Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?
I'll also toss in that it is amazing to me that people so conveniently forget that Japan was rocked with massive upheavals in social norms and all things related for the last 150 years. So many things changed and changed profoundly. Some resisted, others embraced it. And everything in between. There was the Meiji Restoration, the rise of the ultra-nationalists, excursions in to China, etc., the crushing defeat of WWII, and so forth. The cultural/political changes were incredibly profound so there should be little wonder that some things were held on to with a fanatical enthusiasm while other things were adopted to justify changes and behaviors. I wonder how many people ever ask whether their groups with highly militaristic training and "culture" are more a reflection of early 20th century nationalist fervor rather than the often posited "samurai" origins (and whether those origins existed at all in any sort of consistent fashion). The next logical question is to ask how much things like this (and many others including the longer term traditions) affect our understanding of meaning of the term "budo" today. Is what makes it something "authentic" or "true" more a reflection of a 20th century fascist fanaticism rather than the idealized view of the warrior sage? Or some combination of both? And if it is a complex interwoven mess (my position I suppose) how do we unravel the history and define "authentic" or "true"?
Or are we just choosing and defining the tradition we find most helpful and consistent with what we find valuable today... There's nothing wrong with doing that as long as, like Peter's Shinto professor acquaintances, we recognize what we're doing and why. So I suppose I'm saying I have no problem with invented traditions, I'm just hesitant to give them the weight of historic authenticity many in the west in particular seem to feel tradition grants them.