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Old 05-19-2009, 10:47 PM   #15
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 644
Re: Aikido and Bushido

Regarding the "bu" character, my personal assertions have always been as follows:

Historically, the character is a combination of a spear element and a walking/marching element. The walking/marching element looks very similar to the current character for "stop" (for related reasons), but it did not have that meaning when the character was first created. Thus, from an origin standpoint, it is not "stop the spears".

Idiomatically, the character has no instrinsic pacifistic or alturistic sense. It is used in senses of ferocity, strength and battle. In the more philosophical realm, you have the phrase Genna Enbu, referring to the end of major military action of the Sengoku period; it marks the start of the Pax Tokugawa. Ostensibly, budo arts were still practiced to put down rebellions (stop spears) and keep the peace, but the start of peace in the first year of Genna is nonetheless called "The Genna Laying Down of 'Bu'". On the mundane side, you have buki, a "vessel of 'bu'" meaning "weapon". If you ask the typical Japanese person what "bu" means, they'll talk about war and fighting, and the idea of "stopping spears" won't even occur to them unless pointed out.

Philosophically, "stopping spears" really is a wonderful, meaningful sentiment, that succinctly describes why we study "budo". Much like Choisai's saying, "Heiho 兵法 is Heiho 平法" (The ways of battle are the ways of peace), it's a great statement that's not meant to be taken literally. So, personally, I have no issue with it until people start throwing words like "really means" or "etymology" or "original meaning" around.

Josh Reyer

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