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Old 02-02-2015, 01:20 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Budo Values

I was reading a conversation about classical budo values, and it occurred to me that there is nothing particularly budo about the values always listed. The five values are really very human social values. In fact they go back to Confucius. The more I look at them, the less the have to do with budo in particular, and more with being a good member of society in general. I managed a whole blog about this at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/02/budo-virtues.html

What do you think?

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:23 PM   #2
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Re: Budo Values

Perhaps it's like the old martial arts saying that ultimately, there are only so many ways to step or kick or swing your fist.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:33 PM   #3
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

Mary, I think it might be that a warrior who can't get along as regular member of society isn't of much use to the society. Any special budo virtues probably have to be built upon the fundamental virtues that society values in all.

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:15 PM   #4
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Re: Budo Values

I've been under the impression that these things weren't "budo values" until the 20th century. Which in my mind ties them to that ugly period of nationalization and imperialism.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:16 PM   #5
kewms
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Mary, I think it might be that a warrior who can't get along as regular member of society isn't of much use to the society. Any special budo virtues probably have to be built upon the fundamental virtues that society values in all.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If all you know how to do is fight, then you might be a tremendous asset to your country/village/liege lord in wartime, but a liability in peacetime.

Katherine
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Old 02-02-2015, 04:59 PM   #6
Travers Hughes
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I've been under the impression that these things weren't "budo values" until the 20th century. Which in my mind ties them to that ugly period of nationalization and imperialism.
I think so too, Cliff. Then again, many western nations have adopted them as "budo values" too. What about all the after-school karate centres that will teach little Johnny "Discipline, Self-Confidence" etc? It doesn't seem out of place there, but if a swim school advertised in the same way, would it feel out of place? In essence, the same values are being imparted...

Cheers
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:36 PM   #7
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

The specific values were and are 仁  信 義  礼 智. Benevolence/humanity, Truth/trust, Righteousness, Etiquette/right action, Wisdom. Classic values with nothing militaristic about them. Not that the militarists didn't try to twist them, but they predate 20th century militarism by 2500 years.

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:10 AM   #8
Cliff Judge
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
The specific values were and are 仁  信 義  礼 智. Benevolence/humanity, Truth/trust, Righteousness, Etiquette/right action, Wisdom. Classic values with nothing militaristic about them. Not that the militarists didn't try to twist them, but they predate 20th century militarism by 2500 years.
Totally - and they predate the bushi by 1800 years and the rice-growing, steel-forging Yamato culture of Japan by 1000 years too.

And furthermore, my understanding of Confucianism is that it is a philosophy of acommodation and that war is pretty much out of the question.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:52 AM   #9
phitruong
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
And furthermore, my understanding of Confucianism is that it is a philosophy of acommodation and that war is pretty much out of the question.
really? i must have been taught wrong then, because the way we accomodate is to take over your country and accomodate you for a price, sort of landlord kind of thing, which we used to call with another name, warlord.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:44 AM   #10
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Re: Budo Values

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
really? i must have been taught wrong then, because the way we accomodate is to take over your country and accomodate you for a price, sort of landlord kind of thing, which we used to call with another name, warlord.
I should have added, "Unless of course, you are the Mongols."
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:08 PM   #11
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
And furthermore, my understanding of Confucianism is that it is a philosophy of acommodation and that war is pretty much out of the question.
That bit would not be true. Confucius was not fond of war, as he lived during a period of intense civil war in China, but he was not a pacifist or one who favored accommodation. He believed that the righteous must prevail.

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:36 PM   #12
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Mary, I think it might be that a warrior who can't get along as regular member of society isn't of much use to the society. Any special budo virtues probably have to be built upon the fundamental virtues that society values in all.
I think that also depends on how a warrior type fits into its particular culture. Societies where warrior caste participate in a domestic peacekeeping or policing role require a level of civil-military integration skills - whether it be dealing with tax issues, property rights issues, enforcement of laws, etc. Other cultures seek to segregate the warrior caste from the civilian caste and assign them some variation of a sin-eater role - conducting evil acts to evil people for the good of the many, or something like that. Of course, there are many variations in between, and nothing is quite as clear cut. This is, in my opinion, the most difficult of concepts civilians have grasping. They can't helped but be influenced by popular culture, entertainment, and biased media outlets attempting to push ideological agenda as there is no contrast to compare personal experience.

