Archive for January, 2010


When we think of budo, what are we talking about?
What is budo? What is bushido?

Budo can be considered as martial way. And within budo, bushido is taught.* Budo is a way of living and a way of dying. In Daidoji Yuzan’s book, Budoshoshinshu, he begins with:

“The man who would be a warrior considers it his most basic intention to keep death always in mind, day and night, from the time he first picks up his chopsticks in celebrating his morning meal on New Year’s day to the evening of the last day of the year. When one constantly keeps death in mind, both loyalty and filial piety are realized, myriad evils and disasters are avoided, one is without illness and mishap, and lives out a long life. In addition, even his character is improved. Such are the many benefits of this act.”

Budoshoshinshu, while written as the warrior’s primer, offers much in the way of guidance that is still pertinent today. When I read the section above, I take it to mean that we should live every day as it is our last. We should live life to the fullest and appreciate every moment. We should not leave things that should be done now, until tomorrow. We should make peace where peace needs to be made and to quote from one of my favorite songs, “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.”

Budoshoshinshu goes on to state:
“Day and night without fail, as one is involved in all of his business, both public and private, when there is just a moment to be calm, death should be kept in mind… these words are for the understanding of those intending to be warriors.”

I would think, good words for all.

“Bushidō (武士道?), roughly translated as “the way of the warrior,” is a Japanese code of conduct and way of Samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. As part of the Samurai philosophy, Bushidō stresses loyalty, frugality, the mastery of martial arts, and “honor unto death.” Born of two main influences, philosophy and swordsmanship, the violent existence of the Samurai was tempered by the wisdom and serenity of Japanese Shinto (&) Buddhism.” (Wikipedia)

If we look at Inazo Nitobi’s Bushido, the Soul of Japan, he states:

“Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the knights were required or instructed to observe. It is not a written code; at best it consists of a few maxims handed down from mouth to mouth or coming from the pen of some well-known warrior or savant. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten, possessing all the more the powerful sanction of veritable deed, and of a law written on the fleshly tablets of the heart. It was founded not on the creation of one brain, however able, or on the life of a single personage, however renowned. It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career.”

“Bushido as an independent code of ethics may vanish, but its power will not perish from the earth; its schools of martial prowess or civic honor may be demolished, but its light and its glory will long survive their ruins. Like its symbolic flower, after it is blown to the four winds, it will still bless mankind with the perfume with which it will enrich life. Ages after, when its customaries shall have been buried and its very name forgotten, its odors will come floating in the air as from a far-off unseen hill…”

It is our job, as martial artists, to do our part in ensuring that the budo code not be forgotten… not only by passing on the words, but by being living examples… by traveling the Way.

*A good article with more in regard to budo and bushido can be found @ http://ekamachdi.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/understanding-aikido-as-budo


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Practicing Kyudo: Okayama 1935

Okayama 1935 • Practicing Kyudo
(Click on the line above for photo)

“Japanese school girls practicing Kyudo (弓道, Japanese archery). During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), many martial arts, including traditional archery skills, lost ground. To save these skills for future generations a group of Kyudo masters got together in 1896 (Meiji 29). Around the turn of the century, Toshizane Honda (本田利実, 1836–1917), who was an influential Kyudo teacher at Tokyo Imperial University, started to combine the separate war and ceremonial shooting styles to create a new form of Kyudo. His decision, widely criticized at the time, is now seen as the reason that the art survived. It did more than survive. It became a popular sport at schools, including schools exclusively for girls, as in the photo above. “

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The Kyudo Alliance

For those of you not familiar with the Kyudo Alliance, it is a private organization founded by Sensei Aaron Blackwell, Kyoshi sixth dan and Sensei Edwin Symmes, Renshi fifth dan. Members gather in Atlanta, GA or Simpsonville, SC four times a year for a three day intensive training seminar.

In addition, Symmes Sensei just returned from teaching seminars in California and Canada. Blackwell Sensei will be heading back to Mexico City next month for a seminar there. The Kyudo Alliance participates in area cultural events as well and works hard to contribute to the social, moral, aesthetic and athletic development of its members and to promote the growth of Kyudo however and whenever possible. It supports all ANKF (All Nippon Kyudo Federation) and IKYF (International Kyudo Federation) events and teaches the All Nippon Kyudo Renmei forms. All instructors are certified by the ANKF. The Kyudo Alliance is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Kyudo as the traditional Japanese Budo of Archery and upholds The Budo Charter.

The Budo Charter is as follows:

ARTICLE 1 (OBJECT): The object of Budo is to cultivate character, enrich the ability to make value judgments, and foster a well disciplined and capable individual through participation in physical and mental training utilizing martial techniques.

ARTICLE 2 (KEIKO): When practicing daily, one must constantly follow decorum, adhere to the fundamentals, and resist the temptation to pursue mere technical skill rather than the unity of mind and technique.

ARTICLE 3 (SHIAI): In a match and the performance of kata, one must manifest Budo spirit, exert oneself to the utmost, win with modesty, accept defeat gracefully, and constantly exhibit temperate attitudes.

ARTICLE 4 (DOJO): The dojo is a sacred place for training one’s mind and body. Here one must maintain discipline, proper etiquette, and formality. The training area must be a quiet, clean, safe and solemn environment.

ARTICLE 5 (TEACHING): When teaching trainees, in order to be an effective teacher, the budo master should always strive to cultivate one’s character, and further one’s own skill and discipline of mind and body. One should not be swayed by winning or losing, or display arrogance about one’s superior skill but rather one should retain the attitudes suitable for a role-model.

ARTICLE 6 (PROMOTION): When promoting budo, one should follow traditional values, seek substantial training, contribute to research, and do one’s utmost to perfect and preserve this traditional art with an understanding of international points of view.

The Kyudo Alliance has evidenced its value through the growth of its members, not only in numbers, but more so through helping members apply what is written in the Kyohon to technique and everyday life. It is a cultural, social, mental, and physical experience. It is an inspiration and motivation each time this group gathers. I am honored to be a part of this organization. My goal is to give back whatever I can, in whatever way possible, that which I have gained through Kyudo and the Kyudo Alliance.

The Kyudo Alliance web page is under development and can be accessed @ http://www.kyudoalliance.com

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Yumi: Naming the Parts


Originally uploaded by 14kyudo

In the back of the Kyohon (pg. 121), you will find a listing of the different parts of the yumi.

I find this depiction useful as well, in that it gives the translation of each term.

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