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Owarikenshi
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:48 pm    Post subject: Books by Roald Knutsen Reply with quote
I've just finished reading a very interesting book by author Roald Knutsen entitled Tengu, subtitled The Shamanic and Esoteric Origins of the Japanese Martial Arts.

This is a quite fascinating documentation of the antiquity of "Tengu" iconography specifically as it relates to the bugei and the tutelary goddess Marishiten. The author shows considerable evidence of its antecedents found all the way back in the mists of prehistory in a number of early cultures. The Silk-Road migrations of these ancient peoples, and the changes their early shamanic forms underwent as they encountered each new people on their way ultimately to the Yamabushi of Muromachi Japan is certainly thought-provoking to say the least.

Now my question. Knutson identifies himself as a renshi in Kendo, and also claims a menkyo-kaiden in "one of the oldest traditons of iai-jutsu." In my experience, most holders of such a license will publicly name their ryu. I am not questioning this obviously very learned gentleman's claim; just wondering if anyone else out there knows anything about him, and in which traditions he has trained. He also has written a book about so-jutsu, and in this one frequently mentions Kashima shrine.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have read several of Mr Knutsen's books. He is certainly well qualified in kendo, and was the head of the British Kendo Renmei (maybe he still is) (based in the Lewes & Brighton area of the UK) and also studied bujutsu during his time in Japan, but i don't know the details of this. If my memory serves me correctly, he was connected with the Eishin-ryu, but don't quote me on that.

I like the fact that he comes from a different line than the USA based Japanese martial art experts (Draeger, Armstrong, Skoss etc.) and has a different take on things than they do.

His Rediscovering Budo is a good read, as is his one on Sun Tzu in the Classical Martial Arts. I hadn't come across the Tengu one - I'll look out for it.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi!

I agree with everything you said, and you're right about the Eishin-ryu connection; very old branch. I did some research and found out who he is and as you say his credentials are impeccable.

Having gotten so much out of Tengu, I ordered his Sun Tzu and am reading it now. Very, very important stuff for anyone who does koryu in particular.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
A bit of thread necromancy, but I found Knutsen's book Sun Tzu and the Art of Japanese Medieval Warfare today while poking around on Amazon.

It's mentioned here in the thread, but was wondering if anyone had any further insight on it, or on Knutsen. I'm very interested in how samurai commanders, particularly post-Onin but any commander, applied Chinese tactical and strategic thought. However, a couple of questions that come to mind:

1. Given that Knutsen is a high-ranking kendo/iaidoka, does this book focus on how Sun Tzu is used by individual swordsmen? Is it a martial arts book? While interesting, knowing how Tsukahara Bokuden utilized the teachings of the Sun Zi isn't really relevant to what I'm studying. The title refers to "medieval Japanese warfare" which would indicate it's about, you know, warfare...not dualists.

2. The only two books I have by Knutsen are "Tales from the Samurai" and "Enshin the Reluctant Samurai", which are children's stories about the samurai. What does anyone know about Knutsen as a researcher and writer? Is it all just based on his martial arts experience? I suppose if the answer to my first question is that it's about individual swordsmen, it doesn't really matter what the answer to this question is. But if his qualifications for writing are that he's a umpteenth-dan kendoka, that's great for writing books about weapons or kendo or whatever; it doesn't by itself qualify him as a reputable source on medieval warfare, or the Sun Zi.

Thoughts? Ultimately I'm deciding whether or not to buy it for $68 or wait to eventually find it through a university library.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
So I'm guessing since there was no response that no one has comments. I'll wait to find it through a library.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I only have the books on polearms by him and his wife. They really are the only books dealing with the subject in English and are pretty well researched. I was reluctant to comment because of this limited exposure. John
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have the book, and I like it, but I'm not sure how to judge the research. It contains quite a lot of insights and discussion, and these are quite illuminating, but it doesn't really discuss warfare as much as the individual warrior.

It's been a few years since I last looked at it, but from what I remember, it dealt more with the way tactical/strategic concepts from Sun Tzu were embodied in the ryu-ha and so passed on to different levels of student (grunts, officers and leaders, respectively), than with how these were specifically used in war. Some of these tactical concepts also appear in Sun Tzu, but I'm not sure they entered the ryu-ha from Sun Tzu. In fact, I would be more inclined to think that the concepts of swordsmanship were validated in use and then applied to wider applications, than to believe that theoretical concepts taken from written sources were added at a deep structural level.

Worth reading, but probably not for $68, unless you're better funded than I am at present.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks Graculus, that confirms what I thought.

As I move forward down this particular path of research, it seems I'd need to read the book, if he addresses how concepts from Sunzi are used in the training of individual soldiers (which I'm getting from your use of the word "grunts") and leaders. It's certainly possible that teaching a concept through individual training could also transfer the concept to a group setting--ie, if each leader is taught of concentrating your effort and only striking once your opponent opens their guard, that concept can translate to a general waiting to strike the enemy's army when there is a glaring weakness.

Also, I'd be interested in anything he asserts regarding the transmission of the Sunzi texts from China to and then around Japan. Clearly it was available as a text in Japan, but how well read was it? How does he make the case and connect the dots between what he's seeing in the ryu-ha and what we read in Sunzi? If it's "well, this is in Sunzi, and we can see something like this in this case in XXX ryu-ha", then that's pretty circumstantial. Not invalid, but not an iron-clad connection, either. If he can point to where Yagyu Daredare wrote in 1674 about a concept he read in the Sonshi, that's a much clearer connection.

