Whenever people ask me for martial art book recommendations I put “My Journey with the Grandmaster” in my top three. If they are a karate person specifically I yell at them for not owning it already, then order them to acquire it. Sometimes, sadly, the book is out of print and the only way to acquire a copy is through grossly overpriced used versions on Amazon. I know for a fact that Bill Hayes Sensei hates to see that happen, so he has decided to run a new printing of the book. This is a key opportunity for anyone who has been meaning to pick the book up but couldn’t get a copy thus far.
I’d like to tell you a little about what the book is and how to reserve a copy for yourself.
What is “My Journey with the Grandmaster”?
During the Vietnam Era Bill Hayes Sensei had the opportunity to spend multiple tours on Okinawa. While there he studied under one of the true great luminaries of karate, Shimabukuro Eizo Sensei. Shimabukuro Sensei was/is a Shorin Ryu practitioner of unique skill, carrying on the traditions of not only Kyan Chotoku but also Miyagi Chojun, Motobu Choki, Itosu Anko, and more. Through dedication and talent Bill Hayes Sensei was able to become one of Shimabukuro Sensei’s most senior students.
To capture some of his experiences for the benefit of his own students, Hayes Sensei decided to chronicle his thoughts and philosophies in “My Journey with the Grandmaster”. For a little more detail I’ll let Hayes Sensei explain it himself!
Limited Run – Reserve a Copy!
Hayes Sensei only produces a printing of the book every couple of years, so if you miss a chance to secure a copy you might be left waiting for awhile.
At this time Hayes Sensei isn’t accepting live payments as the book has not been printed yet. However, he is accepting reservations so as to get a better idea of how many to print. To make your reservation, print out the pdf featured in the link below and send it to Hayes Sensei’s physical address (included in the pdf). Conversely, use the online order form I have attached to this blog post. Your reservation information will go directly to Hayes Sensei.
Fill out the form below:
I don’t always create posts about training events I attend, but sometimes I feel they are big enough in scope that other martial artists would enjoy hearing about them. This year’s event held by the International Karate Kobudo Federation definitely qualifies. Senior instructors from multiple styles got together and shared with students in a spirit of open learning.
2014 marked the 30th Anniversary of the IKKF Annual Training. Since its inception, the gathering has operated in the spirit of Old Okinawa. Many folks believe that the modern mindset of karate mirrors that of generations past, but that is not the case. Going back just 2-3 generations Okinawa was home to much sharing and mutual testing of karate technique. The development of “ryu” is a fairly modern invention, and the idea that one ryu should never mingle with another is an even more recent phenomenon.
Observe the pictures below:
|1964 Gathering on Okinawa||2014 IKKF Gathering in Pennsylvania|
|Featured in this photo:||Featured in this photo:|
Ann Marie Heilman
If you compare the old photo with the new you will notice a lot of direct Teacher->Student connections. Individuals like Nick Adler, Bill Hayes, Jody Paul, Larry Isaac, etc. are carrying on the traditions handed down to them. There used to be an Okinawa mindset of preserving the core fundamentals of a style while enhancing aspects of the art through exposure to teachers of particularly high skill in one area or another. It was a mindset built on developing effective life protection and is as important a tradition to preserve as any technique or kata.
The weekend’s event was broken up into a series of training time slots with multiple sessions going on during each time slot. Sometimes the sessions were formally established in terms of content while at other times small groups broke in and out of each other, generating a sort of training soup. In the end students were exposed to ideas they didn’t know they needed as well as content they specifically came to find.
The following are some moments caught in action:
A number of other topics were covered throughout the three day event, including Brazilian Jujitsu, weapon disarms, empty hand kata, and more.
On Friday evening I had the opportunity to demonstrate some weapons and empty hand kata and concepts for the group. The following video is a small collection of moments from that demonstration, including Bo kata, Eiku Kata, Kama Kata, and Kama Bunkai.
Despite the carpets that were a little past their design prime, the Inn at Reading proved to be an ample host for the weekend’s event. The floor space allowed for any and all weapons while the banquet setup (also on-site) provided an elegant atmosphere. All-in-all it was a memorable event and I hope we can build on it next year. Perhaps some of you reading can join us in the festivities!
To see more pictures visit the IKKF Facebook Page.
“Inner Bushido – Strength Without Conflict”, by Sean Hannon, is an inspection of the code of ethics and morals used by the Samurai and how it relates to our needs in modern society. The author asks the important question: do modern martial artists who claim to follow Bushido really hold true to the old values, and are those values even worth preserving?
Before beginning this review I need to say that the author, Sean Hannon, is a friend and martial arts co-conspirator of mine. As such, I can’t truly do this review with the normal objectivity that I bring to products. That being said, I will still honestly layout what the book entails and who might find it interesting.
What’s the Book About?
Most martial artists have heard of Bushido and may have even read books about it. They know that Bushido involves a lot of Confucian ideals such as loyalty, honor, integrity, etc. But beyond that most people fill in the gaps with what they THINK Bushido is, or what Samurai movies and various instructors/writers have had to say about it. This, as a result, has led to a large cultural nebula of misunderstanding regarding what Bushido was, how it was utilized, and what it means in the present-day.
Author Sean Hannon breaks down the most core precepts of Bushido and puts them on trial, determining whether or not they are relevant in their ancient Japan context or if they are in desperate need of updated thinking. Hannon frames his work around the 7 core tenants of Bushido as described by Nitobe Inazo in his pivotal work “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”, which are as follows:
* Gi – Rectitude
* Yuu – Courage
* Jin – Benevolence
* Rei – Politeness
* Makoto – Truthfulness
* Meiyo – Honor
* Chuugi – Loyalty
Each of these values seems fairly straight-forward on the surface but upon inspection become full of gray areas. Historically the use of each was smattered with abuse and the Samurai rarely lived up to the ideals we all attribute to them. Hannon explores this abuse and creates an honest discussion about how we can still use the optimal version of each quality while avoiding some of the pitfalls that come along with them (ie: what’s the difference between honor and ego?).
Who Should Get This Book?
The author comes from an Aikido and Iaido background. As such, he aims this book directly at other martial artists. He touches upon aspects such as business but really focuses on how the day-to-day life of a martial artist (both inside and outside of the dojo) can be enhanced by an understanding of Bushido. Anyone who trains “old style” martial arts (which is to say “lifestyle” martial arts, not just “sports”) would benefit from reading this analysis even if they believe they have a firm hold on Bushido concepts.
Anyone who actively discusses Bushido or considers it a real part of their life should consider this book a “must”. Hannon’s approachable writing style is matched by his ability to ask questions that the reader may not have considered. A martial artist’s pursuit must always include avoiding taking negative or ego-based paths. This book helps illuminate possible mindset traps.
What Are the Book’s Weaknesses?
This book is not a historical study. The author relies heavily on the work of Nitobe and fills in the gaps with a few other prominent thinkers. If the reader is expecting an in-depth exploration of the history of Bushido, its main players, as well as its development over time they will not be receiving that in this book. Instead, “Inner Bushido” skips right to assessing the qualities of Bushido we tend to value and how they can be used/abused in modern time. This is a philosophical and application based work but not a historical study.
Where Do You Buy It?
“Inner Bushido” is available on Amazon as well as other online retailers. It is set at a reasonable price given its length (127 pages). If you think this book might be right for you or as a gift for another martial artist, use the link below: