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Big Dave
05-09-2004, 07:01 AM
I have read several posts recently, including the one on Bushido as well as one from two years ago asking about the connection between Samurai and Aikido. I am a historian by training and profession, but my area of specilaization is not Japan. As I read these posts, I was struck by several thoughts. First, many things that I have read in my growing interest about Japanese history are described here as "myths." Second, that people discounted or dismissed the connection between Aikido and the Samurai.
In general, I have come to understand the following ideas as factual, meaning in history terms that there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that they are true.
1. That for nearly a thousand years Japan was ruled by warlords - Daimyo and Shoguns who were supported by a warrior class called Samurai. The Samuari protected the interests of the lords in a feudal society.
2. That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.
3. That they also functioned as local "law and order."
4. They were governed by a code of conduct called "Bushido."
This code called for absolute loyalty to their lord and that they were expected to be courageous in combat. Honor and disciple were also emphasized.
5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.
6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.
7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

To be sure, the image here in the West has romanticized the Samurai, much like the knights of the Middle Ages. King Aurthur? Would I like to have embrace Bushido as a life style? Honor, discipline, Integrity, loyalty, why wouldn't I? It's an ideal afterall - something we try to live up to, just as the Samurai did. Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

Is Aikido related to the arts of the Samurai? It seems to me that there is no question about it.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan. From the refusal of Japanese to surrender during WWII to contemorary Baseball in Japan, there is still much emphasis placed on the values on Bushido. Which of course begs another question....Is Bushido simply an expression of broader Japanese culture or does it in turn help to create those expectations? I would love to here ffrom some who currently live in Japan about this.

Maybe I have not been reading the right things, and if so, could you please point me in the direction of good historical sources that could clarify which of the above are myths?

Thanks,
Dave

Jordan Steele
05-09-2004, 01:58 PM
I am definitely not a qaualified expert to credit or discredit Japanese history, but I do know for a fact that Aikido and the Samurai are not directly related. Aikido was created after feudal Japan. It is a realtively new martial art. I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.

tedehara
05-09-2004, 02:30 PM
...Maybe I have not been reading the right things, and if so, could you please point me in the direction of good historical sources that could clarify which of the above are myths?

Thanks,
Dave
Imagine you have a group of thugs who push people around. These guys are well known for persecuting the following dangerous groups:

Rice farmers who continually revolted against oppressive taxes.
Christians who followed a different way of thinking.
The neighboring gang of thugs living in the next castle.
They would try and justify their oppressive military state through Confucian theory. These thugs are self-described as samurai (http://koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html).

Because the people of the Japanese islands got along so well, there were large groups of thugs (many clans of samurai). It's been written that 20% of the population was at one time of the samurai class. Because of this, the concept of bushido was more pervasive than the concept of chilvalry in Europe.

It is the concept of bushido which was beaten into the Japanese soldier which ended up with the brutal insanity that was Japanese occupation during WWII. Something that the Japanese people still need to apologize and come to terms with.

Today bushido is generally mis-interpeted and misunderstood. An innocent expression of bushido is a cool gesture by a manga character. At it's worst, it is a code that is as dangerous as the Christian Book of Revelation. It is something to die for.

Aikido techniques developed from Aiki-jitsu. Aiki-jitsu is one of the many styles of techniques that developed from the battlefield situation of "I've just lost/broke my sword/spear and there is this guy trying to kill me! What do I do???"

Like many of the Japanese martial arts, its followers practice many of the traditional Japanese values. Many people play at being samurai and following bushido. But if you really look at bushido and think for yourself, you might find at the core (kokoro) something worth having.

Noel
05-09-2004, 03:14 PM
I think, Dave, that you have to make a distinction between what bushido was, and what it was made into in the 1920's and 1930's by the militarists. From some of the reading I have done, the "no surrender" business seems to have been unduly emphasized during that period. If you haven't read any of Dave Lowry's books, I think they are worthwhile from a 'mindset' standpoint versus actual history. You probably know much better than I what the good historical sources are, but IMO, the late Donn Draeger wrote a lot of worthwhile stuff about the development of martial arts in general. Also, if you haven't seen the Koryu Books website, they have some nicely researched stuff.

My cent-and-a-half,
-Noel

Big Dave
05-09-2004, 03:21 PM
Imagine you have a group of thugs who push people around. These guys are well known for persecuting the following dangerous groups:

Rice farmers who continually revolted against oppressive taxes.
Christians who followed a different way of thinking.
The neighboring gang of thugs living in the next castle.
They would try and justify their oppressive military state through Confucian theory. These thugs are self-described as samurai (http://koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html).

Because the people of the Japanese islands got along so well, there were large groups of thugs (many clans of samurai). It's been written that 20% of the population was at one time of the samurai class. Because of this, the concept of bushido was more pervasive than the concept of chilvalry in Europe.

It is the concept of bushido which was beaten into the Japanese soldier which ended up with the brutal insanity that was Japanese occupation during WWII. Something that the Japanese people still need to apologize and come to terms with.

Today bushido is generally mis-interpeted and misunderstood. An innocent expression of bushido is a cool gesture by a manga character. At it's worst, it is a code that is as dangerous as the Christian Book of Revelation. It is something to die for.

Aikido techniques developed from Aiki-jitsu. Aiki-jitsu is one of the many styles of techniques that developed from the battlefield situation of "I've just lost/broke my sword/spear and there is this guy trying to kill me! What do I do???"

Like many of the Japanese martial arts, its followers practice many of the traditional Japanese values. Many people play at being samurai and following bushido. But if you really look at bushido and think for yourself, you might find at the core (kokoro) something worth having.

I agree with you. Clearly the Samurai were instruments of oppression for the masses of people in Japan. That is the nature of any Feudal system. But I do not agree that our history teaches us anything different. Hollywood tends to Romanticize the Samurai I think....last year's movie comes to mind. Yet is it not possible to admire the Samurai's skill and philosophy while rejecting the aspect of feudalism?
Yet I find something very appealing in aspects of Bushido - perhaps the idea of honor, of accepting one's responsibility. This idea is virtually non-existent in our own culture today. I am a history teacher, and you would not believe the excuses that I am subjected to on a daily basis. We have become a society of non-responsibilty. No ownership at all of anything we do.

I understand also that no Samurai did Aikido. Yet they are related. It's like the American legal system is related to that of ancient Rome....which influenced British legal thought, which in turn, with modifications, became the basis of our own.

Doka
05-09-2004, 05:37 PM
I think the way of the Samurai is not my way of Aikido!

I am hetrosexual and peaceful!

The Samurai were bisexual and violent!

Do you need anymore evidence?

Also, the name Aikido was used before O'Sensei did!!!

Big Dave
05-09-2004, 05:58 PM
I think the way of the Samurai is not my way of Aikido!

I am hetrosexual and peaceful!

The Samurai were bisexual and violent!

Do you need anymore evidence?

Also, the name Aikido was used before O'Sensei did!!!

Hi....
Well, yes. The mere fact that you have said so does not in way make something a fact. It also does make it incorrect either. Your assertions that the Samurai were Bisexual and that Aikido existed prior to O'Sensei are both not "conventional wisdom" as far I can tell. What is your evidence? Can you at least suggest a source that I might have a look at?
Thanks!
Dave

senshincenter
05-09-2004, 06:59 PM
Yes, I agree. Mr. Dobro has a lot more to offer before his opinion can be registered as fact. After all, it is not factual that the samurai as a class were bisexual; nor is it factual that "bushido" contained within it a doctrine of bisexuality. It is also a huge over-simplification, especially concerning the issue raised (i.e. Should we, or can we, seek to uphold some of the more relevant virtues of the samurai class?), to merely say “The samurai were violent.” and then to end all discussion there.

I would like to note that Mr. Peling is raising some good points and inspiring some good questions. A little time dedicated to one’s reply seems to be in order – in my opinion.

Thank you,
dmv

JohnnyBA
05-09-2004, 07:14 PM
...I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.

I'm sorry, maybe I misread your statement, but are you actually implying that O'Sensei did not fight to defend himself and save his life, but simply trained solely for spiritual enlightenment?

Don_Modesto
05-09-2004, 07:30 PM
[QUOTE=Big Dave]In general, I have come to understand the following ideas as factual, meaning in history terms that there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that they are true.
1. That for nearly a thousand years Japan was ruled by warlords - Daimyo and Shoguns who were supported by a warrior class called Samurai. The Samuari protected the interests of the lords in a feudal society.

DJM: Yes and no. The BUSHI came into unprecedented power with the ascendancy of the Hojo in the 12th century, but current thought is crediting the courtiers and clerics with retaining far more power than had been allowed them in previous scholarship. See Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History by Jeffrey P. Mass.

DJM: Also, Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan by Karl F. Friday for the evolution of the class

2. That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.

DJM: Until Edo (1600-1877) when the BUSHI became administrators and bureaucrats infamously inept with their weaponry (as demonstrated in the story of the 47 Ronin , e.g.)

3. That they also functioned as local "law and order."

DJM: And as pirates and brigands. See Mass, ibid.

4. They were governed by a code of conduct called "Bushido."
This code called for absolute loyalty to their lord and that they were expected to be courageous in combat. Honor and disciple were also emphasized.

DJM: No. Bushido was a 20th century phenomenon. This is rather like a yoeman in Merry Olde England claiming the right to free speech: He could put the words together, but there was no legal concept supporting him. Similarly, Bushido was actually codified until the militarists of the 20's and 30's exploited it to unify the nation. See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido. Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.
QUOTE]

Don_Modesto
05-09-2004, 07:37 PM
5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

DJM: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

DJM: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:NW4aN6AqV8IJ:www.fas.harvard.edu/~rijs/Conlan%2520Paper%2520PDF.pdf+%22Thomas+Conlan%22+&hl=en). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more intersted in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.


7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

DJM: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

DJM: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

DJM: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DJM: Interested to hear what you have to say about the sources I listed. Hope this helps.

Don_Modesto
05-09-2004, 07:40 PM
Sorry for the spastic posts above. The software kept telling me that my post was too short! I found a work around but, as you see, it was ugly.

I'd cut some links that I'll try to post here:

See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido (http://koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html). Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition(http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_friday_0301.htm)

Williamross77
05-09-2004, 07:45 PM
Did i Read that Right?...
All books that i have read about this subject matter relate O'Sensei's desire to find the true meaning of Bushido (code of the Samurai). He trained under Sokaku Takeda (samurai about 17 years of age around the begining of the meiji restoration), the Grand Master of The Aizu Clan's DaitoRyu Aikijujitsu, The direct Guardians of the last Shogun ( all Samurai). Yaguryu (SP) Kenjitsu was directly a Samurai art. The fact that Aikijuitsu was around before the advent of aikido does not mean Aikido exhisted (per say), but the relationship is one of dependant causality. IE no Christ= no christians/ same/ no brutal samurai art taught to O'Sensei= no Aikido evolution of the Budo (samurai arts). well ...we still wear A Hakama ( traditionally worn by Samurai) we carry Bokken that the Samurai trained with, we use a cast system founded within the ranks of the Samurai, not because we think we are actors but because this was passed down to us by our teachers and their teachers and so on and so on...
walks like a duck , quacks like a duck... must be a...

Big Dave
05-09-2004, 09:56 PM
5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

DJM: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

DJM: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:NW4aN6AqV8IJ:www.fas.harvard.edu/~rijs/Conlan%2520Paper%2520PDF.pdf+%22Thomas+Conlan%22+&hl=en). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more intersted in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.


7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

DJM: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

DJM: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

DJM: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DJM: Interested to hear what you have to say about the sources I listed. Hope this helps.


Thanks Don. I will get back to you as soon as I can have a look at these.... these are exactly the kinds of things I was interested in reading. I am really interested in the contention that Bushido is an invention of the 20th century.

PeterR
05-09-2004, 10:23 PM
Dave;

A couple of points to consider.

Rules of behavior and advice on ruling were written down and codified way back but they were basically priests telling people to be good and fathers giving sons advice. As you know neither are listened to all that much. There are also a number of house rules laid down which were sometimes followed, sometimes not. The idea of an all pervasive code of conduct for the samurai class evolved in the Edo period where the level of control exercised on society was pretty extreme - rules for everything. The concept of Bushido that we see today is very late Edo and distorted somewhat by events leading up to WWII.

That little tidbit aside several groups in Japan see themselves as vestiges of samurai culture. Yakuza (even though historically they came from elsewhere), police (were often though not always samurai), certain bureaucrats (well that's what most samurai did after all) and many Budo dojos.

Looking at the latter you have certain formalities, hierarchies and ways of behavior but I must say a listing of traits sound more of what you would here in a boy scout hall than a working dojo. Basically if you follow the ways of the dojo and don't embarrass your seniors outside of it - that's enough. I am sure that Budo training develops some admirable traits within people but that in itself may be due to self selection (thugs don't often have the discipline required) but no one has told me how to behave outside the dojo. That is up to me.

senshincenter
05-09-2004, 10:46 PM
Let’s see if I can make this a bit more accurate – and hopefully not just a bit more confusing:


[Big Dave] “In general, I have come to understand the following ideas as factual, meaning in history terms that there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that they are true.

1. [Big Dave] That for nearly a thousand years Japan was ruled by warlords - Daimyo and Shoguns who were supported by a warrior class called Samurai. The Samuari protected the interests of the lords in a feudal society.”

[DJM] Yes and no. The BUSHI came into unprecedented power with the ascendancy of the Hojo in the 12th century, but current thought is crediting the courtiers and clerics with retaining far more power than had been allowed them in previous scholarship. See Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History by Jeffrey P. Mass. Also, Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan by Karl F. Friday for the evolution of the class.

