Review: Fujita Seiko:The Last Koga Ninja by Philip T. Hevener

This was a thoroughly researched work with over 140 footnotes on a relatively obscure historical character. Sounds like it’s right up my alley. I initially purchased the book for more insight regarding James Mitose, as he’s mentioned in the book. Of course the mention is regarding his never having trained with Motobu Choki, which is a position I hold as well. I was somewhat disappointed however to learn that the source for this material was a recent Fighting Arts International article in which Graham Noble interviewed Motobu Chosei. This wasn’t much of a goldmine for me, as I’ve already had the chance myself to ask the same question to Motobu Chosei, and he was quite forthright with his answer.
However, my disappointment wasn’t complete. The author, Philip T. Hevener, was a Bujinkan practitioner, and was forthright in his potential bias in his prologue. He also explained that some potential ‘shaping’ of the story was possible due to the fact that the majority of the stories were from anecdotal evidence from a single family. With this out of the way, the author then gently guided the reader through some interesting (and some times fantastical) scenes from a truly enigmatic martial artist. Fujita Seiko the man was more interesting than Fujita Seiko the legend. By the time I was done, I felt like I had read an earnest biography that painted a fair picture of this mysterious martial artist.
Despite the potential biases, I felt the author did a good, honest job, and the book was well worth the $9.00 I paid for it. It wasn’t necessarily an exciting page turner due to the authors academic style of writing (that almost bordered on the pedantic style of my forum posts), but I feel that style helped counterbalance the occasionally mystical stories that were told about Fujita Seiko.

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