Yin and Yang in Budo

Yin and Yang in Budo

In some texts of traditional schools of Budo like the Itto-ryu, there is a distinction between the Budo of yin and the Budo of yang. I first heard about this from a Judo teacher, long before I could read the Budo texts. It confirmed an impression that had been growing in me that there are two kinds of Budo. This is the sort of thing that some of the traditions taught:

Before a combat, the swordsman of yin is perfectly calm. His expression does not change; he does not defy the enemy. He does not stare at the opponent wide-eyed or try to intimidate him with feints. He does not come forward with little steps, as if crossing a single-plank bridge, but he walks as if on a wide road, with a perfectly normal posture. This is a master who can hardly be defeated.

The swordsman of yang, on the other hand, has an expression which would seem to crush rocks, has an aggressive posture, stares wide-eyed and tries to intimidate the opponent by feints and glaring at him. He advances and retreats awkwardly; his heart is agitated and he is weak.

One of the texts added, I remember, that the yin fighter can, if necessary, imitate the fury of the yang. But inwardly he remains calm.

From my first introduction to the ideas of Budo, I have been mentally dividing the practice, pictures, texts and traditions into two kinds of Budo. I used to think of them as Narrow Budo and Wide Budo.

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