DMV: The 1000 years sited by Mr. Peling does have to be qualified a bit but so too does some of the information Mr. Modesto is offering. Of importance is: a. The scholarship containing the position referenced here has been in academic circles for over 20 years now – it’s not “the current thing” that has just now shed light on a darkness long held; b. The idea of a unified Japan is plaguing the conclusions offered. Each segment of Japanese culture, and even segments of competing cultures, had pockets of power all over the area we today know as “Japan”. Thus, while it is not wholly accurate to suggest that the warrior class (i.e. samurai) ruled Japan up to 1000 years before the Meiji Restoration, it is also not accurate to say that courtiers and clerics ruled Japan in their stead and/or held more power. I think a benchmark of power accumulation and transference, if one is pressed by the actual formation of “Japan”, could be the Korean political mission that in the Tokugawa period by-passed the Imperial palace in Kyoto and went straight to the Bakufu in Edo. Before that, I think one is going to have to be very careful about how the words “power” and “Japan” are defined.

2. [Big Dave] That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.

[DJM]: Until Edo (1600-1877) when the BUSHI became administrators and bureaucrats infamously inept with their weaponry (as demonstrated in the story of the 47 Ronin , e.g.)

DMV: Again, I think we have to be cautious about using general terms like the term “samurai” – using them as if we could ever capture the multiplicity of human action and/or behavior by nomenclature alone. Plain and simple – we can’t. Some members of the samurai class became bureaucrats, some didn’t. Some were always and/or became inept with weaponry during the Edo period and some didn’t ever – some stayed highly skilled and/or became more skilled. When warriors became politicians, they were not the only class to work in politics for the Bakufu, nor did another class fulfill all of the ranks of their military.

3. [Big Dave] That they also functioned as local "law and order."

DJM: And as pirates and brigands.

DMV: I think what Mr. Modesto is wishing to suggest here is that the samurai made up all kinds of social segments of a given time and place – some being admirable. This is undoubtedly true. But I’m not so sure that Mr. Peling is saying that all samurai were “noble nights”. As a historian himself, he knows better. I think he makes this point quite clearly in his suggestion that we can look beyond the ailments of Feudalism – look to the skill and the philosophy of the samurai, etc. If members of the samurai class, in the face of the ailments of Feudalism, turned antithetical to certain philosophical positions that came to be associated with bushido, this does not mean that the underlying philosophy does not exists. In fact, it proves that philosophy existed more than it did not – by way of the antithesis. In other words, while some samurai did become brigands, pirates, smugglers, mercenaries, rapists, and terrorists, etc., robbing, pillaging, piracy, smuggling, raping, and terrorizing were never held up as a social ideal for the samurai class. There ideals were other – and it is that other that Mr. Peling is wishing to talk about here.

4. [Big Dave] They were governed by a code of conduct called "Bushido."
This code called for absolute loyalty to their lord and that they were expected to be courageous in combat. Honor and disciple were also emphasized.

[DJM]: No. Bushido was a 20th century phenomenon. This is rather like a yoeman in Merry Olde England claiming the right to free speech: He could put the words together, but there was no legal concept supporting him. Similarly, Bushido was actually codified until the militarists of the 20's and 30's exploited it to unify the nation. See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido. Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.

DMV: In Mr. Peling’s post, the words “they” and “governed” are problematic. So too is the word “code”. It is very easy to answer “yes” and “no” to questions using such words, but that would be no answer at all – which means this is no question at all. Dates, regions, contexts, etc., all are needed here to determine anything relative to whether or not we should ourselves idealize the ideals of bushido. It is most difficult to refer to the samurai as a unified group, singular in action and thought. They were not. Also, “governed” and “code” is by far too concrete a term to use for how the ideals of bushido affected members of the samurai class. For Mr. Modesto’s post, I have to say, Bushido is NOT a 20th century phenomenon. Nor does Friday suggest this in the works cited. Most obviously: Friday himself is citing Nitobe’s book as being instrumental in the modern development of the term and concept of Bushido and that book is from the 19th century. Also Friday, knowing he would be hard-pressed to prove otherwise, does not suggest that Nitobe, and/or others like him, was not referencing things older and/or much older than themselves. Friday’s works in question have to do with the gap that exists between medieval samurai practices and political ideals held by the Imperial military of Japan at the beginning of the Modern era. While that gap undoubtedly has to do with the revisionist practices of that (or any) fascist government, they also have to do with the gap that exists between any concrete action and it’s accompanying ideal. Since we are dealing here with various samurai ideals, it is hard to say how relative these articles (Friday’s) truly are, but I would propose, not very. It is also not accurate to say that bushido was codified in the 20’s and 30’s. Bushido has never been codified.

5. [Big Dave] Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

[DJM]: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

DMV: Again, I think the context is way too general here to do anyone any good. But if Mr. Peling is suggesting that the various ideals of bushido had to do with a particular technology of self that would have warrior “learn” more than simply how to fight and/or kill – the answer is undeniable “yes”.

6. [Big Dave] Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

[DJM}: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare ( http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cach...onlan%22+&hl=en ). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more interested in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.

DMV: I think Mr. Peling’s suggestion here takes us back to what I said earlier on using the word “governed” to understand the relationship between the ideal of bushido and the agents that invested in it. Undoubtedly, but only generally speaking, there is an underlying shame culture to the samurai class, but this is something not always akin to the idea of “expecting suicide” for matters of disgrace. From one historian to another – this is Hollywood and not History.


7. [Big Dave] That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

[DJM]: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

DMV: Yes, personally I would take issue with the words “less lethal”, same thing with “modified” and “create”, but maybe that is another thread.

8. [Big Dave] Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

[DJM]: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

DMV: Well, Mr. Modesto, how about some of that “as well” now? Seems like your whole post is dedicated to just the transgressions. ;-) True, they are important, but they are not the whole picture, and maybe not all the relevant to what Mr. Peling is suggesting.

9. [Big Dave] It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

[DJM]: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DMV: Actually, here is where I say Friday’s articles become very relevant. Respectfully, I would disagree; the mentality of the samurai is not very much alive in Modern Japan. Can’t see it in the other countries listed either. What one does see are indeed remnants of that revisionist effort that Japan’s fascist government put into motion at the time Friday is referring to in his articles.

I think Mr. Peling’s post is strongest here, and perhaps it is here that we could discuss the issue at hand. I suggest this because references to history, if we desire for those references to be accurate, are just going to make this thread way too complicated. Japanese history will not offer us here the “proof” we need here to reject or accept the ideals of bushido. Here is what I think is best in Mr. Peling’s post – what I think readers should make room for but are apparently not:

[Big Dave]

“Would I like to have embrace Bushido as a life style? Honor, discipline, Integrity, loyalty, why wouldn't I? It's an ideal after all - something we try to live up to, just as the Samurai did. Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on […] these ideals – [they] are important.

Is Aikido related to the arts of the Samurai? It seems to me that there is no question about it.

Yet I find something very appealing in aspects of Bushido - perhaps the idea of honor, of accepting one's responsibility. This idea is virtually non-existent in our own culture today. I am a history teacher, and you would not believe the excuses that I am subjected to on a daily basis. We have become a society of non-responsibility. No ownership at all of anything we do. “

Thank you,
dmv

NagaBaba
05-09-2004, 10:47 PM
Nice post Don!

Charles Hill
05-10-2004, 02:59 AM
Just a couple points.

1. If one defines samurai as a social class, Morihei Ueshiba was a samurai, from both sides of his family. His personality and tendencies also seem to reflect this; his ineptitude/unconcern with money, a strong interest for learning, and a love for the martial arts.

2. According to several shihan, the Founder did focus on nonlethal techniques post-war and modified them as well.

3. In any discussion on the samurai, I think it is important to clearly separate what was the ideal and what actually happened.

Charles Hill

PeterR
05-10-2004, 03:32 AM
1. If one defines samurai as a social class, Morihei Ueshiba was a samurai, from both sides of his family. His personality and tendencies also seem to reflect this; his ineptitude/unconcern with money, a strong interest for learning, and a love for the martial arts.

Charles are you sure about this - I remember reading somewhere that it was unusual for Takeda S. to take on Ueshiba M. because of the latters lack of samurai background. <--not sure about this at all.

3. In any discussion on the samurai, I think it is important to clearly separate what was the ideal and what actually happened.

Very much so.

Mark Jewkes
05-10-2004, 04:51 AM
Hi everybody

Interesting discussion. I think that budo is an evolution of bushido. While bushido focused on how to die budo is about how to live. Hence - bushido is about death whereas budo is about life.


regards

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2004, 10:20 AM
Perhaps, if you are a military or law enforcement professional, the code Bushido might be relevant. When you talk about Bushido you talk about how an hereditary class of professional warriors thought about he ideals that would define their lives. These are people who were born to this life, had little or no choice about much of what went on in it. They lived their lives according to the expectations and demands of their seniors.

Saying the code isn't relevant because the majority of samurai didn't really live according to its ideals is like saying that Christianity isn't relevant for the same reasons. These are the ideals that people strive for, that form their notions of what is good, whether or not they reach them in their own lives.

But it is a code for professionals. For nice middle class, civilian Americans to think that they can aspire to follow the code of Bushido is silly. Unless you want to enlist and even then you would have a term of enlistment, a choice about whether you stayed in. The Bushi were born in to this life and died as members of their class. Duty informed every aspect of what they were expected to do. We get our notions of this life from the writings of higher status, wealthier samurai. The average samurai didn't have even that much room for self expression.

For a civilian, saying one aspires to live according to the code of Bushido in modern America would be just as much of an anachronism as saying to want to live by the "Code of the West." People would just look at you as some sort of deranged cowboy wannna be.

Now, Budo is another issue. If you train in the martial arts seriously there are certain values that inform that world. When those values begin to form the basis for your values system, when training is at the heart of how you structure your life, then you could be said to be following the path of Budo. I think Budo assumes that you have decided to live your life as a warrior even though you might not be a professional military person.

In traditional Asian social hierarchy, the warriors are recognized as being up on the social scale. Not the highest, but up there. What all systems uniformly agree on is that the merchants are at the bottom. We are the first society in history to consciously place our merchants, those who do business for a living, at the top of the social scale. We can see this in every aspect of society. Everything has become a commodity. Value is strictly a monetary issue.

I think that there is a certain group of people in our society who instinctively react against this notion of the way to live. They cast about for alternatives which seem to have something deeper and not surprisingly usually come up with something more traditional which contains more of the wisdom of the past. For a number of these people serious pursuit of the martial arts fills this need to find something beyond generating income and acquiring possessions as the highest aspirations one could have in ones life.

In a society which glorifies ease and comfort, which strives in every way possible to dull the pain of people's existence both emotional and physical, which virtually exists by striving for unconsciousness, there are some who purposely choose a path which is difficult, which is often frustrating and certainly painful, in which there are no shortcuts, no "one minute" solutions. Martial arts as a way of life, not just some hobby you do for a couple years twice a week, is our attempt at getting to something deeper in a world which seems to be striving to be shallow. If this is what one is doing in his pursuit of Aikido or some other martial art then I would say that you are following the path of Budo. Bushido is a code for professional military people but Budo is a way of life available to anyone who wishes to make the effort to reshape his or her life by choosing to seriously train in the martial arts.

Bronson
05-10-2004, 11:38 AM
Great post. May I forward that to some friends off the forums?

Maybe we can get Jun to put it permanently in the articles section.

Bronson

tedehara
05-10-2004, 12:50 PM
I agree with Bronson. A good post George.

Maybe you could expand on this for your next column on Aikiweb?
Hint-Hint ;)

Doka
05-10-2004, 12:53 PM
My post relating to the bi-sexuality of the Samurai was a bit bullet point, so here is more detail.

The Japanese (Edo period) did not distinguish between different types of sexuality like hetrosexual, bisexual and homosexual. These Western origin terms have no meaning to the Japanese of those era. But this is the Western definition of what was practiced. People had relationships of love and sexuality with others of the same sex. The term I have seen to describ it (I don't speak Japanese so I am quoting with faith in the source) is "nanshoku", which apparently does not translate well in to English, but is like 'manly love', 'comrade love', or 'male colours'.

A source for you is:

Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950 - Gregory M. Pflugfelder

And a link to details:

http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue6/dasgupta_review.html

1 quick quote from the page:

The former explores the intersections between increasing commercialisation of sex through (male and female) prostitution in the 'pleasure quarters' of urban centres, and pre-existing nodes of male-male sexual intimacy within the Buddhist monkhood and samurai. Discussion of the latter examines contemporary official strictures and regulations on sexuality (including, but not exclusively, male-male sexuality),

On other things, I did not say that Aikido (as in Uyeshiba Aikido) existed before Uyeshiba Sensei, but the word did and was used for some jutsu. There have been other threads where this has been discussed.

Other things have been stated better than I could elsewhere on this thread.

:ai:

Don_Modesto
05-10-2004, 01:46 PM
Nice post Don!

Thanks.

"Nagababa"?

Ron Tisdale
05-10-2004, 01:48 PM
I believe Mark is correct in what he's presented...I wish that I had something more than a few fictional movies I've seen to back it up, though. :)

I do remember that the name 'aikido' was originally discussed as a general category of arts rather than a specific art. Kind of interesting actually. There are some articles on this on Aikido Journal, Stanley's series on the kobukan dojo I believe.
RT

senshincenter
05-10-2004, 03:13 PM
Mr. Peling began this post by saying:

“I was struck by several thoughts. First, many things that I have read in my growing interest about Japanese history are described here as "myths." Second, that people discounted or dismissed the connection between Aikido and the Samurai.”

At first it seemed strange to me, as I’m sure it did to Mr. Peling, to some degree, that one would have to so “cautiously” approach the topic of the relationship between the warrior class of feudal Japan, bushido, and Aikido. But if you look at the following responses taken from the various posts thus offered, one could indeed understand where Mr. Peling was coming from and why he had to do it in the way that he did. Folks had the following to say:

a. That Aikido and the samurai have no relation to each other.
b. That samurai did not seek spiritual awakening.
c. That all samurai were bisexual.
d. That bushido had a tenet that proposed or demanded bisexuality.
e. That bushido did not exist until the 20th century.
f. That bushido was about piracy and brigandage.
g. That bushido is merely a justification for the political machinations of thugs.
h. That bushido is a formula for violence.
i. That bushido is only about fighting and killing.
j. That budo and bushido are in total contrast to each other.

