Geoff Salmon sensei passed away recently on November 9, 2018. I really wanted to see him personally but now I cannot. Rest in peace sensei. But today I will provide a small tribute by bringing a review on his amazing book “Kendo: A Comprehensive Guide to Japanese Swordsmanship”.
This book is an instructional book and is very well written. Geoff Salmon himself is 7-dan, he lived in the UK.
As we continue on to his work, I must say the book is very detailed. I’ll highlight some of the reasons for having a look at this book.
It’s both authentic and traditional. Until I got this copy, I didn’t know his sensei was Matsumoto Toshio sensei. He was 9 dan. Mastumo sensei was Shinan (the headmaster) of the dōjō that I used to go to go in Japan. Which is located in Hyōgo Prefecture and the dōjō’s called Shūbukan.
I’m sure Geoff Salmon sensei met Mutsumo sensei somewhere else, but the Matsumoto sensei was shihan, and he taught my sensei. That means we are blood related; kendo-wise of course.
So when I saw that, I thought this book must be a real deal, and it was! Once reading through it, I saw the terminology is very traditional as well; adding to the authenticity.
other strong point is its’ simplicity, which helps in understanding concepts
and the book. He writes in a flow; really easy to understand and that’s why
it’s good for beginners. It’s also good for Japanese people as well, very easy.
It also includes pictures. Sometimes these things get complicated, so it’s helpful to understand them from other sources and these pictures. Nowadays you have YouTube, it’s a good world, you can read this and go to YouTube or senior students (senpai). So you can make sure you’re doing your things right.
Examples: You have many methods, we will use example of how to put on tenugui: we have 3 methods. Sometimes even how to tie your dō on chichikawa, there are different ways.
I have my own ways; the way I was taught from my sensei I’ve never seen people doing it the way I do outside my dōjō. So things might be a bit different but it’s very important for us to know these things. The good news is, in this book, it’s all there and very detailed for you. Simple but detailed. Who doesn’t like that?
He covers many things. For example, he has specifications for competition use of one shinai (ittō) and two shinai (nitō). He includes specification of measurements in inches and centimetres, which is very helpful. Salmon sensei also includes shinai types, like standard shaped shinai, Kotō style and Dōbari style, it’s very useful to know. I like the pictures as well, which are very detailed.
If you have my book, Kendo Guide For Beginners, it’s very similar; for this reason, I felt very close and related to his teachings through Matsumoto sensei. As mentioned, Matsumoto sensei was shinan of my dōjō in my city; the area where I was born and lived. And that is where he was born and lived. He started his kendo at Shūbukan as well as a child. I feel very close to Salmon sensei because of that too.
Enzan no metsuke and shikai; he covers all these details in this book. I’ll be using it so I can learn the way he explains ideas.
I believe I noticed a typo in the book. It’s chapter 2, page 51. It’s under “WAZA”, he says “mitsu-no-sen”, but it’s supposed to be mittsu-no-sen. It’s not a big deal. The sentence is simply missing one “T”. He has mittsu-no-sen, which is very high level and high concept, so it’s probably hard for beginners, but intermediate or advanced level should know this.
Aside from this, if you’re looking for something simple yet detailed this is the one to go for.
Where to get your copy:
It’s not very expensive so grab your copy for this invaluable work from Geoff Salmon Sensei. He also has his own blog at kindoinfo.net. I personally didn’t know he had a fan page, so please go ahead and like it and support him.
This is very important, even if you don’t buy the book, it’s very important to support those sensei(s). These sensei are very rare. They are trying to do good things and make Kendo popular in multiple good ways. They need support. If you buy the book, he gets money and financial support, so that means they can reach out to more people. So please support in any way you can, go to Facebook and like it and advertise it so you can help him sell the book. In doing so you’re helping the Kendo community for the next generations because these teachings are very important and will be future resources.
Just one word – get one!
Get your own copy by following this link. https://amzn.to/2V0RqCd
If you have any questions, please comment below or contact me directly.
Revised in February 2019.