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State of the Art(s):

A Brief Assessment of Some Recent Martial Arts Scholarship

By Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

I have been practicing martial arts and sports for nearly 28 years, having started as a Western foil fencer when I was 22 years old. Later, after moving to New York and spending several years fencing at the Salle Santelli, I took up Japanese swordsmanship. Along the route I tried kendo, naginata (Japanese glaive), both koryu and sport) and kyudo (long bow archery). I have always kept Japanese sword arts at the center of my practice, however, and I have done that for 20 years.

I began reviewing martial arts books for the Journal of Asian Martial Arts in 1994, and have reviewed a number of books for them over the years, as well as reviewing books and the very occasional video for My training as a writer and researcher in the field of Performance Studies has uniquely equipped me to take on a field that is widespread and involves movement analysis, history, sociology and anthropology.

When I find a good book, I enjoy celebrating it. I have gotten more than one thank you note from a publisher for a good review. I always respond with a thank you of my own: the publisher and author provided the good book; I was just spreading the good news.

I have also gotten some negative flack for telling the truth about not-so-good books. More than once I have gotten an email from an editor asking if there wasn't something "nice" I could say about a review subject. At least one time I responded that I never did make it on to the cheerleading squad in junior high school, and I felt no need to go out for it again now.

Eventually, I just began ignoring potential review subjects that were too badly written or too inaccurate for me to say anything "nice." I turned out happier reviews because I was reading better books. Editors were happy. I was happy. Even publishers (and perhaps authors) were happy. Of course, there were many fewer of these to review, and I could spend my time on other subjects altogether.

But every now and then I come across something that is so poorly done and/or inaccurate, I feel the need to look it over and report on it as a sort of public service. It is probably the frustrated university teacher in me, trying to get out. This essay began as one of those warnings, but has ended up becoming something more: a sort of small, general assessment of what is happening in my little corner of the field of martial arts books.

With more access to teachers from and in Japan, and with more information than ever before available, and with English-speaking writers gaining a shred more understanding of Japanese and Chinese languages, it has become harder and harder to publish books and articles that are inaccurate. The sense that "people won't know the difference if we just make this part up," or of naïve interpretations, is slowly disappearing, but not entirely. The boom in martial arts (thanks to all of the above, plus the Internet and access to video and DVD's, and increased travel) has created a hunger in publishers for more and more books. Very often editors are not versed in the martial arts genre dealt with in a given manuscript; or, aware of the boom in martial arts books in the age of easy self-publication, barely-qualified authors set out their magnum opus in the world. In either case, unexamined, the books go into print, where the unwary find and purchase them.

There are many examples, but in this essay I have chosen one that illustrates many of the common errors that seem to appear all too often. It is Ronald and Patricia Knutsen's Japanese Spears (2004). First, it should be noted that the subject(s) are excellent. There is not much written in English about spears and polearms. The Knutsens and their publisher obviously noticed that. The authors also bring a lot of enthusiasm to their subject, but that is where their facility with it (the subject matter) ends. Enthusiasm, by itself, does not replace decent writing, or decent editing. Nor does it replace basic research, and making sure everything you put in your manuscript can be backed up somewhere (and telling us where we can find it), whether by reference texts, other scholars' works or even primary research that done by the authors themselves. Japanese Spears falls apart on every one of these levels, and on many mundane points as well. These are almost too trivial to go into, but are so numerous and annoying I will actually start with them.

I knew I was in trouble when a book entitled Japanese Spears featured a photo of a naginata, a glaive with a curved blade, on the cover. Well, the subtitle said "polearms," so I figured I would let the error go. I did not know that the cover photo would be such a good indication of what I was to find inside.

Fifty bucks later, I was wondering if there really was an editor for this book, because the editing errors are so numerous. Many small publishers now figure somehow that with word processing spell checkers, there is no longer any need for a human to check a manuscript for organization clarity and those pesky, annoying details of syntax and consistency that when corrected make for a good reading experience. The Knutsens' book contains many of these errors. Here's a short list:

Statistics. Since the book purports to be an overview of Japanese spears and polearms from the earliest times to the Edo period, statistics regarding size, origin and dates (if known) become sort of important. While the authors do attempt some sort of classification of objects, measurements of blades and shafts are given in centimeters in some places in the text, feet and inches in other places, and the traditional Japanese measurements of sun and bu in still others. Sometimes the Japanese measurements are given English equivalents, sometimes there are equivalents in centimeters, and sometimes not at all. This is editing 101 – the means of measuring should be consistent. Centimeters are probably the most accurate. Moreover, errors in measurement are repeated, thanks to cut-and-paste editing. There may be other examples (I cannot be sure), but a gross proofreading error noted that a nagamaki, a battlefield polearm larger than a naginata, with a long, curved blade, should be defined as having a blade that is over 760cm. That's the blade, not the entire polearm. 760cm is approximately 24 feet. This error occurs three times in the text and glossary.

Descriptive terms. The same historical periods are identified with different names, for example, "Sengoku Jidai" shares space with the "Warring States Period," the "Period of the Warring States" and so forth. While any of these designations could be used, they should be used consistently to avoid confusing the reader.

Organization. The text is organized haphazardly. Again, it would seem if an editor was present, his or her advice was apparently ignored. Why give historical background (I'll get to the content later), specifics on development, shape and size, follow that up with a survey of spear kata, the meaning of spears and polearms within the contemporary practice of martial arts, throw in a section on fittings, and then backtrack to a discussion of spear techniques? Chapters consist, very often, of two or three pages, except for the section entitled "Yari Development After the Onin War," which has 14 pages. (Okay, Chapter 13, on spear techniques, has 22, but they are mostly photos).

References and bibliography. For a subject of this magnitude, the book itself is surprisingly brief (100 pages of text, followed by captioned figures and photos). The bibliography is even briefer. One of the few historians writing about Japanese military history, Karl F. Friday, is totally ignored, while other books which are not referenced in the text, and do not necessarily have much relevance to the topic, are included. Things that I would have expected to see are omitted. For example, in one of many digressions, the authors mention "Anjin San" (William Adams), an Englishman who became a pawn of Tokugawa Ieyasu (and was immortalized in James Clavell's novel Shogun). A note at the end of the section suggests one should read more about him, but there is not one source listed in the bibliography for further reading.

The authors mention several scholars in their text that are not in the bibliography. One individual, referred to only as "Sasama," is mentioned several times, but we are given no clue as to what he has written, or where we can find it. Some works not mentioned in the bib are cited at the end of the tiny "chapters;" but some of the citations are not complete. Why these scholars are important enough to be noted there and not in the bibliography remains a mystery; but at least they are in there somewhere, unlike the unfortunate Mr. Sasama, who still languishes in obscurity.

The authors list George C. Stone's A Glosssary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and All Times (1934) as a reference. This is a classic reference I loved lugging home from the library as a kid. Unfortunately, Stone's book has been shown to have inaccuracies alongside useful information. Without an annotation to that effect, Stone is not a very helpful reference. Simple errors, such as an author referred to as "Griffiths" in one place and "Griffith" in another seem trivial by comparison (as does the profusion of commas in the text. But, I digress).

At the end of the brief text, we find 65 figures. Only a handful of them are referred to in the book proper. The rest of the figures parallel the text, though not exactly. The origins of the figures are only given from time to time. For example, we do not know if many of the sketches were done by the authors or taken from a scholarly source or reference. In at least one instance, the authors note that a sketch is based on conjecture, but we do not know about many of the others. The photo sources are slightly better- referenced, mostly if they are from a museum collection, and occasionally, the authors' collection. Otherwise, we are similarly in the dark.

Content is another matter entirely. One of the problems with books written by enthusiastic people, regardless of their martial arts prowess, is their lack of training and experience as researchers. Research involves uncovering as many sources as possible about the subject. Sources must be weighed and evaluated. Does this make sense? Why is this source saying something different? Difficult choices must be made. Sometimes the subject becomes limited because the source material is limited.

The most difficult decisions to be made are often regarding what must be left out, either because it cannot be verified or because it tracks away from the main subject of inquiry. The last thing any good author would do is throw everything she knows about a given subject into a single book. Not only would it be a confusing mess, but the good author knows to save some stuff for the next book. It's the Gypsy Rose Lee theory of entertainment: Make 'em want more and then don't give it to them (until next time).

You must also admit, and act within, your limitations. I am a Performance Studies scholar, but I am not an historian. Neither, unfortunately, are the Knutsens. The first section of the book attempts to give an historical overview of polearms as they may have made their way into Japan from the Asian mainland, back in the mists of time. I am not qualified to assess this section for historical accuracy, but the Knutsens lace their prose with so many phrases on the order of "we assume" and "perhaps" that I suspect there is not much substantive that can be said here. Moreover, in describing some early polearms, the Knutsens are strongly convinced that these items are actually arms and not perhaps farm tools. I see no reason why something that, for example, looks very much like a kama (a sickle with a short handle for cutting grain) could actually be a kama, but could also be used as a weapon. Chances are it was used more for the former than the latter. I looked through some photos I took in Japan recently, and some early woodworking tools look very much like those sketched in the Knutsens' figures of early polearms.

Interpretation of some of the data does contain errors of which I am somewhat qualified to speak. There are three themes or subtopics that keep popping up in the text, and I will deal with them one at a time. These subjects get more than their share of references in the text, according to the tiny index. Interestingly, none of them really relate to the subject of spears and polearms.

The first of these subtopics is the authors' treatment of yamabushi. Yamabushi are often described as "mountain priests" or ascetics who live alone and practice rituals that are collectively known as Shugendo (though it should be noted that the practice is not confined to them alone). Shugendo is a very complicated practice that includes aspects of Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism and folk rituals. There are rituals for cursing enemies (which seem to intrigue people the most), but in my limited understanding, most of the practices are benign. It is related to in some ways, but is not part of, Shingon sect Buddhism. Moreover (and more importantly to our subject here), Shugendo is definitively not related to martial arts practice in any way. One of my colleagues, a Shingon Buddhist monk, spends a certain amount of his time answering email inquiries from martial arts enthusiasts who want to add Shugendo to their repertories. He has gotten more than one angry response when he patiently points out what I just noted above.

My colleague, who has taken the Buddhist name Eijo, has suggested that the erroneous attribution of martial prowess to yamabushi may have to do with their use of weapons in early rituals. However, by the Tokugawa period possession and use of weapons was highly regulated, which made continuing ritual use of them, even by mountain ascetics, less likely.

The Knutsens do no one a service by perpetuating this set of inaccuracies, but they are by no means the only authors who have done so. It is my firm hope that those who read this article will believe me, and leave Shugendo in the esoteric world to which it belongs. Further confusing things, the Knutsens keep referring to "proto-yamabushi," apparently some earlier group. The first reference shows up on page 3, and there are numerous references thereafter, but we are never given a clear idea of who the authors are referring to, or what they may have practiced.

The second major subject is tengu. Tengu are the mischievous, long-nosed goblins of Japanese folklore. Some have wings and feathers, some have more human features. Sometimes tengu are depicted wearing the garb of (gasp!) yamabushi. The current connection to martial arts practice comes from illustrated scrolls from certain schools that depict weapons techniques in particular, in which a tengu often plays the part of teacher. Probably the best known of these is the Chozan Shissai’s Tengu Geijutsu Ron, which has been translated into German, and then English, and is available in book form (see Kammer, 1978).

The Knutsens take the idea of the tengu-teacher to its not very logical extreme. When introducing the subject, they soberly suggest that tengu may have been some kind of foreigners who were later "demonized" as the strange creatures we have come to know, and were therefore, in some sense, real (my colleague very much doubts this. Tengu seem to be a Japanese folk invention). As we progress through the text, we find (of course) that tengu are experts in martial arts practice, and that they even are the "messengers" of technique sent by the "war goddess" Marishiten (more about her later). In the glossary, which being alphabetical is much more clearly organized than the text, we find the definition of tengu includes the point that they are "…extremely important in the transmission of the upper levels of the bugei in their capacity as 'messengers'…of the war-diety, Marishiten" (Knutsen and Knutsen 2004, 122).

The Knutsens also quote the old story that legendary warrior Yoshitsune was "trained by tengu" (Knutsen and Knutsen 2004, 29). Since the tengu, in the Knutsen's view, are "demonized" foreigners, there is no indication in the text that this might be based on a story; instead, this item is expressed as actual fact (in contrast to the vagueness of the historical introduction to Japan at the start of the book). My colleague confirms there are indeed stories of Yoshitsune being trained by tengu, but no source I could uncover accepts the idea as actual fact, or even that some foreign visitors well-versed in tactics, strategy and weapons were on tap to train him in his youth.