Respectfully, I have to say that none of these statements are accurate. While one’s decision to outright reject bushido (either in total or in parts) is of course one’s prerogative, reinforcing one’s personal decision with the weight of historical accuracy is an option that should remain open only to those that do not hold such positions as the ones listed above – in this case.

It will always be hard to say what bushido is and/or is not. I think we will always have to accept that. Of course, we will have to also accept the fact that works like the “Hagakure” and “Bushido” played a huge part in the formulation of such notions. But we would be wiser to say that these works played a huge part in formulation of such notions such that they can speak to our own modern minds than if we said that they invented bushido outright. Rather there was long, slow, and random process by which the warrior of Japan came to build a link between what he did on the battlefield and what he did off of that field. In general, and especially for our purposes, he drew a relation between ethical (“proper”) behavior and military practice. This long, slow, and random process is itself connected to another long, slow, and random process – the one whereby “Japan” was unified and brought into Modernity. All this, I believe, has to be kept in mind.

Thus, I think one would be pressured to say that the bushido of the samurai came to an end with the end of feudalism, or soon there about – this is because a class mentality was so much at the center of it, etc. However, that other part, small as it may be, of bushido that connected ethical (by today’s standards) behavior to military practice, and vice versa, has indeed continued on past feudalism and even into today. It is this part that I think Mr. Ledyard is referring to in his post. I would only like to say that such personnel (i.e. military) cannot, like we cannot, choose the bushido of the samurai because of the elements contained therein that were central to things like the social system of feudalism. On the other hand, we, like military personnel, can indeed choose to foster a relationship between ethical behavior and our various military practices. I do not think that law enforcement agents or the various military agents of state governments have a monopoly or even an upper hand in this regard.

Budo on the other hand, I believe, is not solely a concern for ethical behavior in one’s life and/or in relation to one’s military practice. It is the way of spiritual awakening via the means of martial practice. Thus, bushido and budo are not the same things – true. But they are not in opposition to each other either. In my opinion, it is not too fair to think of one as the evolution or devolution of the other. They are just different things – even if a normal cultural overlap is present.

dmv

Dennis Hooker
05-10-2004, 03:17 PM
George wrote

"Now, Budo is another issue. If you train in the martial arts seriously there are certain values that inform that world. When those values begin to form the basis for your values system, when training is at the heart of how you structure your life, then you could be said to be following the path of Budo. I think Budo assumes that you have decided to live your life as a warrior even though you might not be a professional military person."

George, since we are talking about Aikido and its relationship to budo let me go in just a little different direction. Your feed back is always welcome.


Ueshiba O' Sensei would often say "Aikido is true budo". Did that mean the other stuff was not? I believe through his training and development process he came to a new understanding of what budo was. Indeed, I believe as the old concepts and moirés were filtered through him they changed a great deal and changed him a great deal. He was not your typical Japanese group submissive or even group follower; although he was a fierce Nationalist and an Imperialist of the old school he was also a mover and shaker. He seemed to be quite a contradiction of old and new. Personally I believe just as he redefined the meaning of Aiki to incorporate benevolence and love he redefined budo to fit his physical, spiritual and philosophical understanding of the art he was creating. It is significantly different from the old school thinking. Even his concept of what he was developing was dramatically different post and pre WWII. Read his daka and see the change in his understanding of what he was developing and how he viewed its place in world. I believe we Americans have defined for ourselves (if not redefined for many Japanese) the meaning of that enigmatic word Budo. We have changes Aikido just as it has changed us and in so doing we no longer hold onto the old ways but embrace the new. I believe this is true if our Aikido is alive and vibrant and we let that show through us. Just as he did we take what we like and add to it our own experiences and believes and we change, and are changed by the process. Budo as defined by the Aikidoka should be flexible and ever-changing to reflect the changing humanity of the practitioner.

Dennis Hooker
www.shindai.com

Ron Tisdale
05-10-2004, 03:18 PM
Hmmm. I really didn't get most of those statements you made from these posts...not the ones I took anywhere near seriously anyway...

RT

senshincenter
05-10-2004, 03:30 PM
Hi Ron,

None? Really? Humbly, I still hold they are there - even starting with the very first reply. Granted I did not draw a line between serious and non-serious posts or anything akin to that since I was merely trying to show how Mr. Peling was indeed right for first issuing his post and for issuing it in the manner that he did. That is to say that there is indeed a lot of assumed bits and pieces that folks do indeed use to separate Aikido from its feudal roots while at the same time denoucing those roots. I was also suggesting that these "bit and pieces," which I did not feel it necessary to attribute to any one personality (hence why I did not directly cite anyone), since they do indeed seem to relate to a general consensus on this web site, are not historically accurate.

But maybe I just made things more confusing. Apologies.

dmv

G Marx
05-10-2004, 03:46 PM
Just a suggestion on how you can research your own answer. I am reading a book called "Secrets of the Samurai- The Martial Arts of Fuedal Japan" by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook. They also wrote "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere".

It is lengthy (almost 500 pages). It is divided into 3 sections.

Part I is a study on the class structure of fuedal Japan (long and really more than I really needed to know).

Part II is about the different martial arts used in fuedal Japan including those used by people other than the Samurai. It includes armed and unarmed arts and shows links between them and modern arts, including Aikijutsu to Aikido, in solid scholarly way.

Part III (I have not read this section yet) is about the philisophical aspects such as the difference between Budo arts, such as Aikido, and Bujutsu arts.

I think you will find most of your answers in the book.

Good Luck!

Ron Tisdale
05-10-2004, 03:51 PM
Hi all,

See, the problem is that there are many books like the one quoted above...written by a couple of shodan, years ago, before much accurate information was out. If you search on the web for reviews by people familiar with japanese history, you'll find that book does not get good reviews for accuracy. Great pictures...but filled with misconceptions. That kind of research will lead you astray on this topic.

For what its worth,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-10-2004, 04:01 PM
Hi David,

Lets take a look at that first reply:

I am definitely not a qaualified expert to credit or discredit Japanese history,

First a disclaimer.

but I do know for a fact that Aikido and the Samurai are not directly related.

Now a pretty strong statement...that is actually true. The two are not DIRECTLY related. Daito ryu might certainly have been practiced by 'samurai' (or someone in the bushi class), but aikido certainly wasn't. The class had been abolished by that time. Since the techniques of aikido come from Daito ryu, there could certainly be an INDIRECT relationship. As the poster goes on to say...

Aikido was created after feudal Japan. It is a realtively new martial art. I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment

Now here in the last sentance, is something people could quibble with, since (as you say) how would we know WHAT they fought for, since we can't interview them. But the poster is not saying any of the statements that you had in your post. Not one of them. Read them carefully, then read his post, and you will see that. I have to say that your items strike me as an exageration of the various positions here, especially if you look at the posts by Don Modesto, Peter Goldsburry, George Ledyard, and a few others (hopefully myself thrown in there too).

Ron

Doka
05-10-2004, 04:39 PM
I got 2 entries on David's list! :)

Some people may wonder why I have chosen to make mention of the contorversial fact that the Samurai, and other Japanese were non-specific about sexuality, where men had loving sexual relationships with other men, not just women. Remember also that some women were Samurai too having relationships with men and women too!

Well, wouldn't you believe it, they were human! Some of them loved the opposite sex and some loved the same sex, and some both! People romance about the Samurai and have this macho image, but they were people, just like you and I, and I think people should realise that.

I am all for shattering the almighty image of the Samurai for what they really were. Some good, some bad, some gay, some straight, some honest, some dishonest, some brave, some cowards, some skilled, some unskilled,....... Just like your slice of any society.

:ai:

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2004, 05:08 PM
Hi all,

See, the problem is that there are many books like the one quoted above...written by a couple of shodan, years ago, before much accurate information was out. If you search on the web for reviews by people familiar with japanese history, you'll find that book does not get good reviews for accuracy. Great pictures...but filled with misconceptions. That kind of research will lead you astray on this topic.

For what its worth,
Ron
Unfortuantely much that was written early on during the development of Aikido about Japanese martial arts and culture was really just popularization but but not reliable at all. These days there is much better stuff around.

Don Dreager, both Skoss's, Dave Lowry, Ellis Amdur, Dr. Karl Friday, Serge Mol, and Stan Pranin would be authors you could count on for better info. Just remember that they debate many issues with each other so nothing is written in stone.

See Koryu Books (http://www.koryubooks.com)
This is a place where you can get great books that are top notch and reviews of many other books that they might not carry. I always check this site before I buy a new book onthe subject to see what they think of it.

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2004, 06:00 PM
George wrote

"Now, Budo is another issue. If you train in the martial arts seriously there are certain values that inform that world. When those values begin to form the basis for your values system, when training is at the heart of how you structure your life, then you could be said to be following the path of Budo. I think Budo assumes that you have decided to live your life as a warrior even though you might not be a professional military person."

George, since we are talking about Aikido and its relationship to budo let me go in just a little different direction. Your feed back is always welcome.


Ueshiba O' Sensei would often say "Aikido is true budo". Did that mean the other stuff was not? I believe through his training and development process he came to a new understanding of what budo was. Indeed, I believe as the old concepts and moirés were filtered through him they changed a great deal and changed him a great deal. He was not your typical Japanese group submissive or even group follower; although he was a fierce Nationalist and an Imperialist of the old school he was also a mover and shaker. He seemed to be quite a contradiction of old and new. Personally I believe just as he redefined the meaning of Aiki to incorporate benevolence and love he redefined budo to fit his physical, spiritual and philosophical understanding of the art he was creating. It is significantly different from the old school thinking. Even his concept of what he was developing was dramatically different post and pre WWII. Read his daka and see the change in his understanding of what he was developing and how he viewed its place in world. I believe we Americans have defined for ourselves (if not redefined for many Japanese) the meaning of that enigmatic word Budo. We have changes Aikido just as it has changed us and in so doing we no longer hold onto the old ways but embrace the new. I believe this is true if our Aikido is alive and vibrant and we let that show through us. Just as he did we take what we like and add to it our own experiences and believes and we change, and are changed by the process. Budo as defined by the Aikidoka should be flexible and ever-changing to reflect the changing humanity of the practitioner.

Dennis Hooker
www.shindai.com

Hi Dennis,
I think that Ueshiba Morihei saw what he was doing from an evolutionary standpoint but was certainly aware that it was revolutionary as well. When he made statements like "Aikido is True Budo" I do not believe that he necessarily meant that everything that went before was not. Rather I think he saw what he did rather like the founder of the B'hai Faith saw his new religion, namely as one that superseded but was still based on, the teachings of the past.

As far as O-sensei was concerned, all that was positive about the Budo traditions of the past are contained within Aikido but he felt that his teachings offered a brand new way to view them and practice them. By changing the assumptions underlying the practice we get a new outcome, something creative rather than destructive, an art which is designed to create peace, not by destroying an enemy but rather by destroying the illusions upon which conflict is based in the first place.

I would absolutely agree with you that we are in the process of redefining Budo. We started with an understanding of that word as it was taught to us by Japanese instructors. Now we have our own understanding of what we each mean by it. Although it won't be exactly a Japanese understanding, it won't be a typical American understanding either. And that is good. Some people say that if Aikido is going to become a truly American art, we should dispense with all Japanese terms, etiquette, anything which is Japanese in flavor. I totally disagree with this.

There is a reason that so many people look outside their own cultures for spiritual inspiration. Often it is difficult to see the truths in ones own traditions because one is too close to them and has grown up being too familiar with how their own traditions have failed to live up to their own ideals. But traditions from outside have the advantage of helping us shift our perspective and this is always helpful when working on spiritual issues. That why one often finds people from outside our own culture looking to our traditions for inspiration at the same moment we are looking to theirs.

So Budo has come to America. We will make something of it that is uniquely our own. I think we are more likely to make something really deep and creative out of the art than the Japanese themselves. Then it will be interesting to see if the teaching starts to go the other direction, from here back to Japan (somehow I suspect not without some resistance).

One can see this on the brink of happening in other arts, not just in Aikido. In many martial arts, especially the Koryu, and also many of the cultural arts like tea ceremony, etc. the senior students of these arts are in foreigners from N. America, S. America or Europe. When the Japanese sit up and realize that this has happened it is a shock for them. It will be interesting to see what they end up doing about it.

senshincenter
05-10-2004, 06:24 PM
Hi Ron,

Again, I wasn’t meaning to exaggerate, just generalize. In that sense, I didn’t mean to suggest that the list I came up with should be seen in any kind of numerical fashion. It is not suggesting that this line went with that post, etc., directly. I.E. The first line on my list does not refer to the first post on the thread.

As for the second reply, the post you are referring to as an example of my misapplication and exaggeration, I think do see that it contains the idea that samurai were about war, fighting, violence, etc., and that whatever came after was about spiritual enlightenment. That is to say, as the poster says, “…the samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.” Naturally I took this to mean that the samurai “struggled” toward victory and surviving the battle, not struggling toward spiritual awakening. I understood the words “fight for” metaphorically, and since the poster is demarcating a line between the past and the present – such that he can use the word “indirect” – I understood him to be suggesting a kind of definitive. For me this would correspond to my entry on this list: “The samurai did not seek spiritual awakening.” In this same sentence, along with sentences from other posts, I think you can also gain a sense, because of what the original post was about, that the poster here also holds the positions that bushido was about violence, fighting, and killing – two other elements on my list. Again, I do not think I am exaggerating.

The short way of doing this is to note that the Ratti book, which was also mentioned, can be dissected according to the list I put together – but for the entries concerning sexual behaviors and/or critical history. For me, it’s worth noting: the rejection of the samurai and the samurai traditions is carried forth at the cost of some great historical inaccuracies, for the sake of holding up Aikido as something totally different and something totally “better” (however each person wants to define that). This is one way, my way, of understanding what all is in the initial post. I did not wish to say what is “better,” or anything like that. I was merely trying to note the room a fellow historian was trying to make in “(re)considering bushido in today’s context.

