No​-​Sword Sword

by TA2MI

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We are delighted to present this new release from TA2MI, featuring his friend DJ Shark - a legendary figure within Japanese hip-hop. A multi-award winning battle DJ, who was also responsible for the development of early generations of DJ mixers through working with Technics, DJ Shark has spent many years in New York - whenever US artists come to Japan they tend to look him up, and right now he is on tour with Edo.G.

To provide a little more background to the samurai theme of this release - Tatsumi’s own ancestors were samurai before in the 16th century asking the local warlord Kato Kiyomasa for permission to start the family temple. The region of Southern Kyushu where he lives continues to have a strong identification with the values of the samurai, reflecting the historical events of the Satsuma Rebellion. On one occasion when I was accompanying Tatsumi on his morning prayer rounds, we visited an elderly gentlemen in his fairly decrepit and dank farm house. After Tatsumi had made the ritual offering at the family shrine and it was time to go, as I was putting my shoes back on by the entrance door I was shocked to notice in the umbrella stand a few swords alongside a couple of golf clubs. Noticing my surprise, the old man cackled and beckoned me back into the main room, where he briskly opened a cupboard to reveal a grand helmet, replete with huge deer antlers, whilst telling me about his grandfather who had given it to him. On close inspection, the chips and marks clearly showed that this had once been a great deal more than an ornamental object, and was a strong reminder that in Japan something of the medieval is still relatively close to the surface for many people, given that the modernisations of the Meiji Restoration only took place 150 years ago.

This release is named after a particularly striking piece of samurai wisdom, taken from Daisetsu Suzuki’s ‘Zen and Japanese Culture’:

When Bokuden was crossing Lake Biwa in a rowboat with a number of passengers, there was among them a rough-looking samurai, stalwart and arrogant in every possible way. He boasted of his skill in swordsmanship, saying that he was a foremost man in the art. The fellow passengers were eagerly listening to his blatant talk, while Bokuden was dozing as if nothing were going on about him. This irritated the braggart very much. He approached Bokuden and shook him, saying “You also carry a pair of swords, why not say a word?” Answered Bokuden quietly, “My art is different from yours; it consists not in defeating others, but in not being defeated.” This incensed the fellow immensely.

“What is your school then?”

“Mine is known as the mutekatsu school” (which means to defeat the enemy without hands, that is, without using a sword).

“Why, then, do you yourself carry a sword?”

“This is meant to do away with selfish motives, and not to kill others.”

The man’s anger knew no bounds, and he exclaimed in a most impassioned manner, “Do you really mean to fight me with no swords?”

“Why not?” was Bokuden’s answer.

The braggart samurai called out to the boatman to row toward the nearest land. But Bokuden suggested that it would be better to go to the island further off because the mainland might attract people who were liable to get somehow hurt. The samurai agreed. The boat headed toward the solitary island at some distance. As soon as they were near engouh, the man jumped off the boat and drawing his sword was all ready for a combat. Bokuden leisurely took off his own swords and handed them to the boatman. To all appearances he was about to follow the samurai onto the island, when Bokuden suddenly took the oar away from the boatman and, pushing it against the land, gave a hard backstroke to the boat. Thereupon the boat made a precipitous departure from the island and plunged into the deeper water safely away from the samurai. Bokuden smilingly remarked, “This is my ‘no-sword’ school.”


released May 12, 2015