by Sean Hannon
“True budo calls for bringing the inner energy of the Universe in order, protecting the peace of the world as well as preserving everything in nature in its right form.”
– Morihei Ueshiba
The novice martial artist sees martial arts merely as a fighting system – a means of self-defense. He understands only one-dimension of the word “martial.” Martial, in the strictest sense of the word, means “associated with war.” Therefore, to the novice martial artist, martial only means “the art of war” or “the art of fighting.” For them, that is where the meaning stops. There is no evolution. There is no more growth. The master martial artist, on the other hand, understands this rudimentary definition of “martial” and expands it.
The master martial artist recognizes the inherent responsibilities of the martial arts and ultimately adopts the concept of budo or martial way into his or her life. The martial way is very different from that of martial combat. For example, the term budo is made up of the Japanese characters (or kanji) “bu” meaning martial and “do” meaning path. The characters of the kanji for “bu” or martial is actually made up of two symbols. The first symbol is a set of crossed weapons or halberds. The second symbol is the Japanese character for “stop.” So, interestingly enough, in Japanese kanji, the character for bu doesn’t mean “fighting,” but somewhat paradoxically, actually reads “to stop fighting” or “to prevent fighting.” Therefore, budo really translates as “the way to prevent fighting.” This is congruent with the underlying message of the art of Aikido – the way of harmony. But truly, we have only scratched the surface of what budo really means. A comprehensive understanding of the term budo is a lifelong journey and can only be gained by thoroughly studying Japanese language and culture.
So, you’ll notice that bushi-DO, bu-DO and Aiki-DO all end with the word ‘do.’ The word ‘do’ is often used when a martial art is intended to be applied to other areas of life and is practiced as a way of life, not solely as a combat style. The master martial artist lives budo. He or she not only learns how to hurt, maim or kill, but also to recognize and value the wisdom of when to use one’s martial arts skill and when not to. The master martial artist understands the responsibilities of budo and how to apply his or her martial art in non-martial, everyday experiences. Those responsibilities of budo expand beyond just the survival of one’s self and apply to family, community, society and the world at large.
Japanese martial arts that limit their instruction to combat applications are often suffixed with the word “jutsu,” which usually means “martial science.” Such sciences include kenjutsu or aikijutsu. Therefore, all forms of budo are martial arts, but not all martial arts are budo. Aikido is a form of budo – a way of life, not just a self-defense system. Budo can be practiced at all times. It can be practiced when driving a car in heavy traffic, when dealing with misbehaving children, or when dealing with disruptive colleagues at work. Everything can be practiced the martial way – with a spirit of budo. Everyone can practice the expansive principle of Aikido in every arena of life.
As you can see, the art of Aikido is more than just a martial art. Aikido is a way of life; a philosophy practiced as a moving meditation of life. It is an art that holds the potential to outright challenge our humanity.
Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free.