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Budo Philosophy

Photo of Dojo

Current Japanese Budo has become an international sport, but it is quite diverted from the original and traditional Budo. The philosophy of Japanese Budo has been a core of the Japanese culture, and fosters the Japanese spirit.

  In this paper, I wish to make some comments on my philosophy and ideas about Budo. First I would like to comment on the theory that Japanese Budo is said to have been bestowed to the Emperor from God, and then to the Generals. This idea clearly shows the character of the Japanese people and their theory of Budo.  My ideas and philosophy about Budo are based upon this origin and I would like to explain this further in this paper.

  The word "Budo" is composed of two words, "Bu" and "do". "Bu" is usually interpreted as "defense" or "arms", but in another respect, the term takes the meaning of "sheathing a pike", which implies the calming down of a conflict, peacefully.

  Let me refer to the word "do" as a natural course to follow. In the "Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Mushashi, Mushashi states he is always in "do" or "michi" and never away from it. This shows how concerned he was with the state of "do".

  The Buddhist, Saint Dogen, also commented about the state of 'michi". His words are very complex, but they seem to imply that once one happens to achieve the state of "michi", one should just go along with it and maintain it, remaining in it.

  Here the words "bu" and "do" are combined.  Ideas and philosophy exist in the unseen world, but can’t be recognized unless they appear in reality. Musashi and Saint Dogen actually realized their ideas and philosophies.

  The following are some of my training methods which I regard as most important and substantial; leading to the ideal practice of "Budo".

  1. The practice of foot work and how to carry the feet smoothly in accordance with the waist and knee movement in a natural, relaxed way. Of course, the lower part of the body must harmonize with the upper body movement.

  2. Discipline of respiration (breathing) is very important as it is so closely related both to spirit and technique. In this respect, the training method of breathing and meditation is very helpful as well as desirable and indispensable for one in the earnest pursuit of Budo.

  3. Make a well balanced, stable, yet flexible position with the waist (like a floating island) so one can make a strong starting movement, suddenly and smoothly, from a relaxed stationary position.

  4. The practice of the "Hachiriki". In the "Hachiriki" strength is analyzed into eight factors, showing the ways of striking in 8 directions. Through this "Hachiriki" practice, spirit (breath), waist (body) and fist (ken-touching point) can be matched. In the practice of Budo, these three must be matched at the same time; first of all and last of all. It is said that 4 pairs of Gods displayed their power for the completion of the earth in the early days of creation.  Human beings are said to be a miniature of the universe. Following this myth, the practice of the Hachiriki (8 powers) means to develop the creation inside of ourselves.

  5. The cultivation of the 3 points of the body. This cultivation is related both to the development of spirit and technique. 

Through the discipline of these five stages, you will be able to implement your breath to the technique. Thus your trained breath and spirit can be reflected in the technique and you will see the harmonization between theory and practice.


As described previously, breath (Ki) and spirit are closely related and so trained breath develops spirit and the spirit makes a better breath. Both are interrelated to each other.

However strong one may be, if one’s strength is just physical and separated from true spirit or polished breath, one won’t reach a desirable state of Budo. In desirable and ideal Budo, refined spirit with well trained breath must be reflected in the technique.

I’ve made some references to my ideas on Budo in general instead of focusing just on Karate-do because in our Budo-Karate one should be competent in the way of working other defensive arts with or without weapons. This is quite natural when we think of the compatibility and common base among the traditional Budo.  This is a peculiarly different point between traditional Budo and so called modern Budo.

In my view on Budo, theory and practical technique must be like two sides of a coin or two wheels of a car. If either one has a defect it will not be a correct or ideal Budo. Theory and practical technique must always be matched with each other. Therefore this Do (michi) consists of both the technical and philosphical factors in balance with each other. As for practical technique, according to physical law we can first attain a desirable technique with full power and natural movement. Even a strong muscular person whose technique is against this physical principle, will have performance different from the desirable correct technique in Budo.

As for the mental aspect as a theory or philosphoy, Michi is a way leading to the spirit of the harmonization which is a symbol and genius of great nature and supreme virtue. I think the way (Michi/ Do) is the most dignified and respectable path every person should follow and is the only way to realize real peace in the world.

In a nutshell, my Budo is the extension of our life, enlightenment of our daily lives and the fulfillment of our mission in life.  Going back to the first part of the theory that Budo was bestowed from God, then it means the "Way" (michi) or means to return to God. Therefore, my Budo is to pursue "The Way" leading to the core spirit of the universe. We should not dwell on winning or losing in this relative world, but should make the utmost effort to polish our spirit and technique infinitely in Budo.


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