The Spirit of the Sword: Iaido, Kendo, and Test Cutting with the Japanese Sword

The Spirit of the Sword: Iaido, Kendo, and Test Cutting with the Japanese Sword

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Nakamura Taisaburo

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  • Publisher: Blue Snake Books
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 178mm x 232mm x 28mm | 600g
  • Publication date: 11 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Berkeley
  • ISBN 10: 1583945423
  • ISBN 13: 9781583945421
  • Edition statement: Translation
  • Illustrations note: 800 Black and White Photographs
  • Sales rank: 156,813

Product description

Nakamura Taisaburo's landmark book on the art of the sword includes technical information, thoughtful analysis, and fascinating recollections of his own training and teaching. One of the most famous Japanese swordsmen of the twentieth century, Nakamura sensei is widely acknowledged as the preeminent reinvigorator of the practice of "tameshigiri" (test cutting) as a test of technical and spiritual mastery. "The Spirit of the Sword"--first published in Japanese in 1980, now translated into English for the first time--is regarded by many as the most complete of Nakamura's writings on Japanese swordsmanship. Here Nakamura instructs the reader on the integration of iaido, kendo, and tameshigiri; the correct mental approach to sword practice; training methods; numerous kata or forms; a guide to sword maintenance; and historical notes on the use of the sword as a weapon. Illustrated with over 800 original photographs, this book is a must-have for any student of the Japanese sword and an excellent resource for sword enthusiasts in general.

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Author information

Nakamura Taisaburo (1912-2003)was a renowned sword master and the founder of the Nakamura-ryu style of sword arts. He was the chief instructor of the All-Japan Toyama-ryu Iaido Federation and the head of the All-Japan Battojutsu Federation. He held a 9th-dan rank in Battojutsu and Iaido as well as an 8th-dan rank in Jukendo and a 7th-dan rank in Kendo. Gavin J. Poffley has a master's degree in Japanese translation from the School of Oriental and African Studies and has also studied at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and Hiroshima University, writing dissertations on the modernization of Japan's martial arts and the history of Okinawan karate. He has dan ranks in Shorin-ryu karate and Dentokan aiki-jujutsu as well as experience in many other systems. Gavin currently resides in East London with his wife, Taeko.

Customer reviews

By Hans Fricke 24 Mar 2013 5

Many books have been written about Japanese swordsmanship: but none give such insight in to the practical application of the Japanese sword nihonto then Nakamura Taizaburo's book "The Spirit of the Sword".

Published some 30 years ago, and thanks to an excellent English translation, the book can finally reveal its hidden treasures; the anecdotes; the philosophical view-points; the practical and technical ideas; the many applications and in- depth research into the use of the Japanese sword; as well as local history; and - the art of test-cutting tameshigiri: all now available to a worldwide public.

Hans Fricke
Kyoshi 8th-dan Nakamura Ryu Battodo.
President Australian Battodo Association Inc.
Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee 2010

Review quote

""The Spirit of the Sword "was a great joy for me to read; I now have the immense satisfaction of finally understanding Nakamura Taisaburo's thoughts on swordsmanship. Gavin J. Poffley has done a masterful job of accurately translating Nakamura sensei's philosophy, technical explanations, and anecdotes, capturing the nuances and subtlety of his instruction; it is a beautiful and captivating book that should be on the shelf of everyone who is interested in practical swordsmanship."--Guy Power, Renshi seventh dan, Okuden Menjo and Densho, Nakamura Ryu "Finally, some insight into Japanese swordsmanship from a truly original source! Powerfully written and authentic, "The Spirit of the Sword" is a book that can be read every year for deeper meaning."--Bob Elder, seventh dan, Zen Nihon Toyama Ryu Iai Do Renmei "The same power and directness that made his swordsmanship luminous shines through this text--the fruits of a natural genius, forged in the heat of battle and further refined through decades of intense investigation. Nakamura sensei's commitment to swordsmanship was born from the knowledge that his superior skills had saved him three times from postings that had cost the lives of fellow instructors. This book was written in their honor and in the hope that future generations might stay true to the principles of combat that keep these arts truly martial."--John Maki Evans, seventh dan Nakamura Ryu; author of "Kurikara: The Sword and the Serpent"