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by Christopher Caile

The term refers to specializations of the combat arts developed prior to 1600 primarily practiced (crossed trained) by the military class (bushi or samurai) for the battlefield to kill other professional warriors. Technique were brutal, straight-forward and effective, tested and refined through centuries of battlefield experience. Complementing the combat skills within bujitsu were strict moral precepts and ethics of conduct - something known today as bushido ("bushi," meaning warrior, "do," meaning way) or way of the samurai, but at the time referred to as budo. This is an earlier but different definition of the term (budo) as referring to "do" based martial disciplines. See: Budo. See below for the definition of Bu and Jitsu.

A pervading influence within bujitsu practice was Zen. Mediation (practiced awareness without thought) helped the warrior focus and commit fully to action without second thought, fear, emotional attachment, or thoughts of the self - attributes reinforced by Zen precepts of non-attachment and indifference to life. This produced a useful mind state and edge amongst the frenzy and fear of combat Zen thus complemented the Samurai's stoic and ascetic attitude, one of iron will backed by willingness to sacrifice. Other authorities, however, suggest that an esoteric branch of Buddhism (Shingon sect) was also an important influence on bujitsu practice. Shingon employed incantations and mystical secret practices (use of symbols, ritual purification, magic words, hand movements, finger configurations) to unify the mind, calm the spirit, build ki (intrinsic energy of Chi in Chinese) bolster determination (almost hypnotic faith) and create specific mental states useful in battle.

After 1868 (post-feudal era) bujitsu changed emphasis. No longer having a military rational, replaced by modern armaments, bujitsu began to be practiced as a means of moral, ethical and spiritual education. Thus discipline and education replaced technique as primary focus. As such bujitsu became indistinguishable to most from Classical Budo, a situation that has created confusion between terms and continues to do so today. Bujitsu is also known koyru bujitsu (koyru meaning "old tradition.")

Bu: (Jap) Military or related to the military . A character often compounded into others such as bugei, bujitsu and bushi. The character for Bu is a composite of two others. The bottom inside left character is foot suggesting advancing on foot, and the right upper larger character is a prototype of a halberd (a type of lance) implying to cut, menace, pierce or kill. When combined they can be interpreted as advancing on foot with a weapon for potential use, thus referring to a warrior or by extension things military. There is also an important secondary interpretation. The first character meaning foot has also come to mean stop, based on the idea of planting the foot. Taken in conjunction with the second character of halberd, "bu" can be thus interpreted as a means to stop a weapon (conflict), or to gain peace. This is consistent with the idea of practicing budo to achieve both inner and outer peace.

Jitsu: (J) (also spelled Jutsu) Method, truth, art of technique. A term used to classify by category those Japanese pre-1600 fighting disciplines, as Kenjitsu (the art or technique of the sword), or sub-category or specialization as iaijitsu (art or technique of sword drawing) whose principal focus was the development and perfection of effective combat techniques used to kill other professional warriors. Jitsu also implies the application and strategy employed by these methods. The actual schools (Ryu) or methods that taught these arts (under collective terms such as kenjitsu) generally used names based on their founder, lineage, philosophy or method.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

bujitsu, bujutsu, Samurai fighting arts, bushido, koryu, koyru bujitsu, koryu bujutsu, ryu

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