I do not feel that I made any attempt to summarize Mr. Ledyard’s post. I only gave a different opinion which was: If one understands bushido as the connection of ethical practices with military practices, then civilians who practice the martial arts can also adopt that aspect of bushido. I was not wholly in agreement with Mr. Ledyard’s position that only military personnel had access (or had more access) to bushido. Just a different opinion – that’s all.

And as far as Mr. Modesto’s post went I tried to address it as accurately as I could with the main theme being one of proposing caution not conclusion. I did not set out to say more than he did.

I did not even see a post by Mr. Goldsbury on this thread so I don’t know how I could have been exaggerating it.

And I do not remember making any reference to your posts either.

Either I’m way off base, which can of course be possible, or I think I must be rubbing you the wrong way. If the latter is the case, I’m sorry. In attempt to keep the thread together through two pages worth of posting, and in attempt to allow the initial post to keep its voice, I have written what I have written. I have no intention to upset, discredit, insult, or disrespect – none whatsoever – by what I have written down. For me, respectfully, the Mr. Goldsbury comment stands out as a hint that for some reason I’m not being looked at too fairly. So I must be doing something wrong if not at least different. Again, apologies. My own experience with academic forums has led me a bit off kilter it seems - at least in regards to you and this post.

Thanks,
dmv

senshincenter
05-10-2004, 09:56 PM
"I got 2 entries on David's list!"

lol - thanks Mark.

And thanks for the elaboration. Yes - I would agree. I too am not in favor of the romanticizing of the samurai. I also agree with your elaboration concerning the multiplicity of society - any society.


dmv

Big Dave
05-10-2004, 09:57 PM
Hi Everyone,
First, let me thank everyone who offered up some possible readings for me to consider and add to my "Budo Library." This has become a very interesting thread for me, especially as a relative newbie, with much to think about and digest. I think in my reading I will focus on three questions to start with:
1. What was Bushido as the Samurai knew it?
2. How did this code change over time?
3. What is the application of Budo to our modern lives? (this one interests me the most)

The Books that have been suggested include the following:
Noel : The Changing nature of Bushido by Don Draeger
He also suggested looking at Koryu Books
Don J Modesto: Antiquity and Anarchromism in Japanese History by Jeffrey Mass
as well as 3 books by Karl Friday, including : Bushido or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Warrior Tradition, The Historical Foundations of Bushido, and Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan.
Also Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai" in Japan's Impact on the World and The Culture of Force and Farce: 14th Cent. Japanese Warfare by Thomas Conlan
Mark Dobro suggests Cartographies of Desire: Male to Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse 1600-1950 by Jeffrey Plugfelder
George Marx suggests Secrets of the Samurai- The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan by Ratti and Westbrook
Finally, George Ledyard suggests books in general by Don Draeger, "Both Skoss's" Dave Lowry, Ellis Amdur, Karl Friday, Serge Mol, and Stan Pranin.
Again, thanks for the suggestions.
Dave

senshincenter
05-10-2004, 10:59 PM
Hi Dave,

Here are some other books you can look up if you got more time – they will definitely give you a grounding concerning the debate going on. They are all kind of basic material books. I separated them into your breakdowns but of course they can be moved around a bit:

(Note: Some books I had in my library, some I had to remember off of the top of my head – you should be able to find these things with your university librarian helping you. I’m not that far off on any of them I would think.)

1. What was Bushido as the Samurai knew it?

See the following:

by Neil McMullin: “Oda Nobunaga and the Buddhist Institutions”, and “Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan”

by Karl Friday: “Hired Swords – The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan”, and “Legacies of the Sword”

by Jeffrey Mass: “The Bakufu in Japanese History”, and “Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History”

by Eiko Ikegami: “The Taming of the Samurai – Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan”

by Allan Grapard: “The Protocol of the Gods” (this book lets you understand how the aristocrats saw Japan – politics, religion, and culture, etc.)

by Herman Ooms: “Tokugawa Ideology”

by George Sansom: any of his cultural histories – particularly the one in three volumes “A History of Japan”. While today these works are considered to be outdated, they will get your foot in the door concerning the debates and disagreements taking place in the latest research.


2. How did this code change over time?

See the following:

by James Ketelaar: “Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan”

by Helen Hardacre: “Shinto and the State: 1868-1988”

by Donald Keene: “The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720-1830”

by Stefan Tanaka: “Japan’s Orient: Rendering Pasts into History”

by Naoki Sakai: “Voice of the Past: The Status of Language in Eighteenth-Century Japanese Discourse”

by Allan Grapard: (I think its in the History of Religions Journal – or maybe – Japanese Journal of Religious Studies) “Japan’s Ignored Cultural Revolution: The Separation of Shinto and Buddhist Divinities (trans. “shinbutsu bunri”) in Meiji”


3. What is the application of Budo to our modern lives?

See the following:

(for common points of reference you might want to read)

by Takuan Soho: “The Unfettered Mind”

by Musashi Miyamoto: “The Book of Five Rings”

by Yamamoto Tsunetomo: “The Hagakure”

by Inazo Nitobe: “Bushido”

by Yagyu Munenori: (I think it’s called something like) “The Sword and Mind”

(the next one is a must read)

by Confucius (Kung Tzu): “The Analects”

(here’s a good survey book)

by Daigan Matsunaga: “Foundation of Japanese Buddhism: Vol. 1 and 2”

(a good entry book to Zen for Westerners)

by Thomas Merton: “Zen and the Birds of Appetite”

by Morihei Ueshiba (Osensei): Read everything you can get your hands on while remaining cautious about the translations.

Also read any original texts by renowned Zen masters (as opposed to folks writing about said masters). Some favorites of mine are Ikkyu, Dogen, and Ryokan. Some modern masters to look into are Sawaki and Suzuki. If you want to get into China – oh boy! Great Ch’an masters abound! Go for it.

Well, hope that helps in a sort of general way. Good luck.

Yours,
dmv

Williamross77
05-11-2004, 12:17 AM
So my new question is, to what degree of contact with the past is necessary for Aikido to claim a link to the samurai, if not Aikido then can any thing? Of course Osensei was not Samurai, but He was in the since of Pursuit of Perfection in Aiki. Samurai is not merely a title at this point in History, it is a Legacy, A Phoenix if you will, a MODE of being that has many expressions. But the idea of being a Servant to the universe is where we stand now, after Ueshiba. Can i claim to be a soldier if i am not in the army?NO. can i claim to carry the mantel of a solder?YES I Can. Obviously none of us live the life of the Ancient Samurai, but I do Live the Best Ideals that i can from all genres of the past, does that make me Samurai, i will let the universe decide that. As for the past will any one every really know the truth that is not in front of them or the universe if they do not know their own body?

Yann Golanski
05-11-2004, 04:34 AM
For those interested in a good author on Samurai then I strongly suggest Stephen Turnbull. He's an expert in the field. Link goes to Amazon's list of his books.
Stephen Turnbull (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=Stephen%20Turnbull/002-7483257-6445639)

BTW, the Bushido as described in Bushido Shoshinsu by Taira Shigesuke was written in the Tokugawa Shogunate where Samurai did not fight any longer. In the Sengoku (the civil war and what most of us think of as the golden days of the Samurai) there was no such code. After all, Oda used firearms after the Sohei used them against him and he saw their power on the battlefield.

As with everything, read one book on a subject and you're an expert. read ten books on that subject and you start seeing shades of grey everywhere. Read a hundred books on that said subject and you start doubting everything!

Ron Tisdale
05-11-2004, 07:30 AM
Hi David,

No, absolutely no umbrage taken at your posts at all. When I referenced Dr. Goldsbury, it was simply his posts on this and similar topics in other threads. I do think we have slightly different viewpoints, but that is simply what makes us human! :) I for one, am glad for those differences...it would be boring without them.

If nothing else you've given me a lot to think about, trying to get clarity around a difficult issue.

Thanks, and
Best Regards,
Ron

Dario Rosati
05-11-2004, 09:30 AM
I am definitely not a qaualified expert to credit or discredit Japanese history, but I do know for a fact that Aikido and the Samurai are not directly related. Aikido was created after feudal Japan. It is a realtively new martial art. I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.

The difference shows clearly if you compare the "soft" Aikido sword with more traditional (and combat-oriented) kenjutsu schools with medieval/military roots, like Kashima or Tenshin Shoden KSR.
If you have the chance to look (and even better, train) at both, you will probably come to the conclusion that the former is an evolution of the latter, and that the former (Aikido sword) clearly doesn't fit a potential real battle situation; the latter are surely more geared toward effectiveness (and even brutality) rather than armony and circularity.
A 14-15th century samurai on the battlefield wouldn't handle a sword like a modern aikidoist does... he would have died as fast as he raised (too much) the sword to do shomen against the first decent trained enemy ;)

Just my 2c as an Aikido/TSKSR cross-trainer.

Bye!

senshincenter
05-11-2004, 02:24 PM
Dave,

That brought two more basic books to mind:

"Heavenly Warriors" by William Farris, which is a general survey of the bushi from 500 to 1300, and "Zen at War" by Brian Victoria, which is a book on the role Zen played in the rise of Japanese fascism in the first half of the 20th century.

dmv

Don_Modesto
05-11-2004, 05:15 PM
Excellent reference list.

by Allan Grapard: “The Protocol of the Gods” (this book lets you understand how the aristocrats saw Japan – politics, religion, and culture, etc.)

by Allan Grapard: (I think its in the History of Religions Journal – or maybe – Japanese Journal of Religious Studies) “Japan’s Ignored Cultural Revolution: The Separation of Shinto and Buddhist Divinities (trans. “shinbutsu bunri”) in Meiji”

If your library subscribes to the service, the former is available online at: http://www.netlibrary.com/. Do a search on the title.

The latter is quite a good read too, as well as
the Hardacre piece: “Shinto and the State: 1868-1988”. They cover the same territory, Hardacre, having more space, in more detail. She provides interesting perspective on what it means to call Omotokyo "Shinto".

Regarding Mr. Valadez' earlier post:

DMV: The 1000 years sited by Mr. Peling does have to be qualified a bit but so too does some of the information Mr. Modesto is offering. Of importance is: a. The scholarship containing the position referenced here has been in academic circles for over 20 years now – it’s not “the current thing” that has just now shed light on a darkness long held;

Technically, I suppose, but twenty years is a short time for academic truths to reach popular consciousness. Just see how painfully scholars lament at the common separation of Shinto from Buddhism (Grapard above) in supposedly technical literature or the common association of Zen and the martial arts (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=5971&highlight=skoss+almost+total+dearth).

b. The idea of a unified Japan is plaguing the conclusions offered. Each segment of Japanese culture, and even segments of competing cultures, had pockets of power all over the area we today know as “Japan”. Thus, while it is not wholly accurate to suggest that the warrior class (i.e. samurai) ruled Japan up to 1000 years before the Meiji Restoration, it is also not accurate to say that courtiers and clerics ruled Japan in their stead and/or held more power.

This is put well but I'm not sure it contradicts what I said. I was discussing common conceptions.

[DJM]: Until Edo (1600-1877) when the BUSHI became administrators and bureaucrats infamously inept with their weaponry (as demonstrated in the story of the 47 Ronin , e.g.)

DMV: Again, I think we have to be cautious about using general terms like the term “samurai” – using them as if we could ever capture the multiplicity of human action and/or behavior by nomenclature alone. Plain and simple – we can’t. Some members of the samurai class became bureaucrats, some didn’t. Some were always and/or became inept with weaponry during the Edo period and some didn’t ever – some stayed highly skilled and/or became more skilled. When warriors became politicians, they were not the only class to work in politics for the Bakufu, nor did another class fulfill all of the ranks of their military.


Yes. My post was long enough without splitting hairs, but I did overgeneralize, perhaps. I agree with your points here.


3. [Big Dave] That they also functioned as local "law and order."

DJM: And as pirates and brigands.
[and from another post:
f. That bushido was about piracy and brigandage.]

It's a small point, but I think it was this sort of leap that Ron spoke of. It interpolated enough to qualify as a straw man argument. Examining the original point, as Mr. Valadez put it--"we have to be cautious about using general terms like the term 'samurai' – using them as if we could ever capture the multiplicity of human action"--samurai have the vaunted reputation of being some sort of do-gooders. As many commentators (Friday, Bolitho, etc) note, this is unfair to their memory. Kyushu samurai, especially, were suspected of being WAKO, pirates, and plundering coastal Korea, putting a thorn in the side of the diplomacy of the time.

DMV: ....we can look beyond the ailments of Feudalism – look to the skill and the philosophy of the samurai, etc. If members of the samurai class, in the face of the ailments of Feudalism, turned antithetical to certain philosophical positions that came to be associated with bushido, this does not mean that the underlying philosophy does not exists. In fact, it proves that philosophy existed more than it did not – by way of the antithesis. In other words, while some samurai did become brigands, pirates, smugglers, mercenaries, rapists, and terrorists, etc., robbing, pillaging, piracy, smuggling, raping, and terrorizing were never held up as a social ideal for the samurai class. There ideals were other – and it is that other that Mr. Peling is wishing to talk about here.

Point taken.

[DJM]: No. Bushido was a 20th century phenomenon. This is rather like a yoeman in Merry Olde England claiming the right to free speech: He could put the words together, but there was no legal concept supporting him. Similarly, Bushido was actually codified until the militarists of the 20's and 30's exploited it to unify the nation. See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido. Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.

DMV: In Mr. Peling’s post, the words “they” and “governed” are problematic. So too is the word “code”. It is very easy to answer “yes” and “no” to questions using such words, but that would be no answer at all – which means this is no question at all. Dates, regions, contexts, etc., all are needed here to determine anything relative to whether or not we should ourselves idealize the ideals of bushido. It is most difficult to refer to the samurai as a unified group, singular in action and thought. They were not. Also, “governed” and “code” is by far too concrete a term to use for how the ideals of bushido affected members of the samurai class.


This is very well said and very clear. Mr. Valadez is very careful, at times, with his language and this is an example put to good use.

