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Old 10-22-2013, 06:09 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

This is a questions I've thought about quite a bit, and recently someone asked me this point blank. The short answer is, yes, I think you can, but it takes some extra work. The detailed answer is here:
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/10/...o-without.html
Please let me know what you think of my ideas.

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:19 AM   #2
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

What about budo needs to be understood?

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Old 10-22-2013, 06:41 AM   #3
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
What about budo needs to be understood?
Correct training using kata for one thing. Japanese people understand this better than foreigners because it's used as a teaching tool from the time they are children. As Peter said, it's by no means impossible but it takes extra effort for non-Japanese to practice in this method.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:09 AM   #4
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
What about budo needs to be understood?
That it is far more than a simple system of combat. It is a means for self-development and understanding. Without an understanding of the background of a Way, it is pretty much impossible to get everything worthwhile that can be gained from practicing it.

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:59 AM   #5
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Correct training using kata for one thing. Japanese people understand this better than foreigners because it's used as a teaching tool from the time they are children.
That's really interesting. You mean other than martial arts? How is this done?
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:05 AM   #6
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

In Japan there is a kata for doing just about everything. The idea is that there is a best way to do things, and they codify this into a form. The most obvious examples are arts like tea ceremony, flower arranging and calligraphy, but there are kata for pretty much everything.

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:24 AM   #7
phitruong
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
In Japan there is a kata for doing just about everything. The idea is that there is a best way to do things, and they codify this into a form. The most obvious examples are arts like tea ceremony, flower arranging and calligraphy, but there are kata for pretty much everything.
are there kata for drinking, carousing, partying, being a public nuisance? just wondering.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:29 AM   #8
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Point 1: I've not been to Japan and do feel that I understand budo (or at least this one). And granted it has taken me a while, but more interestingly.....

Point 2: I meet people from around the world in my real life that are not involved in the budo and I recently met with a group of Japanese. We had some limited language agreements between us, so I tried to speak about things that they might know like origami and aikido. They knew neither. I wonder what percentage of "modern" Japanese really agree with our conception of them? What percentage of them practice a Way. If they are not involved in the budo do they understand them any better then a non-Japanese?

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Old 10-22-2013, 08:31 AM   #9
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
are there kata for drinking, carousing, partying, being a public nuisance? just wondering.
I want to train in this style!

Derek Duval
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:33 AM   #10
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

There are correct, expected ways to drink and party, yes. There are kata and ways that you would never dream of. This is a link to the National Cleaning Federation and their soujido (Way of Cleaning)
http://www.soujikyoukai.jp/掃除道
(I'm not sure if the kanji link will work, but it's worth a try)

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Old 10-22-2013, 08:36 AM   #11
Cliff Judge
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
are there kata for drinking, carousing, partying, being a public nuisance? just wondering.
Yes - there are hazing rituals for first-year college students, and there are numerous and intricate rituals for getting sloshed / public group shaming for officemates. Seriously. Mostly they do not actually seem like fun.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:37 AM   #12
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Derek Duval wrote: View Post
Point 2: I meet people from around the world in my real life that are not involved in the budo and I recently met with a group of Japanese. We had some limited language agreements between us, so I tried to speak about things that they might know like origami and aikido. They knew neither. I wonder what percentage of "modern" Japanese really agree with our conception of them? What percentage of them practice a Way. If they are not involved in the budo do they understand them any better then a non-Japanese?
Origami is fairly widely practice in Japan. Aikido is pretty obscure. Not as obscure as some of the koryu I do, but still, I'd be surprised if even 5% Japanese have even heard of Aikido.

Much more common Ways in Japan are sado, shodo and kado. These are quite widely practiced, so a conversation about them would be more likely to meet with someone who knows something about them.

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:25 AM   #13
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
There are correct, expected ways to drink and party, yes. There are kata and ways that you would never dream of. This is a link to the National Cleaning Federation and their soujido (Way of Cleaning)
http://www.soujikyoukai.jp/掃除道
(I'm not sure if the kanji link will work, but it's worth a try)
amazing. learned something every day. i wonder if the Japanese have a high degree of OCD in general population.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:28 AM   #14
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
amazing. learned something every day. i wonder if the Japanese have a high degree of OCD in general population.
They don't call it OCD. They call it normal.

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:44 AM   #15
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

...you must go to the Degobah system.

Peter, you're translation of bu/wu seems a little off. Additionally the kanji you reference and their meanings have their roots in China. The Chinese and Koreans also held these values, and taoism and confucionism are imported from the mainland, and still very much part of life in Japan. These concepts and these people have travelled the world, and are available to anyone that is willing to understand them. I would speculate that it is possible, without travelling to Japan to learn budo. Based on your position even if one were to travel to Japan they may not learn it because they were not born there, it is not part of their psyche from day one....maybe that should be the question, can a foriegner learn budo? But I think, we as learning creatures can learn anything.

....so luke went to the Degobah system, but in my opinion it was really Han Solo who embraced budo .

Last edited by aikidark : 10-22-2013 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:52 AM   #16
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Alex Fitzgerald wrote: View Post
..

