Japan has a long tradition of the arts of war. The study of a warrior attitude is entwined with the history of Japan and its art. Simplistically the Japanese term for warrior or war is Bu (武:ぶ),. The idea of a study or a path or way that one studies is Dō (long o pron. doe) (道:どう). The study of the realm of a warrior spirit is termed Budo and the term Budo is translated by some people as martial arts.
In the western traditions the art of war or arts in the domain of Mars the god of war are termed martial arts. However the concept of a ‘Do’ or a ‘Way’ implies something more, as is often the case with the Japanese language.
Most martial arts are competitive studies and competition that becomes all about seeing who is better. It loses the original etymology of striving ‘together’ and focuses instead on developing a mindset, of forces in opposition.
Whereas in a Do especially Aikido, at least for some of us who study, we are a community, working together to make us all better, as a clan did for its mutual benefit.
I see studying a ‘way of being’ very different from learning the skills of the art whether it be war or dance, painting, pottery or fighting. Developing one’s self for ‘the completion of the universe’ has a different flavor, different intent and ultimately a different outcome, from a competitive approach in which people are trying to conquer or defeat others.
It seems people often have a hard time understanding that distinction and so don’t see a value in the practice of harmony. As such they miss the value in the practice because they are studying fighting and winning over others. O sensei said, “Winning means winning over the discord in your own mind.”
I taught a blending exercise to some Bosnians after the war. One woman said when I showed it to her, she couldn’t make any sense of it or the why. Once she experienced the energy of it, she was totally intrigued. It made sense only in the experience of the difference.
I understand we may find ourselves in opposition to one who does not respect our right to be who we are. If it is a physical challenge, in that moment defeating another may be a path, the only path, to survival. Also, I respect everyone should follow their own heart or interest, whatever it is, to complete their bestowed mission.
Mine is Aikido specifically because it is not about fighting but rather helping develop an attitude of ‘reconciling the world’.
As the founder said, “Aikido does not call relative affairs good or bad but keeps all being in a constant state of growth and development and serves for the completion of the universe.”
Which is why I love it.
- This from Wikipedia:
Budō is a compound of the root bu (武:ぶ), meaning war or martial; and dō (道:どう), meaning path or way. Specifically, dō is derived from the Buddhist Sanskrit mārga (meaning “path”). The term refers to the idea of formulating propositions, subjecting them to philosophical critique and then following a ‘path’ to realize them. Dō signifies a “way of life”. Dō in the Japanese context, is an experiential term, experiential in the sense that practice (the way of life) is the norm to verify the validity of the discipline cultivated through a given art form. The modern budō has no external enemy, only the internal enemy, one’s ego that must be fought.
Similarly to budō, bujutsu is a compound of the roots bu (武), and jutsu (術:じゅつ), meaning technique. Thus, budō is translated as “martial way”, or “the way of war” while bujutsu is translated as “science of war” or “martial craft.” However, both budō and bujutsu are used interchangeably in English with the term “martial arts”. Budo and bujutsu have quite a delicate difference; whereas bujutsu only gives at/tention to the physical part of fighting (how to best defeat an enemy), budo also gives attention to the mind and how one should develop oneself.