The tradition of judo

In the Japanese budo tradition there are many particular ‘Ways’: kendo, the way of the sword; shodo, the way of the brush; kyudo, the way of the archer, and many others. Even other branches of culture, for instance music, have a connection with budo. An expert in the koto (a sort of horizontal harp), or the chanoyu (tea ceremony) always keeps a posture correct from the budo standpoint. That is to say, if he or she were suddenly attacked, their balance would be perfect so that there could be an instant response (not necessarily of a martial kind).

I myself watched the once-a-year tea ceremony demonstrated at Daitokuji by the then Master of the Ura-senkei school, and I also often watched Michio Miyagi the koto master. I noted that from the judo point of view their posture was always kept in balance.

We judo men believe that judo has a special meaning in budo, because the judo man has nothing but himself. He has no sword, bow, teakettle, or writing brush. His training is general, not tied to specific implements. So the idea is that it forms a basic training in using body- mind in unspecified ways, in preparation for using them in specific ways.

The other view is that the best way to learn how to use the body- mind is to practise some limited expression, and from that gradually extend the principles that have been learnt. However, the judo men point out that some people become relatively skilful in some limited field, without really mastering anything more than skill in that field. For instance, many children learn how to write quite effectively without ever learning to keep a good balance while they are writing, or even how to hold the pen efficiently.

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