When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts

When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts

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by Jeffrey K. Mann
     
 

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Uncover the historical truth about Buddhist warrior monks with this informative and enlightening book.

Film, television and popular fiction have long exploited the image of the serene Buddhist monk who is master of the deadly craft of hand-to-hand combat. While these media overly romanticize the relationship between a philosophy of non-violence and the art of

Overview

Uncover the historical truth about Buddhist warrior monks with this informative and enlightening book.

Film, television and popular fiction have long exploited the image of the serene Buddhist monk who is master of the deadly craft of hand-to-hand combat. While these media overly romanticize the relationship between a philosophy of non-violence and the art of fighting, When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts shows this link to be nevertheless real, even natural.

Exploring the origins of Buddhism and the ethos of the Japanese samurai, university professor and martial arts practitioner Jeffrey Mann traces the close connection between the Buddhist way of compassion and the way of the warrior. This zen book serves as a basic introduction to the history, philosophy, and current practice of Zen as it relates to the Japanese martial arts. It examines the elements of Zen that have found a place in budo—the martial way—such as zazen, mushin, zanshin and fudoshin, then goes on to discuss the ethics and practice of budo as modern sport.

Offering insights into how qualities integral to the true martial artist are interwoven with this ancient religious philosophy, this Buddhism book will help practitioners reconnect to an authentic spiritual discipline of the martial arts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While Buddhism is famous for espousing pacifism, martial artists who draw on Zen as they practice Eastern forms of combat raise the puzzling question of how a philosophy based on ahimsa (nonharming) can influence centuries of warrior culture, particularly among the samurai of Japan. Mann, associate professor of religious studies and a longtime student of the martial arts, examines the historically tangled relationship between the practice of Zen Buddhism and the mental states cultivated by accomplished fighters in the Asian tradition. After briefly introducing Buddhism and Zen, Mann delves into the history of Zen and the martial arts in Japan; teases out the meanings of frequently used terms such as budo, bujutsu, mushin, and zanshin; argues for the benefits of practicing zazen (meditation); and examines the impact on martial arts of modern competition. He discusses the pragmatism that can lead to violence and the role of a “virtue ethics” in Buddhism. Mann quotes from original Japanese sources and uses ancient and contemporary examples to illustrate his points. In the end, he comes to his own conclusion as to whether the practice of martial arts can be truly called Zen. This rich and accessible introduction explores one of the more complex aspects of Buddhist culture. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"What does a religion known for teaching non-violence have to do with martial arts disciplines designed to cripple or kill? A great deal, it turns out. … By offering insights into how the qualities of a true martial artist are linked with ancient religious philosophy, Mann hopes to help other practitioners reconnect to an authentic spiritual discipline of the martial arts." —Newswise.com

"The great Zen master Hakuin contended that a samurai could accomplish in a few days of Zen practice what would take a monk a hundred days. His reasoning was that monks generally assume they have years to devote to Zen, while warriors are well aware of impending death, so warriors will throw themselves into practice with a far greater sense of urgency than monks. That being said, the relationship between martial arts and Zen has been greatly exaggerated, especially in the West. In When Buddhists Attack, Jeffrey K. Mann unpacks the facts and fiction." —Shambhala Sun

"This rich and accessible introduction explores one of the more complex aspects of Buddhist culture." —Publishers Weekly

"…an interesting and very informative overview of Zen Buddhism and its relation to martial arts. Dr. Mann's perspective as an academic and passionate practitioner of martial arts gives the work a personal tone and energy…It will appeal to avid practitioners of martial arts as well as to anyone interested in the development of Buddhism and its relation to Japanese culture." —Charlene P. E. Burns, Ph.D. Professor, Dept. of Philosophy & Religious Studies University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

"If you've ever wanted to understand the true role Zen Buddhism plays in the martial arts, then look no further." —Patrick McCarthy, from the foreword

"Mann's book…illustrates the intertwining of martial arts and Zen. Mann deftly braids the physical and the spiritual into a strong rope for the serious student to ascend. This book has simplicity and yet heft—it is brilliant." —Kris Wilder, author of The Way of Kata and The Little Black Book of Violence

"This book clearly shows us how the Japanese Budo spirit is related to religion. Specifically, the author explains the concept of mushin very well, a principle to which we Japanese attribute much importance in overcoming various difficulties."—Katsumi Shimane, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology Senshu University 3rd Dan Karatedo, Jodo

"I would like to congratulate the author on this book, which is based on both experience and research. I recommend it to all traditional martial artists and anyone interested in Japanese culture." —Tetsuji Nakamura, 6th Dan, International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation Vice Chief Instructor

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9784805312308
Publisher:
Tuttle Publishing
Publication date:
10/10/2012
Edition description:
Hardcover with Jacket
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
606,894
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Jeffrey K. Mann earned his doctorate in Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University and is currently Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Susquehanna University. In addition, he has served as a Visiting Professor of Religion at Senshu University in Ikuta, Japan. A longtime student of Japanese martial arts, he has trained and competed in karate throughout North America, Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines. He is instructor of the Susquehanna Goju-ryu Karate-do Club, a school affi liated with the International Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation

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When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I read this book for a research project. When Buddhists Attack is a lot more  history than i would have thought. I did not like that Jeffrey K. Mann, the author, did not have much knowledge  about Buddhism before writing this book. A lot of areas of the book were parts that he took from other sources.  He even recommends some of the sources that he did for further reading on the subject. In the first few chapters,  he explains the history of Buddhism and the different types of Buddhism. He does not make as many connections with martial arts as I would have thought he would. He only mentions a few forms of martial arts in the first chapters. Mann's deeper explanations start on the other few chapters. He does write about the spiritual and mental affects and of martial arts. He writes what is needed to be a dedicated, well-trained, and respected martial artist. He also writes  about the benefits from it. On these chapters, he also explains more in detail the connection of Zen and martial arts. That is the reason I rated this book three stars. Although I did not enjoy the beginning and history part of the book, Jeffrey  K. Mann does give good connections with martial arts by the end of the book. I would recommend this book for someone that enjoys learning about the history of Buddhism and the different roots of Buddhism. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been studying Buddhism for the past year and happened to come across some interesting pieces of work. This one, by far, exceeds all of my expectations that I had when I picked it up. It is an excellent piece of work, very informative and at the same time very engaging. The author keeps the readers interest through quotations of Japanese Master swordsmen, philosophers and martial artists as well as adding colorful stories to support the context presented. I learned more about zen than I could ever anticipate. He presents the extremely complicated zen concepts in a clear and concise manner leading to a deeper understanding and appreciation of this ancient art.  Even though this is my review for the book I cannot help but comment about the previous comment. Seeing as he is a high school kid it is easy to understand his frustrations. I would not read a book or hold it's contents valuable if it did not have a heavy load of references,. That is the only way to be sure that the work has some backbone in it.  This book is about Zen and since it is mainly concerned with Japanese, he appropriately focused on Japanese martial arts. I recommend this book for every martial artist. You have to be mature enough and intelligent enough to really appreciate and understand the concepts presented in this book. However, I believe that everyone and anyone will benefit greatly from carefully reading and analyzing it.I have studied martial arts for over 11 years in different disciplines, as well as philosophies that goes with them so I know what I am talking about when I recommend this book.