Darrell Craig's Iai - The art of drawing the sword

I have all of the books discussed here, and have read 'em all cover to cover.

I would recommend Craig Sensei's book for a pretty good overview. He has some good stuff in there.

I would also HIGHLY recommend *any* of Dave Lowry's books. He is very well versed in Iai, and is an excellent writer to boot. Check out both "Autumn Lightening" and its sequel, "Persimmon Wind". Both deal less with technique, but are excellent on mentality and training. He also has out "Moving toward Stillness", which is on martial arts stories/philosophy and "Sword and Brush", which deals with calligraphy and the arts. All VERY good works.

For sword works in general, I would recommend "Flashing Steel" for Eishin-Ryu techniques/Seitei techniques (probably the most popular forms currently). I am not sure of the spelling, but this book is by Shimabukuru? He also has videos out by Panther, I think, and has studios throughout the US.

The best book overall that I could suggest would be "Japanese Swordsmanship" by Donn Draeger. This book is EXCELLENT, and should be a "must have" for anyone interested in the Japanese sword. It goes over history, etiquette, forms, and just about everything else you could hope for. And coming from Donn Draeger, could you expect less?

For those who don't know: Donn Draeger was a martial artist's martial artist. He studied a number of the combative arts, and actually brought a new academic study into being: hoplology, or the study of fighting arts. He was a no-nonsense person who gave like he got, and earned a hell of a lot of respect. Read his stuff, and you will see why..;)

Okay, off my soapbox. But, check the books out, and I don't think you will be disappointed.

If you are looking into Iai, though, be aware.....you will *need* to find a good instructor. In all the books, there are 10 Seitei forms discussed, and 2 more were added over the last year. Also, every year, the forms change ever so slightly. A good instructor will be necessary if you are going to formally study and try to get rank in Iai.

Good luck!!

Just thought I'd comment....

I have the book, and I found it very helpful. I believe its a good reference tool, although I don't believe a person could learn form it. His writings are very informative as many have already stated. I would recommend this book, though I have yet to check out some of his other titles.:asian:
Take Darrel Craig with a grain of salt. Checkout the following links.


This includes a review of Darrel Craig's Mugai Ryu book by Renfield Kuroda who is actually in Japan training under the soke of Mugai Ryu. Others in the thread go on to alledge blatant plagiarism providing some pretty reasonably strong evidence.


There is quite a discussion in here about Mr. Craig and his first book.

For those of you unfamiliar with the people on e-budo, most of those posting are long term students of budo, and by long term I mean decades in some cases.
I like the book and use it as a reference. Like a lot of books, it has it's flaws.
But especially for it's time, it is good.
Keep in mind there as not much information available at the time. Plus Craig Sensei never set out to be an author.
This is actually one of the best selling martial arts books of all time, and still sells today. This book should be in your collection. Also checkout, his Mugai Ryu, The Heart of Kendo and The Way of Kendo and Kenjutsu.

Craig Sensei is not merely a "sport kendo" teacher. And Iaido is not a sub art.
He is the USA Representative for Hokushin Itto Ryu and a direct student of Chiba Harutane Sensei. He is also very closely connected to the Tokyo Police Department and the Police Dept. Kendo schools.

Kuniba was 1 of his Mugai Ryu teachers, but there were others. I just can't name them off the top of my head.

The new web site is www.houstonbudo.com
Hello, Thank-you sharing the book. Looks like alot of people are more aware of this book. ......Aloha
I just noticed that this thread had been dead and buried for nearly 2 years before our good budy Jim dug it up.

How far down in the list did you have to go to dig this up?
Charles Mahan said:
I just noticed that this thread had been dead and buried for nearly 2 years before our good budy Jim dug it up.

How far down in the list did you have to go to dig this up?

If you do searches on Jim's username on some sword arts boards, you will see that he often pops up when Darrell Craig and Mugai Ryu are mentionned. He's always there to prop up his teacher. It doesn't surprise me he would dig up a 2 year old thread to counter negative things said about his sensei or his sensei's books. I would consider him biased and listen to other people's opinions on this one. I have absolutely no opinion on the book (haven't read it) or the author's claims as far as Mugai Ryu. I'm just saying some people aren't always objective about these things :)
Actually, it is no big secret that Craig Sensei is one of my Jujitsu teachers.
But i did not learn Iaido from him. My Mugai Ryu comes from other students of Kuniba.
You also have to look at the political objectives of the most vocal detractors of the book.

One post here mentions the e-budo thread and review by Ren Kuroda. Ren seems like a decent guy and I have received some very helpful information from him. The one post here, however, says to take his word because he trains with "the Soke of Mugai Ryu". But there is no 'Soke of Mugai Ryu', although there are at least 9 who make this claim. It's just the politics of one person pushing his teacher over another.

The same goes for other well known detractors persuing political agendas.

One other post here says to believe the crap on e-budo because the budo politicians that wrote it have decades of experience. Well, Craig Sensei has several decades more experience than the people that wrote that non-sense. So if you want to put stock in experience, then again Craig Sensei is the one to look to.

If someone has legitimate dislikes about a book, that is fine. A book can be reviewed and discussed based on the merits of the content. No one has a problem with that. But when someone trashes an otherwise decent book simply because they don't like the author, that is wrong.

Why is that someone who likes his books, and maybe even sought him out to train with him because of his books, just "propping up his teacher". But some one else who never met him but trashes his book over petty politics (like on e-budo) is being objective?

