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Notebook Series: Introduction to Budo

Over on Facebook I’ve got some long threads that took a lot of work to compile.  I’m going to put some of the material here on the blog as well.  Because it’s loosely constructed I’m calling it the Notebook Series.  (This is not the same as the Fighter’s Notebook, which are my training notes available to the Fighting Arts Alliance.)  

The first topic I’ll be addressing at length is budo.  I’ve written about this before on The Scorpion’s Tale, so some of this material will be familiar to my long-term readers.  But probably not all of it.

Let’s start with some recommended reading.  Here’s a link that will help you to spot the difference between the old Koryu systems and the new Gendai systems which sometimes pretend to be old.  Read through the links within the piece as well.

I also recommend reading one of the online sources  I used when I wrote the Scorpion’s Tale. 

"In 1914 a Japanese police official named Hiromichi Nishikubo published a series of articles arguing that the Japanese martial arts should be called budo ("martial ways") rather than bujutsu ("martial techniques"), and used primarily to teach schoolchildren to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the Emperor. In 1919, Nishibuko became head of a major martial art college (Bujutsu Senmon Gakko) and immediately ordered its name changed to Budo Senmon Gakko, and subsequently Dai Nippon Butokukai publications began talking about budo, kendo, judo, and kyudo rather than bujutsu, gekken, jujutsu, and kyujutsu. The Ministry of Education followed suit in 1926, and in 1931 the word budo began to refer to compulsory ideological instruction in the Japanese public schools." (there is a problem with this link on Wikipedia.  You can get it through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism_in_Sh%C5%8Dwa_Japan but you have to keep clicking through on Statism in Showa Japan on the page that comes up)

In case the implication of this is lost on you here are some links to put this ideological instruction into context:  

The shin /gendai systems were used to instill the military virtues of self sacrifice, blind obedience and loyalty in those who practiced them.

The repetitive drilling to barked-out military commands, daily beatings, humiliating punishments, chants of allegiance to the Emperor, slogans of hatred for the enemy and the memorization of military codes of behaviour of the military modified gendai practices of the Showa era had nothing to do with the creation of Zen warriors versed in martial arts skills. But it had everything to do with the creation of men who were blindly obedient to their superiors, men who were willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefields of Asia out of the shame and humiliation that failure in their duty to the Emperor would bring on their families. Without personal responsibility for their actions, these men would commit some of the most henious crimes ever witnessed in war. They had been trained to do so on the command of their superiors.

It was these same militarized methods of practicing shin or gendai budo for indoctrinational purposes during the Showa era that were practiced within the schools, colleges and universities of post-war Japan.  These methods were introduced to the West by masters who were either complicit in this form of indoctrination or had undergone indoctrination into these Emperor, militaristic and fascistic ideologies during their military service or whilst at school, college or university.

"The basis of the modern form of kokutai and hakko ichiu were to develop after 1868 and would take the following form: Japan is the center of the world, with its ruler, the Tenno (Emperor), a divine being, who derives his divinity from ancestral descent from the great Amaterasu-Omikami, the Goddess of the Sun herself.  The Kami (Japan's gods and goddesses) have Japan under their special protection. Thus, the people and soil of Dai Nippon and all its institutions are superior to all others.All of these attributes are fundamental to the Kodoshugisha (Imperial Way) and give Japan a divine mission to bring all nations under one roof, so that all humanity can share the advantage of being ruled by the Tenno."......

At the end of the Asian Pacific War many Japanese leaders (including the emperor and members of the Imperial family) who had sought to bring all the nations of the world under the rule of the emperor were saved from being hung as war criminals and were instead used by the Allied forces to fight the spread of communism within Japan and throughout Asia.

That’s why criminals such as Kodama Yoshio, Sasakawa Ryoichi and Nobusuke Kishi got away with it (read pages 63 to 67)

And that’s why Sasakawa financially supported many martial arts masters and their organizations: because he could rely on them in his numerous anti-communist activities.  He could also rely on them to demonstrate to the world through the practice of the martial arts the superiority of the Japanese way.

A lot of people in the West swallowed hook, line and sinker not only the combative superiority of the Gendai and Shin Budo systems over all other martial arts, but also many other aspects of Japanese culture as seen in the Wikipedia quote, above.  Perhaps the most disturbing thing swallowed by Westerners was the belief that these systems could be used as religious- aesthetic practices complete with moral and ethical values by which to attain spiritual enlightenment.

Many practitioners believe that as a result of practicing a modern non-contact budo system such as karate, not only can you drop a man with a mere touch but also become a better person and spiritually enlightened besides. 

I’ll be addressing the duplicity of Zen in the next segment. 


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For more info contact me stevemorris@morrisnoholdsbarred.co.uk or go to http://www.morrisnoholdsbarred.co.uk/fighting_arts_alliance.html


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