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Old 07-19-2002, 11:21 PM   #1
DavidM
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Smile Aikido and the Samurai?

I hear a lot of relation between Aikido and the Samurai...I can see some of it in our Bokken work. But what , if any, does Aikido and the Samurai REALLY have in common?

Curious Mind Wants to Know
David
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Old 07-20-2002, 02:25 AM   #2
Kami
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Cool Re: Aikido and the Samurai?

Quote:
David Mason (DavidM) wrote:
I hear a lot of relation between Aikido and the Samurai...I can see some of it in our Bokken work. But what , if any, does Aikido and the Samurai REALLY have in common?

Curious Mind Wants to Know

David
KAMI : Not very much, I'm afraid. The Founder was born long after the samurai were gone and so his ideas involved what he thought were the ways of the samurai. In the same way as Mishima.

IMO

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Old 07-20-2002, 04:22 AM   #3
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But we have to remember that Osensei studied the Daitoryu art of aiki-ju, which was the Daitoryu art of the Samurai. After he studied Aiki-jujutsu, Osensei evolved it into Aikido. That we must not forget, and must not deny...

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Old 07-20-2002, 04:33 AM   #4
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They're both Japanese.
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Old 07-20-2002, 06:08 AM   #5
Kami
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Cool WHAT IS TO BE A SAMURAI?

Quote:
Iriawan Kamal Thalib (Thalib) wrote:
But we have to remember that Osensei studied the Daitoryu art of aiki-ju, which was the Daitoryu art of the Samurai. After he studied Aiki-jujutsu, Osensei evolved it into Aikido. That we must not forget, and must not deny...
KAMI : We must not forget also that Takeda, a man as amazing as Ueshiba in his own way, has apparently created his art in modern days, predominantly from Sumo and Kenjutsu. There are no proof that his art was "the Daito Ryu art of the Samurai". To present a modern art as having an ancient tradition is a common trick in oriental arts (Aikijujutsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, etc...).

Also, even samurai fantasized about his ancestors. See YAMAMOTO, in the HAGAKURE and the crazy ideas of YUKIO MISHIMA. Martial arts are always full of fantasy. We must be careful and always refine our researches.

Best

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
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Old 07-20-2002, 06:08 AM   #6
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Cool in common

Guts.
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Old 07-20-2002, 11:20 AM   #7
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SAMURAI? Hah! Urban Myth....

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara wrote:
We must not forget also that Takeda, a man as amazing as Ueshiba in his own way, has apparently created his art in modern days, predominantly from Sumo and Kenjutsu. There are no proof that his art was "the Daito Ryu art of the Samurai". To present a modern art as having an ancient tradition is a common trick in oriental arts (Aikijujutsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, etc...).

Also, even samurai fantasized about his ancestors. See YAMAMOTO, in the HAGAKURE and the crazy ideas of YUKIO MISHIMA. Martial arts are always full of fantasy. We must be careful and always refine our researches.
I would have to agree almost completely. (The only digression being that Daito Ryu was named by one Saigo Tanomo, if memory serves me correctly, who also alluded to its illustrious descent from the Takeda and the Minamoto. So there may be a pattern here....) There was a period of about three hundred years where no war existed on the islands of Japan, yet the military held control. That is unheard of by today's standards. Most samurai (which means "servant" by the way, the term "bushi" means "warrior".) participated in the local fire brigade and may have seen more action there than anywhere else. This was a hereditary title, and not everyone was excited about getting it.

I liken these ideas of Aikido being the "direct transmission of Samurai martial arts" (I am guilty of calling it that) to the way Chuck Norris related karate to being samurai or ninja arts. Watch the movie "The Octagon", where he is messing around with a katana, it's almost painful to watch. Bruce Lee, Van Damme, Seagal, even Christopher Lambert, they did it too. Most of the time they are pop culture misfits with little or no basis in fact or real history, let alone ability. Could the same be said about the founder of Aikido, his teacher, or the founder of Daito Ryu?

Definitely.

