The book consists of four chapters as follows:

  • Chapter 1 - Commencement of Japanese Military History;
  • Chapter 2 - The education of the Japanese Military and Naval Officers etc;
  • Chapter 3 - "Kenjutsu," or Japanese Fencing; and
  • Chapter 4 - Japanese Wrestling - Sumo and Jujutsu.

The chapter on the history of military development needs to be treated with some circumspection.  Its interest is more in what the insight of an Englishman was at that time, rather than in the accuracy of its contents.  By way of example we have this statement on page 2:

"With the introduction of feudalism into the country, the study of military arts and sciences spread apace among the "soldier gentry" of old Japan, and that is just what the samurai of old were.  Japan has always turned to China for initiation and instruction upon the higher planes of thought and sentiment.  And so it was to China that the samurai went in order to perfect themselves in their studies, but it was not long before they improved upon the teachings and methods of their models."

Whilst it is quite wrong that the samurai went to China to perfect themselves, the notion did take some traction and the belief persisted for some time.

Page 3 touches upon the concept of " bushido" and  it may be that he took aim at Inazo Nitobe who published his book on bushido in the same year as Norman was published.[2]  The comments made by Norman, however, are representative of a number of Western commentators of that era.

Norman did his training in swordsmanship through the Takanawa Police Station.  He interestingly says (at page 40) - "  … the majority of fencing masters in Tokyo looked upon his [Umezawa, his teacher] teaching me Japanese swordsmanship as a sort of renegade act." This was a prevalent view taken by martial arts teachers towards westerners in the Meiji Restoration.  The more "modern" schools doing kendo and judo had a more relaxed attitude.


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