Budo on the street
This week, in our country, in our city a jujutsu practitioner killed a man using what he thought was budo on the street. Although the victim was already unconscious, the attacker kept strangling the victim until he passed away. This is not budo. Otake Risuke sensei teaches us:
“Those who choose the path of budo must remain mindful that to approach training with a malevolent heart is destructive, a mindset known in kenjutsu as satsujinken (the murderous sword). Examples of swordsmen of old whose paths led to misfortune merely because they lacked upright characters are not as rare as one might think. But if we always approach training with a pure heart, conflicts can be faced with the confidence needed to quell hostilities and find peaceful solutions, an attitude known as katsujinken (The life giving-sword).”
For us to use budo on the streets is far removed from our minds. Only when our life or that of others is in direct danger we may resort to using our skills in the streets. Even then we should limit our actions to diversions, or self defense and retreat as soon as possible. It is considered even better if our mindset already leads us away from places which bring the risk that a practitioner may have to use his skills.
“In the past people would often come to my dojo and say to me: “I want to learn how to fight!” In the early days I would send those people away but in later years I welcomed them in. They would first have to learn the basics such as watching a class while sitting in seiza. For many it was difficult to sit like that for more than a few minutes and soon their faces would start to show how uncomfortable they felt. I would then go to them and say: “control yourself, you must never let us know that you are tired or in pain when fighting or training.” They would say to me that their feet hurt or something of that nature. I would reply: “Well if you want to fight people you first need to overcome that pain and be able to take this kind of training. You are your own worst enemy. Overcome yourself before thinking of overcoming others.”
Later through the years such students would develop more and more and shift their focus from fighting to become expert technicians who are always bettering themselves; their techniques and personalities. They had lost their interest in fighting. This is how the sword gives life. It makes you want to better yourself and later it will make you want to help others achieve what you are trying to achieve. “
When asked about using budo on the street during a recent visit to our dojo Katori sensei shared his thoughts with us on this subject as well:
“As I said, when I joined, In Otake sensei’s dojo, there were three, four, less than ten. So training was very hard. Because Otake sensei was young, very strict. That was a good thing for us. After training Otake sensei taught us about mental things, not only physical sword techniques. But also mental things such as how to live. That is why I said your personality is very important with excellent sword technique. To be a good human being. Violence in life and martial arts begets violence and the absence of violence or hostility will lead to peace.” Martial arts without compassion is nothing but violence. Strive to make yourself better everyday. Technique is not as important as personality. Try to become a better person through martial art training.”
These are timeless truths and should be taken to heart by all of us, whatever discipline we follow in life.