Recommended Reading

When it comes to Martial Arts books, most aren’t good for anything except using for toilet paper. This is especially true for Martial Arts magazines. But there are a few that are the exception to the rule and in this case its a 3 volume set written by the late Donn Draeger titled 1. Classical Budo; 2. Classical Bujutsu; and 3. Modern Bujitsu & Budo.

These books are an excellent treatment of the major veins of Japanese martial arts in the post-Edo era to present (okay, well, mid-70s to be precise). Anyone participating or considering participating in Japanese martial arts should read this book to contextualize their practice and offer opportunity to reflect on their goals, expectations, and perception of their chosen form. Draeger constructs a seamless bridge between the war era, Edo Bakufu, Meiji, and present day evolutionary processes shaping Japanese martial arts. His history of the Meiji Restoration is brief and readable, yet detailed and obviously well researched. This is the first work I’ve read looking at the long reaching effects of the Meiji and Taisho political agendas on the Japanese own perception their martial arts heritage.

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