Book Review - Martial Arts Training in Japan: A Guide to the Source
How to Train in Japan.

Author: David Jones
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing, 2001
paperback, $16.95

cover of Martial Arts Training in Japan
 Related Resources
• Martial Arts: Aikido
• Martial Arts: Iaido
• Martial Arts: Jujitsu
• Martial Arts: Judo
• Martial Arts: Karate
• Martial Arts: Kendo
• Martial Arts: Kyudo
• Martial Arts: Naginata
• Martial Arts: Ninjutsu
 From Other Guides
• About Japan for Visitors
• About Japanese Culture
• About Japanese Language
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Tuttle Publishing
 Buy Books Mentioned in this Article
• Martial Arts Bookstore

Lots of folks write me and ask how they can travel to China or Japan and train in their art in the country of its origin. Many have attained black belt level in their country, and wonder just how they can find a place to train in "the old country".

David Jones, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Central Florida, has charted it all out now, at least for Japanese martial arts. Jones, with black belts in aikido, karate, kyudo, and jodo, has lived and studied in Japan as a Fulbright scholar.

Jones provides what is basically a guidebook to finding schools in Japan in the following arts:

  • Karatedo (Jones includes Shorinji Kempo within the Karatedo chapter)
  • Judo
  • Kendo
  • Kyudo
  • Aikido
  • Naginatado
  • Iaido
  • Ninjutsu

As would be expected, Jones provides more coverage for the arts he has studied than those in which he has no personal experience. Jones covers a basic history of each art, and includes personal anecdotes and observations on culture and etiquette.

Jones' coverage of each art is focused on the major styles within each art. Jones does provide resources to contact sub-factions in some arts, such as the Yoshinkan, Tomiki-ryu, and Shinshin Toitsu branches of aikido, or the split Shotokan and Shotokai groups of karate. But he limits contact information for iaido, naginatado, kendo, and jodo to the national organizations for the most popular styles of those arts. For the most part, this works well for the book's intended audience--students who have trained in the modern versions of those arts in their home country. However, students who seek little-known ancient ryu, or koryu schools, will need to do additional research.

Probably the best part of the book is an interview with Jones' aikido sensei, Mitsugi Saotome, shihan of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Saotome sensei gives a lot of insights into how American and European students differ from Japanese, and what considerations they should keep in mind when training in Japan.

Thinking about traveling to Japan to train? Buy this book first.

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