Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: YMAA Publications
Release Date: June 2004
ISBN: 1-59439-002-9
Format Reviewed: Trade Paperback
Buy it at Amazon
Read an Excerpt
Genre: Nonfiction – Japan – Martial Arts
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes: Reviewer Kristin Johnson is the author of CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins and ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D. 

The Way of Kendo & Kenjitsu – Soul of the Samurai
By Darrell Max Craig

     Samurai seem to be everywhere. From the Oscar-nominated films The Twilight Samurai and Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai to anime marital arts sagas and the hit Cartoon Network series, Samurai Jack, the robed, inscrutable, unstoppable warriors conquer our hearts with their martial arts and their dignity. The illustration of a black-robed Japanese gentlemen seated in a meditation pose with a katana by his side, one in his lap, sets the tone for Kendo and Kenjitsu practitioner Darrell Max Craig. Although Craig, like so many martial arts devotees, is a gai-jin (foreigner), he displays a reverence and knowledge of Japanese culture, samurai in particular, that is to be respected and admired. Craig goes into great detail about the katas, combat, clothing, equipment, and most of all, the swords of his art. He writes of the details with the same intricate deftness of a skilled samurai dueling with an adversary, and his strokes of the keyboard baffle and enlighten us as much as the strokes of the katana, or the other sword Craig introduces us to, the shinai.

     Those readers who, like this reviewer, have not read Craig’s previous book, The Heart of Kendo, and are not familiar with Kendo and Kenjitsu, may find the details difficult to master. This is not a casual read, but if you truly desire to learn martial arts, or at least collect Japanese swords, a pastime to which Craig devotes the last two chapters (perhaps recognizing, wisely, that some of his audience for the book may be Japanophiles and collectors), The Way of Kendo and Kenjitsu is a worthy place to start. For those of us who are simply fascinated by the history and the spirit of the samurai, who lived by a code of honor we can all aspire to, Craig offers a bonus history of these professional warriors, their swords and their struggle to maintain their way of life despite a changing society. He presents a touching account of a memorial for his deceased sensei. In his tribute and treatise, Craig honors a great teacher and thus shows he has The Soul of the Samurai.