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Japanese martial arts that inherit the samurai spirit

Martial arts is a term that refers to all oriental martial arts. Most ethnic groups have their own martial arts, such as Tai Chi in China, Taekwondo in South Korea, and Muay Thai in Thailand, but the most widely known in the world is Japanese martial arts (BUDO)

Here, let's take a look at Japanese martial arts, which have developed independently.


Japanese martial arts

The word Japanese martial arts comes from the Edo period Bushido. Bushido is the "way to live as a worrier called samurai", that is, the samurai spirit.

In Japan from the middle ages to the early modern period, samurai were ranked the highest and played an important role in governing the nation. It was martial arts that they had to learn to fight on the battlefield.

In this way, martial arts was originally a skill that was needed in the battlefield of life and death, but it was systematized as one of the samurai's graces in the peaceful Edo period without war.

No one uses martial arts in combat anymore, but it is accepted by a wide range of generations as a mental training and reliable self-defense as well as a physical training.


Differences between Japanese martial arts and sports

Japanese martial arts include judo, karatedo, kendo, and kyudo, all of which use the word "do". Do, "michi" in Japanese, means a process. Furthermore, it is life itself.

Japanese martial arts have the teaching of "mind, skill, and body". It is important not only to hone the physical and technical aspects, but also to hone the spirituality, raise the morality, and cultivate a spirit of respect for etiquette.

During the Edo period, samurai had the privilege of wearing large and small swords and not being punished even if they slashed the rude common people.

It's a privilege of murder, but of course you can't cut people unnecessarily. It goes without saying that the samurai were required to have a high spirituality to control themselves. They worked in Bushido to practice their bodies and spirits, and their minds were passed down to Budo.

In other words, martial arts aim to form a personality, not just winning or losing like sports. Of course, there are some that have been made into competitions like judo, but the spirit of the "michi" that flows at the root of it remains unchanged.


Japanese traditional martial arts

From here, I would like to introduce the main types of martial arts in Japan and their characteristics.


Karate, which originated in Okinawa during the Ryukyu Kingdom era, is a world-famous martial art. It is said that there are now 130 million enthusiasts.

Since it was forbidden to carry weapons in the Ryukyu Kingdom, a martial art called "te (hand)" was born to fight with bare hands. The roots of karate are said to be the addition of elements of Chinese martial arts. At first it was called "kara-te (Chinese hand)", but later it changed its name to "kara-te (empty hand)" which means fighting without weapons.

It is divided into various schools, from traditional karate to the one similar to mixed martial arts, characterized by having its own philosophy, skills, and style.


It is a modern martial art founded by Morihei Ueshiba in the 1920s. Compared to other martial arts, spirituality is valued, and the purpose is to humbly face oneself and train the mind and body in daily practice.

As the name implies, Aikido emphasizes "ki (sprit)". Aikido is a martial art that controls the opponent by using the power of the opponent. To do so, read the other person's feelings and adjust. In other words, it is necessary to match your own power with the power of the other party.

Also, Aikido does not compete for victory or defeat, so there is no concept of a match. As a place to show off the results of daily practice, a demonstration is held instead of a match.


Kendo is a competition of ancient Japanese swordsmanship. Japanese fencing may be easy to imagine. In the Edo period, swordsmanship, which was once a technique of killing each other, changed to swordsmanship aimed at learning techniques and training the mind, and changed to modern kendo.

In a kendo match, two opponents wear armor on their heads, chests and arms, and use a bamboo sword called shinai. Its appearance resembles that of a samurai wearing armor and carrying a Japanese sword.

Kendo is a martial art that values etiquette, as it is said that it begins and ends with courtesy. Fouls are taken if you do something that goes against the spirit of Bushido, such as rude behavior to the opponent's player or referee, or using an illegal tool.

Martial arts have inherited the Japanese tradition and developed independently. At the root of this is the spirit of Bushido. They teach us the importance of facing and enhancing ourselves.

There are many martial arts in Japan other than those introduced here. If you have a chance, why not try it out by seeing it, touching it, and experiencing it?


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