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Classical Budo

By Christopher Caile

"Bu means military, "Do" meaning way or path) Also see: Budo. A general term referring to those armed and unarmed martial disciplines (ways) that arose during the Tokugawa Era of peace in Japan (after 1600) based on bujitsu (the professional fighting arts of professional warriors developed in previous times) but where combat skills were practiced to perfect the self, the discipline itself used as a vehicle to preserve the traditional warrior spirit (including their ethical and moral precepts). Classes were also opened to the public.

A pervading influence throughout Classical Budo was Zen. Meditation was used to focus the mind (without thought or ego) and hard, repetitious training (including kata that mimicked the danger and reality of combat) created a process of spiritual forging that produced discipline, technique and intuitive perception. Technical mastery was seen as one step along the road to ultimate spiritual awakening, self-improvement and insight. In short, budo redefined bujitsu. While bujitsu's goal had been to master violence through development of superior technical skill in order to kill other professional warriors, budo's aims were to control violence (self-defense) and improve the self. Effectiveness of technique became secondary. Codes of conduct or etiquette also changed in the transition. Once defined by the necessities of self-defense and the potential for combat, etiquette was often transformed in Classical Budo into modes of social courtesy, manners, respect, correct form and means to demonstrate both non-ego as well as the individual's role within the larger group. (See Budo). The transition from bujitsu to classical budo saw kenjitsu (sword art) became kendo (way of the sword) and the art of the halbred (type of lance) naginata jitsu, became naginata-do, etc. See: Jitsu.


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