts, and how these principles relate to our existence.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In keeping with his author's aims, William Scott Wilson, in his elegant and erudite translation, embeds the sermon between a kind of overture and a postlude comprising some of the charming animal allegories to be found in another Chozanshi book, the ‘Inaka Soshi’ (here winningly rendered as ‘The Hayseed Taoist’). The centipede questions the snake, the sea gull and the mayfly discuss the ‘Tao,’ and the toad speaks of the way of the gods. Their message is very like that of the demon—get down to essentials, forget yourself, rely on nothing, search for the heart of the truth.”—Japan Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834828087
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
11/13/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
897,827
File size:
6 MB

Meet the Author

William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. He received BA degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an MA in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His best-selling books include The Book of Five Rings, The Unfettered Mind, and The Lone Samurai, a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.

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