среда, 03. мај 2017.

Secret technique

After a years of training an old master invites his pupil to follow him , after a while , on a special place a master reveals a secret and deadly technique to his student making him invincible . Secret technique was passed down from generation to generation to only one chosen student to keep it and pass the knowledge further when the time comes. The technique was invented by a famous ancestor who fought many battles for justice and freedom  and it can be used only as the last resort in fight to defend oppressed and misfortunate who cannot defend them self .
This is a general plot for many kung fu movies and Wuxia novels , a righteous hero after a futile effort to reach justice is usually taught some secret powerful technique by an old master and with that knowledge he can finally defeat evil .
Stories about secret techniques have real historical foundation. Martial arts in the past were marginal activity reserved for army, police and mercenaries of all kinds( bodyguards , bounty hunters , caravan guards , ect) . Martial arts and martial skills were an occupation, a source of income and fighting systems were not even shown lightly to an outsiders, giving up the secrets of the system was contra productive in economical sense and also could be potentially dangerous in possible future confrontation . People from one school of fighting generally didn’t know anything about other styles.
Today , situation is completely different and martial artists realized that the best way to improve their systems is to be open and exchange experience with other people. Having a secret techniques today is a nonsense, simply because there are no secrets any more , and those secret , closed systems , although still exist are declining and are on the way of extinction .
Today , “secret” knowledge is only used in certain kind of schools to attract people who still believe in old legends and mix fiction with reality . Secret techniques in a sense of something technical that no one else knows and will make someone a formidable fighter is , forgive me for being blunt , are pure crap . Martial excellence is a consequence of hard training not some secret movement unknown to anyone else.
So ,are there secrets in kung fu today . The answer is yes and no . No , because nothing is hidden , everything is open , on the plain sight , the only requirement is dedication and hard work. And yes , there are secrets , but not in a sense mentioned above.


There are things in kung fu that cannot be explained by words , they come after years of dedicated training and are highly personal experiences , different for each practitioner . Depends of the style or the goal in training , these things can be related to physical or mental or even spiritual transformation and change . Some of these achievements are often called qi , sometimes something else , but it is not possible to define them or explain them , simply , either practitioner is on the level to feel them or not , he can perform something or not , simple as that . In that sense there are secrets , because talking to someone who doesn’t have a proper experience is useless , either will person dismiss claims as false , and won’t believe it is possible , or will try to force the achievement which is completely wrong and contra productive

уторак, 11. април 2017.