For Mr. Modesto’s post, I have to say, Bushido is NOT a 20th century phenomenon. Nor does Friday suggest this in the works cited. Most obviously: Friday himself is citing Nitobe’s book as being instrumental in the modern development of the term and concept of Bushido and that book is from the 19th century. Also Friday, knowing he would be hard-pressed to prove otherwise, does not suggest that Nitobe, and/or others like him, was not referencing things older and/or much older than themselves. Friday’s works in question have to do with the gap that exists between medieval samurai practices and political ideals held by the Imperial military of Japan at the beginning of the Modern era. While that gap undoubtedly has to do with the revisionist practices of that (or any) fascist government, they also have to do with the gap that exists between any concrete action and it’s accompanying ideal. Since we are dealing here with various samurai ideals, it is hard to say how relative these articles (Friday’s) truly are, but I would propose, not very. It is also not accurate to say that bushido was codified in the 20’s and 30’s. Bushido has never been codified.

Ironically, here I was being careful with MY language: Bushido before Uchimura and Nitobe was just one term among many: samuraido, budo, etc. I referred to that term: "Bushido". In quotation marks. The nebulous concepts antedating it certainly bear some influence, but both Uchimura and Nitobe were Christian apologists, not practicing Bushi. They first settled on the term and Nitobe in particular, writing in English, created the consciousness of this...code, as they called it. (Being careful again, I called it a phenomenon, not a codification.) It wasn't until the book was translated into Jpn that the Jpn began using the term in its current meaning. The book was first published in 1900; I will grant that that's the 19th century, but the effect dates from 1909 when it appeared in Jpn for the first time.

DMV: Again, I think the context is way too general here to do anyone any good. But if Mr. Peling is suggesting that the various ideals of bushido had to do with a particular technology of self that would have warrior “learn” more than simply how to fight and/or kill – the answer is undeniable “yes”.

We'll have to agree to disagree. Some were cannon fodder, pure and simple. The marriage of BUN/BU was for leaders, not foot soldiers.

7. [Big Dave] That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

[DJM]: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

DMV: Yes, personally I would take issue with the words “less lethal”, same thing with “modified” and “create”, but maybe that is another thread.

Pertinent points. I missed them.

8. [Big Dave] Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

[DJM]: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

DMV: Well, Mr. Modesto, how about some of that “as well” now? Seems like your whole post is dedicated to just the transgressions. ;-) True, they are important, but they are not the whole picture, and maybe not all the relevant to what Mr. Peling is suggesting.

Busted! And I may have done Mr. Peling injustice, if so, apologies to him. But I think the litanies of samurai nobility, blah, blah, blah are far more prevalent than the realities of their existence and behavior which usually receive scant attention.

DMV: ....I think Mr. Peling’s post is strongest here, and perhaps it is here that we could discuss the issue at hand. I suggest this because references to history, if we desire for those references to be accurate, are just going to make this thread way too complicated. Japanese history will not offer us here the “proof” we need here to reject or accept the ideals of bushido. Here is what I think is best in Mr. Peling’s post – what I think readers should make room for but are apparently not:

[Big Dave]

“Would I like to have embrace Bushido as a life style? Honor, discipline, Integrity, loyalty, why wouldn't I? It's an ideal after all - something we try to live up to, just as the Samurai did. Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on […] these ideals – [they] are important.

Abused? According to whom? When Lt. Calley slaughtered innocents in My Lai, would that be an abuse of those values? He did as he was ordered. Absolute obedience was part of what we call bushido, after all. The values we like, we have no need to call bushido. And if we leave out those we don't, it's no longer bushido, is it. With caveats, Mr. Valadez' constant wariness of anachronism, e.g., taking only those values of which we do approve from this artificial construct of bushido, changes the thing and the result need not/cannot even be called bushido. Lots of other times, folk, and circumstances have valued, discipline, loyalty, etc.

Thanks for the stimulating discussion.

aubrey bannah
05-11-2004, 09:16 PM
Another worthy primer is The Unfettered Mind, Takuan Soho, trans by William Scott Wilson.

senshincenter
05-11-2004, 10:00 PM
Dear Mr. Modesto,

Please call me Dave.

May I say, wow, I’m impressed and pleased by your response – especially that you are familiar with Professor Grapard’s work and its importance. Thank you very much for taking the time to post and to post with such attention. Professor Grapard was actually my mentor through my undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate work. I’m wondering if you have come know him personally, that we may have actually ran into each other somewhere or some-when??? What a small world that would be (again)!

Yes, I would agree, the bigger problem does seem to be the romanticizing of the samurai when one considers the larger sub-culture of martial arts. No doubt that is something that has to be addressed – as I agreed earlier to in a reply to a post by Mr. Dobro.
And, looking back now, I can see that I undoubtedly ran into such a process, one that had long been taking place before I arrived on this forum. And most likely before that there was the process of folks trying to build the samurai and bushido up and into something they are not and/or could never be. Please excuse some of the naiveté that came my way for not realizing all of this until now.

I was in fact trying to ally myself with your end but in doing so I opted for the “weapon” of, will you allow me to say, “measured” discourse. That is to say that I do not feel that anything more is actually required to show how many understandings of the samurai and bushido are either modern invention and/or mythical in nature; etc. I was also suggesting that nothing more than this type of discourse, that still does fully allow for Mr. Peling’s post, is required to demonstrate that the bushido of the samurai is not open to us as a citizen of Modernity; etc. - all things I’m sure you would agree with, and things which I ended up posting later in this thread. However, in the same process, I saw tinges of Aikido’s own tendency to romanticize itself while attempting to de-romanticize the samurai. I felt measured discourse could address all of these problems.

Treating your last post with the respect and courtesy it deserves, please allow me to address some points you made.

* I have to say that I was not out to contradict you, etc. So I do not feel that much of what I said negated what you were saying. If anything it was more of a “Yes, that is true, but so is this.” It was in the “so is this” that I thought Mr. Peling could find some space for his original post - space it deserves but which I did not think was being granted by the thread as a whole. I did completely understand your use of common conceptions, etc., but felt that others in the thread did not – at least not completely. As such, I saw a relation, even if it was an indirect one, between some of the factual statements you were saying and some of the outright dismissals that others were offering to stop Mr. Peling’s post right in its tracks. Of course, I am not Mr. Peling’s champion, and he would hardly pick me even if he needed one, but being a bit knowledgeable on the topic I felt a “push” to reply with my opinion.

Understanding you were using common conceptions as a root to your post, I made use of that same tool when I summarized that part of the thread that was closing off room for Mr. Peling’s reply. In reference to a point from you latest post: I did not say that you were saying, or that anyone else was saying, “bushido was about piracy and brigandage.” In answer again to the charge of “exaggeration,” and in line with my ensuing defenses and/or all of the other following posts that ending up lending credence to my summary, allow me to note that the thread elsewhere contained the idea that bushido was used as a justification for an abuse of power - an abuse of power which can be understood both in terms of our own understanding, and in the historical evidence as far as what some samurai actually did (which does include piracy and brigandage - as you noted - and a whole lot more - as I noted. )

The polemics of the thread that were used against Mr. Peling’s post, in attempt to end the romanticizing of the samurai and bushido, were making use of this relationship (i.e. bushido was a justification for the abuse of power, and samurai practiced piracy and brigandage) to say, “Get over it, stop trying to be a samurai.” Hence my summary point.

Had I wanted to cite anyone, I would have. While some posts could be directly, almost word for word, connected to lines from my summary, even then it was not my intention to cite a person. That came about solely by the singularity of the topic summarized. Again, and totally different from the reading leveled against me, I wanted to say that there was a (growing) relationship here in this thread between the ideas that bushido was used as a political justification for an abuse of power, that the samurai were pirates and brigands, and that therefore one should not make space for Mr. Peling’s post because it can be deemed “romantic” (and thereby based in falsehood).

In the end, my attempt, as was stated over and over again, was to make discursive space for the original post, in this case, by saying the obvious: “You know, you can’t judge something in total by what some are doing in subtotal. Nor can you judge an ideal by the failure of those to live up to that ideal.” After my post, many folks made these exact same points. Respectfully, what I did was no leap, small or large. It is was not an insertion of something that was not there. And it was not the setting up of your position in order to “knock it down”. If anything the charge of exaggeration is an exaggeration itself. After all, though the attempt has been made, no one has been able to demonstrate this charge. As one academic to another, and not to inspire some sort of sympathy, it is unfair to use the phrase, “the sort of leap” in addressing my point. The thread does in fact hold my summary accurate, and this point here is not outside of that accuracy.

* When I read your section on Bushido being a 20th century phenomenon, I noted that the word “bushido” was not in quotation marks. This, as you can understand, led me to the position that you were not merely referring to the word itself. Your usage of the word “phenomenon” also led me to this understanding. I figured since you had made points elsewhere concerning the relationship between Nitobe and the word “bushido,” you would have said “the word ‘bushido’” if you wanted us to understand that that was all you were talking about in this paragraph.

I agree with most everything you say in your latest post concerning this point. However, I would say that while one might hold that Nitobe was instrumental in coining the term, this should not lead us to the conclusion that it was Nitobe himself, and other thinkers like him at the turn of the 20th century, who invented the idea that military practice can and/or should be related to ethical behavior – which is one of the aspects that Mr. Peling was most interested in discussing.

Nebulous or not, which I agree it was (and still is), I hold it to not be too fair to close off Mr. Peling’s post by saying or suggesting that folks like Nitobe invented, started, or even sealed bushido. One man, nor all the men of one generation do not in total make an ethic. In agreement with you, undoubtedly the genesis of a nomenclature is relevant to our understanding, as is the noting of a tendency for revisionist historiography that plagued Japan at this time, but I still hold that it is not wholly accurate to suggest that “bushido is a 20th century phenomenon” (as you first posted). Perhaps we will have to disagree to disagree here, but I imagine we are just coming at the same thing with different ways of describing it.

* I agree with your point on how some samurai were just “cannon fodder”. I don’t think I’m saying anything different, especially after I had made the suggestion that we should not over-generalize and allow for human multiplicity. Bushido was an ideal, as an “ideal” I am saying that not everyone followed it. Being a samurai didn’t make you a follower of bushido. That was your point – a point I concurred with then. And that has been my point all along – and my reason for why one cannot denounce bushido based on the actions of some samurai, etc.

What I was saying “yes” to had to do with how a particular technology of the self allowed for a particular person to carry out a particular set of practices. I was not saying “yes” to the idea that all samurai were proponents of bushido – especially right after I disagreed with Mr. Peling assumption in this regards.

* It is true, the ideals that we may appear to hold in common with the samurai, such as honor, a sense of shame, loyalty, responsibility, courage, etc., are so intimately connected to a class mentality that is so thoroughly entrenched in feudalism that it is next to impossible to suggest that our honor is the honor of the samurai, that our loyalty is their loyalty, etc. I agree. Knowing the history, as you do as well, I have to admit that Mr. Ledyard’ suggestion about the military and the police adopting bushido as a code of conduct made me more nervous than not. But, I can understand his point if I consider him to merely be suggesting that one can and perhaps should draw a relationship between ethical behavior and military practice. When I considered what he was saying from that perspective, I deemed it possible for all of us (as martial artists) to do the same – not just the military or the police. After all, it seems one sure way of curbing power in the hands of the powerful – which was indeed one of the reasons behind the effort to set a manner of conduct as an ideal for the samurai.

* As historians, especially historians born in the post-modern era of the Academy, we sometimes fail to apply our own insights to our own lives. In particular, we accept the notion that things develop, that they have their genesis and their demise, we understand the gap that exists between will and effort on the part of agents and institutions, etc., but often we fail to recognize how our own time is subject to these very same forces. We tend to consider our own time “settled, once and for all.” We tend to consider our own time outside of history.

It is true that the samurai’s honor cannot be our honor. But is it true that we cannot connect our sense of honor to our military and/or martial practices and call it “bushido”? Earlier in this thread I was critical of this. Now I’m wondering. Is it true that we cannot by connecting our honor to our marital practices thereby have our own time follow in line with the rest of history - that long duration that has played a part in the development of this term “bushido”? Is it true that we as society or as a culture cannot share in the same social aim of the samurai, to temper the power to kill with a responsibility toward the social?

If we can as historians but see the agency and the subjectivity in our own times, I think we can and perhaps should allow for these things. I have no conclusions to offer. I can say we cannot allow for a romanticism to take place and/or any revisionist history to reign supreme. That is always a dangerous thing. But aren’t these things achievable outside of exercising the historian’s supposed privilege to Truth? Are we truly working toward the end of romanticism when we hold that “bushido” is long gone and cannot ever be again, or are we just claiming and spending the cultural capital society affords to us, the historian? I am beginning to believe the latter. And I’m beginning to believe the latter is founded in non-reflexive stance, one that holds the historian’s own time period outside of history, holding it in a realm of supposed objectivity by which he/she can utter down the Truth from his/her ivory tower.

In short, have you thought about why we as historians are so quick to say things like “you can’t name it that,” “you will have to name it something different.” After all, we know things have histories, and we know histories involve many continuities and discontinuities. We know histories are alive. Why is our own time not afforded the right to have a say in such things, to add its input, to make its own continuities and discontinuities? It seems to be because we would then lose our right to objectivity over all other times.

So for our time, Time has ended, evolution is unwanted, and development is an out of date idea. We say, “you can’t name it that”, “you will have to name it something different”, etc. Of course the right to nomenclature is one of the ways that we gain our various forms of capital within our own halls, but under what privilege do we seek to enforce such things upon others, upon our time as a whole?

Have you thought about that?

I am beginning to see no reason behind such an extension of privilege.

Let me know what you think – when you get a chance.

Again, and in return, thank you for the stimulating reading.

Yours,
david

Big Dave
05-11-2004, 10:34 PM
Hi all,
In my original post I said that conventional wisdom held several ideas or concepts to be "facts." I thought it might be useful to know from where I came to these conclusions about these so-called facts, which many of you have since disputed on the basis of your own reading and knowledge. What a great discussion.....anyway, my primary source is a book called The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen. He is a professor emeritus from Princeton University and has authored a number of books on Japanese history. This book is well annotated and uses substantial documents to argue its main points. I really like this book and would recommend it. Maybe there is some merit in looking at some of these questions in a broader context beyond the world of martial arts?

