logo   t

Book Review:
Bokken: Art of the Japanese Sword Book

Bokken: Art of the Japanese Sword, by Dave Lowery (Black Belt Books 1986)
Sword instruction is difficult. While there are videos and books which attempt to teach one the many styles of swordplay found in the Oriental arts, they cannot replace a competent instructor. Having said that, Lowery, a well-known and high-ranking sword sensei, has done an extremely competent job in writing this book. It is as close to a study guide that this reviewer has seen for this most complicated martial art. There are 191 pages of information, which includes large, clear photographs accompanied by well-written instructions.

According to the glossary of this book, the bokken is “wooden practice sword used as a substitute for a steel blade in saburi practice. The bokken matches in weight and shape the approximate dimensions of a real sword”.


In eight chapters, the author explains the origin of the bokken, training with and selection of the bokken and equipment, basics, striking methods, combination techniques, and techniques with a partner. Valuable advice is also provided, such as: “Try to make the bokken stop at the same instant the step is completed and force the wrists to do the work of moving it, never raising or lowering the elbows”. There is, additionally, a chapter on the meaning and importance of the bow, and a Glossary.

While swords are not practical for self-defense in general and Taiho-Jutsu in particular, sword fighting is a royal, noble, and majestic art which can enhance nearly all forms of unarmed fighting systems. It may be studied as an art unto itself, or as a supplement and complement to other arts. This reviewer would recommend those at the Black Belt level of almost any art avail themselves of instruction by a qualified sensei.

As a separate study, a guide for the beginner, or a complement for one already studying the bokken, this text is highly recommended. The book is currently available, and may be purchased in bookstores and online.


Return to Table of Contents