How kung fu came to Taiwan

Taiwan is the last oasis of traditional Chinese martial arts. Why and how Taiwan got the  most important role in preserving traditional kung fu and Chinese culture in general was written in one of the previous articles . The question remains , who and when actually brought kung fu to the island .
Taiwan has very long history , first human settlements date back almost 30 000 years . Aboriginal tribes lived (and fought among them self and intruders) for a very long time, but what kind of martial arts , if any they develop  is still unknown .  Aboriginal tribes are very closed social groups with little interaction with outsiders.
Dutch traders arrived on the island in 1623 to use the island as a base for Dutch commerce with Japan and the coastal areas of China. The Dutch East India Company  built Fort Zeelandia on the coastal islet of Tainan. The Spanish established a settlement at Santísima Trinidad, building Fort San Salvador on the northwest coast of Taiwan near Keelung in 1626 which they occupied until 1642 when they were driven out by a joint Dutch–Aborigine invasion force. They also built a fort in Tamsui (1628) but had already abandoned it by 1638.
The Dutch built a second administrative castle on the main island of Taiwan in 1633 and set out to  turn Taiwan into a Dutch colony. Dutch ruled Taiwan around 40 years and for that time they killed , enslaved , relocated and tortured domestic population on every possible way. But was going to change soon , unfortunately , not for the better for aboriginal tribes .
First Chinse settlers were forced to come to Taiwan in the time when Dutch established their rule over parts of the island.  Person responsible for first wave of settlers was  Zheng Zhilong (鄭芝龍), a pirate and  merchant ,and a father of Zeng Chenggong (Koxinga) ,who patrolled the waters of the East and South China Seas. Hard times for the over-crowded lands of Fujian province as well as the encroaching Manchus pushed him to begin promoting the population of Taiwan with Fujianese farmers. He even sold his own people to the Dutch as indentured servants as a means to get poor people out of Fujian and onto Taiwan. His son will adopt this idea and lead first big wave of settlers to Taiwan some time later and it was him ,Zeng Chenggong who actually brought kung fu to Taiwan .
So who was Zeng Chenggong ? Zheng Sen was born on Aug. 28, 1624, in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant and pirate, and a Japanese woman, recorded only by her surname Tagawa , although today it promoted by Japanese school of history that she was a daughter on feudal lord of Hirado area.His mother was a reason why Koxinga became such an enemy to Manchuirans who raped her and killed her. He was raised by his mother until the age of seven with the Japanese name Fukumatsu and then moved to Nan'an county in Quanzhou in Fujian province of China. His father  hired  Confucian scholars to educate Zheng Chenggong, so that he might be able to pass the imperial examinations and in 1638, Zheng became a Xiucai (a successful candidate) in the imperial examination and became one of the twelve Linshansheng (廩膳生) of Nan'an. In 1641, Koxinga married the niece of Dong Yangxian, an official who was a Jinshi from Hui'an. In 1644, Koxinga studied at the Imperial Nanking University the main Chinese university of the Ming Dynasty., where he met and became a student of the scholar Qian Qianyi.
The end of the Ming dynasty was  marked by natural disasters, climatic change, plagues and rebellions. These events weakened the Ming rule and finally led to its fall. One of the first big blows was an earthquake in Shaanxi in 1556 that is thought to be the deadliest earthquake in history. It is thought that about 800,000 people died then. It is estimated that it measured 8 on the Richter scale. The earthquake killed about 30 percent of the people in Xi'an.During the early 1600s, there were an unusually large number of earthquakes also. From 1621 to 1627 there were two earthquakes above 7 on the Richter scale.Then in the 1590s, a Japanese Shogun tried to conquer the region. Two Japanese campaigns failed, but the war was very costly for the Ming court. It was thought that the court paid 26,000,000 ounces of silver to pay for this war. In the first half of the 1600s, famines became common in northern China because of unusually dry and cold weather that shortened the growing season. The change of climate occurred throughout the world and is called the Little Ice Age. Connected to the dry and cold climate, there were also large floods. Finally, a great epidemic started in 1641. It isn't known how many died from the plague, but the victims were counted in millions . The court didn't have funds to help the people or stop the rebellions. Besides the natural calamities and the rebellions that depleted the court's money, the empire faced a monetary crisis.
People rebelled in various places. Many peasants were starving and unable to pay their taxes, and they were no longer in fear of the Ming court. They began to form large rebel bands.A peasant soldier named Li Zicheng (1606–1645) mutinied with his fellow soldiers in western Shaanxi in the early 1630s after the government failed to ship supplies there. His rebel troops had a base of power in Hubei.In the 1640s, another ex-soldier named Zhang Xianzhong (1606–1647) created a rival rebel base in Chengdu in Sichuan Province.In 1644, Li Zicheng's troops were allowed into Beijing when someone opened the gates for him to enter. The last Ming emperor hanged himself on a tree.
Zhu Yujian (1602-1646) was a descendent of Zhu Jing 朱桱, Prince of Tang 唐王, one of the many sons of Emperor Taizu 明太祖 (r. 1368-1398), the founder of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). He inherited the title of his father in 1632. In 1644, when the rebel Li Zicheng 李自成 advanced to the capital Beijing he offered military support to the central government and, without awaiting a response, set his troops into movement. For this disobedience he was demoted to the position of commoner. Yet a few months later he was pardoned.
After the Hongguang Emperor (r. 1644-1645)  killed himself  in 1645, the officials Zheng Hongkui , Zheng Zhilong and Huang Daozhou urged Zhu Yujian to adopt the title of emperor of the Ming. At that time he resided in Fuzhou , Fujian, and chose the reign motto Longwu 隆武 "Abundant Martiality". His empire formally comprised most Chinese provinces south of the Yangtse River, but he had a rival, namely Zhu Yihai , the Prince of Lu , who also aspired to become emperor of the Ming. The continued campaigns against the Manchu invasion of northern China devoured huge sums of money that was pressed out of the people. Yet general Zheng Zhilong had not the intention to shed so much blood and decided, together with Hong Chengchou to contact the Manchu generals for negotiations. The Longwu Emperor fled to Dingzhou in southern Fujian, where he was captured and executed.
Koxinga and his uncles were left as the successors to the leadership of Zheng Zhilong's military forces .He used the superiority of his naval forces to launch amphibious raids on Manchu-occupied territory in Fujian and he managed to take Tong'an in Quanzhou prefecture in early 1647. However, Koxinga's forces lacked the ability to defend the newly occupied territory .Following the fall of Tong'an to Zheng, the Manchus launched a counterattack in the spring of 1647, during which they stormed the Zheng family's hometown of Anping. Koxinga's mother, Lady Tagawa who came from Japan in 1645 to join her family in Fujian was caught by Manchu forces in Anping and committed suicide ( or according to some sources raped and killed by her captors) after refusal to submit to the enemy.
During 1650”s Koxinga had a lot of successes fighting the Manchus . He established himself as the head of the Zheng family and  pledged allegiance to the only remaining claimant to the throne of the Ming Dynasty, the Yongli Emperor. The Yongli Emperor was fleeing from the Manchus in south-western China and finally went to Burma where he was captured and executed at the end.. Despite one fruitless attempt, Koxinga was unable to do anything to aid the last Ming emperor. Instead, he decided to concentrate on securing his own position on the southeast coast. In 1651 and 1652 Koxina had so much successes that Manchus started negotiations with him . Negotiations finally filed in 1654 and Manchus launched another attack on Fujian province in 1656 but the attack failed and Ming loyalist prevailed. Finally Koxinga was forced to leave mainland China pressed by constant Manchu efforts .
On April 30, 1661, Zheng Chenggong besieged the Dutch at Fort Zeelandia  with a force  of 900 ships and 25,000 men. The Dutch held out for one year, waiting for reinforcements and provisions from Batavia. None came and on February 1, 1662, with the fort parched for a lack of fresh drinking water, the Dutch governor of Formosa, Frederik Coyett, surrendered to Zheng Chenggong. Under the terms of the surrender, the Dutch were free to leave with their personal belongings so long as the goods and supplies of the Dutch East India Company were left behind. Coyett’s surrender ended 38 years of Dutch rule on Formosa.
Unfortunately, Zheng Chenggong died a year later, some say of malaria but other reports claim he committed suicide after a series of personal setbacks. Zheng’s son and grandson would succeed him as “Kings of Taiwan” with their capital at Tainan.
Although Chinese settlers came to Taiwan earlier , these people were peasants from Fujian who escaped from war and harsh living conditions or they were forced to come and they had no martial experience . Kung Fu came to Taiwan with Koxinga who brought a large number of experienced warriors and these people permanently stayed on Taiwan developing further their fighting style which were of the outmost importance for their survival .At the time, Taiwan was an inhospitable place. It had never been under the administrative control of any mainland government, and its position at the heart of the Pacific trade routes made it a natural haven for smugglers, pirates, outlaws, and foreign adventurers .The island’s aboriginal inhabitants had already developed a fearsome reputation for hostility to outsiders. And even after Shi Lang’s eventual conquest, when Taiwan for the first time came under direct rule from the mainland, it remained a wild and lawless place . In these conditions  martial skills were more valuable than anything else .

What styles Koxinga’s men brought we will never know. Many styles today trace their origins to Koxinga’s arrival but for the most part these claims cannot be proved. On the other hand Taiwan is a place where some of the rarest and oldest kung fu styles can be found . What we can be sure of is that the first styles were weapon based styles with little or no empty hands techniques . Koxinga himself or his son established a mandatory military practice for settlers and that practice is still preserved as unique martial and cultural phenomena known as Sung Chang Battle array
http://penglaimartialarts.blogspot.tw/2014/09/only-in-taiwan-sung-chiang-battle-array.html


. People practice how to fight in organized groups which was the most effective way to fight anyone at the time. After Koxinga expelled the Dutch people from Fujian slowly started to come , mostly escaping the Manchu persecution and bringing their martial arts with them . By the end of 1940’s Taiwan will become the most important kung fu place on the world , the place form where the rest of the planet got introduced with Chinese martial arts .

понедељак, 27. март 2017.