Particularly when integrating political and military agenda, the clarity gets further muddled. My experience has been 14 years in the Marine Corps, though I've worked with and experienced life with other military cultures. There's definitely confusion and conflict there. Obviously civility is taught and enforced; sir, ma'am, opening doors for ladies, always telling the truth, always taking responsibility for personal actions....these classic American gentlemen type behavior. Contrasted with savage yet controlled aggression and sen type warrior spirit. Taking these, primarily, 18-21 year olds working them up and grinding them down, then expecting them to integrate perfectly back into society with any real form of decompression supplanted by 12 straight hours of power point classes threatening them if they kill themselves, hit their wife, or drink and drive. In keeping with bureaucracy, both political and military leadership can't wait to push blame off on to others to serve their niche group allegiance, allowing the working man's warrior caste left angry and betrayed with malingering confusion.

I suppose what I am trying to say is warrior caste roles in society aren't cut and dry and are subject to the whims of the civil leadership controlling an entity they have no hope of understanding - they just want their political agenda resolved cleanly, neatly and timely....yet nothing about war is clean, neat, or punctual.

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Old 02-04-2015, 06:37 PM   #13
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
That bit would not be true. Confucius was not fond of war, as he lived during a period of intense civil war in China, but he was not a pacifist or one who favored accommodation. He believed that the righteous must prevail.
I don't know where my head's at, but when you said 'fond' all I could think of was the little bits of fat and meat stuck to the bottom of my Dutch Oven when I'm searing been neck for boeuf bourguignon.

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Old 02-05-2015, 09:00 AM   #14
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
I don't know where my head's at, but when you said 'fond' all I could think of was the little bits of fat and meat stuck to the bottom of my Dutch Oven when I'm searing been neck for boeuf bourguignon.
Adam,
You have got to come join Rolf and I for practice and post-keiko recovery and discussion. I can appreciate your mind.

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:52 AM   #15
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Adam,
You have got to come join Rolf and I for practice and post-keiko recovery and discussion. I can appreciate your mind.
Sounds like a plan. Tough to do with a new baby in the house, but will mark that down as a priority. I appreciate the invite.

RS

Adam

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Old 02-08-2015, 04:24 PM   #16
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Sounds like a plan. Tough to do with a new baby in the house, but will mark that down as a priority. I appreciate the invite.
I understand being busy with a new baby. Let me know when you can come and we'll make sure to give you a great welcome.

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:35 PM   #17
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I understand being busy with a new baby. Let me know when you can come and we'll make sure to give you a great welcome.
Very kind of you, sir, thank you!

RS
Adam

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Old 02-11-2015, 02:19 AM   #18
dps
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Re: Budo Values

Code of conducts with the similiar virtues to Budo can be found in many cultures both in the past and currently.


"Oddly enough, the other value that is held high is rei. Americans in particular can’t imagine how etiquette and bowing could possibly be so important."


http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/02/budo-virtues.html

I strenuously disagree with this statement. I work in the service industry where I am face to face and talking on the phone with people from all walks of American life. The majority of these people have codes of conduct that they genuinely use in their daily life that include etiquette, different forms of bowing and lots of handshaking.

dps
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Old 02-20-2015, 09:53 AM   #19
Peter Boylan
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Re: Budo Values

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Code of conducts with the similiar virtues to Budo can be found in many cultures both in the past and currently.


"Oddly enough, the other value that is held high is rei. Americans in particular can't imagine how etiquette and bowing could possibly be so important."


http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/02/budo-virtues.html

I strenuously disagree with this statement. I work in the service industry where I am face to face and talking on the phone with people from all walks of American life. The majority of these people have codes of conduct that they genuinely use in their daily life that include etiquette, different forms of bowing and lots of handshaking.

dps
David, I have found that Americans can be very polite, but there is a general distaste for the formality that is usually included in the concept of rei 礼 in Japan and other strongly Confucian influenced countries. Americans, in my experience, place a high value on informality and a lack of specific social structures.

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-20-2015, 11:39 AM   #20
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Re: Budo Values

1. I think you could have a serious discussion about the use of "militaristic" training methodology throughout most of Japan's fighting history. Most of the Western concept of military, derived from the Romans, would not have applied directly to Japan's feudal fighting system. A national, militarized, armed force did not come about until the fall of the bushi class. You could argue some of the warlords had a militia, but that would have been a private fighting group.
2. Budo was a tool to integrate a fighting class into civilian society and invigorate a country's national pride. I think the romanticism of the tool has created a philosophical perspective that is redundant in many respects to other larger philosophies. Not that this is bad, many of the 7 major religions share significant similarities in personal ethics and behavior.
3. Etiquette is a constraint in normalizing expected behavior. It's a way of preparing the expectation for how one should act. For a country like the United States, many Americans value the individuality of personal expression and the idea of expressing individuality constrained to be similar to other expressions of individuality is, in reality, not an expression of individuality.