Here's my speculation on the meaning of the tengu in martial arts scrolls, and I freely leave it to Dr. Friday or some other similarly qualified person to correct me: I take as a parallel the Flos Duellatorum, an early 15th century Italian manual of Western martial arts which includes everything from empty-hand techniques to use of lances from horseback. In the illustrations, the author, Fiore de Liberi, always shows the teacher as a man wearing a crown. In more complicated techniques, where both advanced practitioners wear crowns, the more skilled person also wears a garter below his knee. Anyone quickly looking at the illustrations therefore knows which is the winning technique without necessarily having to consult the text.

The point is, if the Knutsens were to look at Fiore's text, they might assume that kings were highly skilled teachers of martial arts. We know of course, that royal battle skills were as variable as the next guy's. Royalty may have had access to better instruction than most, but they did not necessarily take it as seriously, since there were others who did much of the fighting for them.

My feeling is, therefore, that teachers were depicted as tengu for the sake of being quickly distinguished from others in a given illustrated scroll, such as the Tengu Geijutsu Ron. I believe the use of the tengu character is intended to be affectionately humorous, since Japanese traditional teachers are notoriously strict even to this day. One could even draw a parallel in our own time by the character of Yoda in Star Wars. The humor in the depictions of tengu in the scrolls should not surprise anyone who is familiar with Japanese art, where visual puns and amusing metaphors entertain collectors to this day. I could be wrong; but my conjecture at least makes more sense than just figuring that the feathery critters were really out there training Yoshitsune and other notable warriors of Japanese history.

Finally, we get to Marishiten, the third subtopic in Japanese Spears. The Knutsen's text repeatedly extols her as a "goddess of war" or even, oxymoronically, the "Buddhist goddess of war." Minimal research shows that Marishiten’s chief attribute is invisibility, and her folk function is to confer prosperity on those who seek her favor (JAANUS 2005, 1).

According to my colleague, Marishiten, as well as Bishamon ten and other minor deities, were demons recruited from other faiths, for example, Hinduism or the Tibetan Bon religion, who are convinced by means of Buddhist compassion to abandon their bloodthirsty ways and become guardians of the faith.

There are doubts that such a "warrior cult of Marishiten” actually existed to any real extent. Eijo san notes that sometimes monks might call upon Marishiten's ability to become invisible but what they are referring to is a sense of spiritual invisibility. Such invisibility allows them to confront the hungry ghosts that prey on the faithful without harm to themselves, to spiritually feed them and preach lessons of Buddhist compassion in order to turn them from their evil ways.

The Knutsens base their interpretation of Marishiten largely on material by David A. Hall. In his “Marishiten: Buddhist Influences on Combative Behavior” (in Skoss, 1999), Hall suggests that Marishiten's various attributes, including a certain ferocity and the ability to become invisible made her a natural choice as a goddess to whom medieval warriors could appeal for guidance. Aside from Hall’s work, however, an admittedly cursory look at available research suggests there is no particular evidence that a warrior cult of Marishiten existed. In 20 years of trips back and forth to Japan and numerous visits to temples in different parts of the country, I have seen little or no evidence of her as a distinct entity for worship in the form of temples, paintings or sculptures. My colleague, who, as a monk, has handled innumerable sacred art objects over an even longer period of time, has seen only one or two examples of votive images of Marishiten. Surely a goddess of war in what became a society dominated by warriors would be better represented?

Here we have another research pitfall, putting faith in others' incomplete research. There are no other sources besides Hall indicating a widespread cult of Marishiten. That in itself does not mean there wasn't one, but it makes it less likely. As a researcher, it is always better to evaluate as many sources as possible. Where only one source exists, tread carefully.

In addition to the three subtopics mentioned above, there are a number of small points that also suggest a lack of research. The Knutsens fall into the trap of assuming that nanori, the act of declaring one's name to one's enemies at the start of the battle, and beseeching a worthy opponent to come out and fight, was actually part of how ancient warriors conducted themselves on the field (2004, 35). Again, many other writers have assumed the same. Dr. Friday has pointed out that the trope of nanori is a staple of old literature that probably originated in China (2004, n.p.). In the days before battlefield reporting, the naming sections allowed reciters, who told the tales of warriors, to show off their poetic skills. It is very highly unlikely that any warrior was actually in the habit of calling attention to himself before a fight, since that would probably bring a response from a lowly archer rather than an opponent more worthy of his skills. But the fact is, we simply don’t know what happened.

