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January 2014 Edition

Art of the Samurai


Welcome to 2014

To visit us on the web —

Inside this issue:

Interesting Samurai facts

Japanese Armour for sale


Japanese Matsuri Festivals


Famous samurai—Hittori Hanzo


Our friends—Antony Cummins—Author/Historian


Mental awareness stages to master any style


Skill Sets—Sword cleaning


• Although the samurai were well known for the bow, spear, naginata and sword, a well used but forgotten battlefield weapon was the ferocious battle club called the Kanabo.

Samurai Armour at Damon Uesugi Kenshin (The Dragon of Echigo) ruled Echigo province in the Sengoku period of Japan. He was one of the many powerful lords of the Sengoku period. He is famous for his prowess on the battlefield, his military expertise, his legendary rivalry with Takeda Shingen, and his belief in the Buddhist god of war - Bishamonten. In fact, many of his followers and others believed him to be the avatar of Bishamonten, and called Kenshin, the god of warriors. See more here

The Oda clan played a key role in shaping the course of history in feudal Japan. Their policy of unifying a country controlled by many feuding Daimyo was furthered by a series of victorious battles characterized by brilliant tactics and the first organized use of firearms. Oda Nobunaga's unification policy became a reality under his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, shortly before the end of the 16th century. The crest of Oda Nobunaga is hand painted onto the chest (d么) in gold. Odo Clan Information

For more visit us at

Japanese Matsuri (Festivals) Sapporo Snow Festival The Sapporo Snow Festival is held during the first week of February in Hokkaido's capital Sapporo. It is one of Japan's most popular winter events. The Festival was started in 1950, when high school students built a few snow statues in Odori Park. It has since developed into a large, commercialised event, featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures and attracting more than two million visitors from Japan and across the world. The Snow Festival is staged on three sites. The main site is the Odori Site in Sapporo's centrally located 1.5

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kilometer long Odori Park. The festival's famous large snow sculptures, some measuring more than 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, are exhibited there. They are lit up daily until 22:00. Besides about a dozen large snow sculptures, the Odori Site exhibits more than one hundred smaller snow statues and hosts several concerts and events, many of which use the sculptures as their stage.

stop south of Odori Park. The ice sculptures are lit up daily. The less centrally located Tsu Dome Site is a family oriented site with three types of snow slides, snow rafting and more snow sculptures. Inside the dome, there are many food stands and a stage for events

The Susukino Site, located in and named after Sapporo's largest entertainment district, exhibits about one hundred ice sculptures. Susukino is located only one subway

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Famous Samurai - Hattori Hanzo The son of Hattori Yasunaga, Hanzo, who would earn the nickname 'Devil Hanzo', served Tokugawa Ieyasu loyally and usefully. His nickname was not only to pay homage to his skills, but also to distinguish him from another Tokugawa 'ninja', Watanabe Hanzo. Hattori, who fought his first battle at the age of 16, but his most valuable contribution came in 1582, following Oda Nobunaga's death. At that time Tokugawa and his retainers had been staying near Ôsaka and learned of the assassination only just in time to avoid being attacked by Akechi Mitsuhides troops. But they were by no means out of the woods. Mikawa

was still a long way away, and Akechi men would be combing the roads for them. At this point, Hanzo suggested that they take a route through Iga province, as he had ties with the samurai there. Honda Tadakatsu sent Hanzo on ahead to guide them along back roads, but also to provide them with an escort. At length, Tokugawa and his band returned to Mikawa safely. The same could not be said for Anayama Beisetsu, a recent Tokugawa addition who had insisted on taking a different route. Hanzo was succeded by his son, Masanari, who would be given the title Iwami-no-Kami and whose

men would act as the guards of Edo Castle. Hanzo's reputation as a ninja leader who commanded a 200-man strong unit of Iga men has grown to legendary proportions.

Hattori Hanzo—Ninja Leader, not to be confused with the Kill Bill character

Our Friends - Antony Cummins Antony Cummins MA was born in Lancashire, England and has a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and a Masters Degree in Archaeology, both of which were obtained at the Victoria University of Manchester. Antony is also a published author, historian, artist, illustrator and TV co-host.

Overall, some of his greatest moments have included; searching Japan for the hidden history of the ninja and interviewing some of the most prominent figures in ninja history. Antony currently lives between England and Japan and is in the process of translating a myriad of Japanese manuals with his coauthor Yoshie Minami.

Latest from Antony True Path of the Ninja is the first authoritative translation in English of the Shoninki—the famous 17th century ninja training manual. The information and insights found in this translation are invaluable for understanding the skills, techniques and mentality of the historical ninja. Whether it involved tips for surviving in the wild, advice on intelligence-gathering techniques, or methods for creating chaos in the enemy camp, the True Path of

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the Ninja unveils secrets long lost. In addition to the translation of the Shoninki, this book also includes for the first time these ancient and traditional teachings on how the samurai can protect himself from the cunning wiles of a ninja. To find out more about Antony and further publications - Page 3

Using the Elements to train the mind There is an mental awareness level that you will need to move through to truly master anything correctly. From Kata to sparring to teaching. Understanding this principle will be a great advantage to you. It is based on the elements that make up our world and you will need to move through all of these elements in sequence.

1st level awareness. (Earth) You are conscious of your own movements only. It will be new and the focus is inwards while you begin to get comfortable. Kata or Waza are normally done as solo exercise. 2nd level awareness. (Water)

Water –Things in a flowing state.

You are now able to perform the actions comfortably, so your mind is able to focus on your opponents movements. Timing and observation is beginning to be understood. Kata and Waza are normally done in pairs now.

Fire - Things in an energy state.

3rd level awareness. (Fire)

Wind - Things in a gaseous state.

You can now move your body and move around an attacker with less thought, the focus now moves to perfecting the technique and building on adapting those techniques. Sparring is now the way forward.

The elements are: Earth - Things in a solid state.

Void - The nothingness from which all things come. When you are first learning a new skill, technique or style you will need to start at level 1. Once you have the understanding of this first level, you can begin to move through the rest.

is to be able to pick and choose the right techniques and you will begin to understand strategy and the principles behind the techniques to apply them better. Sparring hard/fast and slow/soft will help you understand your opponent and cause them to make mistakes. 5th level Awareness. (Void) The principles and movements now become your own. You will perform techniques without thought

4th level awareness. (Wind) Now that you have some experience to fall back on, the focus now

Skill Sets - Basic Guide to Sword Cleaning Although in depth cleaning has a certain ceremony and detail, basic clean requires very little work to keep your sword in great condition.

2. Tap the powder ball lightly against the blade every two inches or so along its length, dusting the blade very lightly with the powder.

All you will just need is a Cotton Cloth, Powder Ball and Sword Oil (Clove Oil)

Then use a clean piece of rice paper or cotton cloth to carefully rub over the powder to polish the blade. Repeat until both sides of the blade have been polished and the powder has been removed. (Fig. E)

1. Use a soft cloth to remove oil from previous maintenance, holding the edge away from you and working very carefully to avoid injury. (Fig. D)

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3. Apply a few drops of oil along the length of each side of the blade and use a piece of rice paper or cotton cloth to spread the oil evenly over the blade. Be sure not to touch the blade again before resheathing. (Fig. F)

If you are storing the sword in a bag for any length of time, use a heavier layer of oil to help protect against condensation.

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Art of the Samurai - Newsletter January 2014  
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