The fact that budo has been packaged as a separate philosophy grounded in a warrior culture is maybe an observation about what motivates our behavior. It's not using a minivan is a problem for getting around town, it's that they are so uncool. It's not that staying in shape isn't important, it's that nobody can see you working out. Doing budo is both cool and something everyone can see you doing and that is a desirable package, even if the message is the same as some other number of philosophical messages.

There is a great short book called, Patriotism, by Yukio Mishima that is an interesting read reflective of the imperialist movement in Japan.

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Old 02-20-2015, 01:17 PM   #21
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Re: Budo Values

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
1. I think you could have a serious discussion about the use of "militaristic" training methodology throughout most of Japan's fighting history. Most of the Western concept of military, derived from the Romans, would not have applied directly to Japan's feudal fighting system. A national, militarized, armed force did not come about until the fall of the bushi class. You could argue some of the warlords had a militia, but that would have been a private fighting group.
2. Budo was a tool to integrate a fighting class into civilian society and invigorate a country's national pride. I think the romanticism of the tool has created a philosophical perspective that is redundant in many respects to other larger philosophies. Not that this is bad, many of the 7 major religions share significant similarities in personal ethics and behavior.
3. Etiquette is a constraint in normalizing expected behavior. It's a way of preparing the expectation for how one should act. For a country like the United States, many Americans value the individuality of personal expression and the idea of expressing individuality constrained to be similar to other expressions of individuality is, in reality, not an expression of individuality.

The fact that budo has been packaged as a separate philosophy grounded in a warrior culture is maybe an observation about what motivates our behavior. It's not using a minivan is a problem for getting around town, it's that they are so uncool. It's not that staying in shape isn't important, it's that nobody can see you working out. Doing budo is both cool and something everyone can see you doing and that is a desirable package, even if the message is the same as some other number of philosophical messages.

There is a great short book called, Patriotism, by Yukio Mishima that is an interesting read reflective of the imperialist movement in Japan.
Jon you are so wrong about minivans. It is like someone took a crossover or SUV and said "hey maybe there is really no need at all for the ground clearance and sad AWD system that would never be adequate for serious use, can't we get a little more room and comfort in this thing if we take out the parts that aren't needed." AND VOILA.

A few other things - Japan actually had a standing army of conscripts in the first millenium. They decided to do away with it, and this is one of the factors that led to the rise of the bushi class.

Budo became a tool for creating national pride in modern times, but before then it was all about the individual and how he related to society.
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Old 02-20-2015, 01:18 PM   #22
kewms
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Re: Budo Values

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Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
David, I have found that Americans can be very polite, but there is a general distaste for the formality that is usually included in the concept of rei 礼 in Japan and other strongly Confucian influenced countries. Americans, in my experience, place a high value on informality and a lack of specific social structures.
I would agree. A business meeting with a Japanese company, for instance, is much more formally organized than a comparable meeting with an American company. The Japanese company will pay much more attention to such details as the order in which one is introduced to the participants, the angle at which each participant bows, the manner in which business cards are exchanged, the availability and quality of refreshments, and so on.

European companies, FWIW, tend to fall somewhere in between.

Katherine
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Old 02-20-2015, 06:17 PM   #23
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Re: Budo Values

That's interesting. I've found often times Americans take reishiki to levels considered extreme and unnecessary by Japanese natives....but maybe that's just a few select groups.

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Old 02-20-2015, 06:56 PM   #24
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Re: Budo Values

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Adam Huss wrote: View Post
That's interesting. I've found often times Americans take reishiki to levels considered extreme and unnecessary by Japanese natives....but maybe that's just a few select groups.
There's certainly a phenomenon of American dojos trying to be "more Japanese than the Japanese." But I find my off-mat business interactions with Japanese people to be generally more formal than similar interactions with Americans.

(Some of which, it's true, may be attributable to language barriers rather than cultural differences. And some may be because, being American, American etiquette is so familiar that I don't notice it.)

Katherine
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:40 AM   #25
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Re: Budo Values

No, you're correct. There is definitely more specificity to their cultural nuances than seen in a lot of Western countries. Particular behaviors for socializing with coworkers, subordinates, dating, etc...

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