Old School: Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions by Ellis Amdur

Robert Carver

Orange Belt
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
79
Reaction score
6
Location
Baton Rouge, LA
A couple of months ago, Ellis Amdur emailed me and asked if I could review his second book, Old School: Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions. Considering how much I enjoyed his previous book, Dueling with O-Sensei: Grappling with the Myth of the Warrior Sage, I figured I was in for a good read, and it was another book to add to my already considerable library. He did make me promise that I would be totally unbiased and not hold back with the truth or my opinions. So here it goes... the total and unvarnished truth.

It was terrific!

Old School is a totally different book than Dueling with O-Sensei, as this book focuses on the Koryu, or classical martial arts of Japan. In a series of essays, this book has the feel of an insider that is telling you the little known secrets of the classical Japanese martial arts. And indeed it is! Amdur has teaching licenses in two Koryu traditions, Araki Ryu and Toda-ha Buko Ryu. So he is uniquely qualified in this respect. Also a scholar, it is apparent from the very first chapter that he has extensively researched the topics covered in this book, and is unafraid to separate the facts from the myth. However, Old School is more than a history book. It is really a book that gives the reader a glimpse into the heart and soul of the Japanese martial traditions. Armed with that newly found insight, it further enlightens practitioners of modern budo as to the nature and character of their own arts.

Like Dueling with O-Sensei, this book is wonderfully written and easy to read. Amdurs writing style is straight forward, and has an informality that is unique and enjoyable. Once I opened the book and started reading, I found that I had a difficult time putting it down.

This book is broken down into three sections. The first is entitled Koryu, and takes the reader into the history and traditions of three classical ryu: the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, Maniwa Nen-ryu and Higo Ko-ryu.

The next section, Japanese Weapons, focuses on Ancient Weapons, Development and History of the Naginata, Chigiriki: The Japanese Flailand the Kusarigama: The Chain and Sickle.

My favorite section, History and Traditions, rounds out the book. Essays included here are: Women Warriors of Japan, The Origins of Araki-ryu and Keppan: Blood Vows in Japanese Martial Traditions. If I were to choose my favorite from these three essays, I would have a tough choice, but I would have to say that Keppan: Blood Vows in Japanese Martial Traditions, wins my vote. It is worth the price of the book alone.

If you buy one book about the classical Japanese Martial Arts (or any martial art book for that matter) this year, I have a suggestion for you. Buy, Old School: Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions by Ellis Amdur. For the price of only $20.00, you will have a book that is worth far more than its cover price for its history and insights into the classical Japanese martial traditions. It will find a prominent place in your library, just as it has mine.

For those interested in purchasing Old School, go to Ellis Amdurs website at http://www.ellisamdur.com/OldSchool.htm for further information.
 

arnisador

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 28, 2001
Messages
44,573
Reaction score
456
Location
Terre Haute, IN
Reviews of the first book are here.

What types of arts are Maniwa Nen-ryu and Higo Ko-ryu--comprehensive, or weapons-specific?
 
OP
Robert Carver

Robert Carver

Orange Belt
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
79
Reaction score
6
Location
Baton Rouge, LA
Maniwa Nen-ryu is a comprehensive weapons system that makes use of weapons such as the sword, naginata, and spear. It also has certain esoteric practices such as kiaijutsu.

Higo Ko-ryu is a tradition that is based around the naginata.
 

Latest Discussions

Top