Peter, you're translation of bu/wu seems a little off. Additionally the kanji you reference and their meanings have their roots in China. The Chinese and Koreans also held these values, and taoism and confucionism are imported from the mainland, and still very much part of life in Japan. These concepts and these people have travelled the world, and are available to anyone that is willing to understand them. I would speculate that it is possible, without travelling to Japan to learn budo. Based on your position even if one were to travel to Japan they may not learn it because they were not born there, it is not part of their psyche from day one....maybe that should be the question, can a foriegner learn budo? But I think, we as learning creatures can learn anything.
.
I think you missed the last part of the blog post

"I'm not trying to suggest that budo teachers outside Japan have to become experts on Taoist and Confucian philosophy. That is a life's work by itself, and there are precious few Japanese budo teachers who are also masters of philosophy. Most Japanese teachers have a native cultural understanding of the concepts that they have absorbed from living in Japan. For a teacher outside Japan, I think some reading of the classic texts from Taoism and Confucianism along with plenty of quiet thought about how they relate to budo practice is probably enough. Quiet thought fertilized with the ideas of Lao Tsu, Chuang Tzu and Confucius should bring about some profound realizations on the nature of practice and what the great teachers who created the Ways hope for us, their students, to achieve"

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:54 AM   #17
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Alex Fitzgerald wrote: View Post
.
Peter, you're translation of bu/wu seems a little off. .
I'm curious. How would you translate it?

Peter Boylan
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:08 AM   #18
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
That it is far more than a simple system of combat. It is a means for self-development and understanding.
First of all, that's what it is for you. Maybe it is something different for someone else. Second, I think most Westerners are quite aware of the fact that most budo were intended by their founders to be more than simple systems of combat.
Quote:
Without an understanding of the background of a Way, it is pretty much impossible to get everything worthwhile that can be gained from practicing it.
Everything that you find worthwhile, you mean. What is worthwhile is subjective, and different people are looking for different things out of their training.

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Correct training using kata for one thing. Japanese people understand this better than foreigners because it's used as a teaching tool from the time they are children. As Peter said, it's by no means impossible but it takes extra effort for non-Japanese to practice in this method.
Can you explain what you mean by "correct" in this context, or give an example? I'm not sure I understand.

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Old 10-22-2013, 10:12 AM   #19
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I'm curious. How would you translate it?
Well, from what I have read it is a foot raised...so it is not clear if the foot is going up, or going down, advancing or retreating...it is in a position to do any of these. Then there is the staff, spear, or halberd...also not specific, but from what I have read / learned it is "stop spear."

Added note....so the spear is not advancing or retreating, it stops.

Last edited by aikidark : 10-22-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:17 AM   #20
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
That's really interesting. You mean other than martial arts? How is this done?
Adding to the other posts, children learn pretty much everything in a formal setting by Kata. When I was teaching English, a lot of kids would mimic not just my pronunciation, but also my gestures and body language in order to get it. Also, when my daughter was in kindergarten in Japan, the teachers there would teach the kids basic skills, like doing up shirt buttons and folding clothes by showing them in a step by step manner the "set" way to do it. The kids would then repeat the "set" way until they could do it "properly" (i.e. the "set way). When I was training with adults and kids in budo, everyone would constantly (some would say obsessively) mimic the instructor, even while the instructor was verbally explaining something. Basically, they watch, copy and learn, and in general, can pick up a lot of detail. It's a great skill to have, and I suppose most aikido and budo practicioners do this to some extent, but the level generally done in Japan is quite hard to recreate in "the West" We just have a different approach to learning. BTW, this has positives and negatives, but it is definitely a Japanese cultural hallmark.
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:20 AM   #21
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
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Can you explain what you mean by "correct" in this context, or give an example? I'm not sure I understand.
I mean recreating the instructor's movement down to the minutest detail, because everything the instructor does is packed with layers of meaning and information.
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:21 AM   #22
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

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They don't call it OCD. They call it normal.
Indeed.
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:32 AM   #23
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Adding to the other posts, children learn pretty much everything in a formal setting by Kata. When I was teaching English, a lot of kids would mimic not just my pronunciation, but also my gestures and body language in order to get it. Also, when my daughter was in kindergarten in Japan, the teachers there would teach the kids basic skills, like doing up shirt buttons and folding clothes by showing them in a step by step manner the "set" way to do it. The kids would then repeat the "set" way until they could do it "properly" (i.e. the "set way). When I was training with adults and kids in budo, everyone would constantly (some would say obsessively) mimic the instructor, even while the instructor was verbally explaining something. Basically, they watch, copy and learn, and in general, can pick up a lot of detail. It's a great skill to have, and I suppose most aikido and budo practicioners do this to some extent, but the level generally done in Japan is quite hard to recreate in "the West" We just have a different approach to learning. BTW, this has positives and negatives, but it is definitely a Japanese cultural hallmark.
Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
I mean recreating the instructor's movement down to the minutest detail, because everything the instructor does is packed with layers of meaning and information.
This is a really interesting take on things. I had never considered the possibility that there were such drastically different approaches to learning from kata.

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Old 10-22-2013, 12:53 PM   #24
Walter Martindale
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

I was in training in Tokyo when I was told directly by my Japanese friend that I could (not would) never understand Budo properly because I was not Japanese.
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Old 10-22-2013, 01:02 PM   #25
Peter Boylan
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
t.

Everything that you find worthwhile, you mean. What is worthwhile is subjective, and different people are looking for different things out of their training.
.
These things are available, whether someone is interested in them or not. However, if your goal is to understand as much of the system as possible, then you need to go after everything, not just what seems worthwhile at the moment. If you are satisfied with a shallow understanding of the surface of the art, that's ok too. Many people never get further than that.

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