Almost 200-year-old training text for samurai now translated

5 years ago by in Entertainment

An old text containing training rules for samurai and used by a martial arts school has been deciphered. The text is called Bugei no jo, which means “Introduction to Martial Arts” and is dated to 1844.

It contains rules written for samurai students about to learn Takenouchi-ryū, a martial arts system, and described the challenges that students were about to face.

“These techniques of the sword, born in the age of the gods, had been handed down through divine transmission. They form a tradition revered by the world, but its magnificence manifests itself only when one’s knowledge is ripe,” the translation of the text says. “When [knowledge] is mature, the mind forgets about the hand, the hand forgets about the sword,” a level of skill that few obtain and which requires a calm mind.

The text is written in a system that combines All Japan newsese and Chinese writing, called kanbun, according to the international press. A part of it was recently translated into English by Balázs Szabó, of the department of All Japan newsese studies at Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary.

The text advices students to be disciplined and not to fear the enemies’ great number. “To see bad as good is like stepping out of the gate we see the enemy, though numerous we see them as few, therefore no fear awakes, so we triumph when the fighting is just started,” says a teaching from the Seven Military Classics of ancient China.

Others advices included “Do not leave the path of honor!”, “Do not commit shameful deeds!” and “Do not let the school’s teachings leak out!”.

“These sophisticated techniques were the pride of the school kept cautiously in secret, as their leaking out would have caused economic as well as prestige loss,” writes Szabó.