The Knutsens totally botch telling the story of the Ako Ogishi (also known as Chushingura, or the 47 Ronin story). This is a real historical incident from 1702-03, in which a young lord, Asano, from the remote province of Ako, attacked Kira, a senior shogunal official while in the palace, wounding him. Asano was sentenced to die the same day for his rash act. After his death, Asano's loyal retainers plotted and carried out a revenge in which Kira was killed, and they subsequently offered themselves up for execution in turn. In their telling of the story, the Knutsens state that Lord Asano was publicly embarrassed by Kira, and then drew his sword in anger. In making this statement, the Knutsens seem to be solving one of the big mysteries of Edo period history. In his excellent Legends of the Samurai (1995), Hiroaki Sato has translated the investigator's report of an interview with Asano regarding the incident. The report notes that Asano emphatically refused to say what had caused his quarrel with Kira, and that he kept the secret even to his death (Sato 1995, 307-10). Since then playwrights, filmmakers and commentators have speculated endlessly about Asano's motives. One of the possible motives, as expressed in the film Chushingura: The Loyal 47 Retainers (Toho, Inc. 1962), was that Asano was publicly embarrassed. The film does not make it into the Knutsen's bibliography, but that could be the source of this interpretation.

Compounding the error, the authors further state that playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon's play, "Chushingura" is "still quite popular" (Knutsen and Knutsen 2004, 55). Chikamatsu never wrote a play called "Chushingura." The most popular play still performed is entitled Kanadehon Chushingura ("A Copybook of Loyal Retainers"), and it was written by Takeda Isumo, Miyoshi Shiroku and Namiki Senryu, over 40 years after Chikamatsu's death (Keene 1982, 10). In the play, Asano is goaded, but not publicly embarrassed, by Kira, who is avidly (but unsuccessfully) courting Asano's wife (See Keene 1971).

The larger problem of course, is, how we can believe anything in the book with errors that can be picked up by a moderately informed person (who, okay, just happens to know a little more about the Ako Ogishi than some). Do I really need to say it? It is better to leave history to the historians, and write about what you know, or at least to rely upon reputable historians to support any points you make. And if there is no data available to support your assumptions, it is better to remain silent. The Knutsens seem to have a collection of Japanese spears and polearms. I cannot tell, from the book, exactly the scope or quality of their collection. Japanese Spears would have been a much better book if the Knutsens had stayed with the topic that is reflected in the title, examined, dated and classified their collection and the holdings of others, and created a useful, truthful, factually accurate book. If they had wanted to cut loose at the end and write about the meaning and/or importance of spear techniques in contemporary Japanese martial traditions, or even throw in a few warrior stories (tengu and all), then that material would have been situated against a useful and coherent backdrop. As it is, I was left with the impression of not knowing what, if anything, in the book could be believed, which is unfortunate, because I truly believe that was not the authors' intention at all.

So, who is writing decent stuff about Japanese traditional martial arts and related subjects? There are a few, as I said, written by people with solid backgrounds in Japanese language, history and martial arts practices. Consider this a short list that would be a good backbone to a decent library dealing in Japanese traditional martial arts:

Davis, F. Hadland
1992 Myths and Legends of Japan. Mineola, NY: Dover Pub.

This facsimile version of the original 1913 text provides a viewpoint on traditional Japanese tales unmediated by modern scholarship - a unique turn-of-the-century Western sensibility.

Donohue, John J.
1994 Warrior Dreams: The Martial Arts and the American Imagination. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

An anthropological analysis of Americans’ fascination with martial arts practices. Among other images, Donohue draws parallels to the movie Shane and the romantic notion of the solitary hero.

Friday, Karl F. and Humitake, Seki
1997 Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Pr.
Friday, Karl F.
1992 Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power. Stamford: Univ. of Stamford Pr.

Karl Friday is a unique individual as both historian and a menkyo kaiden (license holder) of the Kashima Shinryu. His work always seeks to debunk misconceptions about samurai culture. Sometimes complicated reading, but worth it.

Hurst, Cameron
1998 Armed Martial Arts of Japan: Swordsmanship and Archery. New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr.

Hurst traces the development of both archery and swordsmanship. While necessarily brief, the book is very useful. Hurst also chronicles the decline of traditional swordsmanship after the beginning of the Meiji era, which can make for tough reading for traditional practitioners. Consider it medicine.

