Book Review – The Sensei’s Sword.

The Sensei’s Sword. The Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Samurai Sword.       Paul J Batman O’Brien

Paul has been training in Martial Arts since childhood, studying many subjects such as Karate and Aikido. In recent years his focus has been on Iaido, the Arts of drawing and cutting with sword in a single motion. Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is the school he studies. It is a Koryu {old school} system and as such contains in-depth teachings on the sword. He also recently started a study group in Dublin for Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu, the style founded by Mushashi. I had the pleasure to visit both classes. If I had the time I would certainly train with him and his group often.


He wrote this book to better help his students understand the structure of a sword. For beginning students {and some more advanced ones too} terminology can be a bit of a stumbling block and Paul explains in plain English the parts of the swords. All the Japanese names are clearly marked. As such a reader could start this book with little to no knowledge of the Japanese Sword and by the end should have a basic understanding of terms, of its construction, and history.

The history section of this book, I found to be especially interesting. He explains the influences behind the changing shape of the sword and changes in forging methods. Alongside the development of Sword School which of course greatly affected the history of sword.

There are chapters for each part of the sword. The Tsuba {hand guard} chapter was of interest to me and answered some questions I hadn’t been able to figure out myself.

I would recommend this book to anyone studying a Japanese Martial Art or anyone simply curious of Japanese Swords. It is concise, well written and easy enough to understand and refer back too. For more info please see Paul’s website.



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