Martial Arts

Traditional martial arts—such as kendo, iaido, aikido, Chinese sword, t'ai chi, judo, and karate—offer a path of self-cultivation that refines the body, mind, and spirit. Our extensive Asian martial arts list includes samurai literature and philosophy, practice manuals, biographies of renown historical and contemporary martial artists, and memoir and essays. Learn the secrets of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), martial arts strategy, and the samurai mind through our remarkable collection of classic texts, including Hagakure and the Book of Five Rings.



Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei - Rare Aikido Demonstration from 1957

The author of The Art of Peace performing Aikido




The Martial Arts Works of Translator William Scott Wilson

William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. He received BA degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an MA in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His best-selling books include The Book of Five Rings, The Unfettered Mind, and The Lone Samurai, a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.

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Interview with Biographer John Stevens

JS: Since I have written books on three of the other most important martial artist masters of the 20th century-Tesshu Yamaoka (kendo), Awa Kenzo (kyudo), and Morihei Ueshiba (aikido)-I felt it imperative to write a book on Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan judo, to round out the picture.

Shambhala: How are the masters different?

JS: While both Tesshu and Awa based their teachings on Zen, and Morihei was a practitioner of esoteric Shinto, Kano was a Confucian thinker through and through. The other three masters believed that enlightenment was the key to the understanding of their art. The Kokodan Judo of Kano, on the other hand, stressed educational theory, rational thought, scientific principles, and practical application.

Shambhala: And what are the masters' similarities?

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The Archery Contest from Samurai Wisdom Stories

The shooting took place in a covered galley about sixty meters long. The difficulty for the archer lay in keeping the shot tightly arced enough to avoid the thirty-three cross beams that supported the roof joists and still allow for a shot long enough to reach the target at the end of the gallery. The bow had to be a strong one, but not so strong as to exhaust the archer; for the winner was the one who was able to shoot the greatest number of arrows into the distant target. The contest lasted twenty-four hours, from sunrise until the following dawn. It was a true ordeal, an ascetic exercise comparable to the austerities practiced by Buddhist monks, such as ten thousand prostrations.

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