1. That for nearly a thousand years Japan was ruled by warlords - Daimyo and Shoguns who were supported by a warrior class called Samurai. The Samuari protected the interests of the lords in a feudal society.
and
3. That they also functioned as local "law and order."

Here, Jansen writes that the original Samurai emerged during the Heian period of Japanese histroy in the 11th and 12th centuries. He writes that the origin of the world "samurai" comes from the word "Subarau" meaning "to serve." He goes on to say that these Samurai, "...emerged as the keepers of the peace in areas where government lands had never been transferred to the private estates." (Jansen 8)

2. That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.
This was just my own conclusion, having read a few histories of the period.


4. They were governed by a code of conduct called "Bushido."
This code called for absolute loyalty to their lord and that they were expected to be courageous in combat. Honor and discipline were also emphasized.

According to Premodern Japan: A Historical Survey by Mikso Hane, The ideals of the Bushi first emerged during the Kamakura period and was known as " the way of the bow and arrow." Hane goes onto write," The Ethos of the Samurai demanded that the warrior live by the principles of duty, loyalty, integrity, honor, justice, and courage." (71)
He also writes that the more formalized code of Bushido is articulated later during the Tokugawa period. He goes on to describe how the interests of the family guided the Samurai's system of values and the relationship between a Samuari and his lord was often a familial one.
Jansen, see above, writes that " It was in the Tokugawa years that the articulation of Bushido was perfected" (103). He cites the Hagakure, which is apparently considered to be "the classic exposition of the Samuari value system." (102) The brief citation cited in this text seems to suggest that a Samuari needs to accept his fate of death in order to live, must be completely subordinate to his lord, and be discreet in his dealings. Jansen then goes on to point on how the Hagakure enjoyed a revival during the prewar years and then again in the 1970's following the suicide of a famous author, Mishima Yukio. Finally, Jansen points out that by the end of the Meiji government, a census of the Samurai families puts the number at over 400,000 households, over 1.8 million people total, or about 5 to 6 percent of the population of Japan (105). (This does not directly realte to my point but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.)

At first glance, without having read any of the books that have been suggested, there certainly seems to be some solid evidence, in the form of documented history, hat the Code of the Bushido existed long before 20th century.

5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

I need more time on this one....I did read somewhere that Samuari were often expected to embrace things like poetry, calligraphy, gardening, tea ceremony, etc...in other words , be more than just a warrior per se, but I may be mistaken.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.
Most of the accounts of this have been anecdotal...like Nobunaga, a famous unifier of Japan who in 1582 commits seppuku after having been defeated in battle...Jansen 16
I could cite many other examples of this from any number of texts. Cleary there was some expectation of this in Japanese culture, even if it was not always done when one might have expected it.

7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

Everybook I have read on Aikido points how O"sensei studied aiki-jujitsu, Judo and the Sword arts extensively...

Ok, enough for now...back to reading and a trip to Barnes and Noble shortly....
Good night all.... :o
Dave

Charles Hill
05-12-2004, 05:00 AM
Charles are you sure about this .

Hi Peter,

Both the John Stevens` biography and William Gleason`s Spiritual Foundations of Aikido say the family was samurai. They both cite Kisshomaru Ueshiba`s Aikido Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei Den, so I assume it is written there. I believe my local library has a copy so I`ll take a look. Where did you read the bit about Takeda?

Charles Hill

Charles Hill
05-12-2004, 05:03 AM
Ueshiba O' Sensei would often say "Aikido is true budo".

I have since this quote in other threads here but I have to admit I have never read it elsewhere. Where can I find it?

Charles Hill

Charles Hill
05-12-2004, 05:09 AM
by Morihei Ueshiba (Osensei): Read everything you can get your hands on while remaining cautious about the translations.


David,

What do you think is wrong with the translations that are out there? It is interesting that you didn`t write the same for the Musashi work as there is some dubious translations of the Five Rings book.

Charles Hill

Charles Hill
05-12-2004, 05:10 AM
by Morihei Ueshiba (Osensei): Read everything you can get your hands on while remaining cautious about the translations.


David,

What do you think is wrong with the translations that are out there? It is interesting that you didn`t write the same for the Musashi work as there are some dubious translations of the Five Rings book.

Charles Hill

George S. Ledyard
05-12-2004, 11:42 AM
Absolute obedience was part of what we call bushido, after all. The values we like, we have no need to call bushido. And if we leave out those we don't, it's no longer bushido, is it. With caveats, Mr. Valadez' constant wariness of anachronism, e.g., taking only those values of which we do approve from this artificial construct of bushido, changes the thing and the result need not/cannot even be called bushido. Lots of other times, folk, and circumstances have valued, discipline, loyalty, etc.

Thanks for the stimulating discussion.

There are basicly two different streams that branched off in this thread... One is the angle which you and David have taken which has to do with historically verifiable usage of the terms Bushido and Budo etc. And then there is the way in which Dennis Hooker and I were talking about the terms and I think that had more to do with what those terms meant to us as values systems, whether we think that is the same thing that O-sensei meant, and in the end whether there will essentially be a whole new meaning given to these by the generations of people all over the world who, while not Japanese, are devoting their lives to perfecting their practice of the various Budo, including Aikido.

David is correct that Bushido can't strictly be separated in terms of usage from Budo. I didn't intend my post to be from the historical angle but rather from a kind of subjective angle of how those terms have meaning for us as practitioners of martial arts.

In my own usage Bushido is a code for professional warriors. For one to truly be a follower of such a code one would have to be a professional warrior. So much of what is contained in Bushido has to do with duty, loyalty, etc. These are terms which have to do with a larger hierarchical social context, not just how one is shaping his internal value system. For these to be a functional concepts one would have to be in just such a hierarchical structure. For someone in the military or law enforcement these would be pivotal concepts in their every day lives for the rest of us they would not be.

As David suggested, one could say that it is possible that an individual would choose to follow this code even though he wasn’t a professional warrior. In theory one could, but without the larger structure into which an individual would fit, what would these values mean? The individual would have find a structure for himself like the character in Ghost Dog the Way of the Samurai. He operated on what he saw as the principles of Bushido even though the people the people he was working for didn't have the remotest idea of the code.

I see Budo a bit differently. For me Budo is less about the strict identification with a military code of behavior and more about how we choose to take the positive values that can result from a life devoted to training in the martial arts and apply those values in our lives outside the dojo. This is not an historical concept but rather a functioning set of ideals which can serve to provide value and structure to ones life. Whereas it is useful to understand how the Japanese understood the term, and very relevant to us as Aikidoka how O-Sensei viewed the term, ultimately we have to adapt the term to our own lives so that it serves to enhance our own lives and values. That is what Dennis Hooker sensei meant, I think, when he talked of an evolution in how this term is perceived.

Absolute loyalty may have been an important part of the Samurai tradition but as we have seen over and over it isn't a value we wish to adhere to in our own culture. It is more important for us to focus on values like integrity in which we have our own personal sense of what is right and honor in which we act on those values. Bravery is a value which would give one the strength of conviction to act on those values even when the social structure within which one is functioning demands otherwise.

If you look at the prison fiasco in Iraq you see people acting according to the values of loyalty and obedience but acting dishonorably, violating every standard of decency which they had been brought up to believe in in their normal lives. I don't think this is what we wish to promote when we talk about following the path of Budo.

We all have a side to us that contains our "dark side". Any one of us could potentially have been one of those guards in that prison. The kind of Budo that I envision is one that would provide the individual with the strength of conviction not to follow orders which violate ones basic standards for right and wrong. That certainly wasn't what the traditional concept was in Japan, if anything it was the opposite. The code was meant to absolve the individual of any personal moral responsibility when acting according to the orders from his superiors. I do not think that this has any place in how we develop our own functioning sense of Budo.

So, while I think that an understanding of the true historical meanings of these terms is important in understanding where the values underlying our art come from, I also think that in terms of our own practice we are forced to arrive at our own definitions of what these terms will mean for us. Aikido is a new creation based on a whole set of traditions. It will therefore have a whole new understanding of the values associated with those older traditions. O-sensei redefined terms as needed to reflect the insights he had obtained through his practice. We will have to keep that up or risk having our values system become a silly anachronism in which a bunch of Samurai wanna-be's play at their martial arts.

George S. Ledyard
05-12-2004, 11:57 AM
David,

What do you think is wrong with the translations that are out there? It is interesting that you didn`t write the same for the Musashi work as there are some dubious translations of the Five Rings book.

Charles Hill
Just a note: A Way to Victory The Annotated Book of Five Rings translated by Hidy Ochai is one of the best versions of this available in English. Hidy Ochai is a karate teacher but that makes him one of the only people to do an English translation of this work who is actually a martial artist. Meik Skoss reviewd it on the koryu site and felt it was very good.

Don_Modesto
05-12-2004, 02:05 PM
What a great thread! Thanks Mr. Peling and other contributors.

I want to respond to Messrs. Peling, Valadez, and Ledyard but unfortunately, I lack time today. I'll probably be able to add more tomorrow.

Until then, all the best.

senshincenter
05-12-2004, 02:36 PM
Hi Charles,

With the bibliography, in the phrases, “give you a grounding concerning the debate,” “get your foot in the door concerning the debates and disagreements,” “sort of general way”, etc., I was not suggesting that reading these books would provide one with any sort of succinct conclusion. On the contrary, and in total agreement with what Mr. Golanski said, the reading of these books is meant only to raise more questions – but they would be the right questions. My assumption is that they would be read in the following way: Read them straightforward; read the sources given in the bibliography of each of these books; and hit a citation index to obtain books in which these books themselves are used as sources.

As none of these books can be ends in themselves, of course every translation itself is open to that same scrutiny and skepticism that should take one to the bibliographies and citation indexes that are related to each book I recommended. However, you are correct in noting that I did not make special mention concerning the other translations one would inevitably have to face if one is not studied in Japanese and/or Chinese. This is because experience has led me to hold that Chance has one more likely to face a poor translations concerning Osensei than say Kung Tzu or Ikkyu, etc. This is because Osensei’s writings, more than the others, are plagued by the following: Osensei is definitely at the center of a personality cult; Osensei’s translations usually come with no historical context of any kind; Osensei’s translations usually come with no bibliography of any kind; Osensei’s translations usually come with no summary footnotes of any kind; Osensei’s translations usually come with no notes by the translator of any kind; Osensei’s translations are usually vital to the current political struggles still raging in the Aikido world proper; Osensei’s translations are driven by a consumer market that is for the most part totally outside of the Academy, etc.

In short, the writing of Osensei’s is loaded with political and cultural capital, hence the relevant translations are loaded with subjective interests as each author tries to accumulate and/or spend some of that capital. And all of this takes place, for the most part, in front of an audience that is ignorant to both the economic practices contained therein as well as the underlying historical context from which the text is derived. This makes the regular checks and balances that the other translations most often face a rarity when it comes to the writings of Osensei. Hence, Chance favors the poor translation when it comes to Osensei.

Though I did not mention it in the referenced post, a general way of telling a good translation from a poor translation is the following:

(You are lucky if you can have all of these present, so the more the better. They are listed here in order of priority according to my opinion.)

a. The text in its original language is printed on the facing page of each translated page.
b. The translator offers translations notes in which he/she addresses questions or problems concerning direct translations of key terms, differences from other translations, and reasons for why one translation was chosen over another (or even reasons why a word was kept in its native tongue).
c. The translator demonstrates that he/she has fully grasped the historical context of the text in question.
d. The translation is used by other scholars, and/or translators, who also demonstrate “a” through “c” in their own work.

For my money, for now at least, Stanly Pranin is at the forefront, by a long way, concerning research on Aikido and Osensei. The books mentioned thus far in this thread (i.e. Ratti, Stevens, Gleason) are way off the back of what Mr. Pranin is doing and the standards he holds his research up to – in my opinion.

Thanks,
dmv

Ron Tisdale
05-12-2004, 03:02 PM
You see David, we definately agree more than we disagree...thanks for that and all the other posts.

Ron

senshincenter
05-12-2004, 03:17 PM
Hi Ron,

That's what I always think too. :-)

david

senshincenter
05-12-2004, 04:50 PM
Thank you George for posting. I think the thread was in need of a summary again.

Yes, I think Mr. Ledyard is right in noting that there are two different streams of thought traveling through this thread. I was hoping with the ending of a previous post, which was addressed to Mr. Modesto, to have these two streams come together. In the stream attributed to myself, Mr. Modesto, and others, I felt it important to give history its due importance but to at the same time limit the privilege of the historian to say what cannot and/or should not be done. I think that door must be closed if this other stream that Mr. Ledyard, Mr. Hooker, and Mr. Ross, among others, can really be addressed and allowed to flow. Otherwise, I am imagining, we’ll get this going and someone is just going to pop in and say, “That’s not bushido, you aren’t samurai.”

For some things, we must allow our own time the subjectivity that is undoubtedly apart of every time. It is precisely because our own time is a subjective experience that we must use history to gain a perspective on our own thoughts, practices, and institutions. History, and the historian, however, should not restrict us or limit us – because it cannot – concerning things that must inevitably be updated. So let us use seek accuracy in our historiographies; let us use history to provide context, perspective, even understanding; but let us not use it as “proof” of either what can or cannot be done concerning the subjectivity of the present. Allow the historian his/her space, but let us maintain the agency that is our right in the face of both the past and the future. In this way, I hold, even the historian must allow for what Mr. Ledyard and others are proposing as a subjective understanding of bushido and budo.

From my own subjectivity then, which I place above no one else’s…

I am skeptical of a professional warrior who adheres to a bushido code, particularly if that code is akin to some of the understandings one attributes to the samurai concerning honor, loyalty, a sense of duty, a sense of shame, etc. Undoubtedly, the samurai could be understood as a professional warrior. Undoubtedly, our own military bodies could be thought of as consisting of professional warriors. However the connecting of martial practices, to a delineation of “proper” behavior, to a given social hierarchy, to a set of human emotions, etc., smells too much of the source from which all the evils of feudalism arose – evils mentioned in this thread – as well as the evils that made use of these things in Imperial Japan.

