Secrets of Sword-Fighters’ ‘Supernatural Powers’ Revealed in a Samurai Text

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Secrets of Sword-Fighters’ ‘Supernatural Powers’ Revealed in a Samurai Text


Warriors of premodern Japan were called samurai. They used a range of weapons oin their battles, including spears and guns, bows and arrows, and many more. But their main weapon and symbol was the sword. Everything that a samurai must know is in a book called “Twelve Rules of the Sword.” However, the book doesn’t only contain common knowledge about the subject, it also reveals the secrets of a sword-fighting school that mastered a technique that apparently gives supernatural powers.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


According to an article by Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, the “Twelve Rules of the Sword,” from the 17th century, came from a samurai named Itō Ittōsai. He was born around 1650, however, researchers are not sure when died. According to historical records, he may have lived to be over 90. Translator Eric Shahan says the text contains rules for beating an opponent. It also includes two magical prayers to enhance a samurai's spirit and mind.


Photo Credit: Live Science


However, Ittōsai wasn’t the one who wrote the “Twelve Rules of the Sword.” The descendants of his students at the One Cut sword-fighting school, who he taught the techniques to orally, recorded them in writing. One of the rules included in the text is called “eyes of the heart” which means "you should not look at your opponent with your eyes, but view them with your spirit … If you look with your eyes you may get distracted, however by looking with your mind you remain focused." During the 17th century, people in Japan believed that someone who mastered this technique had supernatural powers. 


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Another rule in the book is called “heart of the fox” which warns samurai against being overly cautious. "Instead of fleeing in one direction, they stop here and there checking what is behind them. During one of these delays, the hunter circles around and kills the fox. The lesson here is that an excess of caution leads to the fox's downfall," the rule states. According to Shahan, the samurai who learned the One Cut school of sword-fighting techniques only shows that they have trained all their lives so the techniques were ingrained into their bodies. 




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