August 28, 2014

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Searching for Budo

Many Dojos claim to be Budo schools, and many Sensei to be Budoka; but much separates claim from actuality. Between the two must come the necessary developmental steps, that natural progression of skill and ethics, which leads to this highest level of martial training. If ANY element is missing from the regimen, or if the natural progression is disturbed, Budo cannot be attained.

Bujutsu
Bujutsu is the first level of training. This is the foundation for learning the "Arts of War". In Bujutsu, we learn the tools and physical skills for fighting. These skills are striking, kicking, blocking, throwing, holding and escaping, as well as those techniques taught by weapons schools, such as bo, bokken, katana, etc..

The progression for a complete Bujutsu training embraces a "crawl, walk, run" philosophy. First we learn to fight with our hands and feet such as is taught in karate. Next we learn to fight with our own balance as well as our opponent's such as is taught in Judo and Aikido in their various throwing techniques. Finally, also as in Judo and Aikido, we learn to fight by containing our opponent with locks and holds.

A completed progression, in theory, will typically resemble the following scenario: 1) An attack is first countered with blocks, punches and kicks. 2) The attacker is then taken to the ground. 3) Once the attacker is on the ground, he is contained or controlled with a lock or hold.

Since weapons are usually regarded as mechanical extensions of the human body, students are typically not taught the use of weapons until after they have adequately learned the first levels of fighting. This, however, is not the case in those schools whose Bujutsu training is confined to the use of weapons. Usually, these weapons' schools are not simply Bujutsu schools, but rather teach a complete Budo philosophy.

Bushido
Invariably, we encounter difficulty whenever we try to explain such intangibles as "concepts". Such is the case with Bushido. Although many scholars believe that the true meaning of Bushido is lost to modern man, we do have enough information and understanding of this concept to apprise the contemporary student of its importance and of its rightful place in the "Way of the Warrior".

Bushido is a code of conduct whereby the training of one's mind is developed. A simplistic approach to study is found in the three progressive elements of humility, loyalty, and honor. These elements are found in most of the religions of the world, and this accounts for the relative ease with which spiritual students who already possess strong ethical and moral values establish themselves as students of Bushido.

Humility contains the knowledge that we are servants of a higher authority. This is the foundation for Bushido. We MUST begin here. The tenets of humility include forgiveness, respect, politeness, compassion, understanding, and service. Unless we first begin with humility, we cannot proceed.

Loyalty first recognizes the hierarchy of authority, the chain of command. Secondly, it recognizes our place within the structure. And finally, it reveals our first level of supervision. Within this understanding is contained the commitment to serve only him who occupies that higher level, realizing that by serving him completely, we are advancing the goals of those at the top who have placed us and our supervisors in our respective positions in a manner that is consistent with the attainment of those goals. We must know and fully accept this commitment without question.

Honor comes in knowing the difference between right and wrong and in doing that which is right without compromise. In our modern society, this is not an easy assignment. Maintaining our principles in the face of the corruption which surrounds us is always difficult. Only when we preserve the humility and loyalty which must precede it, will we be able to live a life of honor. A man of honor will adhere to principles of honesty and integrity as he gives himself wholly to a life of striving for perfect character.

Budo
The "Way of War" is the child produced by the marriage of Bujutsu and Bushido. The philosophy of "body and mind oneness" is that which the Budoka spends his life trying to achieve. Budo, therefore, is concerned with the development of the complete person, i.e., of his body, mind, and spirit. When we approach our training with this objective in mind, the goal of "training to be a better fighter" is replaced with the goal of "training to be a better person". Fighting is then reduced to its proper place as a mere by-product.

Budo is the secret power that attracts most people in the western world. This is the power they enter martial training to attain; and yet, this is the power which still eludes them.

If it can be said that meditation, contemplation, and concentration are the mechanisms by which one trains and controls his mind, then it can also be said that Zen is the science of those mechanisms.

Knowing this, the founders of modern martial ways combined the tools they learned from ancient Bujutsu training with the spiritual, ethical, and moral standards they learned from Bushido training. This feat was accomplished through the practice of Zen. The result has been the development of such great martial arts as Karatedo, Judo, Aikido, and Kendo, as well as others.

Budo cannot be accomplished without Zen. Without Budo, a student will never reach his full potential as a martial artist. Again, it is not sufficient for a school merely to claim that it teaches Budo. If it does not incorporate a regimen of Zen in its instruction, then it is in reality teaching Bujutsu and not Budo.

When entering classes at a school of martial arts, it is vital that a student decides what it is that he's seeking to achieve. If fighting is his primary goal, then one school is pretty much as good as another. This would include boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling as well as the traditional Asian arts schools. Many western schools have developed methods combining these arts to obtain a rounded arsenal of techniques. While the techniques may in fact be authentic, these are schools of Bujutsu, and, as such, they will usually teach all the necessary techniques for fighting.

However, if a student is interested in deeper meanings, in committing himself to an entire way of life and in developing himself to his fullest potential, then let him consider the words of the following great martial artists:

  1. There is NO first attack in Karate. (Funakoshi Gichin - Considered the Father of Karate)
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  3. Your emphasis should NOT be on skills, but on training your mind. (Yamaguchi Gogen - Founder of Japanese GoJu Ryu Karatedo)

     

  4. You are here for NO other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. (Ueshiba Morihei - Founder of Aikido)

Practice your Bujutsu. 
Develop your Bushido. 
Live and become your Budo.