Also, I promote Craig Sensei's books because I find great value in them and know him to be a world-class instructor. He has earned the loyalty and respect he gets from me.

I also did not just dig up a 2 year old post to counter some negative information.

I found it searching for something else and saw some outdated and incorrect information - like url of the web site that changed. And the post that said Craig Sensei learned Iaido as a "sub art of sport kendo" - this statement falls way, way short of describing his training and experience.

As to the talk of the Nakamura/Happo Giri stuff - Just how many ways are there to illustrate happo giri? Not many. You show the 8 directions and that's it.

If I write a karate book and draw pictures of someone standing in the various basic stances, are you going to say that all I did was copy Funakoshi (or some some elses work? What about all the Judo books that illustrate happo no kuzushi? Are they all knock offs?
If someone has legitimate dislikes about a book, that is fine. A book can be reviewed and discussed based on the merits of the content.

I am not big into "martial arts politics," nor am I very familar with this work, nor am I taking sides. But I will say that the above quote has merit. If someone dislikes the book, I'd rather here reasons based off content rather then anything else...

Then again I suggest reading those threads. There is a great deal of discussion regarding the content of the books and the credentials of it's author. I agree that the rhetoric of some of the posters in the thread is more than a bit incindiary and unnecessarily so, but there are a lot of genuine issues with the material that are discussed.

For the record I'm not really concerned one way or the other. Just thought it was information of interest. In the interest of full disclosure, a kohai of mine teaches MJER Iaido in Clear Lake on the far south end of the Houston area, but considering the geographic distance I wouldn't consider the two schools to be in competition.

Jim exagerates a bit where Craig-sensei's experience is concerned. While Craig-sensei has multiple decades of experience he does not have "several decades more experience..." than his detractors. This would imply 3 or more decades of experience more than his detractors, some of whom I know have trained for more than 2 decades. The idea that Craig-sensei has 50 odd years of sword art experience is a little far fetched. That said he has trained in martial arts apparently for nearly 50 years. Just not all in sword arts. I suppose Jim might have meant experience in general rather than sword arts.

Jim I understand the desire to defend your instructor. I truly do, but I'd suggest keeping your rhetoric as genuine as possible. Obvious exagerration does not help your cause.
Wow, a thread from 2001 is still going!

I have a bunch of Mr. Craig's books. I'm glad for his insight and willingness to share it. I've never met the man in person, though I've heard good things about him.
I train in Kaisho Goshin Budo Jujutsu under a former student of Craig Sensei's. My instructor has over 40 years of experience in the martial arts himself and has never had nothing but the highest praise for him. I've looked through the book a couple times, but I don't train in sword arts so I don't think I'm qualified to commentate on it. However, most of the other books I do own of his I think are very good. I've heard a couple didn't quite turn out like he'd wanted them, but they're interesting for the stories of some of his experiences in the martial arts, if nothing else.
I met him briefly once at a Japanese Spring Festival in Houston a couple of years ago. He's a nice enough guy in person. Quite likable, but I only met him very briefly.

As to his books, I don't know much about the subjects he writes about. I do know a little about the controversy surrounding his authority on the subject of Mugai Ryu. His instructor in Mugai Ryu was Kuniba-sensei, who earned the rank of Sandan in Japan before moving to the states. There is a gentleman by the name of Renfield Kuroda who lives in Japan and trains with the soke of Mugai Ryu.

Here is what Kuroda-sensei had to say about Mr. Craigs instructor recently in another forum. The link to the thread is http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=547004#post547004

Allow me to state, as I have done in the past:
regardless of supposed skill or lack thereof (I have never seen the man therefore cannot comment), allow me clarify a fact:
there is no record of Kuniba-sensei ever achieving a rank/certification/license that allowed him to teach Mugairyu.
He achieved 3dan from Ishii-sensei, of the Nakagawa lineage of Mugairyu Iaihyodo. Ishii-sensei was later Hamon'd (stripped of rank and kicked out of Mugairyu.)
I know this to be true because I am part of this lineage, and I have researched this issue at the request of Niina-gosoke (Soke of Meishi-ha, student of Shiokawa, predecessor of Nakagawa and Ishii.)
Therefore, we refer to what Kuniba-sensei teaches as Kuniba-ryu because that's what it is: his own style, which he derived from what he learned. He has every right to do that, just like Tsuji Gettan Sukemochi did in 1693 when he created Mugairyu based on studies of Yamaguchi-ryu. But Kuniba-sensei never had the right/permission/credentials to teach Mugairyu Iaihyodo.

I will not get into a "my sensei can kick your sensei's butt" argument. But I will speak of facts, and the facts are that there are, even to this day, NO legitimate, licensed instructors for any of the branches of Mugairyu in Japan. None. ZERO.

Before you decide to react/respond/flame, think about the facts of the issue. I am not attacking the man; I don't know Kuniba-sensei from the dude at the post office. But I do know about legitimate, documented lineage, and every licensed instructor in Mugairyu, regardless of branch or lineage, has a scroll or certificate from a recognized, documented, legitimate instructor.
Kuniba-sensei was a high-ranked, well-respected karate instructor. About this I know nothing, but it also has nothing to do with Mugairyu.


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This doesn't mean the book is without value, but it is of questionable authority and is unauthorized at best.

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