Book: The Deity And The Sword – Katori Shinto Ryu vol. 1-3

The Deity And The Sword volumes 1-3 are the oldest publications fully dedicated to Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. These books offer a detailed look at the history, philosophy and techniques of the ryu. They are not, however, instruction manuals.


Book: The Deity And The Sword – Katori Shinto Ryu vol. 1-3
Author: Risuke Otake
Print years: 1977, 1977, 1978
Publisher: Sugawara Martial Arts institute, Inc. (Former: Minato Research & Publishing Co., Ltd.)

Extra info: The original price per book was US$45, but nowadays these books are very rare and expensive; one volume generally costs hundreds of dollars depending on the condition. I am very grateful that a teacher allowed me to borrow his set of books.

Nekomata’s thoughts on the book

The books were written by Risuke Ōtake, the shihan of the ryū. The books hold both the original Japanese texts as well as the translated English texts. Each of the three volumes consists of some longer texts and a part of the technical curriculum. Secret advanced techniques are not shown.

”[There exists an] enormous number of secret manuscripts on martial strategy (heiho) that are still retained by the incumbent head of the Iisaza family.”

The first volume contains a foreword by Iisaza Shuri-no-suke Yasusada, the 20th headmaster (sōke) of Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū (later in this post: TSKSR). It also has a preface witten by Ōtake, and several pages on the origin and teachings of the ryū. The technical part consists of iaijutsu and bojutsu.

The second volume discusses character formation (as in human character), theory of the sword, and theory of yin and yang. The technical part consists of sword techniques (part 1).

The third volume introduces the elements of heiho (can be translated as ’martial strategy’ or ’art of peace’, depending on the kanji), and the techniques of the sword (part 2), naginata and spear. The series ends with a sutra on ”How Much Gratitude We Owe Our Mother And Father”.

”A battlefield is the ground of both life and death, and that which brings about a victorious result is a combination of highly trained skill and strong will.”

I have previously read the newer Katori shintō-ryū – Warrior Tradition by Risuke Ōtake (which I consider reviewing in the future), so I obviously compared it to these. The greatest difference lies in the amount of pictures for each kata; The Deity And The Sword has a lot more. For example, the first iaijutsu kata is described with a series of 66 pictures, while the Warrior Tradition book only shows 17. Otherwise the contents are only slightly different. Warrior Tradition has clearer diagrams and some short chapters e.g. on jujutsu, shurikenjutsu and ninjutsu that are missing from The Deity And The Sword. The best part of the Warrior Tradition book, though, is its availability. You can probably find it in at least some library in your country or buy it online for a reasonable price.


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