The Way of the Samurai

Rat

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So first off excuse any TL;DR happening here. and i havent read the book nor the article, as far as i recall for the book its largely a philsophical text than a modern historical text on the peroid. (which has its own value anyway)

So if you want to research japan (or anything) i would suggest deciding on a peroid first then getting books and the like on the peroid in question written today on it. As far as i know you can find quite a lot of books in any peroid of japanese history in english. (although i presume the further back you go the less you find unless a signficiant event happened that is popular internationally or at least in the english speaking world) I am a tradtionally you can replace book with youtube videos if you want or any medium as long as its relible.

I would consider taking the Hagakure as a hisotrical piece comprable to citing "beyond good and evil" as how Germans lived in the peroid or the ideology of germans in the peroid, they do have value as philsophical texts and how that person thought at the time. (And oh god that comparision is more accruate than i realised, Nitzche became more popular after his death, apparntly the Hagakure became more popular after his death as well.)


If you want to study philopshy thats fine and the history of japanese philsophy, but its a seperate study to how the people en mass lived in the peroid and that sort. Only advise i have on philsophical texts and memoirs is be skeptical on their historical value. They are great supplimentary texts for the views at the time usually. But the human factor is strong in both, memoirs can be inaccurate pending on when they were written and what they were based off, somones memory can change, phislophical texts are obviously one persons views on how to live.


I cant really reccomend any books on Japan though, its not soemthing i have looked that greatly into. My reserch is largely articles and wiki pages on specfic events. (yes i do know to check the sources in wiki) And then everyone has their own opinions on specfic hisotrians anyway and their interpriation on texts and the like. Well, i am beginning to look into the material culture of the IJA in WW2, but thats not really relivent.


Hopefully these two links will help for source checking. (i struggled enough to get these, they should cover the basics anyway) Any good detailed historical book should have their sources cited somewhere. That or i am thinking of peer reviwed doccuments.

Using Historical Sources

Getting started: Reading Primary Sources | Faculty of History, University of Cambridge



Anyway, hopefully all that is useful. It is always easier to study one peroid in history then go from there. Or one event that you are intrested in.
 

isshinryuronin

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Chris, while your facts I don't refute, and I respect your knowledge, it seems to me you were a little overzealous in your responses to this thread's posts. I can disagree of several of your comments (interpretation is subjective) but will address just a few that struck me.

much of samurai ethos is commitment to an intent... in an idealised fashion, that can be seen as commitment regardless of the cost, provided the cost is not that of honour (of course, reality was often quite different).

I agree.

Intent is the broad stroke and is the spirit behind the action. The details, or method of delivering that action, is often of secondary importance. Detail and accuracy is good, and criticism of those are fine, but must be proportionate to the event or forum. As Ivan can tell you, I have commented on some of his essays and posts. And have been critical, not only on his facts, but on his lack of depth and experience, often overreaching his skill or knowledge, in his attempts to expound or physically train. Most of us were a little headstrong and overenthusiastic in our youth.

Still, this is not a professional literary, historical or philosophical site. So, while I agree gross inaccuracies should be pointed out, it should be done with a broader stroke, tempered to the site, intent, and poster, and still be effective criticism. QUOTE="Chris Parker, post: 2026427, member: 15886"]Ha, true... of course, the point of military might is the gaining and securing of power... which leads to riches and wealth...[/QUOTE]

As you pointed out (see next quote below) the Samurai were stratified. The top tiers, as in any society, reap the most benefits. But the lower tiers, the rank and file so to speak, were there to carry out their superior's wishes. Their goal was not to amass wealth, but to live according to the social norms of their position. Later on, as they transisted from war to business as their primary vocation, this of course changed and the rank and file became more materialistic.

Again, it depends entirely on the context... at times, the samurai were largely bureaucrats... or accountants... additionally, "beholden only to their peers"... the question would be, what peers? Japan is a highly stratified society

Their peers, of course, in their own group of the "stratified" social class. Peer approval is a big thing in Japan. It is partly what keeps it fairly safe from crime, graffiti, and other anti-social behavior. Deviation from this results in push-back from their fellow peers. Samurai were not too worried about what the peasant class thought about them, but were accountable and beholding to their fellow Samurai. Not only socially, but legally as well. A peasant vs Samurai dispute in the courts would not be a very long trial.

This, I cannot disagree with more. Whose death is of paramount relevance... the idea of throwing your life away indiscriminately is antithetical to samurai (or any warrior) ideal... QUOTE]

Not sure why you read in "throwing your life away indiscriminately." I don't think I inferred any such thing. Just because one is willing to sacrifice their life, does not mean one does not value it. It should serve a purpose to accomplish some end and be in accordance with the values of the Samurai social class. And in the case of mortal combat, this willingness removes possible hesitation in execution of technique, giving one a greater chance to live.

