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Old 12-06-2007, 11:13 PM   #1
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Definition of Budo

I ran across these two old posts on Aikido Journal on the definition of Budo as not "stopping the spear" but "advancing with a spear".

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...842ac902397555

(PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2002 8:29 pm Reply with quoteBack to top
"I think 'bu' and 'budo' is a classic example of mystification (discussed on another thread). The term is left in Japanese, usually on the grounds that equivalents like 'martial' or 'martial way' do not "capture" the 'real' or 'true' meaning of the term. But it is treated semantically as if it were an English word. Thus we talk about 'true budo' or the 'true idea of budo', as if there were an eay way to find out.

It would not make sense to ask if the object on my wrist was a 'true' watch, but it certainly would make sense to ask if it was a 'true' Rolex, especially in Asia. There is a recognised way of finding out, by examining the certificate, or asking the makers to check the serial number etc. I am not aware that there is much of a problem with recognising 'true' judo or 'true' kendo, but budo seems to be treated as if it were a religion. Probably there is no satisfactory way of finding out this side of the grave whether 'x-ism' is a 'true' religion or not.

I practise aikido in Japan and here it is called budo. This term has a clear meaning, even it is not as precise as the English equivalent might be (it is different from 'bu-jutsu', for example). Is it 'true' budo? I have no idea, but I do not believe it is particularly false.

As an abbreviation of 'bushido' the word does not have a history earlier than the Tokugawa period, but it might have been used before this time to relate to purely technical, i.e., killing, proficiency with the sword, spear, horse etc. It did not have any philosophical, ethical or religious overtones before the period when Tsunemoto wrote the "Hagakure" around 1710 onwards. Before the Tokugawa era, the samurai were a military class following an honor code resting on the instant and efficient use of violence and killing. Was it 'true budo'? If it worked, absolutely. The ethical questions were quite separate, but were not important enough to warrant a special term.

Though I am not professional like Chris Li, I spend a lot of my time translating and interpreting from Japanese to English and vice versa. I see this mystification all the time, especially with Japanese, which has semantic features which are quite different from those of English. As a linguist I really do not believe that the 'stopping spears' stuff stands up to close examination and I have one dictionary which states that this explanation rests on a mistake (p.1279 of Tetsuji Atsuji's Gendai Kanjigo Jiten, published by Kokogawa Shoten)."

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury)

and

(PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2002 6:40 am Reply with quoteBack to top

quote:Originally posted by P Goldsbury:
"Though I am not professional like Chris Li, I spend a lot of my time translating and interpreting from Japanese to English and vice versa. I see this mystification all the time, especially with Japanese, which has semantic features which are quite different from those of English. As a linguist I really do not believe that the 'stopping spears' stuff stands up to close examination and I have one dictionary which states that this explanation rests on a mistake (p.1279 of Tetsuji Atsuji's Gendai Kanjigo Jiten, published by Kokogawa Shoten).

That's the way that I've always seen it, considering that the character originated at a time when "stopping the spear" meant stopping it in your enemy's belly Smile. FWIW, my copy of the Kanji Gen also lists the "stopping the spear" definition as an error and gives the explanation as "advancing with a spear" (actually a kind of Chinese halberd), which seems like a pretty good definition of "war" to me."

Best,

Chris)

What do you think?

David

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