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Understand?   Good.   Play!
A statement affirming Sōke's belief in our judgment as individuals. You may be guided, but not taught. You must eventually discover the secrets of the art by yourself and for yourself. And once the knowledge is yours, you have to rely on your own better judgment as to how to use it, when to use it, and to whom to reveal it.

“The timing for this book could not be better. It embodies the spirit of bunbu ryodō — the pursuit of scholarship and warriorship.”
- Masaaki Hatsumi, Sōke

“UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! is destined to become the lexicon of Bujinkan martial arts. I daresay anyone who reads it, martial artist or not, will be moved by the wisdom and humanity revealed within. When I read these `Words of Consequence’ I can hear Masaaki Hatsumi’s voice, see his face, imagine his movements — echoes of the joyous times we have had together, whispers that will guide my training always. For those who haven’t been fortunate enough to know this great martial artist, it is a glimpse at the mind and heart of an exceptional human being.”
- Jack Hoban, Spring Lake, New Jersey, USA

“I am fascinated by this catalog of Hatsumi-Sensei’s wit and wisdom. They give a personal insight into his Budō that is rarely available outside of training directly with him. I expect to read and re-read them over and over. Ben and his associates have done a great job in reducing the gap between Sensei and his students all over the world.”
- Mark Hodel, http://www.winjutsu.com/ administrator

“This book is with no doubt the BEST book ever being released to the public! It will become the basic instructional book to understand Hatsumi Sensei’s feelings. All practitioners in the Bujinkan should read it many times as it reveals Sensei’s inner thoughts little by little. I have been attending many classes with Sensei in Japan and I can assure you that the text written in this book is 200% true. Actually, while reading the book, I cannot help seeing Sensei teaching! Thank you Ben for letting us share with you the deep understanding you have acquired through the years translating Sensei’s ideas, thoughts and feelings. Thank you!”
- Arnaud Cousergue, http://www.budomart.com/ administrator

“This book is brilliant, not only are the pictures beautiful, but the quotations from Hatsumi-Sōke are presented in such a way, that you can read it everyday — and some will give you a hard time figuring out. In my opinion, this is THE book on Bujinkan and what it takes to live the life. This is not about being the toughest, but rather being the one most human, natural and kind to fellow beings. At least that is what I got from it. Amazing. My highest recommendation for everyone.”
- Michael, Wuppertal, Germany

“When I first attended a Taikai with Hatsumi back in the 1980s, I was struck by his clear and simple way of explaining the art in words. This is of course partly because of the translation problem, and the fact that things move fast at seminars Taikai’s. When reading this new book I once again see myself at Taikai. I can hear Hatsumi’s voice through the written words — because it is his way of teaching, and therefore I have had a great new experience. A sort of deja vu. This book is fantastic! It gives the reader valuable information about what Hatsumi really thinks. Among many things, he states that there are good teachers and not-so-good-teachers, no matter what rank they have. It encourages the reader to `keep going’ and follow your own heart and the guidance of the book Bujinkan. Read it now — and again in 5 years!”
- Jens Odgaard, Denmark

“I’m not associated with the Bujinkan and my experience with its nine arts is sparse. However, this is one of the better books on combat I have ever read. Like the best Budō books (Hagakure, Book of Five Rings, The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War) there are mysteries in many of the statements that can only be unlocked through practice and a subconscious understanding. You can read one passage and have enough to work from for quite a while. I had no idea that my pristine, barely-read copy could fetch such a fantastically high price, and that gives me all the more incentive to hang onto it for dear life and spend more time with it. And by more time I mean 10 minutes to read something (two or three times, or more) and hours or even years figuring it out. Good stuff — too bad more martial arts books aren’t written like this. We only seem to get anything this good about once every two hundred years or so.”
- Dan Bergevin, review from Amazon.com

“This is not so much a conventional book but more a collection of thoughts, quotes and ideas put forward by Hatsumi over the more recent years. This book is a must have, as Hatsumi feels that only now he understands what Takamatsu taught him. It is part practical information on taijutsu and a large part philosophy. You will take from this book that what is right for you. If you are at all interested in matters beyond pure technique then this will amount to far more words than are actually in the book! Ideas that are put forward are optimistic, universal and reflect the true nature of people. It also reminds me of what a funny guy he is, even though he has all these terribly earnest people coming to see him from all round the world who hang on his every breathe (me included). You have to have a sense of humour, it’s what makes us human and indeed it’s what makes good Budō. Hatsumi has never forgotten to laugh or play. For anyone who has trained in Japan at the Hombu dōjō, this book will have great resonance. I can best explain it by saying that it’s like the faint echoes of Hatsumi’s words are suddenly made clear and sharp again. Words where you missed their significance at the time become re-evaluated as Hatsumi speaks to you again from the pages of this book. This is why I say it’s like a pocket Hatsumi. Strange concept yes, but oh so true...”
- Ian Cummings, review from Amazon.com

“UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! is among the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I’ve read it twice so far, and it’s like a total workout for your entire being. UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! really hits you at a subconcious level. I highly insist that anybody who takes Bujinkan training seriously get a copy.”
- Vincent Salerno, Key Largo, Florida, USA

