Japanese History

I’ve been reading a rather fun martial arts book for the past couple of months. It’s called The Ultimate Samurai Guide: An Insider Looks at Japanese Martial Arts and Surviving in the Land of Bushido and Zen. It’s written by Alexander Bennett, a Kendoka who has been living, working, and training in Japan for close to 25 years. In this book, he describes the “requirement” for western martial artists to have a passing understanding of three significant leaders in Japanese history. Recently, West Sensei, summarized the three leaders and the importance with the following: 

Here is a short Japanese saying that is important to know as a practitioner of a Japanese martial art. It is based on the history of Japan with the end of the Sengoku period (戦国時代 Sengoku Jidai, “Age of Warring States”; c. 1467 – c. 1600, and the initiation of the Tokugawa Shogunate that resulted in 240 years of peace. The lines go in order from earliest to the last Shogun:

“If you don’t sing, I will kill you.” Nobunaga Oda

“If you don’t sing, I will make you sing.” Hideyoshi Toyotomi

“If you don’t sing, I will wait until you sing.” Tokugawa Ieyasu 

The meaning of the last is – never give up! Very important in Japanese culture.

By Nate Weed and Jim West

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