The Demon’s Sermon On The Martial Arts: A Graphic Novel

Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts graphic novelI just finished The Demon’s Sermon On The Martial Arts: A Graphic Novel from the book by Issai Chozanshi, based on the translation by William Scott Wilson, adapted by Sean Michael Wilson and illustrated by Michiru Morikawa. It is a great graphic novel adaptation of this classic collection of martial arts parables written by Issai Chozanshi, an eighteenth-century samurai.

The stories feature demons, insects, birds, cats, and numerous other creatures and contain teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of the martial arts. Topics such as the value of chi, the importance of following one’s own nature, the attainment of No-Mind, and ultimately the ability to rely on nothing. This manga version of Chozanshi’s classic tales provides a fresh look at the author’s insights in a quick and easily readable format.

Personally, my favorite stories in the book are “The Owl’s Understanding” and “The Mysterious Technique Of The Cat.” However, with that said, I enjoyed all of them, and think the entire graphic novel should be read and then pondered on to understand and internalize the lessons contained within each.

There is also a four page Afterword that is also an interesting read. It was written by William Scott Wilson and is a fitting conclusion to this graphic novel interpretation of the classic text.  Obviously, this book is not meant to assist a person with physical martial art skills, but rather a text that explores concepts that come from Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto, which have influenced the martial arts of Japan and Asia, and therefor can add to understanding not only martial arts, but life, through their study.

As I get older, I find myself more and more looking toward the mental and what some may call spiritual aspects of training my mind, body and spirit. Ancient texts like “The Demon’s Sermon On The Martial Arts” assist with this study and development, helping make both the mental and physical training something that will last a lifetime. Putting these older stories into the graphic novel format makes the read interesting, and hopefully accessible to some that would never have otherwise looked at this book. I’m glad to have the original on my book shelf, but also glad that I spotted this version on the library shelf to work into my reading and studying.

I highly recommend it to anyone who likes old Japanese stories that convey lessons you can apply to martial arts and life in general.

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