Jim Vance
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Old 07-20-2002, 11:58 AM   #8
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Unhappy Re: DRAJJ'S ANCIENT HISTORY...

Quote:
Jim Vance (jimvance) wrote:
(The only digression being that Daito Ryu was named by one Saigo Tanomo, if memory serves me correctly, who also alluded to its illustrious descent from the Takeda and the Minamoto. So there may be a pattern here....)

Jim Vance
KAMI : Hello, Jim!

About your only digression, we should remember that the japanese are just crazy by records of everything, from nut-picking to the washing of clothes, with detailed anotations and there's NOTHING about martial abilities of Tonomo Saigo or the practice of DAITO RYU by the Aizo Clan. DRAJJ begins with TAKEDA SOKAKU and that's all. The so called OSHIKIUCHI of Tonomo Saigo (that he may have taught to Takeda) might have been just court manners and etiquette.

The Minamoto were a very important historical family and not just Takeda but some other arts claim descent from the illustrious Minamoto. Truth? None.

Best regards

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
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Old 07-20-2002, 08:07 PM   #9
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"But what , if any, does Aikido and the Samurai REALLY have in common?"

I see you d been discusing historical, cultural facts.

See, BUDO, MARTIALITY, ATTITUDE, THE WARRIOR SCIENCE OF JAPAN, THE SWORD, all this facts are inherited to Aikido, and there are Present Today!!

Pretorian.
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Old 07-21-2002, 01:35 PM   #10
jimvance
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Quote:
Manuel Ch. Anderson (Pretoriano) wrote:
"But what , if any, does Aikido and the Samurai REALLY have in common?"

I see you d been discusing historical, cultural facts.

See, BUDO, MARTIALITY, ATTITUDE, THE WARRIOR SCIENCE OF JAPAN, THE SWORD, all this facts are inherited to Aikido, and there are Present Today!!
I know what you are getting at, but I disagree based on the historical, cultural facts. This would be like asking the question "What do Denim Jeans, Western (Cowboy) Hats, and Riding boots and "Cowboys" have in common?" (Make up your own question.) I used to live in Montana, and tourists like to visit (especially the Japanese, by the way) and dress up like "cowboys" and fit in. Are they really being cowboys? In a historical sense, no; even today, cowboys (please call them "ranchers") are a dying breed and are few and far between. But there is a huge interest in "Western" wear, music, culture. There was a greater interest in this in my father's culture, like TV shows and movies.

But let's face it, John Wayne was not a cowboy. He was an actor. Toshiro Mifune was not a samurai; he was an actor. Your sensei is not a samurai, nor was the founder of Aikido. No one was technically samurai after the Meiji restoration. The martial attitude adopted by most Gendai budo was strongly influenced by the pre-war imperialistic doctrine of "Yamato damashii". Sure the samurai influenced Japanese mentality, so did the other classes.

I think I agree with Alexsey the most when he said "they are both Japanese". Yes there is a connection, but not the popular culture version. That is false, and the people who rely on it are either misinformed or enjoy the dog and pony show.

Jim Vance
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Old 07-21-2002, 04:47 PM   #11
Kami
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Smile SAMURAI FANTASIES...

Quote:
Jim Vance (jimvance) wrote:
I know what you are getting at, but I disagree based on the historical, cultural facts. But let's face it, John Wayne was not a cowboy. He was an actor. Toshiro Mifune was not a samurai; he was an actor. Your sensei is not a samurai, nor was the founder of Aikido. Yes there is a connection, but not the popular culture version. That is false, and the people who rely on it are either misinformed or enjoy the dog and pony show.

Jim Vance
KAMI : I believe you're right, Jim. Having to choose between fact and fancy, people almost always opt for fancy.

Best
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Old 07-21-2002, 05:42 PM   #12
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David,

I think the relationship is rather subtle and inferred, in things like Shikko or Suwari Waza techniques.

blessings,

~ Mona
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Old 07-21-2002, 09:01 PM   #13
Sascha Witt
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Hakamas

History is always an interesting subject, considering that it is difficult enough getting accurate and unbiased info on things that happened 10 yrs ago let alone trying to trace a connection to the 16th century.

