06 November 2005

Why Budo?

Why study Budo?

If the endstate of studying budo is to become a happy person that is "at one with the universe" so-to-speak, then why on earth would I study a martial art whose primary method of training is to promote the acts of killing and maiming.

Why not Yoga?

Can't you accomplish the same mindstate and endstate through studying yoga?

I think you can!

Yoga does a wonderful job at developing and aligning the mind, body, and soul. It builds and heals you and helps you help yourself. Through conditioning your mind and body, you build a strong and sound spirit. In the end you can then reach out to others and show them how to be happy and peaceful.

If yoga is so wonderful, then why do we need budo?

In a perfect world, we could all study yoga and not have to be concerned with the warrior arts. We would have the time and space in order to learn about ourselves. What a wonderful world that would be!

However, what happens when we are attacked and we are overwhelmed by the enemy? How do we regain the time, space, and distance in order to focus back on the important things? Budo offers us the skills necessary to cope with overwhelming conflict.

I think this is why Budo is important. Historically, warriors have always been needed to protect our societies. Maybe one day we won't need them, but I believe that day is far away.

Some of us need to be warriors.

Ignoring the literal sense of the word warrior, as in a soldier, lets focus on the figurative side.

Some of us need to study budo because our demons, enemies, or source of conflict is so overwhelming that we must first learn to be strong and fight them back to regain the time, space, and distance to then turn ourselves into peaceful, happy, people.

For warriors, yoga doesn't work. Warriors need a different methodology.

What does budo teach?

Through the study of martial arts or budo we learn about conflict and our personal relationship with it. Sometimes it is direct such as dealing with an assault in the form of maybe a punch or a kick.

Mostly though it is not so direct. It may be dealing with a difficult customer, or co-worker. It may be dealing with your own personal road rage in heavy traffic. Or, it maybe dealing with a difficult teenager.

What about Classes in Anger Management and Conflict Resolution?

Sure we could just attend classes on anger management and conflict resolution. We would probably learn very valuable skills and gain an awareness and insights to ourselves from these classes.

However, a few classes probably won't change you overnight. They may put you on the path, but true transformation will take lots of work and time most likely.

In order to be truely happy, we must balance a great deal. There are three basic elements to conflict, Self, Others, and the Situation. The first thing you must work on is self. Self incompasses your mind, body, and soul. Three simple concepts, but WOW! think about all that is incompassed in that!

Most classes in conflict resolution and anger management only deal with concepts and ideas. The classes are not holistic in nature. Most classes will tell you that you need a great deal of practice in order to implement the concepts and ideas. Where are you going to do this?

The answer is the dojo.

The dojo is a "laboratory". It is full of people of all shapes, sizes, dispositions, backgrounds, and emotional states. They come with different skills, ideas, and goals. We place them in a controlled environment and proceed to inject physical and mental conflict into the mix. We then teach them how to handle it.

Through the process, hopefully, you begin to understand a little more about yourself, others, and the true nature of conflict. Once you can begin to understand what causes conflict, you are on your journey to happiness and peace, which are the goals of budo!

01 November 2005

Budo Principles

What are Budo Principles?

As stated in the previous post. Principles are different than values and ethics.

Values and ethics are based on principles. Principles must meet several criteria:

1. They are universal in nature. They apply to everyone regardless of intent of action or thought.
2. They are unchanging and have stood the test of time and the "laws of nature" apply.
3. They are non-judgemental and objective in nature.

Here's an example:

Principle: Killing someone prevents them from living and experiencing life.
Value: I value my life and others value theirs, therefore, killing is harmful in most circumstances.
Ethics: Do not kill someone, unless it is absolutely necessary.

In Budo arts such as aikido, you hear the phrase "Principles of Aikido". Most of what I have read, though on "principles of budo, or aikido, are mores, values, or ethics that are not core principles. Often it is confusing. For example, one might say the "principle of aikido is harmony and the peaceful resolution of conflict". That is a postive and worthwhile statement, but it is not a principle, but a value statement based on a principle.

So, what are the principles of budo that are universal to all persons on earth?
1. Conflict results when two opposing values or priorities collide concerning the same principle.
2. Conflict results unhappiness.
3. The resolution of conflict results in happiness.
5. Harmony is the point of statis between competing values values.
5. People are happy or peaceful when the have harmony.

Budo is based on these principles with the key assumption that people (you) want to be happy or at peace with themselves. Happiness is a universal value for most people, relgions, and societies. Most modern societies recognize it as the simple, and basic right. In the United States it is the basis for our constitution "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

Happiness is non-dogmatic in nature, and thus, the study of budo can be studied by all reqgardless of religion or personal beliefs. As O'Sensei, Morhiteu Ueshiba said, "The Art of Peace that I practice has room for each of the world's eight million gods, and I cooperate with them all. The God of Peace is very great and enjoins all that is divine and enlightened in every land." ("The Art of Peace" Translated by John Stevens).