Jansen, Marius B.
1994 Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration. NY: Columbia Univ. Pr.

Jansen’s well-informed biography is probably the best source available in English on this enigmatic 19th century figure and his still-controversial role in Meiji restoration politics.

Jones, David E.
1997 Women Warriors: A History. Washington: Brassey’s.

A sometimes laundry-list compilation of women warriors’ exploits throughout (mostly Western) history. Explodes numerous myths about women’s fitness for combat, including the uncomfortable truth that female military leaders could be just as cruel (or more so) than men.

Mitford, A.B. (Lord Redesdale)
1966 Tales of Old Japan. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Pub.

Lord Redesdale served as inspiration for the English gentleman character in The Last Samurai. He was stationed in Tokyo for England’s diplomatic service during the transition from the Tokugawa to Meiji eras. His book offers insights into a society in major transition from feudalism to modern empire. The sections on the 47 Ronin story should be required reading for anyone interested in sword and samurai.

Sato, Hiroaki
Legends of the Samurai. New York: The Overlook Press.

Sato profiles famous samurai warriors and commanders from the 8th century CE to the end of the Tokugawa era by translating passages of original accounts paired with insightful commentary, including an exploration of the 47 Ronin debate.

Skoss, Dianne, Ed.
1997 Koryu Bujutsu. Berkeley, NJ: Koryu Books.
Skoss, Dianne, Ed.
1999 Sword and Spirit. Berkeley, NJ: Koryu Books.

While some of the articles are uneven, both of these books offer insights by well-known koryu (lit. “old style”) martial artists, and offer outlines of many traditional forms still extant today.

Tokitsu, Kenji
2004 Miyamoto Musashi: His life and writings. Boston: Shambhala Pub.

Tokitsu explores virtually every source there is, and interviews contemporary practitioners of Musashi’s Niten Ichi ryu seeking insights into Musashi’s life, work and legacy. Includes color illustrations of Musashi’s works of art.

Varley, Paul
1994 Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Pr.

Varley outlines several famous Japanese war tales and then seeks to place various figures and events in historical context. A great antidote to some of the more romantic depictions out there (not to mention the tales themselves).

The author wishes to thank Eijo san for his invaluable assistance in the preparation of this article; however, any errors are entirely my own.

Works Cited:

2005 Personal correspondence with the author.

Friday, Karl F.
2004 Lecture at Columbia University (October).

Hall, David A.

1999 “Marishiten: Buddhist Influences on Combative Behavior in Koryu Bujutsu” in Skoss, Diane (Ed.) Koryu Bujutsu. Berkeley, NJ: Koryu Books p. 87-120.

JAANUS – Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System
n.d. “Marishiten”

Kammer, Reinhard
1978 Zen and Confucius in the Art of Swordsmanship: The Tengu-geijutsu-ron of Chozan Shissai. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Keene, Donald
1971 Chushingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers. NY: Columbia Univ. Pr.

1982 “Variations on a Theme: Chushingura” in Chushingura: Studies in Kabuki and the Puppet Theatre (Brandon, James R., Ed.) Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Pr. pp1-22.

Knights of the Wild Rose
n.d. Fiore De Liberi., Flos Duellatorum.(The Flower of Battle)

Knutsen, Roald and Knutsen, Patricia
2004 Japanese Spears: Polearms and Their Use in Old Japan. Folkstone, Kent: Global Oriental.

Sato, Hiroaki
1995 Legends of the Samurai. Woodstock: Overlook Pr.

Toho, Inc.
1962 Chushingura: The Loyal 47 Retainers (film). Video from East-West Classics and Image Entertainment (1998).

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About The Author:

Deborah Klens-Bigman is Manager and Associate Instructor of iaido at New York Budokai in New York City. She has also studied, to varying extents, kendo, jodo (short staff), kyudo (archery) and naginata (halberd). She received her Ph.D in 1995 from New York University's Department of Performance Studies where she wrote her dissertation on Japanese classical dance (Nihon Buyo). and she continues to study Nihon Buyo with Fujima Nishiki at the Ichifuji-kai Dance Association. Her article on the application of performance theory to Japanese martial arts appeared in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts in the summer of 1999. She is married to artist Vernon Bigman. For she is Associate Editor for Japanese Culture/Sword Arts.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Japanese spears, polearms, naginata, martial arts writing, martial arts scholarship, yamabushi, tengu

Read more articles by Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

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