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Old 12-26-2006, 04:10 PM   #14
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
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Re: Budo vs Martial Art ?

Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
Beyond the history of particular words, I'm curious how people use them. (this is what I get for reading too much French Structuralism and post-structuralism )
Actually, so am I. I'm a strict descriptivist. I only pedantic about etymologies when people start talking about etymologies...

In the US, I would bet Budo suggests a historical tie to Japan, and some vague notion of ideals beyond 'street effectiveness' (another vague notion for most).
I would agree., for example, concerns itself purely with Japanese and Okinawan arts.

I'd be more curious to know how these words get used in Japan. Do the Japanese use Budo the same or different way that Americans do? I've heard Bujutsu, Budo, Bugei... what are other terms in Japanese for 'martial arts'?
Well, you have Budo 武道 and Bujutsu 武術, which are generally used interchangeably. One could say that "do" generally suggests something like "like philosophy" while "jutsu" is simply pragmatic "skills", but that's not a hard and fast distinction. For example, in the Koujien dictionary "budo" is defined as 武術に関する道 "the ways related to 'bujutsu'", while "bujutsu" is defined as 武道の技術 "techniques/skills of 'budo'". They're kind of intertwined that way. Although "budo" has a semantic connection to "bushido".

One popular way of looking at it (though I will not say universal) is that "budo" refers to "modern Japanese martial arts", everything since the Meiji era, while "bujutsu" refers to pre-Meiji martial arts. But even then, older arts are often referred to as "kobudo" or "kobujutsu", the "ko" 古 meaning "old".

By themselves the terms almost always refer to Japanese martial arts. When talking about, say, kung fu, they often say "Chinese Martial Arts" 中国武術 "chugoku bujutsu". "Chugoku budo" is a rarer term.

護身術 "goshinjutsu" refers to "self-defense techniques", which can include budo/bujutsu, but also be apart from them.

格闘技 "kakutogi" refer to competitive fighting systems. Boxing, for example, as well as wrestling (but not sumo wrestling). Mixed martial arts, for example, are referred to as 総合格闘技 - sogo kakutogi - comprehensive fighting skills. Sogo budo or sogo bujutsu, OTOH, are budo, ancient or modern, that incorporate weapons work and unarmed skills together.

To put this in perspective, in the official books put out by the Aikikai, the Doshu (Kisshomaru) defined aikido first as "budo", and second as "goshinjutsu", but said it was most definitely not kakutogi.

As an interesting (but by no means definitive) experiment, here's what Japanese Wikipedia calls various arts:

Karate: Budo
Judo: Budo, but also a kakutogi, and a sport.
Aikido: (Gendai - modern) Budo.
Kendo: Budo
Kung Fu: Bujutsu
Taichi: (Chinese) Bujutsu
Capoiera: Kakutogi
Boxing: Kakutogi
Wrestling: Kakutogi/Sport
Escrima: Bujutsu
Jeet Kune Do: Budo
Sambo: Kakutogi
Systema: Bujutsu/Kakutojutsu
Brazillian Jiu-jitsu: Not called any of these words!
Tae Kwon Do: Kakutogi/Sport

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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