The most important weapon in human history

What is the most significant weapon not only in kung fu but in history of human kind. Many will think it is a sword, weapon that in all cultures symbolizes power, protection, authority, strength, and courage, metaphysically, it represents discrimination and the penetrating power of the intellect a symbol of knighthood and chivalry. But there is much older and simpler, utterly more important weapon that won and lost wars and were basic weapon for majority of soldiers of all armies of the world until the end if the World War one.
The weapon this article is about is a spear ,yes, just a simple spear . Spear, a pole weapon with a sharp point, either thrown or thrust at an enemy or prey. It appears in an infinite variety of forms in societies around the world. One of the earliest weapons devised by man, the spear was originally simply a sharpened stick. Primitive peoples used spears primarily as thrown weapons. When military practice evolved from the independent action of individuals to the group movements of masses of soldiers, the spear became a thrusting weapon. It took the form of the pike, the lance, and later the ax-bladed halberd, among other variations.
Spear is probably the first weapon made by man who used technology to build it. Although, human kind used different kind of stones, sharp stones and clubs, spear was the first technologically sophisticated weapon . What is more interesting, first spears were not made by modern man, Homo sapiens and Homo Neanderthals, but by their predecessor spices. First spears were nothing more than a long pointy stick whose top was hardened In the fire. Next, more advanced version of the weapon had a head made from the hard wood and sometimes later, heads made of stone . These first spears were hunting tools and since we know people fought much before recorded history times it is safe to assume it was used as a weapon .Analysis of 210 stone tools from the site of Kathu Pan in South Africa shows that people were probably hunting with stone-tipped spears by about 460,000 years ago, roughly 200,000 years earlier than previously believed. The study, led by University of Toronto doctoral candidate Jayne Wilkins, confirmed that the tools had broken in ways similar to other stone spear points that have been thrust or thrown into the bodies of animals. In addition, 23 of the tools appear to have been thinned at their bases to make them easier to attach to the shaft of a spear. From 200,000 BC, Middle Paleolithic humans began to make complex stone blades with flaked edges which were used as spear heads. These stone heads could be fixed to the spear shaft by gum or resin or by bindings made of animal sinew, leather strips or vegetable matter. During this period, a clear difference remained between spears designed to be thrown and those designed to be used in hand-to-hand combat
 Spear manufacture and use is not confined to human beings. It is also practiced by the western chimpanzee. Chimpanzees near Kédougou, Senegal have been observed to create spears by breaking straight limbs off trees, stripping them of their bark and side branches, and sharpening one end with their teeth. They then used the weapons to hunt galagos sleeping in hollows. Orangutans also have used spears to fish, presumably after observing humans fishing in a similar manner. This fact opens a possibility that humans predecessors used similar simple tools almost five million years ago.
As the technology progressed, spears changed, first they got bronze and later iron and steel heads. With a beginning of civilization spears development goes in two direction, one is military and the second is hunting , fishing and is some cases spears played a role in religious rituals.

First human civilization appeared in middle east , developed in the region known as Mesopotamia between 4500 and 3100 BCE. The city of Uruk, today considered the oldest in the world, was first settled in c. 4500 BCE and walled cities, for defense, were common by 2900 BCE throughout the region. The city of Eridu, close to Uruk, was considered the first city in the world by the Sumerians. The first historical evidence of army organization comes from the Middle Eastern Sumerian empire. Figurines from the 4th millennium BC show foot soldiers in copper helmets and heavy cloaks carrying short spears. 


The almost constant wars among the Sumerian city-states for 2000 years helped to develop the military technology and techniques of Sumer to a high level. The first war recorded was between Lagash and Umma in ca. 2525 BC on a stele called the Stele of Vultures.

Sumerian spear heads 

It shows the king of Lagash leading a Sumerian army consisting mostly of infantry. The infantrymen carried spears, wore copper helmets and carried leather or wicker shields. The spearmen are shown arranged in what resembles the phalanx formation, which requires training and discipline; this implies that the Sumerians may have made use of professional soldiers.

Egypt

During the Old and Middle Kingdom of Egypt's Dynastic period, it typically consisted of a pointed blade made of copper or flint that was attached to a long wooden shaft by a tang. However, in the New Kingdom, bronze blades became more common, attached to the shaft by means of a socket. These conventional spears were made for throwing or thrusting, but there was also a form of spear (halberd) which was fitted with an axe blade and thus used for cutting and slashing.

Bronze spear head from ancient Egypt


The spear was used in Egypt since the earliest times for hunting larger animals, such as lions. In its form of javelin (throwing spears) it was displaced early on by the bow and arrow. Because of its greater weight, the spear was better at penetration than the arrow, but in a region where armor consisted mostly of shields, this was only a slight advantage. On the other hand, arrows were much easier to mass produce.
Wooden figures found in the tomb of Mesehti: Egyptian army of the 11th Dynasty

In war it never gained the importance among Egyptians which it was to have in classical Greece, where phalanxes of spear carrying citizens fought each other. During the New Kingdom it was often an auxiliary weapon of the charioteers, who were thus not left unarmed after spending all their arrows. It was also most useful in their hands when they chased down fleeing enemies stabbing them in their backs. Amenhotep II's victory at Shemesh-Edom in Canaan is described at Karnak:" ...... Behold His Majesty was armed with his weapons, and His Majesty fought like Set in his hour. They gave way when His Majesty looked at one of them, and they fled. His majesty took all their goods himself, with his spear..... "
Karnak Stela of Amenhotep II W.M. Flinders Petrie A History of Egypt, Part Two, p.155

The spear was appreciated enough to be depicted in the hands of Ramesses III killing a Libyan. It remained short and javelin like, just about the height of a man, unlike the Macedonian lance of later times which was three to four times as long.

Assyrian empire

Assyrian army was a ruthlessly efficient fighting machine. Located in the north of modern-day Iraq, Assyria was constantly at war, either with its great rival Babylon in the south, or with one of the smaller surrounding nations. Compared to their adversaries, the Assyrian soldiers were better trained, better organized and better equipped: Their weapons were among the deadliest the world had ever seen.


                                                                  Assyrian spear heads 

At a time when most cultures still made their weapons from bronze, even the lowliest Assyrian infantryman was armed with iron weapons that were sharper, stronger and lighter than their bronze counterparts. The basic infantry weapon was the spear, consisting of a wooden shaft tipped with a lethal iron spearhead. For close combat, the men also carried short iron swords and daggers. Protection was provided by a variety of shield types, including tall ones made from leather or plaited reeds, and smaller circular ones consisting of a wooden disk faced with a thin layer of bronze.

Old Greece

The primary weapon of Greek army was almost 3 meters long spear ,known as Dory pared with a big round shield. Greek soldiers or Hoplites soldiers utilized the phalanx formation in order to be effective in war with fewer soldiers ,which has been proven as an excellent tactics and was used with more or less modification throughout the history by all armies until the invention of fire arms . Hoplites, named after their shield, the hoplon which were heavy, bronze-covered wooden shields about 1 to 1.1 meter in diameter. It spanned from chin to knee and was very heavy (10 to 15 kilos). 
                                                           Athenian hoplite

These shields had a revolutionary design; their rounded shape allowed them to be rested on the shoulder for additional support. The Greek warriors overlapped their shields, forming a shield wall. The left part of each warrior’s shield protected the right side of the hoplite to his left. A phalanx would consist of rows of spear-armed hoplites, all protecting each other and presenting a wall of shields and spear points towards their enemies. The first two rows of a phalanx were able to stab at opponents with their spears that protruded from between the shields. The first three rows, or ranks, of a phalanx could stab their opponents, while the back ranks would brace the front rows, prevent the front rows from retreating and support the all-important cohesion of the formation. 
                                                    Ancient Macedonian Soldiers 


Phalanxes could be 4, 8, 16 or more men deep, up to 50 rows in some extraordinary instances. This made the back rows relatively safe, giving them little reason to flee a battle, while the front rows were pressed between their own forces and an enemy bent on killing them. Yet, to the honor-driven Greek warriors, the front was where they wanted to be! In their martial culture, warriors sought glory in battle, and a general placed his best men in the front ranks.