I think that many of the moves taught in Aikido must have been around at the time of the Samurai. And I do like to believe that there is some conection to an actual Samurai art.

I also think that Aikido is much too precise and refined for it to be a completely new art... and if you explore the moves like shihonage for example you can see that Aikido techniques are based on a very deadly style (can we say broken neck and cracked skull?).

On the other hand Aikido is based on a very pacifist philosophy which would be kind of impractical for the fighting "servants" known as the Samurai.

So all in all I'd have to ask: What do YOU think? If you like to believe you are practicing a Samurai style, does it really matter if people who died 300 years before your grandparents were in diapers practiced exactly the same thing? Will that make you any better in Aikido? Will it make Aikido any more or any less effective?
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Old 07-21-2002, 11:02 PM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: SAMURAI? Hah! Urban Myth....

Quote:
Jim Vance (jimvance) wrote:
Most samurai (which means "servant" by the way, the term "bushi" means "warrior".) participated in the local fire brigade and may have seen more action there than anywhere else. This was a hereditary title, and not everyone was excited about getting it.
Well, yes, if you go back to the original derivation of the kanji, but in practical use both then and now "samurai" means (and meant) pretty much what people would expect it to mean. No one would call a servant (ie, a maid or butler) a "samurai" in Japanese. Interestingly, the original derivation of the English word "knight" was from "cniht", which meant...."servant".

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-21-2002, 11:08 PM   #15
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Re: Re: DRAJJ'S ANCIENT HISTORY...

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
About your only digression, we should remember that the japanese are just crazy by records of everything, from nut-picking to the washing of clothes, with detailed anotations and there's NOTHING about martial abilities of Tonomo Saigo or the practice of DAITO RYU by the Aizo Clan. DRAJJ begins with TAKEDA SOKAKU and that's all. The so called OSHIKIUCHI of Tonomo Saigo (that he may have taught to Takeda) might have been just court manners and etiquette.

The Minamoto were a very important historical family and not just Takeda but some other arts claim descent from the illustrious Minamoto. Truth? None.

Best regards

I've heard some reasonable arguments made on both sides of the issue - what it really comes down to is that there is no proof at all one way or the other. At the least, Daito-ryu was created out of the technical heritage created by the samurai culture, and reflects that, I think. In that sense the connection to the warrior culture of pre-Meiji is quite strong. Other than that I wouldn't venture to say, one way or the other.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-22-2002, 04:47 AM   #16
Kami
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Wink Re: Re: SAMURAI? Hah! Urban Myth....

Quote:
Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
Well, yes, if you go back to the original derivation of the kanji, but in practical use both then and now "samurai" means (and meant) pretty much what people would expect it to mean. No one would call a servant (ie, a maid or butler) a "samurai" in Japanese. Interestingly, the original derivation of the English word "knight" was from "cniht", which meant...."servant".
Best,
Chris
KAMI : Hi, Chris!

Also interestingly, the word KNAVE, meaning "a rascal" comes from the same root as KNIGHT (cniht or Knecht). Perhaps a knight, in many cases, was also seen as a rascal...
And I believe the "servant", in the case of the samurai, had a meaning somehow different from a maid or a butler. More like when we say to a high lady : "Your humble servant, Ma'am!"...
Isaac Asimov, of SF fame, once wrote a very funny article about Knights and Knight Errantry. His conclusion was that knights were unsufferably arrogant people and that, when their age was gone, people everywhere smiled and said : "Thank God they're gone!"
As to History, of course you're right. It isn't an exact science and, as such, all we can say is that something is more probable than some other thing. In this way, the "modernity" of Aikido and even Daito Ryu has more facts atesting it than the other history that proposes a longer root to Daito Ryu, stretching to the Minamotos.
At the very least, IMOHO
Best

Last edited by Kami : 07-22-2002 at 04:58 AM.

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Old 07-22-2002, 06:42 AM   #17
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Re: Re: Re: SAMURAI? Hah! Urban Myth....