“I loved this book! While it may have been many years since meeting Sensei, I can hear his voice when I read these words. It also brought to light a few things that I just couldn’t understand, but after reading the many varied interpretations of his thoughts and words, it actually clarified things for me. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and words to the rest of the world.”
- Brad Ellin, La Plata, MD, USA

“This book is superb! However, don’t expect to be spoon-fed anything. Its content can only understood with continuous training experience. I’ve enjoyed reading it and expect to do so again after spending more time training and growing in Taijutsu. Also, I’m impressed with the rare photos throughout the book. Some of the images almost seem to convey the themes presented in the text.”
- Robert Krone, SF Bay Area, USA

“This is truly a Budō guide. When you read this book you begin to realize the truth and depth of Sōke Hatsumi’s Budō. Covering everything from Training to Life, it gives one many paths to explore and ideas to ponder. I would say if one is interested in the study of Budō, no matter what your art of study is, I would not be without this book. For the beginner or long-term practitioner, it is a must!”
- Jay Zimmerman, USA

“So much has been clarified for me in this book, yet it has raised more questions than it answered, and for that I am very grateful. Thank you so much for all of your time and effort in making this book possible and to make it available to those who wish more.”
- Jay M. Fried

“When I turn on my TV, radio, or web service all I see is the terrorist attacks on NYC and DC. After hours of it, one needs something to take their mind somewhere else. Something to uplift the inside when it has been shocked so deeply into itself. I received my copy of Sōke’s and Shidōshi Cole’s book. It took me out of myself and into something better. I read as much as I could before having to retire. The words I read made me giggle, reflect, examine, and dig. This is a book of value. I recommend everyone in the Bujinkan get one. It’s required reading.”
- Kim Quintin, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

“I have been practicing Budo Taijutsu for a relatively short time, and feel truly at home training in the Bujinkan; I have read many of Sensei’s books but this one, however, is different. Hatsumi’s wisdom comes alive in such a personal way. At first, I thought I practiced a great martial art; after reading this book I realize that it is much more than that. It is a road to enlightment. I would like to thank the author for offering this treasure for `those who have eyes to see.’”
- John Holladay, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA,

“I highly recommend that everyone pick this work up. While it is an odd format for a book, seeing as 80% of it are quotes pulled from different training sessions, it works very well in its job of conveying a cohesive theme to what Hatsumi Sensei feels is important when training and living. The presentation is top-notch, and the words inside are of the highest caliber. There were many times while reading it that I could actually hear Sensei’s voice booming out these nuggets of wisdom across the tatami floor of the Hombu dōjō. For those that go to Japan regularly you might find, as I did, that you can actually remember classes where these words were spoken. And then to see the same words repackaged again and again to fit different situations gives you a better confidence in your own memories of the training!”
- Jeffrey Mueller, Laurel, MD, USA

“There were moments, while reading, that it felt like I was standing in Hombu listening to Hatsumi-sensei speak.”
- Matt Hildreth, LaGrangeville, NY, USA

“UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! is an excellent book. It’s the best `self-help book’ I own now. I describe it as a self-help book, because it has helped me keep some perspective, and given me insight to things I already thought I understood well. The pictures are good, very rich in feeling and context. The text is full of `gems’, and `gold’ spun into a rich tapestry of personality and intelligence. These strands offer a view into the mind and heart of one of the most enigmatic men on earth, and his modern day lessons that give access to some of the most effective martial arts of antiquity. At certain points UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! gives glimpses at the road ahead. It doesn’t offer a map per se, but more of a `throwing of the bones.’ There are good reminders in there about humor and its role in what martial artists do. There are also many places where the authors have placed quotes back to back that at first seem contradictory, but are subtlely feeding each other and offering two sides of the same story. Everyone thinks they `get it.’ But the wit and wisdom in this book will help keep one on the path....if there really is `a path.’ Mostly I would say that UNDERSTAND? GOOD. PLAY! is encouraging to read. It is the first book of its kind that has made me want to go and train. Mr. Benjamin Cole and Sōke, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi have put together a text that will serve the Bujinkan and Martial Arts positively for many years to come.”
- Eric Hedman, Oakland, CA, USA

“From someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of training with Sōke, I can hear his voice every quote I read. Some things are still a little fuzzy (I know some of his comments have an underlining meaning) but the more I read the book and the more I get a chance to train, it will become clearer! A must buy!”
- Steve Schoen, St. Louis, MO, USA

“The photos on the site are gorgeous! I am pleased that the book’s aesthetics are so well executed. Finally, a book with real beauty to match its content.”
- Pete Lohstroh

“It was hard to get, but I finally have it now.... What a great book this is. Only good quotes and good lessons from the grandmaster and some good students as well. Even beginners ( like me. ;) ) should buy this one!”
- B. Martens, Leiden, The Netherlands

“I just got my copy and I couldn’t put it down. This may be my favorite Bujinkan book yet. I particularly liked the little side conversations at the bottom of the pages.”
- Jason Sky