Budo - A Double Edged Sword
By Uematsu Yoshiyuki (Tesshu)
Budo must be like a double edged sword,
kindness and strictness. When you get stronger, you
also naturally get kinder.
Back in the era when swords were considered essential,
"Bunbu Ryodo" (the twin paths of the sword
and the pen) was a requirement for the elite. Rephrasing
it in more modern terms, it would probably describe
a student who gets good grades and also excels in
sports. But there is a difference between sports and
Generally speaking, people's image of sports is healthy.
Working up a good, satisfying sweat. Budo also has
this quality, but behind that there is the sense of
death. Unlike sports, if one "loses" in
a confrontation, it can mean death. So there is a
kind of omote (surface) and ura (behind the surface).
This is the origin of budo. However, one cannot bring
this to the surface. So many of today's budo are becoming
mere sports. Tournaments and matches are the omote
aspect, a kind of competition to show the efforts
of one's practice. The ura aspect is not for show,
but the pursuit of only victory.
If you said this you might give an impression of
brutality, but if your technique doesn't work in a
real confrontation, why even bother with budo? If
one doesn't have the confidence to defend oneself,
which is the original purpose of the martial arts,
then one will just get swept away.
There seem to be a lot of people who do not understand
this, and open their dojos just on a whim. That is
why at our dojo, we teach not only the techniques,
but also the true purpose and history of budo to the
beginners. They seem to improve rapidly. If we just
have them learn by mimicking the instructors, it becomes
too easygoing. On the other hand, it is best to turn
away those who come to learn for sinister purposes.
I am referring to those people who, no matter how
well we teach them, always seem to go off on a dangerous
tangent. Budo is not for those kind of people.
budo is not an offensive art, but rather teaches the
importance of courtesy, love and kindness. But, if
it comes down to the line, one must not forget the
feeling of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Budo is thus a double edged sword, strictness and
Through budo one also gains much more than just muscular
strength by "growing strong." If one is
weak, one will constantly be running away (from challenges),
showing nothing but his back to others. In order to
face forward and press on, one must become strong.
By growing strong, one also grows compassionate. I
think that budo is very useful for widening one's
People also say that the martial arts are a way of
relieving stress, but the idea is too fixed in some
people's minds. They can also be harmful. Budo seems
to have two sides to everything. The two sides are
not separate, but the plate of budo seems to be big
enough for both extremes. It depends on how you use
it. When your are exhausted, for example, you shouldn't
exercise. Also, if you brood over exercising, this
adds stress rather than reducing it. In these circumstances
it is best to practice Taijiquan or soft Qigong. They
can be done while relaxing and they help reduce exhaustion.
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About The Author
Uematsu Yoshiyuki (Tesshu) is Chief Instructor of
Mushinkan Karate Kobudo Dojo in Kanazawa, Japan. He
also teaches iaido and is an accomplished painter,
calligrapher and woodcarver. At age 9 he began Zen
training at Shofukuji Temple in Saga Prefecture, where
his uncle Mori Goho was the head priest. He began
training in budo the next year, also under Mori, who
taught Shoreiryu Karate Kobudo as well as classical
Japanese martial arts. He entered the Sojiji Temple
in Monzen, Ishikawa Prefecture in 1971, and at age
24, opened the Mushinkan Dojo and has worked to promote
budo in Ishikawa Prefecture.
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