I was first introduced to Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai via the movie Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (one of my favorite flicks). In that movie, the main character “Ghost Dog” (played by Forest Whitaker) carries around the book Hagakure, and the movie is interspersed with passages from the book read by Ghost Dog as narrator. The book is a collection of thoughts by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, compiled after the death of his master, and Tsunetomo had retired to the mountains. In this book he expresses a lifetime of thinking on the nature of what it means to be a warrior, and how to live in a truthful manner (aka, following “The Way”). As martial artists we look for truth in action, and Tsunetomo sought to also find truth in life, indicating that this is how a warrior should strive to live. Continue reading “Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai”
Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings is a classic text on Japanese Swordsmanship and martial arts philosophy. Musashi was a swordsman, philosopher and ronin who lived in 16th century Japan and was the founder of the Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship. He had an undefeated record of 61 duels.
Musashi’s Book of Five Rings details his strategy on fighting, but as with many martial arts philosophical texts, the ideas can be applied to everyday life.
The book is divided into 5 parts as the title would suggest:
Long known as the torch bearers of the modern martial arts world, the Gracie family revolutionized the sport of fighting, and are largely responsible for the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts today. To re-hash a commonly known history, Gracie Jiu Jitsu had it’s beginnings when a frail young man named Helio Gracie began teaching Judo at his brother Carlos’s academy. Helio found himself in a position to conduct his first class when Carlos Gracie himself was running late to teach. Carlos’s student, Mario Brandt, was waiting for his lesson, and rather than have him wait, Helio took over for his brother in his absence.
From that first lesson Mario asked if he could continue lessons with Helio, and Carlos agreed. The rest, as they say, is history.
Carlos, being a small man, and ill of health, realized that the athleticism needed to be effective in the Judo/Jiu Jitsu currently being taught would need to be modified if it were to work for a person with his physical traits. From that came many years of experimentation, which gave birth to Gracie Jiu Jitsu.