The modern world, and particularly the teachings of
Osensei, the ones thoroughly influenced by the teachings of Omoto-kyo, seem to hold no place, no safe place that is, for relating honor, loyalty, duty, shame, etc., to arbitrary social hierarchies. As a man who lived through the rise and fall of Imperial Japan, and who even suffered, indirectly and directly, at the hands of Imperial Japan, a man who aligned himself with a movement (i.e. Omoto-kyo) that was, at least at that time, as far away from adherence to any arbitrary social hierarchy, military or otherwise, Osensei, I think would have been against such a subjective understanding of bushido. I know I am – as I said earlier.

I realize Mr. Ledyard discussed the prison abuses currently going on in Iraq in a slightly different way, but it is actually that case in point that came to my mind when I considered this suggested connection between professional warriors from two different time periods and a bushido code. I would say, by feudal understanding, and even by the understanding of tying oneself to a particular hierarchy in order to determine what things like loyalty might mean, the prison abuses are precisely what you can end up with and still deem them proper – still in line with the code. As is slowly coming out, we are seeing that such behavior was not at all a detour from the hierarchy. It was indeed the following of orders given – orders given to two different brigades carrying out the same and/or similar practices. It was indeed a lesser evil in terms of all the other forms of interrogation possible (i.e. humiliation vs. physical torture); interrogation is indeed a necessary tactical exercise of the military; lives are saved by a gathering of such information; peace is more quickly achieved in the end, etc., BUT from the greater scope of things, from the one Osensei, in following Omoto-kyo, surely adopted as his own, and from the one that Mr. Ledyard proposed in addressing this example, it is wrong – morally, ethically, wrong.

Loyalty, and all other virtues attributable to the samurai and his bushido, for us, I hold, has to fall outside of the arbitrary elements of our own culture. This is a position central to Omoto-kyo. Sticking with loyalty here, because it was the one used to offer privilege to our own professional warriors, in today’s world loyalty has to be a matter of being loyal to The Way, of being loyal to integrity, to consistency, to Truth, to the Path of Peace, to the option of Love, etc. (Please see Mr. Ross’ post in this regard.) In agreement with Mr. Ledyard, it means holding true to these things in the face of a majority that does not or may not; it means holding true to these things in the face of emotional hardship, physical difficulty, and Fear. In this way a sense of loyalty becomes akin to a sense of shame and a sense of honor, perhaps even a sense of faith, and by these things we arm our heart/minds with the tools necessary to behave in a way that is socially responsible when it may be more beneficial, more practical, more convenient, or even more easier not to. If we are indeed interested in seeing what Osensei may have meant in regards to such things, as noted in the first paragraph of Mr. Ledyard’s post, this is, I hold, the way we must understand the virtues of bushido in today’s world. They simply cannot be connected to the arbitrary structures of our own time.

Budo, on the other hand, was not ever actively confined to a particular social class, profession, and/or even a culture. As a technique for spiritual awakening, Budo has always been meant to transcend everything – even itself. The only restriction I could see for Budo is that it must be a technology of the Self that is derived through, in, and with martial technologies. As such then I do not hold that our time has to “reinterpret” Budo, at least not in the way that we do for bushido.

For Budo spiritual awakening can be manifested in many ways, but the one way in which it absolutely has to be manifested is THE TOTAL CAPACITY TO DEMONSTRATE ONE’S MARTIAL TECHNOLOGIES SPONTANEOUSLY. For Budo then, victory is not enough, being skilled in forms is not enough, training hard is not enough, training “martially” (whatever that might mean outside of spontaneous expression) is not enough, being loyal to your sensei is not enough, being a nice guy/girl is not enough, having an 8th dan in some federation is not enough, helping out your kohai is not enough, etc.

Again, I do not think that we have to redefine or update Budo. Its formula is tried and true, it’s pan-cultural, it’s pan-temporal, it’s clearly definable, etc., even if the majority of current forces that we face as modern aikidoka are acting or suggesting otherwise. It’s Buddhist in structure: you reconcile form; you reconcile non-form; you reconcile the apparent contrast between form and non-form. We come to it in the Shu-Ha-Ri model. Like in Zen, you align yourself with a teacher who has already reconciled the apparent contrast between form and non-form and you reflect yourself upon the mirror that is he/she until you have achieved the same.

Where Budo and Bushido overlap, is again found within a seed of Buddhist thought: Only the spiritually awakened can truly be loyal, truly be honorable, truly be compassionate, truly be wise, truly be loving, truly be non-violent, etc. We may not buy into it, that is our choice, but it is there for you if you want it. It’s like a Zen monk I spoke to once said, “Without spiritual awakening, all virtues are fair-weather virtues.”

Bushido then is an ethical system, a value system, thus it inevitably has to be updated. Budo is a technology of the Self, one by which form and non-form are reconciled through martial training. As a reconciliation of the subject and the object, as Chiba Sensei says, Budo must not be redefined for “our” time. We must define ourselves by it.

Thanks,
dmv

Peter Goldsbury
05-12-2004, 05:29 PM
Hi everybody

Interesting discussion. I think that budo is an evolution of bushido. While bushido focused on how to die budo is about how to live. Hence - bushido is about death whereas budo is about life.

regards

Hello,

I think 'abbreviation' would also be acceptable, which makes matters les simple. There is some evidence that budo, namely, a way to be followed/respected/preserved (the Japanese term is ‘mamoru') by bushi, has a history going back to the 14th century. Understood as a set of martial skills to be mastered by bushi, it has an even longer history. As for bushido, even the Japanese language sources I have here in my office give slightly differing explanations. In the "Dai Kanwa Jiten", compiled by Tatsuto Morohashi, ‘budo' is given as a synonym for ‘bushido', which, as a way to be followed/respected/preserved by bushi, attained a distinct form in and after the Kamakura period, from seeds sown between the Nara and Kamaukura periods. Morohashi gives a lengthy explanation and lists the virtues that the bushi were supposed to exhibit, in addition to their martial skills. (For those who wish to read the explanation for themselves, it is on p.693 of Vol. 6.)

Now Morohashi was almost contemporary with Morihei Ueshiba and later sources assign the development of bushido to a later period. Thus, the "Nihon Kokugo Daijiten", (Vol 11, p.836) gives a similar list of virtues, but has them flowering in the Tokugawa Period and cites the "Hagakure". Interestingly enough, Nitobe is also cited as an authority here, as evidence of the spiritual dimension of bushido (NB. This is one of the most authoritative Japanese monolingual dictionaries: a kind of Japanese OED).

My own views about the 'spirit of Bushido' being alive and well in present-day Japan I have already posted elsewhere. As for Morihei Ueshiba, he was a man of his time and so I suspect that his understanding of bushido might well be similar to that of Morohashi.
The starter of this thread asked questions about the relation between Japanese history and myth. This is still rather a delicate question here, as can be seen from the state of archaeological research.

Yesterday, I visited the Izumo shrine, in Shimane Prefecture. I often visit this shrine and wander round the precincts. I went there with a Dutch aikidoka who was spending a month in Japan training and visiting the country.

Actually, Izumo is very interesting, especially as concerns the early history of Japan (I say 'Japan', with full agreement with the remarks of Mr Valadez about the use of the term—but I think the alternatives are somewhat cumbersome). The remains of some wooden pillars have been excavated, which supports much earlier accounts of a positively huge structure, and the recent guidebooks somewhat gleefully comment that this shrine was (a) older than the Grand Shrine at Ise and (b) higher than the wooden building at Todaiji in Nara.

The local guidebooks regard the Izumo shrine as the oldest shine in Japan, but this is not strictly true, for there is a subsidiary shrine nearby that is supposed to be older. However, Japan's 'main' shrine is at Ise. Ise is dedicated to Amaterasu, the sun goddess (to whom O Sensei prayed every morning), whereas Izumo is dedicated Okuni-nushi-no-mikoto (land-ruler deity). This deity is a close relative of another, major deity called Susa-no-oo, the sister of Amaterasu, who is regarded as a storm god, but whose activities and purpose are far less clear than those of Amaterasu. Both deities came into existence during a misogi ritual.

According to the ancient records (i.e., mythological accounts similar to those of the Iliad and Odyssey) Susano-oo misbehaved and caused a major problem for Amaterasu, such that she was upset and retired into a cave. Eventually the problem was solved and Susanoo became a devoted lieutenant of Amaterasu and together they cooperated in "pacifying the land". Actually, one of the deities who was asked to go and rule the land, but who was prevented by the sudden birth of a son, was Masakatsu-agatsu-katsu-hayabi-Ame-no-oshi-homimi-no-mikoto, who actually came into existence during a contest between Ama-terasu and Susa-no-oo. Aikido students might recognize the first part of this name from calligraphy often penned by Morihei Ueshiba.

I have liberally summarized a few chapters from the Kojiki / Nihon Shoki, texts which have special place in the history of Japan. The Founder of aikido read these texts extensively and all his published discourses show this. However, he was not a historian and he read these texts in the light of his education at the terakoya school in Tanabe and his relationship with Onisaburo Deguchi. In other words, in his reading of the texts it is likely that he was also a man of his time. John S Brownlee's "Japanese Historians and the National Myths 1600-1945: The Age of the Gods and the Emperor Jimmu" sets out some of the issues involved here (but it requires a reading knowledge of Japanese to make much use of the material in the bibliography). From another angle, a new book by a student of H Harootunian is of interest. In "Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan", Susan L Burns discusses a central figure in any understanding of the Kojiki, namely, Motoori Norinaga, who wrote "Kojiki-den" (again, the previous footnote applies even more here than for Brownlee's work). Along with "Reikai Monogatari", I think the "Kojiki"/"Nihon Shoki" are of crucial importance for understanding the Founder. Incidentally, Maruyama covers only the Motoori and Kokugaku in his book: there are no references at all to Deguchi and little mention of the role of ‘new' religions in the period he covers. Thus, Maruyama is of somewhat limited value for an aikido student seeking to understand the history of the art and I myself was disappointed by the work, as I was by Donald Keene's massive work on the Emperor Meiji.

Nevertheless, I think we have to admit that very few in the aikido world have the time or the skills to pursue the issues raised in this thread in any depth. I myself was trained in ancient Greek history and literature and the points raised by Mr Valadez in his remarks on translation are relevant here—and there are far more texts available in this field. Over the last 24 years that I have experienced the world of aikido here, I gave had the time to apply this training in language and history to the Founder and his experiences. It is very unfortunate that aikido practitioners who lack Japanese language skills are very poorly served with respect to the Founder and the history of aikido. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the number of people who are capable of rectifying this situation is probably in single digits. Hardly any are Japanese and so it will be up to ‘westerners' who have the time and the energy.

Finally—and many apologies for such a long post, my own view of the issues raised in this thread is similar to that of Mr Ledyard. For me, the understanding of Morihei Ueshiba, how he lived, what he thought and why he created aikido, is a separate issue from that of what principles and ideals should govern aikido training, both on and off the tatami, though, of course one can illuminate the other.

Best regards to all,

PeterR
05-12-2004, 07:26 PM
Both the John Stevens` biography and William Gleason`s Spiritual Foundations of Aikido say the family was samurai. They both cite Kisshomaru Ueshiba`s Aikido Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei Den, so I assume it is written there. I believe my local library has a copy so I`ll take a look. Where did you read the bit about Takeda?l
It's why I asked - I vaguely remember reading that Ueshiba M. had to undergo some hurdles before Takeda S. would teach him. Both Ueshiba M. and his nephew Inoue were from merchant families although who's to say they didn't come from samurai stock. At the time there were no samurai any more so the point is moot.

PeterR
05-12-2004, 08:58 PM
I seem to remember something about Ueshiba M. being given permision to use the family crest (Mon) of another man so that Takeda S. would teach him. If I am going off the deep end on this please let me know. Entirely possible that I am confused.

PeterR
05-12-2004, 09:41 PM
Just a note: A Way to Victory The Annotated Book of Five Rings translated by Hidy Ochai is one of the best versions of this available in English. Hidy Ochai is a karate teacher but that makes him one of the only people to do an English translation of this work who is actually a martial artist. Meik Skoss reviewd it on the koryu site and felt it was very good.
Hey George - wasn't Victor Harris a Kendo guy and even the "Snake of the Dojo" guy could be considered a martial artist (of sorts). OK the latter guy did a reinterpretation of past translations.

The Niten Ryu headmaster was quoted (http://www.hyoho.com/Hyoho1.html) as saying the Book could not be properly understood without exploring the Buddhist sutras. Does this book or any English translations attempt to do this? I found the above link when followed (click on Next at the bottom) extremely interesting as it does go into some of the Go Rin Sho passages in this way.

senshincenter
05-13-2004, 12:24 AM
Peter,

Thanks so much for this link - for me - it's amazing. I'm floored by it. Ah! The benefit of group discussion proves itself again! :-)

david

PeterR
05-13-2004, 12:52 AM
There's magic in group discussions.

I actually like the Victor Harris translation of Go Rin Sho - my website has a link to an on-line version. However, like many things, its a start off-point to so much more.

But hey I'm easy - I'm a great fan of the Yoshikawa version of Musashi. I know its a newspaper serial but its a great read. I know its not exactly accurate but .....

Chris Li
05-13-2004, 02:28 AM
I seem to remember something about Ueshiba M. being given permision to use the family crest (Mon) of another man so that Takeda S. would teach him. If I am going off the deep end on this please let me know. Entirely possible that I am confused.

IIRC (without checking), Yoshida Kotaro (who introduced Ueshiba to Takeda) lent him the use of his family crest for the purposes of the introduction.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-13-2004, 02:30 AM
I have since this quote in other threads here but I have to admit I have never read it elsewhere. Where can I find it?

Charles Hill

In just about anything that Morihei Ueshiba wrote - the phrase (or ones like it) is all over "Take Musu Aiki" and "Aikido Shinzui".

