I asked my Japanese graduate students this question last week. None of them had the slightest clue. There was a chorus of, "We have no idea unless you tell us how it is written (i.e., the kanji)." When I wrote the characters on the board, they still had no idea, though they knew what "take" meant and what "musu" meant. They had never seen the two put together in one word.
There are two ways open to Japanese to understand the meaning of the term. One is to start with the concept and see what it immediately means. A crucial element here for modern Japanese is the way the word is written; the other is to start with the characters and see what meanings can be read into them. With an alphabet-based writing system we do not have these options.
As I suggested, たけむす does not appear in any Japanese dictionary I possess. 'Take' with the meaning of 武 does not appear in any Japanese dictionary as a complete word. 'Musu', however, does appear and means birth or to be born. The kanji are 生 or 産 and the meaning is to take root and grow, or to be born. 'Musu' in this sense first appears in the Manyoshu. (Musubu and musubi are different concepts.)
If you start from the characters, you can see the various ways in which they were read. The character 武 is read as MU or BU and as 'take' when part of a name. 産 is read as SAN or SEN and as 'umu': to be born, and it is clear that this is what O Sensei intended the word to mean. For in "Takemusu Aiki" (p.31), he states, "All the martial arts (武技 bu-waza) that have been created (産み出して来た umidashite-kita) up till the present time are manifestations of takemusu (武産の現れ: takemusu no araware).
The big problem with Japanese is the tendency to create edifices that might well turn out to be purely verbal. At present I am having a dispute with a Japanese psychologist colleague who is doing research on a state called in Japanese kandoh 感"ｮ. This is a combination of kan (= feeling) and doh ( = move). In the dictionary, there are a wide range of meanings given, such as being impressed or emotionally moved. My colleague thinks that these meanings all fall short and miss the true or deeper meaning of the word. So he leaves it in Japanese and talks in English of "experiences that evoke kandoh". But the problem here is to distinguish kandoh from the experiences that supposedly evoke it, such that it can be defined independently of the experience and its effects.
Best regards and apologies for a long post,
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 06-07-2005 at 03:00 AM.