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The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts by William Scott Wilson Issai Chozanshi...

The Demon said to the swordsman, "Fundamentally, man's mind is not without good. It is simply that from the moment he has life, he is always being brought up with perversity. Thus, having no idea that he has gotten used to being soaked in it, he harms his self-nature and falls into evil. Human desire is the root of this perversity."
Woven deeply into the martial traditions and folklore of Japan, the fearsome Tengu dwell in the country's mountain forest. Mythical half-man, half-bird creatures with long noses, Tengu have always inspired dread and awe, inhabiting a liminal world between the human and the demonic, and guarding the most hidden secrets of swordsmanship. In The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts, a translation of the 18th-century samurai classic by Issai Chozanshi, an anonymous swordsman journeys to the heart of Mt. Kurama, the traditional domain of these formidable beings. There he encounters a host of demon; through a series of discussions and often playful discourse, they reveal to him the very deepest principles of the martial arts, and show how the secrets of sword fighting impart the truths of life itself.
The Demon's Sermon opens with The discourses, a collection of whimsical fables concerned with the theme of transformation-for Chozanshi a core phenomenon to the martial artist. Though ostensibly light and fanciful, these stories offer the attentive reader ideas that subvert perceived notions of conflict and the individual's relationship to the outside world. In the main body of work, The Sermon, Chozanshi demonstrates how transformation is fostered and nurtured through ch'i - the vital and fundamental energy that flows through all things, animate and inanimate, and the very bedrock of Chozanshi's themes and the martial arts themselves. This he does using the voice of the Tengu, and the reader is invited to eavesdrop with the swordsman on the demon's revelations of the deepest truths concerning ch'i, the principles of yin and yang, and how these forces shape our existence. In The Dispatch, the themes are brought to an elegant conclusion using the parable of an old and toothless cat who, like the demon, has mastered the art of acting by relying on nothing, and in so doing can defeat even the wiliest and most vicious of rats despite his advanced years.
This is the first direct translation from the original text into English by William Scott Wilson, the renowned translator of Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings. It captures the tone and essence of this classic while still making it accessible and meaningful to today's reader. Chozanshi's deep understanding of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto, as well as his insight into the central role of ch'i in the universe, are all given thoughtful treatment in Wilson's introduction and extensive endnotes. A provocative book for the general reader, The Demon's Sermon will also prove an invaluable addition to the libraries of all those interested in the fundamental principles of the martial arts, and how those principles relate to our existence.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.56" Width: 5.35" Height: 0.87"
Weight:   0.71 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 15, 2006
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770030185  
ISBN13  9784770030184  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Sports > General
2Books > Subjects > Sports > Individual Sports > Martial Arts > Martial Arts

Reviews - What do customers think about The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts?

Interesting read for the Martial Artist  Apr 8, 2008
Interesting and enjoying to read. This book is for the serious martial artist who enjoys a slightly esoteric approach to training and philosophy of the arts. I started out my training in traditional arts before adding many other modern styles such as boxing and submission grappling to my skill set and I believe yet to this day that I was served well by applying the "old school" frame of mind to modern, scientific training. The Samurai and other elite warriors of history became legendary for a reason...discipline and a complete devotion to mastering not only their weapons, but themselves and their minds. Read alongside The Book of Five Rings and others this will be a welcome addition to your library.

Take care,
Hearing the sermon from the bottom of the mount  Feb 24, 2008
Books on Bushido and swordsmanship are a vast part of my collection, things ranging from the common Sun Tzu, Musashi's 5 Rings, to the lesser known Shogun No Rin, Takeda and the Hagakure and other books are frequent reads for me. This book is interesating in that it deviats from the practical aphorisms and "text book" nature of the others and adopts a 2 part structure. The first section is a collection of stories based on animals and insects that explain the workings of Ch'i flow and the essence of the "void mind" and similar concepts. it does this ina way similar to the Zen Flesh Sen Bones koan/story method, though these have a warmer feel to them. The second part of the book is the actual sermon as overgeard by a traveling man who happend upon some demons on a mountain. Now Demon in the Japanese context does not have the same menaing as it does in the west. So this isnt some horned pitchfork carrying guy talking in the woods. Instead it a gathering of Demons holding a question and answer session with a masterful demon on he subject of the nature of mind in combat as tied to sword play. The meat of the discussions is similar to those of most books but it focuses alot on Ch'i energy and how it is used/abused/neglected, something that most other books leave out entirely. I have little knowlage of Ch'i myself in this context, but found it a good opener for the subject and it did whet the appitite for more. Though there are better books on Bushido out there for the moral practitioner this one leands intself well to a collection as it delves into a different spirituality than most as the others spend alot of time on strict Zen principles. Of course this is xrooted in Zen and Buddhism as well, but it contains a strong influence from the Taoist schools as well, a healthy dosage to say the least as outlined in the first few pages. A good read.
An excellent resource for the aspiring martial artist  Dec 26, 2007
This book adds to the martial arts (especially swordsmanship) canon, already populated with works by Musashi, Munenori, and Nitobe. Musashi deals with technique, Munenori explains the consequences of training in a school. Nitobe provides the ultimate primer into the warrior ethos. Chozanshi asks and answers questions raised in the course of training.

Chozanshi explains how swordsmen differ from Zen monks; why sword training has secrets; and which kind of weapon is most advantageous (the answer begins “How can you ask such a stupid question?”). He also shows why several methods of training in “the Way” are incorrect and how they compare to the true path.

The sales literature says this is the first translation of this work into English. I would like to see another translation, perhaps by Thomas Cleary, to determine how much of the work has been altered by the translator. His footnote on “remaining mind” reflects only one view and, I think, differs from the explanation in the text.
Deep and cryptic  Jul 13, 2007
The Demon's Sermon comes from Japan's 17th century. Author Niwa Jurozaemon Tadaaki (writing as Issao Chozanshi) created this work on martial arts, despite a claim after the Sermon that "I am not a swordsman, so how could I teach swordsmanship?" If that is truly the author speaking, then what else in these essays should be discounted as suspect in their accuracy? And, if it's self-deprecating fiction, then what other points in these essays should also discounted as fiction? This, I think, is the least of the paradoxes within this text.

The text carries a Taoist tone, with many allusions to Taoist classics. Educated Japanese in many centuries referred often to the Chinese canon. Chozanshi's work, however, stands out for building up Chinese concepts in terms of Chinese classics, building them on a base of Japanese martial arts, folk culture, and religion. This sermon on martial arts in fact says very little about those arts - instead, it cultivates the mind, spirit, and human energy of the martial artist. The third essay in this set scarcely addresses martial arts at all. Instead, the amusing parable follows an exchange between cats on the conquest of an uncommonly fierce rat. If just a word here and there were changed, the fable would have sounded like an actual part of the Chuang Tzu.

Wilson's translation is modern and fluent. His preface and footnotes clarify many cultural referents that could otherwise have been obscure, especially regarding the demon speaker himself. Despite skilled translation, the Way of Chozanshi's text remains obscure - as if to remind a reader of any century that the Way that can be spoken is not the eternal Way.

-- wiredweird
An indispensable classic of traditional Japanese culture and martial arts philosophy.  May 12, 2007
Written by 18th-century Japanese samurai Issai Chozanshi and translated into English by William Scott Wilson, also known for his translations of "Hagakure" and "The Book of Five Rings", The Demon's Sermon On The Marital Arts is a uniquely insightful and philosophical contemplation. Presented in the format of an imagined discourse between a tengu (a mythological birdman) and an anonymous swordsman, The Demon's Sermon On The Martial Arts is much broader in scope than a simple list of strategies and maneuvers taught by assorted Japanese disciplines, extending into wisdom gleaned from Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto. The result is a guide for martial artists to perfecting the mind, rising above hesitation, indecision, or distractions, and harnessing the flow of the dynamic energy of ch'i to empower transformation. An indispensable classic of traditional Japanese culture and martial arts philosophy.

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