Becoming the Super Samurai

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JackSkills

Fight like Jack

Jack’s an incredibly skilled combatant with almost any weapon, or even just his fists and feet!  I’ve got some recommendations for where to get started on this, based upon the montage we see in the first episode of the show (as referenced in the comic book page above.)  Now, these are just starting points, but if you master all of them (more on mastery later in the post,) I think you could say you’re pretty damn close to being able to fight like Jack!

Kenjutsu/Kendo

Kenjutsu is an overall term used to refer to all kinds of Japanese swordsmanship.  Jack is obviously the most adept at fighting with the Japanese katana, and it is definitely his primary weapon of choice.  Traditional kenjutsu can be a bit difficult to come by in the modern era, though it is becoming more widespread.  If you’re interested in learning how to fight with a katana, Kendo, (the sport-ified version of kenjutsu) might be a bit easier to find.  If you’re in the US, here’s a great directory of active kendo schools to start with!

Stick/Staff

In the cartoon (and comic above,) Jack is shown leaning staff fighting from what appears to be an African tribe.  Now, tome south African cultures practice Nguni Stick Fighting, which is very cool, but not very similar to what is shown in the show/comic.  Nguni stick fighting features two stick instead of one staff (as is pictured and demonstrated in the show during Jack’s training montage.) So, while Nguni stick fighting is cool, if you want to fight like Jack with a staff my actual recommendation would be bojutsu, staff fighting featured in most Okinawan and Japanese martial arts.  It’s worth noting, also, that bojutsu was part of the core curriculum of bushido, the way of the Japanese warrior.

Archery

Jack is depicted as learning archery from a Robin Hood looking character.  This implies that, even though the Japanese samurai have a history of archery themselves, he most likely learned a more European style, most likely featuring the English longbow.  Archery is still quite prominent in many, many areas of the world, both with the popularity of bowhunting, and target archery as a sport.  The best way to get started in archery is just to go to your local sporting good store.  They’ll be able to hook you up with any local classes, organizations, or archery ranges in your area.  They’ll also help you procure equipment for a beginner in the sport!

Greco-Roman Wrestling

Jack is shown learning grappling in a Grecian type environment, meaning, of course, Greco-Roman style wrestling.  Wrestling is unique in the martial arts world in that basically every single region and cultural center of humanity has some form of grappling art.  Though they come in different “flavors,” all forms of grappling usually end up being remarkably similar in the end.  Even better, with the resurgence of popularity that grappling arts are enjoying with the rise of Mixed Martial Arts entertainment, finding a school is easier than ever!  Even if you can’t find a Greco-Roman instructor, you can’t go wrong with Brazilian Jujitsu, Judo, Sambo, American Freestyle, or any of the many other grappling styles out there.

Kung Fu

It’s not specified in the show what styles of kung fu Jack learns, but it’s pretty obvious that he learns a wide range of both armed and unarmed styles while training.  We’ve talked about kung fu here on the blog before, and while it’s a bit difficult, at times, to narrow down to one fighting style, the good news is that it, too, is becoming more and more prolific.  Just keep in mind, however, that some people will call themselves “kung fu” instructors without ever having learned kung fu.  When checking out a school, remember to follow my recommendations on how to avoid a McDojo!

 

Finding the Way

Navigation and sailing are actually depicted multiple times during Jack’s training montage, which makes sense when you consider the fact that he’s traveling the globe to become the super samurai.  In our modern era of GPS-enabled phones (we don’t even use fold-out maps anymore,) the old ways of navigation and pathfinding can be ignored, or forgotten.  There’s a certain romance and practicality to being able to navigate without your smartphone, however.  Now, that’s more than deserving of its own post.  Heck, it’s deserving of its own damn website.

Luckily, there is such a site.

Natural Navigator is a fantastic site that covers not only navigation by the stars, but also by other traditional methods as well!  It’s a fantastically well designed site, and you should definitely check it out.  Here’s a little excerpt from their “navigation by the stars” section!

“All we need do is find a star that is directly above the place we need to get to and it will point exactly the right direction for us, from quarter of the globe away. If you called a friend on the telephone who was in another country a few thousand miles away, and you asked them to name the star that was directly over their head, you could then find that star in the night sky and the point on the horizon directly below that would be their exact direction from you at that moment. Unfortunately, a few minutes later that star would have moved and so you would need a new one. It would take a lot of phone calls to use this method with most stars! Fortunately there is one star in the night sky that does not appear to move. It is called Polaris, or the North Star.”

Attaining Mastery

While originally this was going to be a section of Jack’s own individual skill breakdown, in the process of writing it up, I realized that it deserved its own, full-blown post.  So, look for that on Monday!  Knowing the skills to learn is just one part of becoming a super samurai.  Mastering them, however, is an entirely different game!

I’ll see you again on Monday!  Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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