A Closer Look

Traditional Karate Do is taught using Japanese/Okinawan terminology. As students progress in their training, they learn to appreciate the value of this. A special atmosphere is created in the dojo, when one comes to understand the deeper meaning of many of the words and phrases. For the serious karateka, terminology is as much a part of training as is the study of kata.

One of the most misunderstood, misspelled and mispronounced of these words is Budo. No, it's not Buda...I can't tell you the amount of checks I've received through the years that had that written on them! Budo is correctly formed by combining the words Bu and Do. Together they translate as martial way. Although this interpretation is correct, the true meaning of Budo is found by studying its history.

Originally the martial arts were studied as a means of survival. In Japanese, these arts were referred to as Bujutsu (martial technique). With the coming of the Edo Period and latter Meiji Restoration, change and peace turned war arts, in many ways, obsolete. Still, these arts had much to offer. In order for Bujutsu to grow, the emphasis had to be shifted. From this change came the concept of Budo. Although the roots of Budo lie in self defense, the higher aim became self perfection. This ideology was best expressed by the legendary Karate master Funakoshi Gichen Sensei who said; "The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants."

Judo, Aikido, Kendo and most martial ways ending in Do, are examples of Budo, which were transformed from Bujutsu. Traditional Karate Do as a form of Budo can be seen as somewhat of an add on though to these classical Japanese Budo, as it was imported from Okinawa. Still, the concept of Budo applies.

Budo is a tool for education and self discovery. Its translation of martial way only scratches the surface. The written Chinese characters for Budo further sum up its essence. Bu is made up of two sections. The first means stop, and the second means spear. When combined with Do, they represent what some view as meaning "peace through martial training". This reflects the essential difference between the older Bujutsu and Budo. The former is a pure combat method designed for use on the battlefield. The latter is self defense, while seeking to avoid conflict.