Armed Martial Arts of Japan

Swordsmanship and Archery
Author(s): 
Hurst, G. Cameron
ISBN: 
0300049676
Date published: 
September 1998
Paperback
Price: 
£20.00
Pages: 
256

This unique history of Japanese armed martial arts - the only comprehensive treatment of the subject in English - focuses on traditions of swordsmanship and archery from ancient times to the present. G. Cameron Hurst III provides an overview of martial arts in Japanese history and culture, then closely examines the transformation of these fighting skills into sports. He discusses the influence of the Western athletic tradition on the armed martial arts as well as the ways the martial arts have remained distinctly Japanese. During the Tokugawa era (1600-1867), swordsmanship and archery developed from fighting systems into martial arts, transformed by the powerful social forces of peace, urbanisation, literacy, and professionalised instruction in art forms. Hurst investigates the changes that occurred as military skills that were no longer necessary took on new purposes: physical fitness, spiritual composure, character development, and sport. He also considers Western misconceptions of Japanese traditional martial arts and argues that, contrary to common views in the West, Zen Buddhism is associated with the martial arts in only a limited way. The author concludes by exploring the modern organisation, teaching, ritual, and philosophy of archery and swordsmanship. G. Cameron Hurst III is Professor of History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.