Autumn Lightning

Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai
Dave Lowry
Shambhala, 2001
Purchase from Amazon (paid link)

When Autumn Lightning appeared back in 1985 (can that be more than twenty years ago?), it was the first personal account of training in the Japanese classical martial arts, and it caught the imagination of a generation of young American martial artists, and fanned the first sparks of interest in the koryu outside of Japan. Although many of the “koryu pundits” (they have less-flattering epithets elsewhere on the Internet), initially were extremely skeptical of the author’s claims, he turns out to be the exception that proves the rule. He really did learn a very orthodox style of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu that branched off the main line several centuries ago, and he learned it in Springfield, Missouri. In fact, Dave’s relationship with his teacher was much more traditional than what most of us who trained in Japan experienced. And, with the enthusiasm of youth, and a group of ex-pat Japanese to query, Dave (impertinently?) asked many of the questions we were too timid, or not educated enough to ask. He’s incorporated much of this information into Autumn Lightning and its sequel Persimmon Wind, and thus provides invaluable supplementary information for koryu students training in the West.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you are in for a treat, and I urge you to grab a copy and dig in. If your own copy has been read to tatters, or worse, been lent out never to be seen again, then by all means take this opportunity to get a new one!

Diane Skoss

Copyright ©2006 Diane Skoss. All rights reserved.