Samurai Wiki

The folks who run the Samurai Archives history site are in the process of developing a wiki on all things Samurai, from clan histories to film synopses.

The number of articles so far is pretty limited, but they are working hard and it looks like they are doing things the right way. They seem to have an honest spirit of inquiry and cooperation and are building an original and well researched body of knowledge. This is a worthwhile project, and it would be worthwhile for anybody who has something to add to contribute.

In general, I’ve found Samurai Archives and their related forums to be an excellent resource with far less ego and argument than most of the martial-arts focused forums I follow.

I think it is a notable that the martial arts community has a poor relationship with wikis. The relevant articles on Wikipedia are prone to errors and pointless edit wars. Independent wikis have failed to take-off much, although there is a Sword Arts Wiki and the Martial Talk Encyclopedia, neither of which are very interesting so far. I think that part of the problem is that those who are truly knowledgeable are not interested in writing/marinating information for “outsiders,” leaving fanboys and zealous acolytes to write what is out there (see this thread). The other problem is that martial artists are notoriously bad at working together. Of course, who am I to complain when I am writing for my own site rather than contributing?

List of Classical Japanese Dojos in the Bay Area

Out of some sense of OCD, I wrote up some notes of mine on various classical Japanese martial arts schools in the Bay Area.

It seems like people are out there, looking for these types of schools, but since they are small and unable to advertise it is hard to find them if you don’t know the exact right questions to ask.

It turns out that there are more schools avaiable out there than one might think. Depending on how you count, there are 20-30 classical-style schools I know of that have something valuable to offer students: ranging from aiki-jujutsu to iaido/battodo to kyudo.

Obi Tying

I find we spend a fair amount of time teaching students to tie their obi and hakama correctly. (And admittedly, I don’t tie my hakama quite correctly myself). If you are going to practice in the traditional costume, it’s worth understanding all the knots.

This is by far the clearest set of directions I’ve seen. It’s all in Japanese, but the pictures are very good: FYI, hit the green button at the bottom of each page to see the next steps.

If you can stand butchered pidgin, here’s Google’s translation

We teach students the “mountain knot” (page 2; p1 transl; p2 transl.) This is relatively easy to tie, and has the advantage for jujutsu that it is flat and thus doesn’t hurt when you fall on it. (Note, this is the 2nd obi knot pictured)

I myself prefer the“clamshell knot” (transl.), which is a little tighter of a knot and is still pretty flat if you tie it correctly. Note that the beginning steps are the same as for the mountain knot. (Note, this is the 1st obi knot pictured)

For tying hakama, we teach the “jumonji” (cross-shaped) knot (p2. p3. p4. p5.; trans 1 trans 2 trans 3 trans 4 trans 5) It’s like a bowtie for your hara.

I’ve seen clearer instructions for hakama folding that these, but the kimono folding instuctions are pretty good