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Old 10-30-2013, 07:47 AM   #106
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,497
Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

When I wrote my earlier post, I was thinking of the essay on judo in the collection edited by Stephen Vlastos. The title of the book is Mirror of Modernity and the essay is entitled "The Invention of the Martial Arts: Kano Jigoro Kano and Kodokan Judo." The essay is by Shun Inoue, who is listed as a professor of sociology at Kyoto University.There is a lengthy translator's note on p.163, but it is unclear to what extent the (anonymous) translator's comments about budo are a reflection of Inoue's thinking about budo or the translator's own ideas.
Thank you, Peter. I will add it to my reading list. I find it quite amazing how very complicated our social interactions can be. And how some things coalesce over time and develop a life of their own.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I recently gave a lecture at Kogakkan University, which is a school for training Shinto priests. The university is situated in Ise and is very close to the two shrines. In the evening I had dinner with some of the professors and we discussed Hobsbawn's ideas. The general tone was, 'Well, in Shinto we invent traditions all the time: the emphasis is more on the quality and value of the tradition itself, rather than whether it is invented or not.'

Best wishes,

Their candor in this admission is quite remarkable to a western mindset, but I suppose it is not surprising otherwise. And I think that's where some discussions between the two cultures tend to veer in to precarious territories. When I first started doing work in the Japanese sword crafts I spent a lot of time simply astounded at things I heard and learned. I am quite lucky to have a number of friends, mentors and now customers who are deeply involved in any variety of old sword arts, both in the craft but also "usage" of the sword. I found it amazing to hear stories of how certain things were "discovered" within some arts/ryuha. The wild creation myths seem to be quite acceptable with Tengu revealing techniques to founders. Or dubious claims of histories going back thousands of years (often with remarkably large holes in the history) where most just smile, repeat the story, and get on with training. So there seems to be an easy "flexibility" and even an acknowledgement of invented tradition as being a practical part of the evolution of things. It just is and it can often carry useful information for the area. Whereas for the more westernized minds it comes as a shock to find that deeply held traditions can often be, well, not so "authentic" as they appear. The fact that some histories in Japan seem to quite easily accommodate mystical inspirations is really quite interesting. And how easily that is accepted or just, well, not really considered a problem is a sign of a different attitude (or maybe more relaxed attitude) about needing concrete, "objective", and non-mystical roots for an art. It says something about both cultures. Then the western mindset seems quite uncomfortable with any uncertainty or non-absolutes. So we are surprised to find that some of our "traditions" may not be quite so traditional.

And I think it also gives us a lot to think about when we start to idealize etiquette, tradition, etc. in the non-western arts we study as westerners. Some, I think, take it more seriously and try to make it more concrete than maybe they should.

Last edited by Keith Larman : 10-30-2013 at 07:50 AM.

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