No, he didn't. That was Tsunetomo

"The way of the warrior is death." Acceptance of possible death is perhaps a better, less dramatic, way of saying it. This concept is not a unique idea to any one individual. Suffice it to say that several had put this in print and probably no way to be certain who first put this in writing. (I've seen "quotes" from Funakoshi which came from Itosu, which came from Matsumura, who likely got it from Sakugawa or Iwah.) By my adding Musashi to those who put it in writing, I was merely pointing out that others shared similar ideas.

With Respect,
 

paitingman

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@Ivan keep on being an eternal learner!

As you may well know, the world of academia and published media can be even more vicious and contentious than even this forum lol

Even among scholarly sources, you can find conclusions all over the spectrum. Many have spent lots of time and study, written dissertations, been published and come to wildly different conclusions than some of their peers.
My advice would be to always to try gain a broad span of source material and take all of them with a healthy dose of salt, especially when researching Eastern/Martial Arts History.

Keep your head up and keep writing and revising!
Whatever you do, don't stop writing if you want to improve.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

Tenshin

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A little caveat on scholarship resources. Scholar resources most of the time are great but the caveat is if they are not initiated into something they can not give an in depth picture. The other Caveat is, if something is published even by someone that is initiated is not always 100% accurate or the whole picture.
 

isshinryuronin

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Note - in the last two quote sections (3 posts previous, #22) of mine, some error occurred during editing and a couple of brackets disappeared. The first part of those sections was the quote from Mr. Parker, the second section is my response. I was rushing at the end to get to the dojo and missed the error.
 

hoshin1600

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I didn't read the article but after reading many of the posts one thing kind of stuck out to me. The common usage of Buddhism.
There is a wide variety of beliefs under the umbrella of Buddhism. Not unlike the differences between western religions. Compare catholics to Jahovah Witness to Hesidic Judaism or even Islam. To say someone was Buddist might need some clarification if your trying to make a connection to a belief system or a cultural significance.
Most often I find westerners make a correlation between their understanding of Judeo,Christian religion and try to comprehend Buddhism with the same framework. Sometimes this just doesn't work.
 

BrendanF

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Belief comes from perception. There is no way for us to come to the conclusion that is 100% correct since many historically accurate depictions about Japan’s history were lost due to the outcome of WW2.

Arguing the extent of the impacts that different philosophies had has always been a topic that is debated among historians; not just for Japan, but any culture you come across. Just because your perception of this is different, does not mean either of us are wrong because the word “impact” is very relative.

I know Samurai are romanticised, just like any other prevalent warriors throughout history, such as Romans and Spartans and Persian Immortals. I know very well they weren’t saints, and I also know that some were paedophiles and only abided by their code of honour whenever they saw it benefitted them.

Then again, please don’t try to assume I have not studied the history. I have written multiple essays and a 9 page dissertation, and read about the topic for over half a decade. The Hagakure is a relatively accurate source as the man who wrote about stayed under the tutelage of a master for around 30 years. His thoughts on Buddhism are also not something to scoff at, since he remained a devout monk for a huge period of his life. You can argue that the effects of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism were little if you’d like, but that doesn’t change that a huge portion of the Samurai population were raised under those two.

Sorry for the late reply - I'm not sure where you're getting a lot of what you seem to be arguing against from my posts. It seems as though perhaps English is not your first language; is that right?
I certainly never commented on your level of education, only that the post you wrote did not reflect my understanding of the topic. My thanks to Chris for expanding more than I have the time or energy for.
 

Rat

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A little caveat on scholarship resources. Scholar resources most of the time are great but the caveat is if they are not initiated into something they can not give an in depth picture. The other Caveat is, if something is published even by someone that is initiated is not always 100% accurate or the whole picture.

The best thing about the scholary sources is, they do as routine have a source list for everything they have used. I would expect a qualified historian to as a matter of routine keep a running list of all their sources as they use them. (thats literally drilled into you)

the obvious issues and cavetes to sources apply, if its translated its working off this persons translation, they can differ. If its coming from a journel somone kept in the peroid you ened to asertain its purpose, it could contain jokes, be how they remmebered certain events etc. (basically has to tie into physical evidence of muiltiple personal statements)

The big caveat is obviously, its the hisotrians intpertration of the sources used. Hence the reason for citing your sources.

Actually, on this note i may have to skim through the history books i have and see what sources and listed if any and in how many. There seems to be plenty out there that are sold as hisotrical books but dont have a source list. That or i am just conflating the usual youtube format where i have only seen a few channels as a matter of routine cite sources.
 