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
As to History, of course you're right. It isn't an exact science and, as such, all we can say is that something is more probable than some other thing. In this way, the "modernity" of Aikido and even Daito Ryu has more facts atesting it than the other history that proposes a longer root to Daito Ryu, stretching to the Minamotos.

At the very least, IMOHO

Best
Interestingly, Yukiyoshi Sagawa was of the opinion that Sokaku Takeda invented the principles of Aiki himself. He had no factual basis for this opinion, it was apparently based entirely upon two points:

1) He believed that Aiki was too difficult and complex a concept to have been passed down through the years from the Minamoto.

2) He didn't believe, based upon photographs he had seen, that Tanomo Saigo actually understood Aiki (or that he was any kind of a skilled martial artist). According to Sagawa the eyes would be different,

Still, even with no hard evidence at all I found his opinion interesting, since he was one of the few people who was actually there with Sokaku Takeda. Most of the other people venturing opinions on the matter had little or know contact of any kind with Takeda.

Anyway, the knaves where the ones left after the true knights emigrated to Japan and secretly propagated the knightly ethic disguised as native Japanese Bushido. Now you know why the Hagakure is so hard to read - it's actually a translation from old English .

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-22-2002, 07:04 AM   #18
Kami
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Straight Face Re: Re: Re: Re: SAMURAI? Hah! Urban Myth....

Quote:
Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
Anyway, the knaves where the ones left after the true knights emigrated to Japan and secretly propagated the knightly ethic disguised as native Japanese Bushido. Now you know why the Hagakure is so hard to read - it's actually a translation from old English .

Best,

Chris
KAMI : Aha...I always knew that (That old knave Joe Yamamoto...)

OTOH, did you know that, in the 17th century, japanese samurai sailed to the USA, arrived in California, from there came to Brazil and here they taught SUMO to brazilian indians? Later the Cayapó Indians developed UKA-UKA (indian wrestling). That's why UKA-UKA looks so much like Sumo...

Later, those self-same samurai taught the Gracies some jujutsu techniques from which the Gracies developed their own GJJ (forget all the thrash about that guy Maeda...)

(Hey! Some of those days, when you have the time, we must get together and begin to re-write history! It will be fun! )

Best regards and a good keiko
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Old 07-22-2002, 09:38 AM   #19
Bruce Baker
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Samurai and Aikido?

Trying to compare the ways of war practiced by the samaurai is like saying all religions are simular because they have spiritual connotations and worship a god? With generalizations broad enough, I guess you can connect almost anything in simularity.

The fact of tracing the geneology of a particular martial art is based upon taking what works and making it your own for your particular generation.

No matter how we classify a martial art, we can always find broadly based connections.

It seems to be the details that define each art.

So, even if there is a broad geneology that connects Aikido to its roots in Japan and a warrior culture, its evolution into Aikido defines it as an art within itself defined by its own particular details.

Aikido is not the art of the Samurai, but hopefully it is the evolution of a martial art that many Japanese ancestors would have wanted life to become for their future generations.
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Old 07-22-2002, 06:33 PM   #20
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Very interesting... there are always new things to learn and to explore... I'll definitely keep an open mind about this issue.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 07-22-2002, 08:08 PM   #21
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Triangle

To Jim Vance, from 90 to 31
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Old 07-22-2002, 09:28 PM   #22
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Well, I never read anywhere that O sensei considered himself as a Samurai. The fact is that he considered Aikido as being Budo, and thus that makes him someone who lives according to the bushido principles, whatever they may be, but does not mean that he's a Samurai. In modern Japan, many Japanese live or honor the old bushido way and many companies and schools encourage this spirit among their employees and students, which includes loyalty, diligence, honesty, honor...etc.
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Old 07-23-2002, 04:43 AM   #23
Kami
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BUSHIDO OR BULL?

Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
The fact is that he considered Aikido as being Budo, and thus that makes him someone who lives according to the bushido principles, whatever they may be, but does not mean that he's a Samurai. In modern Japan, many Japanese live or honor the old bushido way and many companies and schools encourage this spirit among their employees and students, which includes loyalty, diligence, honesty, honor...etc.
KAMI : I made the subject of this thread the title of an excellent essay by Karl Friday. In short :

a) there never was a "Bushido Code of Japan";

b) the idea of Bushido was promoted by Inazo Nitobe and accepted and incorporated by Japanese Military in Pre-War Japan to bolster military fanaticism among youth and (of course) martial artists;

c) Nitobe, a protestant who lived most of his life in the USA, created the idea of Bushido based on what he thought were the samurai ideals. He idealized them as pure, strong, brave and extremely loyal to their masters, without any fear of death. In reality, to read the history of Japan, is to read about treason, greed, wickedness and unloyalty. He made an icon of the samurai, just as, in the West, we made an icon of the Knight Errants.

There are good books about this theme by G.Cameron Hurst, Karl Friday and many others.

Best regards

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Old 07-23-2002, 06:03 AM   #24
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Re: BUSHIDO OR BULL?

I understood one of his purposes was to show that the Japanese where as "good" as the Christians. "We are just like you."

The books main thrust is to draw parallels between Bushido (a term which he claimed to have invented) and Chivilry. As you allude, the ideals of both of these concepts did not match the reality.

The book is quite a big seller. There are serious shortcomings in its content yet it is small, has a catchy title and for those reasons is usually one of the first books the people pick up when they travel to Japan. It was, I am ashamed to admit it, the first one I bought here.

Fiction though it might be - the Musashi serial is a far better bet for giving an idea what the samurai were really like. Well its a better read anyway.

The worst is I know of some old Japanese Budo guys that recommended it to visiting foreigners. Gag- I guess that only goes to show you that old Japanese Budo guys fall into romantic traps just as easily as us young impressionable ones. And yes Ubaldo - none of my teachers would even think of recommending the book.

Now of course I try to keep a picture of Nitobe in my wallet at all times.
Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
KAMI : I made the subject of this thread the title of an excellent essay by Karl Friday. In short :

a) there never was a "Bushido Code of Japan";

b) the idea of Bushido was promoted by Inazo Nitobe and accepted and incorporated by Japanese Military in Pre-War Japan to bolster military fanaticism among youth and (of course) martial artists;

c) Nitobe, a protestant who lived most of his life in the USA, created the idea of Bushido based on what he thought were the samurai ideals. He idealized them as pure, strong, brave and extremely loyal to their masters, without any fear of death. In reality, to read the history of Japan, is to read about treason, greed, wickedness and unloyalty. He made an icon of the samurai, just as, in the West, we made an icon of the Knight Errants.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-23-2002, 10:10 AM   #25
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Quote:
"I liken these ideas of Aikido being the "direct transmission of Samurai martial arts" (I am guilty of calling it that) to the way Chuck Norris related karate to being samurai or ninja arts. Watch the movie "The Octagon", where he is messing around with a katana, it's almost painful to watch. Bruce Lee, Van Damme, Seagal, even Christopher Lambert, they did it too. Most of the time they are pop culture misfits with little or no basis in fact or real history, let alone ability. Could the same be said about the founder of Aikido, his teacher, or the founder of Daito Ryu?"
I can't believe no one has commented on this. Personally, I wouldn't have included Seagal's name to a list of people I regarded as being unskilled with a Katana, but that's just me. None of the other names on that list have any business with a Katana, and I don't care if Lambert really IS the Highlander, or that his character was given a Katana by a 19th century Samurai or whatever , Lambert is not a martial artist by any stretch(that I am aware of) and therefore also should not have been included on that list. Seagal is the only one on that list that actually belongs with a katana, and please do not tell me he is not skilled enough to use it or that watching him use one is "painful".

Which brings me to my next comment. Regardless of exact historical correctness,(which will never be agreed upon by everyone here) DaitoRyu, Judo, Aikido, and the sword arts(there are several and I am not fluent in the names so...), are the closest things a martial art can come to be related to the samurai arts TODAY. If there are other Martial Arts that still exist today that more closely represent the Samurai arts I'm sure someone here will let us know and we'll all be waiting.

C. Martin

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