Best,

Chris

PeterR
05-13-2004, 02:37 AM
IIRC (without checking), Yoshida Kotaro (who introduced Ueshiba to Takeda) lent him the use of his family crest for the purposes of the introduction.
There you go - thanks Chris.

Charles Hill
05-14-2004, 03:43 AM
In just about anything that Morihei Ueshiba wrote - the phrase (or ones like it) is all over "Take Musu Aiki" and "Aikido Shinzui".


Hi Chris,

I have looked through my copies of both books and can`t find anything about Aikido being an/the "ideal" budo. The reason I`m pushing this is that it seems so unlike what I`ve read of M. Ueshiba to compare his art to others. I`m wondering if people are not confusing the origin of the quote by Jigoro Kano after seeing a demo by the Founder and saying that it was the "ideal budo." But then, I could be wrong and would greatly appreciate a concrete reference, such as page numbers.

Charles Hill

PeterR
05-14-2004, 03:50 AM
Hi Charles;

It was Chris that pointed out to me at least that there is no the in Japanese. There being a huge difference between Aikido is the true Budo and true Budo. The former is comparative and judgmental, the latter not.

There are a number of differing stories about the event but just think of the different ways Hontai is used in Japanese. Could mean true, real, genuine, good, etc with a whole rash of nuance.

Don_Modesto
05-14-2004, 09:39 AM
Dear Mr. Modesto,

Please call me Dave.

Will do...and me, Don.

May I say, wow, I'm impressed and pleased by your response -- especially that you are familiar with Professor Grapard's work and its importance. Thank you very much for taking the time to post and to post with such attention. Professor Grapard was actually my mentor through my undergraduate, master's, and doctorate work. I'm wondering if you have come know him personally, that we may have actually ran into each other somewhere or some-when??? What a small world that would be (again)!

Lucky you! No, I've never met him and I doubt you and I have ever met (have you been to any seminars in Florida in the last 5 years?) Was your area "Shinto" per se, or broader?

I was in fact trying to ally myself with your end but in doing so I opted for the "weapon" of, will you allow me to say, "measured" discourse.

Yes. We agree more than we disagree, I think.

* ...I was not out to contradict you, etc. So I do not feel that much of what I said negated what you were saying. If anything it was more of a "Yes, that is true, but so is this."

Yes. And some tidy qualifications they were. Thank you.

* When I read your section on Bushido being a 20th century phenomenon, I noted that the word "bushido" was not in quotation marks.

Yes. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't have someone vet my posts before submitting them. No doubt there are at times gaps between what I write and what I mean. Sorry.

It is true that the samurai's honor cannot be our honor. But is it true that we cannot connect our sense of honor to our military and/or martial practices and call it "bushido"? Earlier in this thread I was critical of this. Now I'm wondering. Is it true that we cannot by connecting our honor to our marital practices thereby have our own time follow in line with the rest of history - that long duration that has played a part in the development of this term "bushido"? Is it true that we as society or as a culture cannot share in the same social aim of the samurai, to temper the power to kill with a responsibility toward the social?

Personally, I find the issue of transmission tricky whether it be across cultures (has Aikido been transmitted to the West if we lack a concept of MISOGI? e.g.), across regions (In what ways can we sat that the "Shinto" of Kumano the same as that of Kyushu?) or across time (values as represented in Heike Monogatari v. Taiheiki, e.g., or the commonalities qua warrior's code of Hojo initiative, Ashikaga administration, Christian Bushi, a turncoat defining Sekigahara, articulation/romanticization of warrior ideals by Tokugawa idealogues, 20's militarism, the Budo of the Butokukai, and policies of the National Police Agency).

To whit, why would we even want to call something we do Bushido, here or perhaps even in Japan? Continuity, I suppose. Surely we could, but then we'd be keeping academics busy with footnotes such as that offered by Stephen Jay Gould when he notes that "evolution" actually derives not from biology but from creationism, it's conceptual and political opposite.

If we can as historians but see the agency and the subjectivity in our own times, I think we can and perhaps should allow for these things. I have no conclusions to offer. I can say we cannot allow for a romanticism to take place and/or any revisionist history to reign supreme. That is always a dangerous thing. But aren't these things achievable outside of exercising the historian's supposed privilege to Truth? Are we truly working toward the end of romanticism when we hold that "bushido" is long gone and cannot ever be again, or are we just claiming and spending the cultural capital society affords to us, the historian?

I don't mean to be contentious, and like you I have no conclusions, but don't we have to make a decision sometime? If it's gone, it is gone, right? In another context, would we be overstepping our prerogative to refuse to let our barber bleed us when we're feeling fatigued? That practice and the theory underpinning it are long discredited so we'd count it foolish in that context to be "open-minded", right? The social concommmitants of this warrior's code are disappeared. So too must be the code, I should think.

In short, have you thought about why we as historians are so quick to say things like "you can't name it that," "you will have to name it something different." After all, we know things have histories, and we know histories involve many continuities and discontinuities. We know histories are alive. Why is our own time not afforded the right to have a say in such things, to add its input, to make its own continuities and discontinuities? It seems to be because we would then lose our right to objectivity over all other times.

So for our time, Time has ended, evolution is unwanted, and development is an out of date idea. We say, "you can't name it that", "you will have to name it something different", etc. Of course the right to nomenclature is one of the ways that we gain our various forms of capital within our own halls, but under what privilege do we seek to enforce such things upon others, upon our time as a whole?

If I'm following you here, you mean that if "warrior's code" can encompass phenomena from the Hojo to the NPA, then it could rightly apply to us as part of that continuity, right? I see the point and I don't disagree (despite arguments above). Perhaps the difference is no more than esthetic, I wanting personally want to make a break here (or rather in 1877). Someone like John Stevens, who can seamlessly trace the truths of Christian statuary to aikido's TENCHI NAGE, is more comfortable with broader associations and might be more comfortable with applying the term to our current aspirations and endeavors.

But you make a valid point, and as I say, I find the issue tricky.

Thanks for the attention.

Don_Modesto
05-14-2004, 10:32 AM
According to Premodern Japan: A Historical Survey by Mikso Hane, The ideals of the Bushi first emerged during the Kamakura period....the more formalized code of Bushido is articulated later during the Tokugawa period. He goes on to describe how the interests of the family guided the Samurai's system of values and the relationship between a Samuari and his lord was often a familial one. Jansen, see above, writes that " It was in the Tokugawa years that the articulation of Bushido was perfected" (103). He cites the Hagakure, which is apparently considered to be "the classic exposition of the Samuari value system." (102) The brief citation cited in this text seems to suggest that a Samuari needs to accept his fate of death in order to live, must be completely subordinate to his lord, and be discreet in his dealings. Jansen then goes on to point on how the Hagakure enjoyed a revival during the prewar years and then again in the 1970's following the suicide of a famous author, Mishima Yukio.

There was a code of course, uncodified as such, diffuse, greatly variant by region and personalities, but I find it suspicious that it is formalized with shogunal sanction precisely at the time that these men of war came into a 250 year period of peace. I think I've written in these fora before that Tokugawa "Bushido" smacks of that Romantic coincidence of Industrial Revolution/Urbanization and hearfluttering love of nature. At a thousand years of age, the institution of the Bushi was an historical old man, and as Wilde noted, "old men are fond of giving good advice to console themselves for being no longer in a position to set a bad example."

"the articulation of Bushido was perfected"

Hate to contradict someone like Jansen, but many other commentators have noted how diverse were concepts which would come to be called Bushido--as if to denote a unitary phenomenon--in the 20th Century (Yamamoto Tsunetomo didn't call it that, nor, I believe, Yamaga Soko who, btw, didn't approve of Yamamoto's extremism. For Yamamoto, the way of the samurai lay in death; in the Sato book below, he quotes an early bushi who avers that the KYUBA NO MICHI NO HITO's duty is to stay alive in order to continue serving his lord.) See the controversies ensuing from the 47 Ronin incident for example in Legends of the Samurai by Hiroaki Sato. I believe Sources of Japanese Tradition by Wm. Theodore De Bary also has selections from this discussion.

At first glance, without having read any of the books that have been suggested, there certainly seems to be some solid evidence, in the form of documented history, hat the Code of the Bushido existed long before 20th century.

5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

Yes, and politicians are supposed to be honest. This is the crux of it, I think: The ideal v. the real. As Dave pointed out above however, and rightly I think, we have to separate out the values from the practice. I just see the realities forgotten too often and I seek balance by emphasizing the contradictions. But yes, there was a BUN/BU ideal.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.
Most of the accounts of this have been anecdotal...like Nobunaga, a famous unifier of Japan who in 1582 commits seppuku after having been defeated in battle...Jansen 16

Oda didn't commit suicide, he was assasinated in 1582 by Akechi Mitsuhide. Tokugawa Ieyasu was defeated in battle but rose to become shogun nevertheless. Often the salient element of SEPPUKU wasn't failure, but capture. The nature of honor in war was such that slitting open you own belly was preferable to what you might expect in the hands of your enemy.

I could cite many other examples of this from any number of texts. Cleary there was some expectation of this in Japanese culture, even if it was not always done when one might have expected it.

??? See my citations of Bolitho, Friday, and Conlan.

Thanks for the quotes.

Chris Li
05-14-2004, 11:54 AM
Hi Chris,

I have looked through my copies of both books and can`t find anything about Aikido being an/the "ideal" budo. The reason I`m pushing this is that it seems so unlike what I`ve read of M. Ueshiba to compare his art to others. I`m wondering if people are not confusing the origin of the quote by Jigoro Kano after seeing a demo by the Founder and saying that it was the "ideal budo." But then, I could be wrong and would greatly appreciate a concrete reference, such as page numbers.

Charles Hill

Well the original quote that you asked about used the word "true", not "ideal", which is somewhat different.

As for "true", there's a chapter on it in Take Musu Aiki starting at page 139, but the concept is commonly used throughout the book. Also, in the very first chapter (where Ueshiba discusses what "Aikido" is), he specifically starts section 2 with those words.

Same with Aikido Shinzui, although there's a chapter on "true budo" starting on page 113.

Also, as Peter noted, there are no particles in Japanese, so Ueshiba would never have said either "an" or "the". From the context, the phrase is most often used in the sense of "an", which is an important distinction.

Of course, there is one quote in which the word "ideal" is used describing Aikido, but it was made by Jigoro Kano :).

Best,

Chris

Charles Hill
05-14-2004, 07:29 PM
Thanks Chris and Peter,

Actually, I was referencing your posts in an earlier thread when I wrote "an/the." I found that exchange interesting and important.


Well the original quote that you asked about used the word "true", not "ideal", which is somewhat different.


Whoops. You`re right. However, Mr. Hooker seems to have taken the idea of "true" to mean that M. Ueshiba meant the idea to be a comparision between Aikido and other forms of budo. Other posts have used the word "ideal" and have also indicated the idea that Mr. Hooker expressed. I wanted to ask about that.

Charles Hill

Doka
05-14-2004, 07:41 PM
Hey, Aikido is a true ideal! :D

Chris Li
05-14-2004, 08:19 PM
Whoops. You`re right. However, Mr. Hooker seems to have taken the idea of "true" to mean that M. Ueshiba meant the idea to be a comparision between Aikido and other forms of budo. Other posts have used the word "ideal" and have also indicated the idea that Mr. Hooker expressed. I wanted to ask about that.

Charles Hill

Ah, OK - most of the times when Ueshiba uses that kind of phrasing he seems to be referring to "true budo" as a kind of platonic ideal that Aikido adheres to - he says nothing that I can recall as to whether or not other martial arts do or do not adhere to that ideal (he did, however, say that Sokaku Takeda was the person who "opened his eyes" to "true budo"). After all, if you say that someone is a "true friend" does that statement imply that other people are not "true friends"?

I do believe that he thought that his method of Aikido as misogi through budo was something new and different, but that is not necessarily relevent to the concept of "true budo".

Best,

Chris

Lyle Laizure
05-20-2004, 12:47 PM
From the reading I have done Aikido and Samurai are directly related. I can't remember the title of the book but any biography of Ueshiba, Morihei should cover the following material.

When he was young, Morihei's father would tell him stories about his grandfather a prominant Samurai.

I realize the samurai class was abolished during the Meji restoration but that does not change one's linage. If his grandfather was then his father was and he and his children would be as well.

Chris Li
05-20-2004, 02:43 PM
I realize the samurai class was abolished during the Meji restoration but that does not change one's linage. If his grandfather was then his father was and he and his children would be as well.

Well, no, it may mean that his grandfather was a samurai, but by the time he came around there was no such thing anymore. If my grandfather was a slave does that mean that I am too?

In any case, having samurai somewhere in your ancestry is nothing special in Japan, as you may suspect, a great many Japanese have samurai somewhere in their direct ancestry. The most recent head of the Tokugawa family is just another businessman these days.

Best,

Chris

Troy
05-27-2004, 02:05 PM
Samurai, I feel, can be a few things. Not only could Samurai be a warrior class that followed the way of Bushido, but it could also be a state of mind and being.
There where indeed Samurai whi did abuse their power, but their where also Samurai who did the right thing. Protected the weak, helped out where they could, and I'm sure their where Samurai who hated killing, and only killed their enimies if their was no other alternitive.
In Aikido, we follow the ideals of peace and harmony among our fellow humans. Indeed, this does, in some ways, sound like the direct opposate of the Samurai, but they do have something in common: Protect others while protecting yourself.
The Samurai trained not only in the sword, but also the spear, staff, bow and arrow, tanto, hand to hand/pins/holds/throws, much the same way as the Aikidoka.
The teachings of Bushido, also tell you to be of a calm mind, body and spirit, much as Aikido does.
But, one major difference between Aikidoka and Samurai, is that, Aikidoka do not carry around the Disho (two swords, Katana (Di) and Wakazashi (Sho)) and the Samurai did.
Long argument short, it is all a matter of your mind set. When I am in the Dojo, and we do Bokken work, I feel as though I am following the footsteps of O-Sensei and the Yugau Shinkage Ryu master who taught him. It depends on how you feel, i guess.

I feel that I am not a Samurai, but I feel that i have the spirit of one.