Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions (Expanded Edition)
By Ellis Amdur
Koryu, literally 'old flow from the past,' refers to Japanese martial traditions that predate the sweeping cultural changes that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868. They generally have a very different character and tone from modern martial arts, such as kendo, judo or aikido which followed. More than the study of antique weapons, self-defense or a form of athletics, these martial traditions are a cultural legacy and a window to another time and place.
In the first edition of Old School, Ellis Amdur, a renowned martial arts researcher, and himself an instructor in two different surviving koryu, gave readers a rare glimpse into feudal Japanese warrior arts, both as they were in the past and as they live on today. Nearly a decade later, he returns to the subject in this new, greatly expanded edition, bringing readers inside the dojos of a number ancient schools, providing details analysis of the evolution and morphology of uniquely Japanese weaponry, addressing the myth and reality of Japan's naginata-wielding warrior women, and discussing the modern relevance of the blood oaths, magical ritual and mysticism that often permeate the koryu. Finally, he looks at the challenge of preservation and transmission, especially as more and more practitioners of the koryu exist outside of Japan itself.
Writing with a combination of the initiate's passion for his subject, and the scientist's rigorous search for the truth, Amdur asks critically: do the ancient traditions still meet the objectives of their founders? Are they successfully passing their ancient legacy down to the next generation?
Over a third larger than the first edition and filled with new artwork and photography, Old School: Japanese Martial Traditions Expanded Edition will be an invaluable addition to the library of old readers and new alike. 125 b&w illustrations, photographs and drawings.
Foreword to the First Edition
Foreword to the Second Edition
Part One: Something Once New
Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu
Part Two: Essays on Japanese Weaponry
Ancient Weapons: A Prologue to the Development of Japanese Weapons of the Classical Era
The Development and History of the Naginata
Kusarigama: the Chain-and-Sickle
Chigiriki: The Japanese Flail
Part Three: History and Tradition
The Origins of Araki-ryu
Women Warriors in Japan
Part Four: Nothing Stays the Same: Martial Traditions from the Edo Period
Lineal Transmission into the 21st Century
Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu Redux
Bugei in the Edo Period: The Rise of Competitive Martial Sports
Yoshin-ryu: A Maze of Willows
Part Five: The Sinew of Classical Martial Traditions
The Role of Esoteric Training in Modern Times
Keppan: Blood Vows in Japanese Martial Traditions
Ellis Amdur lived in Japan for thirteen years, and while there, received teaching licenses in two classical Japanese martial traditions. Since his return to America, he has developed a range of training and consultation services, as well as a unique style of assessment and psychotherapy, based on a combination of phenomenological psychology and the underlying philosophical and tactical premises of classical Japanese martial traditions. Ellis has been a lead trainer for close to one hundred law enforcement and correctional institutions on crisis intervention and negotiation-related subjects. A prolific writer, he has authored ten profession-specific books on tactical communication with mentally ill and emotionally disturbed individuals and several works of fiction. In addition to Old School, he has also authored two other martial arts-related texts, Dueling with O-sensei and Hidden in Plain Sight.