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Zen & Confucius in the Art of Swordsmanship

Outside, winter has returned with a lashing gale and I've pulled from my bookcase, a twenty year old copy of 'The Tengu-geijutsu-ron of Chozan Shissai', his 17th century treatise on the interpretation and art of Japanese swordsmanship. Together with Yamamoto Tsunetomo's 'Hagakure' and of course, Miyamoto Musashi's 'Book of Five Rings', this book represents one of the principal philosophical works on kenjutsu and its objective of technical self mastery, "The four fundamental virtues of swordsmanship"; of being "Motionless in motion".



Meanwhile, Hollywood gives us the vengeance-loaded 'Kill Bill' and Tom Cruise in 'The Last Samurai" and generally misses the point in sweeping, wide screen dramatisation which goes down well with popcorn in the cinemas. It's good to know that in the 21st century, anything profound, religious or faintly spritual, can be reduced into a neat ninety minute package by the film industry. Up and coming next month, we've even got 'Troy' with Brad Pitt,. Not in any way a religious or philosophical experience but there's a Trojan Horse and lots of action. I wonder if Homer would recognise the plot now that Hollywood owns the copyright on the Iliad and CocaCola, the soda rights?

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