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I remember in October 1998, when I went to Japan for the first time... I was at the reception for a UNESCO sponsored seminar in Educational Technology... and I remarked to one of our Japanese hosts, "One of my favourite things about Japan is budo..."
And he replied "Oh yes, our grapes are very delicious!"
Stunned, I asked him why he said that. "Budo means grapes" he explained.
"What about martial arts?" I asked..
"Oh you mean, bugei, or bujutsu" he said...
Upon further research, I found out that the standard pronounciation for the kanji 武道 is "bu - do" but that the kanji for grape: 葡萄 is also pronounced "budo".. and since more Japanese eat grapes than practice martial arts, guess which term is more understood?
Japanese is rife with such multiple meanings.. such as hana meaning either
"flower" 華 or "nose" 鼻.
The original characters for Karate were 唐手. meahing "Tang" (a Chinese dynasty) hand. They were later changed to "空手" also pronounced Karate but meaning "empty hand".
I think this preface written by Nishio Sensei, has a lot of points worth pondering.
A number of people have suggested over the years that I publish a book. So far I have always refrained from doing so for several reasons. First, I have always considered myself simply another follower on the path, in a position neither to serve as a model for others nor to assert my views on budo technique.
However, having grown older, and having already mourned the passing of such teachers as Seigo Yamaguchi, who held my highest respect from the very beginning of my aikido career, and Morihiro Saito, who worked so tirelessly to transmit the Founder's aikido in its purest possible form, I began to consider what will happen to aikido from this point on.
Aikido is a "budo," a "martial way," and therefore inextricably rooted in "jujutsu" or "martial technique." Yet when I look at the aikido world today, I see very little "budo-ness" being expressed in technique, and I wonder if people haven't begun to forget these important roots. While people often say things like, "Aikido is sword technique…" and "throws and pins are actually strikes….," there is rarely any explanation of such ideas. There are even some who claim that aikido has no need for things like striking and weapons techniques. In many settings these days, aikido is becoming little more than a kind of health exercise pursued by the elderly and women and children.