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The 'Do' in Taichido
a way of tai chi  

DÒ (Dao) - The Japanese Way

 

 

Due to isolationist policies that were brought about by a similar but different set of circumstances in Japan and China - and a mutual fear of debased western ways, all of the Japanese martial arts i.e. all other martial arts aside from Tai Chi - and by extension Kung Fu (see below), and ethnic western forms such as wrestling, boxing, fencing, archery etc. were all but unknown here in the west until only a matter of decades ago.

We obviously had our fighting traditions and sports here the west, including some similar to those in the east - but what we did not have since perhaps the medieval institution of knighthood and the age of chivalry was - the 'art'.

Once we had 'discovered' eastern arts, us westerners were perhaps most fascinated with their rules of etiquette, philosophy and spirituality that made it an art, and not just a matter of fitness or survival.

The Japanese martial arts and martial art culture complete with esoteric rules of etiquette and ritual was the first to be brought to the west - and some of the codified behaviours such as bowing and the coloured belt grading system stuck; some were assimilated or altered and some were just plain dropped or ignored. Some of these rules that were by then irrelevant or non applicable were quite understandably dropped, but so too perhaps were some of the good or intrinsic ones. For instance, Karate used to be called Karate-do.

The 'do' that got taken away from Karate is like the do added to 'taichi' - and to explaining more I must now dissect the relevant Japanese martial art terms.

DO (Japanese)
In Japanese martial art culture the suffix 'do' transforms a sport into an art and indicates that some philosophy and correct moral discipline is intrinsic to it. For the Japanese do is an experiential term in the sense that the practice (the way of life) validates the discipline cultivated through a given art form. The 'art' in this case is martial art; though now we should remember that traditionally and at the conception of Japanese martial art this included poetry, painting, calligraphy and flower arranging to name but a few. Samurai were expected to be cultured and literate, and admired the ancient saying "Bun Bu Ryo Do" (lit. literary arts, military arts, both ways) or "The pen and the sword in accord," The number of men who actually achieved the ideal and lived their lives by it was high.

BUDO
Budo is a compound of the Japanese words bu, meaning war or martial; and do, meaning path or way. "Bu" may be interpreted as meaning "courage" or "the way of war".

The practice of a budo art ultimately involves the practitioner in a commitment to a way of life dictated to enhancing the most creative and altruistic qualities of human character, and the simple and practical virtue of budo martial discipline is that it is an excellent means of awakening courage. Some of the arts that retain the suffix do are JoDO, AkieDO, TaekwonDO and a few more.

Budo arts are derived from the combat arts - they did not develop independently of them. Contemporary budo forms can be traced back to the Japanese hereditary warrior class, the Samurai (bushi). "Budo" refers to the idea of formulating propositions, subjecting them to philosophical critique and then following a 'path' to realize them.

The picturegram (as opposed to the word) (Jap) "DO" and (Chin) "TAO" is actually derived from the Sanskrit MARGA - meaning the 'path' or 'way' ... 'to enlightenment'.

BUJUTSU
Bujutsu is a compound of the words bu, and jutsu, meaning science, craft, or art and the composite is therefore translated or interpreted as "science of war" or "martial craft". Bujutsu was the realm of the higher classes, aristocracy and warlord. These days, both budo and bujutsu are used interchangeably in English (Romanised) with the term "martial arts".

An early Japanese term for warrior, "uruwashii", was written with a kanji (picturegram) that combined the characters for literary study ("bun") and military arts ("bu"), and from as early as the late 12th century the educated poet-swordsman is held up as the ideal of human endeavour. This class would call themselves "bujutsu-do"; those that follow the way of bujutsu.

The samurai (budo) army and the navy were modernised in 1854. In defining how a modern Japan should be, members of the Meiji government decided to follow the footsteps of United Kingdom and Germany, basing the country on the concept of "noblesse oblige." Samurai were not to be a political force under the new order and with more Meiji reforms in the late 19th century, the samurai class was abolished.


 
 
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