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Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan, volume 1
Edited by Diane Skoss
Published by Koryu Books.

ISBN: 1-890536-04-0.
6" x 9" paperbk, 192 p., with 33 photos.
Includes Japanese glossary with kanji, bibliographical references, and complete index.

 "...probably the best book on martial arts this year, if not for several years past and hence..."
Wayne Muromoto, Editor-in Chief, Furyu

"...Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan should be required reading for all aikido students."
David Lynch, Managing Editor, Aikido Journal

Jay Swan, WWW Martial Arts Resource Page

"...I wholeheartedly recommend Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan to anyone interested in Japanese martial arts..."
Rick Polland, Journal of Asian Martial Arts

"[Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan is] ...a must-read for scholars, students and afficionados of Japanese martial culture!"
Karl Friday, Department of History, University of Georgia

"Overall this book is a 'must-have' for anyone who is serious about the study of the Japanese Martial Arts, classical or modern, bujutsu or budo."
Kim Taylor, Editor, Journal of Japanese Sword Arts

    by George H. Bristol
Introduction: Keiko Shokon
    by Diane Skoss
The Koryu Bujutsu Experience
    by Hunter B. Armstrong
The Meaning of Martial Arts Training: A Conversation with Sawada Hanae
    Interview by Meik Skoss
Field Guide to the Classical Japanese Martial Arts
    by Diane Skoss
Marishiten: Buddhist Influences on Combative Behavior
    by David A. Hall
Tenjin Shinyo-ryu Jujutsu
    by Meik Skoss
Kato Takashi: Reflections of the Tatsumi-ryu Headmaster
    Interview by Liam Keeley
Koryu Meets the West
    by Ellis Amdur

Sword & Spirit: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan, volume 2
Edited by Diane Skoss.
Published by Koryu Books

ISBN: 1-890536-05-9.
6" x 9" paperbk, 192 p., with 41 illustrations.
Includes bibliographical references, and complete glossary/index.

 "Koryu Books has done it again with Sword & Spirit, an impressive follow-up to its earlier book on Japanese warrior traditions and a significant contribution to the growing body of serious scholarship on the martial arts."
G. Cameron Hurst, III, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

"Congratulations to Diane for a masterful bit of editing in this latest volume. All us wannabe samurai should read this one carefully at least a couple of times."
Kim Taylor, Journal of Japanese Sword Arts

"[The] 'Classical Warrior' series presents just enough information to be thorough and engaging while not becoming encyclopaedically dull."
D. Patrick Miller, Fearless Reviews


    by Yagyu Nobuharu
Introduction: A Coconut Palm in Missouri
    by Dave Lowry
Kyujukyu Kakun: The Ninety-Nine Precepts of the Takeda Clan
    by Takeda Nobushige
Neglected Treasure: The Koyo Gunkan
    by Alexander C. Bennett
Field Guide to the Classical Japanese Martial Arts
    by Meik & Diane Skoss
Negishi-ryu Shurikenjutsu: An Interview with Saito Satoshi
    by Meik Skoss
The Tojutsu of the Tatsumi-ryu, Murphy's Law, and the K.I.S.S. Principle
    by Liam Keeley
Kabala in Motion: Kata & Pattern Practice in the Traditional Bugei
    by Dr. Karl F. Friday
Uchidachi and Shidachi
    by Nishioka Tsuneo
    with glossary

Keiko Shokon: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan, volume 3
Edited by Diane Skoss.
Published by Koryu Books.

ISBN: 1-890536-06-7.
6" x 9" paperbk, 208 p., with 22 illustrations.
Includes bibliographical references, and complete glossary/index.

"This book is one that anyone who considers themselves serious about understanding the nature and history of Japanese budo, ancient or modern, must have and read and reread."
Peter Boylan, Mugendo Budo

"A must-have book!"
Robert Wolfe, Itten Dojo

"Keiko Shokon is especially recommended reading for anyone interested in learning more about the history and traditions of Japanese swordsmanship."
Paul Taylor, Midwest Book Review, August 2002

"The publication [of Keiko Shokon] is an important event for all those interested in the koryu, due to the level of authority and scholarly ability that their offerings bring to the world of Japanese martial arts publications."
Antony Cundy, Hop-lite, Fall 2002

"Keiko Shokon, as well as the first two books in the series, is well worth reading by anyone interested in the history behind our modern practice of Japanese martial arts.... This book is highly recommended."
Ken Mondschein, FightingArts.com

    by Quintin Chambers
Keiko Shokon Revisited: An Introduction
    by Diane Skoss
The Cat's Eerie Skill: A Translation of Issai Chozan's "Neko no Myojutsu"
    by Karl F. Friday
Promise and Peril: The Potential of Following Multiple Koryu
    by Dave Lowry
Interview with Nitta Suzuyo: Headmaster of the Toda-ha Buko-ryu
    by Liam Keeley
Challenges in Observing the Koryu Bugei
    by Ron Beaubien
Itto-ryu Kenjutsu: An Overview
    by Meik Skoss
Soke: Historical Incarnations of a Title and its Entitlements
    by William M. Bodiford
Renovation and Innovation in Tradition
    by Ellis Amdur
The Professional Perspective: Thoughts on the Koryu Bujutsu from a United States Marine
    by George H. Bristol
    with glossary

Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition
By Otake Risuke

Bilingual: Japanese and English
Koryu Books, 2007.
336 p. 7" x 10"
Paperback: US$39.95 (+shipping).
ISBN-13: 978-1-890536-21-3.