But since the thrust of the work is on the individual, yeah, I don't see needing to spend $68 on it.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
the early discovery that the tengu of the Muromachi period were interacting with the deadly serious bugei masters teaching the arts of war.
http://www.brill.com/tengu

Does the guy have border between myth and fact?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, I think so. He argues in another work (Rediscovering Budo, I think) that myths of the tengu grew up around traditions of yamabushi who originally came over in one of the waves of immigration/invasion, and were a separate tribe/social group from the mainstream Yamato; among other things, they were shamans and perpetuated certain traditions of polearm use that ran parallel to bush in the later period.
(or something like that).

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Graculus wrote:
Yes, I think so. He argues in another work (Rediscovering Budo, I think) that myths of the tengu grew up around traditions of yamabushi who originally came over in one of the waves of immigration/invasion, and were a separate tribe/social group from the mainstream Yamato; among other things, they were shamans and perpetuated certain traditions of polearm use that ran parallel to bush in the later period.
(or something like that).



immigration...a separate TRIBE...

....tengu are depicted with elongated noses...big noses are a Jewish stereotype....

HOLY CRAP THE TENGU ARE THE LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL THAT MIGRATED TO JAPAN! IT'S TRUE! THIS IS PROOF!!!!

Shocked
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
traditions of yamabushi who originally came over in one of the waves of immigration/invasion, and were a separate tribe/social group from the mainstream Yamato; among other things


Seems like the whole story is based on his imagination.
Term of Yamabushi isn't migrants, they are mountain monks.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think Yamabushi is exaggerated among foreign martial artists because of popularity of Ninja.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
I think Yamabushi is exaggerated among foreign martial artists because of popularity of Ninja.


That sounds about right.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Whether or not you agree with Knutsen's ideas, he's certainly nothing to do with ninja groupies.

His argument, as best I remember it, is that a tribal group, possibly with a shamanic role, crossed over to Japan during the Puyo-Kayan invasions, became marginalized, and certain of their traditions, aspects of religion etc became associated with or absorbed by what were to become the yamabushi traditions.

I don't think he presents more than circumstantial evidence, but he is looking at links with Altaic griffon motifs, totems of the goddess Marici (Marishiten) etc. so it is serious if not scholarly.

Actually, looking back at the OP, Owarikenshi says something similar.

What I would say about Knutsen's books in general, is that you are going to get a blend of personal insight and (non-systematic) research based on his many years of studying martial arts. If you value that sort of thing, there's a lot in there; if you have slogged through a Ph.D yourself, it will probably drive you crazy.

That having been said, I feel he offers some valuable insights based on real experience, as well as some other…food for thought. I would encourage you to chivvy your local public library into action as they are worth a read.

Graculus
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
His argument, as best I remember it, is that a tribal group, possibly with a shamanic role, crossed over to Japan during the Puyo-Kayan invasions, became marginalized, and certain of their traditions, aspects of religion etc became associated with or absorbed by what were to become the yamabushi traditions.

I don't think he presents more than circumstantial evidence, but he is looking at links with Altaic griffon motifs, totems of the goddess Marici (Marishiten) etc. so it is serious if not scholarly.


Are you talking about Buddhism?
I don't know what the Altaic griffon motifs but Marishiten is Buddhism.
http://kaizenji.org/sonota/marisi.html

Shugendo was formed by mixing Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Japan's native mountain worship plus Shinto, Onmyodo and folk beliefs.
Quote:
修験道は、自然の中でも特に「山」を神聖視してきた日本人古来の山岳信仰に、インドの宗教である仏教や、中国の宗教である道教や儒教など、外来の宗教が結びつき、さらにそこに神道や陰陽道、民間信仰などまでが取り入れられ、次第に形成されてきました。
http://www.ubasoku.jp/presentation/shugendo.htm


Does Knutsen think a group of Indians brought Buddhism(Marishiten) to Japan??
Who were the tribal group?
What kind of historical record did he refer?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's been more than ten years since I read the book, so I can't remember the details, but somewhere in the mix of
Quote:
Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Japan's native mountain worship plus Shinto, Onmyodo and folk beliefs
that you mentioned may lie the strand Knutsen was talking about.

The griffon totem motif predates Buddhism but I think the point was that strands of different traditions can be woven together (as in shugendo, for example), and whatever it was that crossed over to Japan from Korea would not be a religion that we recognize now.

Knutsen doesn't think Indians brought Marishiten to Japan - I don't think there is any firm evidence on exactly where Japan's invaders/settlers came from…Korea, of course, but their roots were elsewhere…and he sees this group's roots as being further north.

Does he provide full documentation for this - no I don't think he does. But I think there is little documentation on much of that period anyway, and none that I've seen on the origin of shugendo and the yamabushi, so he is not alone in this. Do I believe in his theory? I haven't seen enough evidence either way, but there are certainly things he writes that I don't agree with, as well as those that I find interesting.

Graculus

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:

HOLY CRAP THE TENGU ARE THE LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL THAT MIGRATED TO JAPAN! IT'S TRUE! THIS IS PROOF!!!!


HOLY CRAP!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
What century does he believe the mysterious tribal group came to Japan?

Quote:
Knutsen doesn't think Indians brought Marishiten to Japan - I don't think there is any firm evidence on exactly where Japan's invaders/settlers came from…Korea, of course, but their roots were elsewhere…and he sees this group's roots as being further north.


What's the invader?
Can you be more specific?
That sounded like a part of human migration from Africa to East.
Human beings migrated from *** to ### thousands years ago therefore &&&(A.D.1000) in ### were ***.
Leap in logic?


The Buddhism in Shugendo is Mikkyo.
The Mikkyo were Shingonshu and Tendaishu, both were brought from China by Kentoshi.
There are records.
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