Tenshin

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Scholars have list and resources but mostly from looking outside and can not give the details and secrets that are usually orally transmitted.
Those like Dr. Karl Friday, Diane and Meik Skoss and others can give both a scholar and inside look to a certain point as even they will not give secrets of all the oral transmission to those not in the ryuha and even if they did without explaining and training the average person would not understand.



Scholars are better than someone like Anthony Cummins but they are not better than someone who can speak with authority on the subject like a Menkyo Kaiden or Soke because they have the oral transmission.

The Yagyu Heiho Kadensho also known as the sword and mind book is a great book and has pictures and some translating of how to perform said moment, however without the proper instruction and oral teaching only given to those in the ryuha the feeling of what is being translated isn't correct.

In terms of Buddhism certain teachings and details are forbidden to release publicly it is one of the vows taken, in Shingon a lot of English books from scholars and priests have left out details to rituals, mantras, mudras. In Tendai Buddhism that which is publish in English is not the esoteric side and in some cases the mantras written are missing words, incorrect words and word order.
 

Rat

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First up, my terminology for this subject is lacking as i have forgotten the best words to use in this subject. Second i have no real alegnence to anyting here other than hisotrical study. with those disclaimers i shall begin. (in case they come up, i might have to explain a word instead of use it)

Addendum: Also excuse the amount of typos, mixture of not knowing how to spell something, typing errors and no spell check working.




Scholars have list and resources but mostly from looking outside and can not give the details and secrets that are usually orally transmitted.

Oral transmission is not that reliable of a source. The issue with stories is they change. They should be taken at face value unless you can find something more tanglible. Like if there was a oral story of a battle that took place at X and you found a bunch of corpses and material culture for the peroid it was said to take place, that would prove the battle took place there, the details may be up for speculation* but the battle existed.

*thats where memoirs and the like come into play, for how it went down in refrence to evidence you can find on the field. Several stoies are normally needed to achive the same reliability one piece of physical evidence is. and then with some big speculation there, the common theme may only be these two factiosn fought at this place.





Those like Dr. Karl Friday, Diane and Meik Skoss and others can give both a scholar and inside look to a certain point as even they will not give secrets of all the oral transmission to those not in the ryuha and even if they did without explaining and training the average person would not understand.



Scholars are better than someone like Anthony Cummins but they are not better than someone who can speak with authority on the subject like a Menkyo Kaiden or Soke because they have the oral transmission.

The Yagyu Heiho Kadensho also known as the sword and mind book is a great book and has pictures and some translating of how to perform said moment, however without the proper instruction and oral teaching only given to those in the ryuha the feeling of what is being translated isn't correct.

I dont really know names, but i am using scholor to mean somone who has researched X subject to a large degree. As far as hisotry is concerned, there are no secrets, you want all the facts and as many facts as you can asertain and as many reliable sources as possible. You also want other people to read your sources and come to their own conclsuions off the sources. you may have missed something or misread it, or maybe they have a diffrent inperitation to the source than you do.

If there are secrets the soruce becomes unreliable. If this group is highly secretive who is to say any of their sources are relible? who is to say this isnt a complete fabrication?

Now, i dont want to belittle mythos as its a form of history and has its own value, but its largely cultrual/ideological. the main issue is people not being able to seperate a fictious story for fun or having some meaning behind it (not citing a actual event) with soemthing that actually happened as a event. Now if these people are telling you this event happened and there is no evidence etc and they truely belive it happened, i would go to beliving they are conning you or have been conned themselves. Like if i were to tell you abotu Saint George, did you really belvie he in full actuality killed a dragon? There is no evidence of dragons existing, look at mythos as mythos, for fun/as anecotes or what ever it was made to do.

I dont really have a reply to the last point in this quoted segment. I dont fully understand the point in part over not being able to translate the word "ryuha".




In terms of Buddhism certain teachings and details are forbidden to release publicly it is one of the vows taken, in Shingon a lot of English books from scholars and priests have left out details to rituals, mantras, mudras. In Tendai Buddhism that which is publish in English is not the esoteric side and in some cases the mantras written are missing words, incorrect words and word order.

This would entirely depend on the form of Buddhism, and this is a seperate study to history and i am not going to coment on it as people get really touchy if you cite a story they have been told is true and belive is true as mythos.

I will how however just state, there is the philsophical study here and the hisotrical study. They differ in the phlisophical study being about what the religion/belief system beleives, its stories and tradtions etc. The hisotrical study is about the history of the religion, where and when it was founded, its material culture throughout its lifespan, when it spread to this region so fourth. Some aspects are interconnected, others are distinctly seperate and need to be. This segment can be applied to the above point about oral tradtion as well.



Hopefully i addressed all the points to a acceptable degree, i sometimes get carried away and go on a tangent and forget a point.

Addendum: I just thought of a decent example to the issues laid out here. As far as i know the founder of TKD militantly rejected karate as having any part in his system, the facts speak other wise, it was based off Karate to at least some degree. thats the really abriged i have written for too long version.
 

Tenshin

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What I mean by oral transmission is that the inner workings and principles are given only oral they are not written down.
So if a scholar who is translating Musashi's book has never trained in the ryuha(school of Japanese art) is going to translate the meaning incorrectly.
I used the example of Anthony Cummins as he or his team translated many books on Ninja but because he does not have the oral transmission his book is full of errors.
Stephen Kaufman published his version of Musashi's book and he used other people''s translation, and put his own thoughts and it is way off.
Even people who were given oral transmission sometimes give not correct information when the book is publish, sometimes it is editing, on purpose, error whatever.

Scholars can only research and write about what they have access to, a lot of things written Ryuha specific a scholar does not have access to. Karl Friday Diane and Meik Skoss and couple of other writers do have access and do understand the oral teachings but for the most part it is not written for the public.
Sure, a scholar may see the Densho(a scoll with teachings) read the Kanji but that will not do much if the teacher does not give the meaning of what it is that is written.

A scholar who is writing about Buddhism unless he has taken Tokudo, Jukai, and even at Ajari levels you will not know much, even those who are studying the teacher will little by little reveal things as the relationship, trust, and student's practice deepen.
it is why most books on the subject give a gloss through when written by non-priests and when priests write books on it they omit things.
 

isshinryuronin

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What I mean by oral transmission is that the inner workings and principles are given only oral they are not written down.
So if a scholar who is translating Musashi's book has never trained in the ryuha(school of Japanese art) is going to translate the meaning incorrectly.

Very true. Even a skilled translator unschooled in a particular discipline will choose a word of the wrong shade, leading to a corruption of the intended thought. This is why slang and metaphor are hard to translate. They depend on shades of meaning. Unless very well acquainted with the culture, they are hard to understand. Musashi's book has references to the "feel" of the sword. If one has never felt a sword beat against theirs, there is no way to understand, "tut, tut." While I spent several years in iaido, and decades in other MA, there is much in the book that is undecipherable to me (but so is my wife, yet I still appreciate her)

I have read military history by scholars with no military training. Factually correct and a general understanding of the cultural and political implications, but very little feel of the battle. The emotion of combat is missing. As Marshall de Saxe put it, "matters of the heart" play a big part in combat. The terror of the sudden appearance from the rear of an even small cavalry force and the effect it may have on the outcome of an entire battle may be underappreciated by someone never in a fight. So the initiative of a young captain rallying a few dozen disrupted mounted troops and charging them into the rear of the enemy infantry, breaking their formation and leading the army to rout, is not considered. The general gets the credit for a great strategic victory (of course, he helps writes the account.)

Musashi's book was not written for the public, or even other swordsmen in general, but rather for someone familiar with Musashi's ways. It was his kuden, put into writing. Both these forms are poor ways to transmit info on feel and movement. Certain things must be physically experienced to understand, movements shown from teacher to student. Then, oral and written info can reinforce and supplement the physical. Without this, we can only guess at truth, meaning and application.
 
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Rat

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Musashi's book was not written for the public, or even other swordsmen in general, but rather for someone familiar with Musashi's ways. It was his kuden, put into writing. Both these forms are poor ways to transmit info on feel and movement. Certain things must be physically experienced to understand, movements shown from teacher to student. Then, oral and written info can reinforce and supplement the physical. Without this, we can only guess at truth and meaning.

I hope you know this is the baine of the historian. that and poorly kept records or only oral records. They dont plan on their linegege dying or the scope of the text is a aide memoir of sorts, so someone looking into it only has a refrence sheet for information they should have been taught earlier. But they cant be taught it as its lost.

Its where living history comes in, you try to piece together some of the more unclear/mundane aspects.


Kind of a rushed reply, @Tenshin i will reply to the other post as well when i get time, i had a relivation mid writing it that has lead me to think we both had diffrent things in our heads when discussing it. I have skimmed it so far.
 

BrendanF

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English is my third language

Ah I see - kudos, your English is very good. Like I said though, it seemed to me that there were some slight misunderstandings; that explains it. Rest assured I certainly didn't feel insulted by anything you posted - I hope you didn't feel like I was insulting you, if so my apologies. I do think that your choice to remove and revise the article was the right one.
 
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