"The widest and certainly the most authoritative glimpse into the inner workings, the mechanics, and animating spirit of the classical martial arts of Japan."
Dave Lowry, author of In the Dojo

"Koryu Books has done the martial arts world yet another great service by rejuvenating this quintessential publication about the granddaddy of all Japanese martial arts--the Katori Shinto-ryu--and making the teachings accessible to us all. A classic book about a classical tradition; written by the master and reproduced masterfully."
Alex Bennett, editor Kendo World

"This is a loving, respectful, and updated version of what has become a classic treasure for any student of the history of the classical martial arts and ways of Japan."
Wayne Muromoto, editor of Furyu: The Journal of Classical Japanese Martial Arts and Culture

If you've been around koryu folk for any time at all, you will have heard of what many refer to as the "Holy Grail" of books on Japanese swordsmanship, Otake Risuke's The Deity and the Sword. This 3-volume set detailing the curriculum of the Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu was originally published 30 years ago, and has been out of print for some time now. Copies routinely appear on e-bay with price tags in excess of $500.00. This, despite a design based on Japanese standards, an uneven translation, and at times difficult to decipher presentation.

For those of you who have despaired of ever being able to acquire a copy, we have the ultimate, and far less expensive, solution: Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition. It is based on the earlier three-volume work and has been re-edited, re-translated, and re-designed, with over 850 new photographs and new material on important aspects of the tradition. For those who want to read Otake Sensei's original words, the entire Japanese text is also included.

Not many of Japan's ancient warrior traditions have survived the five-and-a-half centuries since their heyday. Katori Shinto-ryu: Warrior Tradition documents one of the few that has maintained its comprehensive technical curriculum as well as studies in military strategy and prognostication. Written by the tradition's only master teacher, and authorized by its soke, this book a detailed illustrated introduction to the sword techniques, strategy, and esoteric studies of the Katori Shinto-ryu. You can't afford to miss this book!

Old School: Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions, Expanded Edition
Expanded edition by Ellis Amdur

ISBN: 978-1-937439-16-3
Dimensions: 7" x 10" B&W Paperback
Pages: 396 pp.
Published: Feb 2015

Koryū, 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 kendō, judō or aikidō 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 koryū, 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 dojōs 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 koryū.  Finally, he looks at the challenge of preservation and transmission, especially as more and more practitioners of the koryū 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.

Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Japan.
By Karl Friday.
Stanford University Press, 1992.
ISBN: 0-8047-1978-0. 266 p. 6" x 9" hardcover.

Accounts of warriors in Japan almost invariably portray them as sword-wielding ruffians who hacked each other to pieces in a society whose basic institutions had ceased to function. Karl Friday has shown in Hired Swords that the rise to prominence of local elites as warriors stemmed from shrewd court policy. In effect, a large and cumbersome army based upon a continental Chinese model of conscription was abandoned in favor of small, effective units of mounted warriors.

Friday traces the evolution of military institutions of the Japanese state from the seventh through the mid-twelfth century. He explains why a large standing army was not suited to the circumstances of Japan and shows the institutional innovations and transformations which led to the formation of private bands of warriors.

Illustrations of the armor, weapons and other military accouterments (including a gigantic crossbow) pro, vide insight into the life of a warrior. Many readers will undoubtedly find Friday's summary of cavalry and military technology on pp. 35-43 interesting. The effectiveness of cavalry and the time required in training makes the state's "increasing reliance on the martial skills of the provincial elite... and the diminishing use of troops conscripted from the ordinary peasantry" (p. 69) seem like an eminently rational policy.

For readers who are interested in learning about the intricacies of the institutional framework within which warriors operated, Friday's chapter on "The Contract Constabulary" should leave them well satisfied.

Friday shows, too, that most warriors belonged to factions composed of men with shared interests. Land commendation bound men into "vertical groups" which transcended class. Three case studies of local warrior notables show that strife primarily erupted among men of similar status. Additionally, in contrast to commonly held assumptions, fraternal conflict was quite widespread: large clans, such as the Taira or Minamoto, simply were not cohesive aggregate groupings.

In conclusion, Karl Friday has shown that the court of Heian Japan was not staffed with effete poets but shrewd courtiers whose policies enabled the court to retain a monopoly over force (albeit a privatized one) until the 1180's, when their dominance was finally challenged. Hindsight can cloud one's vision, but as Friday states: "until the very end of the twelfth century... fighting men were the servants, not the adversaries, of the court and state" (p. 174). For those seeking an introduction to the world of early Japanese warriors and their role in Japanese history, Hired Swords is a book I heartily recommend. ~ Tom Conlan