Budo World

The 1st BAMIS International Forum—Budō SymposiumInvestigating the possibilities of body and bind integrated science in budō~Learning from Kanō Jigoro‘s achievements to consider the present~

I. The Purpose of this Symposium

Coordinator: Sakai Toshinobu (University of Tsukuba)

It is certain that body-mind integration in budō is a distinguishing feature of Japanese and East Asian spiritual culture. In particular, the body and mind relational theory in Japanese budō can be said to have been fully realised in the early-modern period (Edo period). Early-modern Japan shut off connections with foreign countries, and the bushi governed the country for a period of 260 years in peace – a phenomenon rarely seen in world history. In an environment such as this, bujutsu – which was originally intended for the purpose of defeating enemies –became more culturally interactive, and eventually formed into a superb form of physical culture.

Bujutsu was based on the premise of confronting one’s mortality in life-death combat with an enemy. It is through the experience of knowing that one’s life could end at any moment that a master of the martial arts comes to realise the effects distress has on the body in extreme conditions. Finding the solution or way of overcoming the debilitating stress became an urgent task. For this reason, an ideal body-mind relationship theory, namely, a refined body-mind integration theory was constructed on the premise that body and mind are inseparable.

In contrast to this, at the same time in Western culture there was a leap in the development of modern science on the premise of ‘body and mind dualism’ – considering the body and mind, or matter and spirit as separate entities.

The spiritual culture of Japanese budō, and this (dualistic) Western culture suddenly came face to face after the Meiji Restoration. While Japanese society was undergoing drastic changes with the restoration of imperial rule, the collapse of the feudal system of the shogunate, the opening of the country (kaikoku), and the end of bushi hegemony, there was an influx of cutting-edge science and technology from the West, and this quickly resulted in a tendency to regard bujutsu as a form of meaningless, out-dated combat.

Kanō Jigoro, who we pay close attention to in this symposium, was a prominent intellectual who emerged in this tumultuous period. With Japan both westernising and modernising, Kanō succeeded in restructuring budō into something of value. Specifically, his achievements included the simplification and establishment of budō in the school curriculum, and also its internationalisation.

It is true that there have been various revisions and refinements in Japanese budō, including the various elements of body and mind integration over time, and they are evaluated in various ways. Regardless of the changes since Kanō’s innovations, we should first try to learn about his great achievements.

Additionally, of his contemporaries there were two other important men who contributed to the formation of modern budō with a different direction to Kanō.  They were Yamaoka Tesshū and Nishikubo Hiromichi. Although this era has past, contemporary society is beginning to see the limitations of the Western body and mind dualism based modern scientific notions. The world is now focusing on an Eastern, particularly Japanese, body and mind unison. Thus, while it might have seemed as though the idea of body-mind integration that forms the basis of budō was fading out after the Meiji Restoration, it is now beginning to shine brighter than ever.

Obviously contemporary society does not generally require “kill or be killed” attitude in its people, and modern budō is not meant for this purpose. So, how do we make use of this Edo period ideals of budō’s “body-mind consolidation” in modern society?

The purpose of this symposium is to contribute to the science of future generations, by learning from Kanō’s outstanding achievements, reflecting on his flexible mind and bold actions which played an important part in recovering budō from a difficult situation during the chaotic early years of the Meiji period. Also, it is to provide an opportunity to ponder about budō in terms of how he might have acted today given the need for the Japanese idea of body-mind integration.