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Old 01-19-2013, 10:18 PM   #3
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 895
Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

Peter - this is a very interesting point - and thank you for bringing it up.

The Chinese military pioneered formation spear fighting in Asia, and I can readily visualize the stepping of spearmen to be an archetypal image.

However, the statement among Japanese about Bu being composed of stopping hoko is a truism, cliche - and I heard it over and over. (no idea if the Chinese also do this).

As Karl Friday, among a number of newer historians of the bugei have pointed out, what are now referred to as koryu were not primarily military training, almost from their inception. The "blood oaths" upon entry are all about <not-fighting> - rather than fighting. The bugei were as much means of social control as they were combative training.
Somewhere, I believe, in Japan at least, this cliche developed because it suited the image of training of bushi for social control: which had two components - control of society and control of self.

I am actually reminded of Donn Draeger. When he inaugurated his re-development of the field of hoplology, he took delight in inquiring of his audiences who did a "martial art" and when people would raise their hand, he'd ask, "what?" And upon the reply of karate, he'd say, "that's a civilian peasant art." And kung fu - "those are merchant peacetime combatives." And on and on and then he'd assert that as martial was a word derived from the god Mars - the Roman god of warfare - only an art geared for the battlefield and practiced by hereditary warriors qualified. He refused to accept that the word changed its meaning (and in fact, マルシアル アーツ , when he was in Japan, meant kick boxing, MMA to the Japanese, which I delighted in pointing out to him).

I used to irritate Donn immensely when I would suggest that he needed to refer to such ryu as Maniwa Nen-ryu, which assert to be purely defensive, as Athenic-arts or Minervic-arts, because she, in both her Greek and Roman incarnations, was the goddess of defensive warfare. He was not amused, particularly when I insisted how essential accuracy in terminology needed to be.

And in point of fact, Donn was incorrect on a lot of levels. First of all, by the mid-Edo period, what we call koryu were full of non-bushi. And considerable evidence continues to be amassed that bugei were not primarily battlefield training, anyway. Rather, they were originally created as avocations of perfection by the warrior class to imbue certain values, increasingly to prepare for duels, and to maintain a level of combative readiness.

Anyway, Ueshiba and myself as well were, if incorrect in actual etymology, voicing a cultural shibboleth held in common by most.

I believe, by the way, that when kanji were first developed, cowrie and other shells were actually media of exchange - in this sense, 賦 - as shells and war = tribute or levy actually makes sense.


Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 01-19-2013 at 10:22 PM.

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