Old Rome
The Roman military was the most successful and powerful in history, dominating the Western world for over a thousand years. The core of Rome’s military strength lay in the professionalism of their heavy infantry. A force that was organized and reorganized as it evolved and adapted to survive the assaults of different enemies. One of the essential roman weapons was throwing spear Pilum . The total weight of a pilum was between 2 and 5 kilograms. The iron shank was the key to the function of the pilum. The weapon had a hard pyramidal tip but the shank was made of softer iron. 
                                                                                 Pilum


This softness would cause the shank to bend after impact, thus rendering the weapon useless to the enemy who might throw it back. However, there are many cases where the whole shank was hardened, making the pilum more suitable as a close quarters melee weapon, which also made it useful for enemy soldiers to pick it up and throw it back. More importantly, if the pilum struck a shield it might embed itself and thus the bending of the shank would force the enemy to discard it as they might waste time trying to pull it out in the middle of combat. Even if the shank did not bend, the pyramidal tip still made it difficult to pull out. Pilum was constructed to use the weight of the weapon to cause damage, most likely to be able to impale through armor and reach the enemy soldier's body. The combination of the weapon's weight and the aforementioned pyramidal tip, allowed the pilum to be a formidable armor-piercing weapon.

Medieval period

The main weapon of the medieval period was the spear, not only for peasants but also for professional soldiers and even the noblemen. The spear was more effective at downing a charging wild boar because the blade created a wider, more lethal wound. It was equally as effective in battle, ripping holes in chainmail and armour. The spear is a relatively low in cost compared to a sword or axe. A medieval spear was relatively easy to use and very light in weight. Spears could also be quickly manufactured and can be used at a considerable distance from the target or enemy.
                                             Spears and pole weapons evolved from spears 

Spears began to lose fashion among the infantry in the 14th. Century, being replaced by pole weapons which evolved from simple spear by combined the thrusting properties of the spear with the cutting properties of the axe, such as the halberd . Spears were retained they grew in length, eventually evolving into pikes and wide variety of  other pole weapons  which would be a dominant infantry weapon in the 16th. and 17th. centuries.


Spear in China

Spear is used in China (and all over Asia) since stone age and had similar path of development  and usage as it had in Europe and the rest of the world . The Qiang class of spears were believed to have evolved from the prehistoric spear that was known as the ‘Mao’. The common Qiang could be described as a spear that had a long staff, and had a steel, iron, or bronze mounted tip. The ‘Mao’ was a weapon that was used since prehistoric times. It was upgraded, according to the need, into many types of Qiang class spears during the Shang Dynasty (17th century BC – 11th century BC). At that time, the Qiang had a bronze tip. By the end of the Zhou Dynasty of Eastern China (770 BC – 256 BC), it was replaced with a steel tip. This weapon was so effective, that by the end of the Western Han Dynasty, the Qiang had replaced the Chinese halberd known as the ji. The Qiang was used by the Chinese army for long distance combat that involved throwing these spears, even after firearms were introduced by the Qin Dynasty.

Chinese spears helbards and pikes 

The same as it was happened in Europe , halberd was developed in China by evolving common spear , the only difference is , in China this kind of weapon was invented much earlier . Ji is a weapon with a steel or bronze tip mounted on the end of a long shaft, next to which is attached a curved blade. Because of the attachment of the curved blade, the weapon can be used to both stab and slash. The shaft of ji used in chariots is longer than those used by infantry and cavalry. When two curved blades are attached on opposite sides of the tip, the weapon is referred to as double ji.


Ji was first used during the Shang Dynasty (17th century BC-11th century BC), when it was made of bronze. It was popularized during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 BC-256 BC), when it was made of steel instead. By the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), it fell out of use in war, and by the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589) it was replaced in its entirety by qiang (spear). Afterwards, it was used only as a weapon carried by ceremonial guards and as a weapon for martial artists.
Ji


Spear found its place in legends and myths all around the world and was a weapon of heros and  antiheroes, certainly the most famous spear is "spear of destiny"                                                    

Spear of destiny 

The Holy Lance, also known as the Holy Spear, the Spear of Destiny or the Lance of Longinus, according to the Gospel of John, is the lance that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross.According to legend who ever posses the spear will any war and can never loose .


 List of magical Spears

  • Ama-no-Saka-hoko (Heavenly Upside Down Spear) is an antique and mysterious spear, staked by Ninigi-no-Mikoto at the summit of Takachiho-no-mine, where he and his divine followers first landed, according to the legend of Tenson kōrin. (Japanese mythology)
  • Amenonuhoko (Heavenly Jewelled Spear), the naginata used by the Shinto deities Izanagi and Izanami to create the world - also called tonbogiri. (Japanese mythology)
  • Aram, the spear of Jangar. (Mongol mythology)
  • Areadbhar (also Areadbhair), belonged to Pisear, king of Persia. Its tip had to be kept immersed in a pot of water to keep it from igniting, a property similar to the Lúin of Celtchar. (Irish mythology)
  • Ascalon, the spear that St. George used to kill a dragon in Beirut and saving a princess from being sacrificed by the town. (Christian mythology)
  • Brionac, the spear of Lugh that was said to be impossible to overcome. (Celtic mythology)
  • Crann Buidhe, the spear of Manannán. (Irish mythology)
  • Del ChlissCú Chulainn's spear that first belonged to Nechtan Scéne, and used to kill the sons of Nechtan Scéne. Formerly the name for the charioteer's goad, a split piece of wood. (Irish mythology)
  • Gáe Buide (Yellow Shaft), a yellow spear that can inflict wounds from which none could recover. The spear of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, given to him by Aengus. (Irish mythology)
  • Gáe Bulg, the spear of Cú Chulainn. (Irish mythology)
  • Gae Assail (Spear of Assal), the spear of Lugh, the incantation "Ibar (Yew)" made the cast always hit its mark, and "Athibar (Re-Yew)" caused the spear to return. (Irish mythology)
  • Gáe Derg (Red Javelin), a red spear that can destroy any magic that touches its pointed head. The spear of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, given to him by Aengus. (Irish mythology)
  • Green Dragon Crescent Blade, a legendary weapon wielded by Guan Yu in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is a guandao, a type of traditional Chinese weapon. It is also sometimes referred to as the Frost Fair Blade, from the idea that during a battle in the snow, the blade continuously had blood on it; the blood froze and made a layer of frost on the blade. (Chinese mythology)
  • GungnirOdin's spear created by the dwarf Dvalinn. The spear is described as being so well balanced that it could strike any target, no matter the skill or strength of the wielder. (Norse mythology)
  • Gunnar's AtgeirGunnar's atgeir would make a ringing sound or "sing" when it was taken down in anticipation of bloodshed. (Norse mythology)
  • Jiuchidingpa (Nine-tooth Iron Rake), the primary weapon of Zhu Bajie. (Chinese mythology)
  • Lúin of Celtchar (also Spear of Fire or Spear of Destiny), a spear forged by the Smith of Falias for Lugh to use in his fight against Balor. (Irish mythology)
  • Maltet, the name of the spear of Baligant from The Song of Roland. (French folklore)
  • Nihongo, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Masazane Fujiwara. A famous spear that was once used in the Imperial Palace. Nihongo later found its way into the possession of Masanori Fukushima, and then Tahei Mori. (Japanese mythology)
  • Octane Serpent SpearZhang Fei's spear from the Three Kingdoms period in China. (Chinese mythology)
  • Otegine, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Masazane Fujiwara. (Japanese mythology)
  • Rhongomiant, the spear of King Arthur that he used to defeat the legendary Sir Thomas of Wolford. (Arthurian legend)
  • Spear of Achilles, created by Hephaestus and given to Peleus at his wedding with Thetis. (Greek mythology)
  • Spear of Fuchai, the spear used by Goujian's arch-rival King Fuchai of Wu. (Chinese mythology)
  • Tonbokiri, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Fujiwara no Masazane, said to be wielded by the legendary daimyō Honda Tadakatsu. The spear derives its name from the myth that a dragonfly landed on its blade and was instantly cut in two. Thus Tonbo (Japanese for "dragonfly") and kiri (Japanese for "cutting"), translating this spear's name as "Dragonfly Slaying spear". (Japanese mythology)
  • Yueyachan (Crescent-Moon-Shovel), a Monk's spade that is the primary weapon of Sha Wujing. A double-headed staff with a crescent-moon (yuèyá) blade at one end and a spade (chǎn) at the other, with six xīzhàng rings in the shovel part to denote its religious association. (Chinese mythology)








недеља, 12. март 2017.

Heroes

Most people in the modern world no longer fear that monsters lurk in unknown islands. But their need for fearless heroes has never faded. These days, some of our champions are soldiers who've shown valor in war,  astronauts who've risked their lives to explore space, people who make life-saving medical discoveries, dedicate their careers to helping the poor and underprivileged, or labor to right social injustices , even  sportsman , especially fighters  .But why do we need heroes ? There are several reasons for that.
-          Carl Jung proposed that we are each born with a collective unconscious. This contains a set of shared memories and ideas, which we can all identify with, regardless of the culture that we were born into or the time period in which we live. We cannot communicate through the collective unconscious, but we recognize some of the same ideas innately, including archetypes. For example, many cultures have cultivated similar myths independently of one another, which feature similar characters and themes. Two such archetypes, according to Jung, are heroes and demons.
-          Heroes educate us about right and wrong. They set up the correct moral and ethical foundation of the society and they are protector of it.   Most fairytales and children’s stories serve this didactic purpose, showing kids the kinds of behaviors that are needed to succeed in life, to better society, and to overcome villainy.  It is during our youth that we most need good, healthy adult role models who demonstrate exemplary behavior.  But adults need heroic models as well.  Heroes reveal to us the kinds of qualities we need to be in communion with others
-          Heroes give hope when we are in trouble and they are there to protect people when they are in danger
-          Heroes  reveal our missing qualities, people often choose a hero who has exactly those attributes they do not .
 These reasons are closely connected to  human needs for survival, nurturance, growth, education, safety, security, healing, happiness, health, hope, wisdom, and justice. Basically “We need heroes because they define the limits of our aspirations “writes Santa Clara University ethics scholar Scott LaBarge.  The hero embodies the virtues and attributes cherished by the particular  society at the particular time  and  he provides a model for people to emulate. But where do Heroes come from ? While there are many true heroes in everyday life who risk their lives and sacrifice a lot to help others they usually go unnoticed or , today , they become an interesting story for the evening news and soon they are forgotten. Heroes are actually come from two sources , either they are pure product of imagination or they are real people idolized by society through time that they eventually became heroes . Mythical heroes who are usually product of imagination and they are archetypical figures who as it was sad before embody the most significant virtues and attributes cherished by the particular society and they usually , besides everything else have superhuman abilities like extraordinary strength like Samson form the old testament or extraordinary wisdom and intelligence , like Odyssey.
Of course, not all heroes are imaginary figures , most of them were real people who lived , worked and sometimes , in rare cases, did something heroic. One other thing is important to be noted , while mythical heroes of the past are universal , in every aspect of human life we have different heroes , like in science ,sports ,music, art ect, and the hero from , for example science , can be totally unknown or completely nonsignificant for people who are not interested in science , these heroes are not universal and can even be antiheroes for another different groups of people.
Martial arts are no different from other human activities, or more accurate, hero worshiping is in very core of traditional martial arts .Every style has its own heroes,  hero worshiping and idolizing is expected and required. Many styles completely base their philosophy and heritage on hero worshiping. Warriors of the past with superhuman abilities and highest moral and ethical standards fought may battles for justice and to protect the oppressed. They were exemplary people who can be only describe as saints.
These is nothing new on the East, ancestor worshiping is important part of Chinese Japanese and Korean culture. Putting ancestor on pedestal of morality and unprecedented fighting skill has its educational purposes and as it  said before fulfil some of the basic psychological needs of a person and social needs of the group.
Having a role  model who is admired for his achievements and who is set  up as a goal for practitioner   is nothing bad, it is actually quite positive thing. Problems starts when hero worshiping become so strong and hero so idolized that martial practice becomes some sort of pseudo religion.
Some martial styles make a connection to the legendary heroes of the past , it is easy to believe that some hermit who lived in a cave on some God forsaken mountain practiced 20 hours a day and eventually invented ‘the best ‘ fighting style . Most of the styles have their heroes in a figures who lived just a generation or two before today. In a lack of real achievements many stories are invented to reinforce a place and a name of the hero figure. Although these stories are not so exaggerated like in the case of mythical heroes , they are still hard to believe and usually there is no shred of evidence to support them , often these stories are an insult for an one’s Intelligence and it is amazing how these stories are taken for granted and believed without any doubt. Like the story about famous karate master who trained in China. To put aside all other  nonlogical things but one is particularly interesting , it is said that this master practiced only forms , nothing else ,and he learned three forms in 10 years ,  This kind of practice gave his such a speed and agility that he was unparalleled fighter , his senses were also so enhanced that in one occasion he sensed an attack from behind in the middle of the night and he defeated an attacker armed with a spear. Although common sense tells us that without sparring and actual fighting someone cannot become good fighter , follower of that karate style completely believe in this story . Another example is wing chun master wo broke a revolver with his fingers. Aside the fact that revolvers are made to fire bullets and can withstands much higher pressures that human body is able to produce no matter how good and strong a person may be , people still believe in this without reserve.
Not all heroes are from the past ,some of them are self made modern figures , more or less known in martial circles. One of them claimed he possess  the only original wing chun style ,superior to all others, that  he fought 12 people armed with knives and had numerous other fights and never lost ,but once confronted by a beginner from other style he simply lost .
So what is the reason behind inventing a heroes or turn some people into them. The reason is simple – money .Having a foundation in eastern tradition and the known fact that people listen to authority figures, not for the validity of what they are saying, but for the authority figures authority , martial arts salesman , because I cannot call them differently invent a hero who will people worship and they will profit from that worship. The scam , yes , the scam , is very deep. Person will invent fighting record , many stories about the strength of the character , deep sense of moral and perfect behavior. May things will be and were told about philosophy , strength ,personal qualities ect. And non of them cannot be proven nor have any foundation in reality. It is all a show , a marketing with only one goal , to gather as many followers as possible and make the best sale as possible .  Once caught in hero worshiping web a person will attend seminars, buy DVD’s , equipment , logos, clothes , even work for free for the leading figure , or hero himself , invest a lot of time , money and energy to learn…what?
Basically they listen a great stories  told by instructor and learn many (too many )  different moves, a different counter for another counter,  million combination to defend against same attack ,every single day.  This sort of thing can be overwhelming and awe-inspiring; the kind of thing that may make a martial artist think his teacher is the greatest fighter ever  no matter  he  never even had a chance to see his coach in a fight and have no proof for that kind of believe .  Furthermore, with the understanding of how people learn, the teaching of a different move every day is the easy way out.  It is part of the hero worship con.  It’s a con because people actually do not learn anything but they have a feeling they learn much more than they ever hoped for , and , of course money keeps on rolling-in. Hero worship is a poor state of mind for any fighter.  The problem is the majority of martial arts coaches use it as a sales tool and it is so easy to fall into that scam , we have predisposition to admire or worship heroes.
As we can see , there are true heroes and fake ones , even more , same hero can be a true , inspiring , role model and also a part of the con which depends of many factors .

There is no conclusion to this article , only personal opinion of the author , adult, mature people do not need heroes . For those who do need them a word of advice , be careful who you choose to admire , do not idolize and keep your head straight . 

уторак, 28. фебруар 2017.

Taiwanese masters 2 -Liu Yun Chiao

Liu Yun Chiao, one of the most significant kung fu teachers of the modern time , was  born Beitou Village, Cangzhou County, Hebei Province of China . Liu was a weak child with several health problems. His father hired a Kung Fu instructor to improve his son’s health . At the age of five Liu started his first training with a teacher Chang Yao Ting who was also a family bodyguard ,and he taught the boy Tai Tzu Chang Chuan (The First Emperor of the Sung Dynasty’s Long Fist) and Mi Zong (The Lost Track Style). When Liu was seven, his father hired one of the most famous fighters of the time , baji/spear master Li Shu Wen who was known as "God Spear Li" (神槍李). Li's students eventually became personal bodyguards for Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek, and Henry Pu-Yi. Li became Liu's personal trainer, living in the Liu estate. For more than ten years Liu was personally trained in Li Shu Wen's system of bajiquan, pigua zhang, and liuhe da qiang (six harmony big spear).Li Shu Wen was already in his sixties when he taught young Liu, who was to become Li’s last  disciple. After he completed Baji quan , Liu continued to  study other arts like  Six Harmony Praying Mantis from Ding Zi Cheng 1850 – 1940,famous master from  Er Pu clan in Shandong province ,  and BaGua from l Gong Bao Tian  who was a bodyguard of the Empress and Emperor of China  .
In  1937, Liu was admitted into Huangpu Military School , helping his country to fight Japanese . After his graduation in the spring of 1939, he was appointed at first as a Company Commander, a Battalion Commander, and later a Regimental Commander in the First Army Division.
In 1941 he was appointed the commander of the Northwest China Reconnaissance Troop. he also got married same year  .


An interview with Grandmaster Liu

In 1943, Liu was appointed as the General Staff Director of the Sichuan and Shaanxi Border District Headquarters.
After WWII and civil war in 1949 .he  moved to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek troupes and became commander of the airborn special forces  . He also became the head training officer for Chiang Kai Shek’s bodyguards. On Taiwan he organized Wutan martial association and Wutan martail magazine  in order to preserve and promote traditional Chinese martial arts.
In 1968, Liu traveled throughout the overseas Chinese communities in Asia to promote and teach traditional Chinese martial arts.



Rare recording of Grandmaster Liu 

Little is known about Liu’s personal life , being involved in military he kept low profile and not much can be said about him beyond official biography information .

Liu’s effort made Taiwan the main source from which the rest of the world was introduced to traditional Chinese martial arts . His Baji style is still the best known on the west as well as Bagua and Praying Mantis . Many of his students opened their own schools , on Taiwan and overseas and continued his work. 

четвртак, 23. фебруар 2017.

Chin family wing chun, basic concepts

I have published some articles about Chin family art before

http://penglaimartialarts.blogspot.tw/2017/01/unknown-wing-chun-chin-family-art_14.html

http://penglaimartialarts.blogspot.tw/2017/01/unknown-wing-chun-chin-family-art.html

Now we have rare opportunity to actually hear and see some of the basic concepts of this rare art directly from the sole successeor , Sifu John Wrester







Sifu John Wrastler contact details
Johnscottwarstler@gmail.com.

Midland TX.  1-432-425-7217.

субота, 04. фебруар 2017.

Truth about "Budo"

 Budo, wildly know term that represents the very core of Japanese martial arts , morality , culture  and their spirituality.   What I am going to write will certainly cause a lot  negative reactions ,but  looking at Budo from the perspective of History as a science and from the perspecetive of Chinese and other Asian nations , only then this term comes to it’s true meaning . Truth must come before everything else.
Let’s start with the term “Budo”. It is not , as commonly believed very old , in fact it came into existence in the early 20th century and was invented by one person Hiromichi Nishikubo , a  representative of Japanese police office . Hiromichi Nishikubo published in 1914 , series of articles where he debated about common name for Japanese martial arts and came to conclusion that term”Budo” (martial way or a path) is much better and more precise than old, outdated term”bujutsu” (martial technique) .
Term “Budo” according to Hiromichi , is much more suitable for educational system of Japan and it can help to develop in young generations loyalty , honor (Japanese idea of honor) and awareness of the need for personal sacrifice for the emperor .In  1919 Hiromichi  became a headmaster of the biggest martial condge in Japan ,Bujutsu Senmon Gakko and immediately changes its name Budo Senmon Gakko . Soon after ,  books and magazines , published by government started to use term Budo and names of martial styles are changing form , for example Kenjutsu to Kendo ect. Ministry of education officially adopted this doctrine and  terminology in 1926 . . In next several years , Ministry of Education revised and expanded term Budo , forming complete education doctrine and system around it . In 1931 “Budo’  represents mandatory ideological doctrine taught in Japanese schools  .
Budo system , or more precise , gendai budo system ( new martial system \way\approach that includes  djudo, aikido,kendo, iaido, karate do ,kyudo) was used in the system of public education to develop in young generations blind obedience and loyalty to the country and the Emperor as well as a feeling of divine virtue which can be achieved by personal sacrifice and complete disregard of personal well-being and life its self when it comes to the duty to emperor , country and superiors
Japanese schools of that period looked more like military facilities . Uniforms , military language , extremely humiliating punishments for even a smallest mistakes , everyday repeating the oath to the emperor and the country , posters against enemy on every corner as well as every day martial training  made a generations of blindly obedient people , ready to sacrifice them slefs on the battlefield for the glory of Japan and the emperor  and to to avoid the shame which their name and their families would bare if they do not do what is expected.  These people with complete absence of personal responsibility committed probably the worst crimes in the history of civilization. They were traind to unconditionally fulfill any  order from their superiors without any moral, ethical or human  filters .  
This militarized system of training was preserved and without much change presented to western people. Even today it is easy to see that indoctrination through Japanese Budo is extremely strong  . Practitioners of Jpanases martial arts more than often have completely noncritical  wiev of Japan , Japanese tradition and history  . completely disregarding the facts . On the other hand , generation of instructors who introduced westernes with Japanese martial arts didn’t know anything ellse . They were indoctrinated through educational system , military and participation in war operations.
Foundation of Japanese fascism were built at beginning of Meiji reform in 1868 . In short , idology  of Japanese society from this period is based in following :Japan is the center of the universe and Japanese emperor is a divine being  and direct descendant  of the goddess Amaterasu . Japanese gods have special relation with Japan, therefor Japan is the “chosen” country and Japanese are “chosen” people  and all institutions of Japan are superior compared to rest of the world .All this is a foundation of Kodoshugisha (Imperial way \emperor’s way)  which divine mission is to bring all nations under the same roof  so the whole humanity can share and enjoy all the benefits of the rule of Japanese emperor.
All this is deeply rooted in aspects of Japanese society and way of life and thinking .Same message is spread through Japanese martial arts .  At the end of WWII , out of the fear from communism  , USA political approach in Japan in the matter of war crimes was discutabile  . Many war criminals were not persecuted and used to suppress communists  , Kodama Yoshio, Sasakawa Ryoichi and Nobusuke Kishi are just few among many.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshio_Kodama

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryoichi_Sasakawa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobusuke_Kishi


 Sasakawa  financially supported many martial arts teachers and their schools , in return they participated in anti communist activities which often included extreme violence . Also , he used them to show the superiority  of Japan all over the world through practice of martial arts .
Many westerners accepted not only the premise that Japanese martial arts are superior compared to all others but also many aspects of Japanese culture . More than everything  concerns the facts that many westerners believe Gendai Budo is a complete form of religious practice  with divine moral and ethical values that leads toward enlightenment
Without detail analysis of religious doctrine of Zen Buddhism and its final goals , I would like to mention some specific points that made Zen inseparable part of Japanese martial arts, or , more precise Zen and martial arts fused together . Today , almost no one raise a question why Zen was so popular in Japan among warrior cast during imperial period. In short ,Zen relativise terms of good and evil . War and violence are not contradictory to Zen practice and are not obstacle to achieving enlightenment  .As long as warrior’s actions were not caused by his own desire (desire is main source of pain in Buddhism and liberation from desire leads to the enlightenment ) , as long as there is noy emotional connection to one’s actions there is no obstacles on the path of the enlightenment . If actions of the warrior were caused by outside circumstances and he reacts , not by his own will , but was forced to act , no matter what his actions are , they are not in collision with Zen practice . This way  a person can be completely released of responsibility for his own actions .  This kind of Zen Buddhism was incorporated in  Japanese Budo,educational system, army, making fanatics completely  indifferent for anything and everything , with total absence of empathy .
It is obvious that Zen as well as martial arts were used by establishment for achieving their military and political goals . Fascist government of Japan form the beginning of the 20th century had unconditional support of Zen teachers . This religious and political indoctrination caused 50 million people killed , mostly woman and children , all across Asia from 1895 to 1945.

 Naniking Massacre is good illustration of Japanese  actions in this period .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre

Soon after Nanking Massacre  an article was published  “ Zen Buddhism and its influence on Japanese culture” . Small part of that article is speaking for its self :”  "The sword is generally associated with killing, and most of us wonder how it can come into connection with Zen, which is a school of Buddhism teaching the gospel of love and mercy. The fact is that the art of swordsmanship distinguishes between the sword that kills and the sword that gives life. The one that is used by a technician cannot go any further than killing, for he never appeals to the sword unless he intends to kill. The case is altogether different with the one who is compelled to lift the sword. For it is really not he but the sword itself that does the killing. He had no desire to do harm to anybody, but the enemy appears and makes himself a victim. It is as though the sword performs automatically its function of justice, which is the function of mercy... When the sword is expected to play this sort of role in human life, it is no more a weapon of self-defense or an instrument of killing, and the swordsman turns into an artist of the first grade, engaged in producing a work of genuine originality." D. T. Suzuki

We can clearly see how Zen justifies killing .


Some of the most famous and most appreciated Zen teachers, like  Omori Sogen i Yasutani Hakuun, were ultrantionalists and militarist and they took active role in military operations during WWII. A man celebrated as the best Zen master of 20th century Toyama Mitsuru was intelligence officer , opium smuggler and “capo di tutti capi “ of Japanese  organized crime after WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omori_Sogen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakuun_Yasutani

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C5%8Dyama_Mitsuru

 Above presented text contains facts which every practitioner of Japanese martial arts should be aware of. The fact is that almost all Japanese masters from the period of introducing the West to  Japanese Budo were militarily engaged and that they grew  and raised in the spirit of the Japanese superiority and they hated everything that is not Japanese. The spirit of the Japanese elitism can be seen with practitioners of Japanese system and is reflected in a completely uncritical attitude and excessive enthusiasm for everything Japanese, especially about martial and spiritual practices of the Japanese Budo .As we can see term Budo has more recent  origin and has been designed and used by the Japanese government with very specific objectives.
 There  is one interesting fact ,all  Japanese martial arts masters are descended from samurai. Being a master of martial arts in Japan requires samurai origin .Generations of  Japanese and Western martial arts practitioners  were and still are deeply influenced or intoxicated is more accurate term , with stories about samurai, their  moral code, impeccable warrior skills ect.  Two books , "Hagakure" work of Tashiro Tsuramotoa and "Bushido, the spirit of Japan"  work  of Dr.Nitobe Inazô are actually the source and the cornerstone of today's image of the samurai. There is no other work before these two books that talk about samurai and Bushido in such a way. Both books are essentially fabrication of the authors with no real support in the actual historical evidence and facts.
Let’s analyze first the work of Dr. Nitobe Inazou (promoter but not the inventor of the term bushido) .He was a descendant of samurai family but was also a Quaker (Christian sect originated in England in mid-17th century) with strong Christian values ​​.Even a superficial analysis of the book " Bushido, the spirit of Japan "shows that this work is plagiarism of  book written by  two influential Englishmen of the time , Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes.They are the creators of something called strong(muscular) Christianity. They glorified war and sport, boxing and rugby are seen as a way for the preaching of Christian values ​​and converting young men from the boys in the correct Christians. Kingsley and Hughes believed and promote patriotism, honor, courage, dedication, physical fitness, self-control, obedience to authority, discipline, endurance, humility, loyalty. Plagiarizing the work of two Englishmen Nitobe, along with co-author Anna Harshorne  , wrote the work "Bushido, the spirit of Japan" which was written specifically for Westerners in order to promote the Japanese  culture. "Bushido, the spirit of Japan" is a work that represents the samurai as warrior-saints - who completely correspond to the description of the knights of king Arthur from the work of Sir Thomas Malory's. While Mallory vision of the Arthurian knights is taken as an example of fantasy Nitobe’s work is still considered some sort of  "Bible" among practitioners of Japanese martial arts. This work was later used as a propaganda  material among the Japanese themselves glorifying impeccable warriors of Japan who have become role models for younger generations.

   Second work that introduces us to the code samurai is Hagakure. First of all it should be noted that Hagakure is  interpretation of  thinking of one man, Yamamoto Tsunetomo- which has been collected and written by his pupil Tashiro Tsuramoto .Before we analyze Hagakure , we should be aware of certain historical events. Firearms   arrived in Japan with the Portuguese in 1543 .Pragmatic  Japanese have realized the strategic advantage of firearms and adopted it almost immediately .Famous Battle of Nagashino in 1575 . marked the beginning of the end of the samurai as a warrior in Japan. Oda Nobunaga ,using firearms, buried behind a palisade with an army composed of people from the lower social cast  (mainly farmers) who were mostly Christian converts virtually wiped northern cavalry of Takeda Katsuyori  .Tokegawa Ieyasu  in 1600  in the battle of Sekigahara again showed power of the firearms and literally obliterated  an army  loyal to Toyotomi Hideyori. It became clear that ,regardless of all the combat experience and skills possessed by the samurai ,they simply have no chance in a fight against people armed with  firearms and only 6 months of tactical training. Since that time standing army was made up mostly of the lower social levels of the population. The samurai, as the nobility and not having any real authority nor there was a need for their military engagement began to engage  with the administrative work in order to survive. Shogunate era is the era of peace, and there was no opportunity  to gain any combat experience. Samurai class was under the watchful eye of shoguns who followed their every step and shortly after the establishment of the shogunate duels were prohibited .Glorified ritual suicide was actually a consequence of the law introduced in the late 17th century which enable the Shogun to easily and without trial get rid of political enemies. The law prohibits the assets of the people convicted to the death penalty  can be transferred to successors and will be taken by the state ,while the property of a man who killed himself without obstacles conveys to the successors. Thus, the shoguns, without trial, far from the public eye had the ability to easily  get rid of those who are unfit.
 Hagakure is a work made more than 100 years after establishment the Shogunate . For more than a century there was no war in Japan.  Yamamoto Tsunetomo ,  whose stories were used as a base foundation for Hagakure , was a samurai who didn’t commit suicide , as the law ,which he wrote later himself , required , after his feudal lord committed suicide wich was a result of disagreement with the politics of the Shogun . In order to avoid persecution he escaped in a Buddhist monastery and became a monk / Later he became spiritual leader to young samurai from wealthy families . It is important to note that  Yamamoto Tsunetomo didn’t have any fighting experience besides beheading people conviceted to the death penalty . What  beyond doubt is taken as the original work that completely true speaks  about the life of the samurai is actually a very free interpretation of a man who lived in peace,with no fighting experience , escaped death disregarding the law and  later as a Buddhist monk, taught younger generations of ethical and moral values ​​of Buddhism.
Hagakure is more romantic vision of the life of one disappearing  social class than it actually has any  basis in the the reality  .This work can not even pass a superficial historical analysis. The truth of the samurai warriors before Shogunate is the same as a truth about all the warriors all over the world. The samurai were brutal warriors, very skilled in their way of warfare .For thing such  as honor, morality and loyalty  valid historical sources (not fictionalized histories and biographies written for a wide audience) should be consulted , and you can quickly see that betrayal, intrigue, contract killings, changing sides are nothing  unknown to a samurai as it was case anywhere else in the world . Samurai fought for pay, and they went where they were better paid..

While it is clear that  samurai in the modern war have absolutely no role, spirit of samurai so magnificently presented and glorified was a great propaganda tool in creating ways of thinking for young generation in the period from the late 19th century until 1945 which was actually a period og Japan  imperial raising. The real truth is that  bushido was  formalized during  the shogunate era, an era of peace and prosperity and no  there are valid data about any code of samurai , if such even existed before late 17th century. While Hagakure and "Bushido, the spirit of Japan" reflect the samurai as a harmless people full of grandeur and all human qualities, the truth is that they were cold-blooded killers . The conclusion is obvious, bushido has nothing to do with the actual medieval samurai but has everything to do with Japanese imperialism  in time from 1895 to 1945. And finally I leave the link that has some interesting details about the samurai way of life.


http://www.stthomasu.ca/~parkhill/cj01/irepam.htm