So, why Budo as a methodology for achieving peace and happiness? Isn't it an oxymoron to practice such violent arts as karate, aikido, and judo in order to achieve peace? Doesn't Yoga, Buddhism, relgions, and other Comtemplative Types of Meditation practices have this as their common principles? Yes! Remember the principles are universal!

Why Budo?

That is another discussion! You must discuss beliefs, values, mores, and philosophies in order to answer this question.

Principles, Values, and Ethics

Budo as defined in a previous thread, is the "way of the warrior".

What is that "WAY"?

The way is based on a set of core principles. Some might call it a Code, values, or ethics.

What is the difference? Is there a difference? and Why is it important?

According to Stephen Covey, in this book "Principle Centered Leadership" he points out that Principle are the basis for all other actions, codes, ethics,and values.

"Covey adds this explanation: "Principles are self-evident, self-validating natural laws. They don't change or shift. They provide a 'true-north' direction in our lives when navigating the 'streams' of our environment."

He points out that these principles apply in all places and in all circumstances. "They surface in the forms of values, ideas, norms and teachings that uplift, ennoble, fulfill, empower and inspire people," he writes. "The lesson of history is that, to the degree people and civilization have operated in harmony with correct principles, they have prospered."

So what are the underlying principles of Budo?

What are the Values that form around budo?

What is the code of ethics that is typical of Budo arts that is based upon the values ofmost dojos?

Why is it important to understand the principles, values, and ethics in the study of Martial Arts, or budo?

31 October 2005

Budo "ala carte"

When is Budo not Budo?

This is a tough question!

All the web forums I have read over the past few years seem to be constantly discussing or disecting Martial arts and what is most important about them. Some will stress the technical skills, the self defense applications, still others the phsyical conditioning, or the pyschological/mental aspects, or the spiritual aspects.

Mixed Martial Arts guys will scoff at the so-called purist for acting "pseudo japanese" wearing hakama, bowing, talking about KI, etc.

The so-called "purist" will scoff at the MMA guys as knuckle dragging barbarians wearing tatoos and beach shorts and skin tight lycra shirts, and Multi-colored GIs covered in patches.

So who is right, which one has the corner on budo? Both and Neither!

The right answer is it depends! It depends on your goals and objectives.

No one art or training methodolgy can hold the keys to nirvana or success.

Our society today is an ala carte society. We are accustomed to choice and tailored made options. While Budo may be about the perfection of total self, that is, the body, mind and soul, that does not mean that a budoka, or warrior on the path, must obtain this all in one place. A person may go to church for spiritual growth, they may go to the gym for fitness, to a dietician for health, and group therapy to improve their mind.

It is okay to mix it up and tailor make your path to self improvement and refinement. What is important is that you understand clearly why you are doing what you are doing and to approach your practice everyday with this in mind. It is easy to lose site of this in training and focus on the wrong things and be distracted.

One concern I have is how do you synthesize all this stuff and tie it all back together into the complete package that is you? How do you ensure that you have the "right mixed" and balance out things to be a well rounded, and happy individual?

What is Budo?

The word Budo is commonly used to in conjunction with the study of martial arts. It is a Japanese word that is formed by the two Kanji Characters, 武道, or "BU" which means "war, or warrior. And "DO" which means "way". So literally you have the word "Warrior Way".

So, what exactly does the "warrior way" have to do with anything?

Specifically it is related to the study of Japanese martial arts. It seems that sometime ago, depending on what you read, or which martial arts tradition you follow, that samurai out of work following the societal over turn during the Meiji Restoration in the Mid 1850's and 60's decided to apply what they knew to their everyday lives now that they were effectively out of a job.

Fast forwarding to modern times, there were a few notable guys, Jigaro Kano, 1860-1938 (father of Judo), Morihei Ueshiba, 1883-1969 (father of Aikido), and Gichin Funakoshi, 1868-1957 (father of Karatedo) that applied what they had learned from the great masters into the modern arts that many of us know today.

All three of them, Kano, Ueshiba, and Funakoshi developed essentially developed systems of empty handed methodologies that they felt were applicable to every day life and to convey the ideals, ethics, and philosophies that they believed in.

Thanks to World War II and the American Occupation that followed, we saw a poliferation and spread of martial arts around the western world as GIs returned to the states and to Europe. This should not be construed as that Eastern Martial Arts did not exist in the west prior to WWII, as Jigaro Kano had visited both the U.S. and Europe prior to 1938 and Judo was established in the west, but not to the degree that happened after WWII.

So, in short "Bu-do" is the "way of the warrior" which has the goal of perfection of self.

Other post will further dissect what I believe to be is meant by "perfection of self" and will explore the basic underlying philosophies, deals, and ethics of Budo and how they relate to the perfection of self.