View Full Version : "Shugyo"

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08-05-2000, 09:48 PM
Morgan wrote:
The term shugyo means pursuit of knowledge, studying, learning, training and discipline, etc. It is, I believe, a shortened version of the term "shugyosha" which means practitioner of (Buddhist) austerities. However, I have also herd the word shugyosha used to refer to someone who is a serious student of the way of the sword.

I don't think the term "shugyo" has any Buddhist connotations these days, although it may have had some such in the past. Nor is the term constrained to a martial context; people can undergo "shugyo" in things like flower arranging and tea ceremony.

"Shugyo" can actually be written in two different ways to mean two different things. The first is the "normal" way that people usually see "shugyo" defined as. In this context, "shu" basically means "discipline" or "study" and "gyo" basically means "the arts" and basically means something akin to a disciplined study of the arts.

The second way to write it has the second character "gyo" as the same character in the verb "to go" (iku) and refers to the act of travelling to different "masters" to study under them for some periods of time. I guess the closest one may come these days in aikido of this kind of "shugyo" is by going to seminars or to many different dojo.

What are all of your thoughts on the term, "shugyo"?

-- Jun

Greg Jennings
08-05-2000, 10:39 PM
akiy wrote:
What are all of your thoughts on the term, "shugyo"?
-- Jun [/B]

To start off, let me say that I suspect my feeling of "shugyo" is probably off the mark with respect to the Nihongo term.

"Shugyo" for me requires austerity. Some examples are:

Giving up:
Sleep, entertainment (including BTVS), hot meals, the hope of one day owning a Toyota Landcruiser, razor sharp creases on my trousers, a manicured lawn, all but the very rare Dos Equis w/ Lime ....

Dealing with:
Constant injuries of varying degree, friends and family that think I'm nuts for training, constant badgering from my wife (man, did she hate it when I put in the new mat), really rude and/or clueless people coming through the dojo, the eccentricities of my Sensei, beginning or returning students cranking on my permanently sore right elbow ....

And worst of all, it means missing this year's Aikido-L seminar because I'm totally committed to my shodan grading this year. ;) ;) ;)

George S. Ledyard
08-05-2000, 11:38 PM
In traditional Japanese martial arts this term refers to a stage in the training of a martial artist in which he has completed his studies at his original school under his original teachers and he moves out in to the world to test himself and his understanding against outsiders. A shugyosha would travel from dojo to dojo requesting matches in order to test his technique. It is my understanding that sometimes these visits were structured by his teacher, going to recommended schools to train under teachers his own teacher recommended.Other times it was strictly done on his own. If he encountered a school in which the students or a teacher was able to best him, he might ask to stay and train with them. If he won he moved on looking for those who can teach him something.

In the old days there could be serious consequences as the matches were quite dangerous and often a school's survival could hinge on not being seen to be inferior to another style. The stiry of Musashi's shugyosha period are indicicative. This is the stage at which the student can becomes a master, if he survives. It is where he learns to apply his knowledge in the real world against styles not his own. Very dabgerous, very severe.

08-06-2000, 08:11 AM
Shugyo, as defined in Living the Martal Way (an excellent book, in my opinion) describes it as some sort of training to push beyond your limits, to see how far you could go. From this author's definition, it sounded more like a physical misogi, but I don't have the book handy, and it's hard to explain without quoting from it...


08-06-2000, 10:38 PM
akiy wrote:
What are all of your thoughts on the term, "shugyo"?

-- Jun [/B]
My normal understanding has been of the "austere training" definition. Five years ago, as part of some essays for a test, I had to write of it, although I'd do it differently if I were writing it today. For what it's worth, you can take a quick look at it, if you wish at: