Martial Arts (Budō)

The samurai were expected to excel in swordsmanship (kenjutsu, kendo, sojitsu (spear fighting), naginatajustsu (Naginata fighting), battojutsu (sword fighting). At the same time, they trained for unarmed fighting too usually for the situations that required them to have a close contact with the enemy during the wars. One of the earliest forms of close contact fighting is jujitsu which emerged in the Sengoku period. Most modern unarmed fighting methods such as judo, aikido and karate are actually different forms of jujitsu that were born in the last 19th century. Martial arts share these characteristics that are also part of the Japanese culture:

  • Strong mind is a must
  • Train for endurance not a show
  • Train to shape your mind and your body
  • Match your opponent (mentally and physically)
  • Never attack first (the martial arts require the rival to attack first in order to move)
  • Have a strong character and have integrity
  • Strive for perfection of your skills by practice
  • Respect your opponent whether you win or lose
  • Self discipline and group discipline are more important than fighting skills
  • Defense is more important than offense
  • Age and and degree are more important than performance
  • Senior members should always be respected regardless of their performance
  • Junior members should observe and imitate the master. They shouldn’t ask questions such as “why are we doing this?”
  • All the members should not only practice the techniques but also serve others (cleaning, cooking, etc.)
  • One should aim for mastering a series of degrees (kyu) and obtain the highest degree (highest -dan) in martial arts.
  • One must follow a kata (form) for doing everything, not using kata is not good even if the results are positive.
  • One can only gain martial arts skills from a master. The master is not only necessary for the skills but also to get inspiration.
  • One must complete these 3 types of training -mental and spiritual training (e.g. zen) -physical training (e.g. aikido) -training in arts and aesthetics (e.g. calligraphy).
  • ***Each dan is usually gained by a year of practice. Even the Japanese calligraphy and ikebana have the dan system.
  • ***All martial arts have a “kata” , a series of moves, that start with the first attack from the enemy.

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