The "Way" vs "Jutsu"

Contributors offers insight into the non-physical side of the Martial Arts, often ignored when discussing self-defense.

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The "Way" vs "Jutsu"

Postby gmattson » Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:01 pm

I bookmarked an interesting page in "The Art and the Way" that discusses the conflicts martial artist face when practicing their art. Most of us would like to believe we are practicing the "Way" of karate while honing tools of self protection. That is why we practice karate and not boxing. However, we do give up something when practicing the "Way" which causes much anguish in some practitioners. We should discuss this issue, since today's martial artist face the same conflicts as the samurai of old. GEM

"So far in the bubishi I have seen no mention of the word Kyudo for archery. It is always referred to as Kyujustu. I never thought about it before, but I have heard both." "The word for all the fighting arts was jutsu at one time," his grandfather answered. "Jutsu refers to the method of fighting and killing. Kenjutsu and IJujutsu', for example, were killing methods that samurai used for centuries in battle.

Now they are 'judo' and 'kendo'. The change in terminology began because fighting was outlawed by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the martial arts teachers of the day found themselves out of work. We Japanese, however, and especially the old samurai, still had a fascination for the sword and wanted to learn the classic fighting methods. With time to contemplate things, the samurai came to understand that their art, which for centuries had taught them how to kill, also taught them how to transcend the killing, as well as most things ordinary, and led to a spiritual understanding of life.

It fit the Zen philosophy that was becoming popular at the time. It was austere. It emphasized experience over thought, and living for the moment, ideas that they already understood from centuries of thoughtless killing. They began to use the word do to refer to a 'way' of living rather thanjutsu, an 'art' of killing." "What about karate? I have never heard the word karate-jutsu mentioned." "Karate underwent the same metamorphosis as the other arts, although, since it was Okinawan, not Japanese, no one ever referred to it as karate-jutsu.

Now, as you know however, many people in Japan refer to it as karate-do. "You must be careful, though," his grandfather continued, "If an art becomes a way, it can lose its martial application and become worthless for self defense. A great many martial artists do not understand that, and think that what they are practicing is a fighting art, when it is really a spiritual study, or worse, a sport.

That's why some of them think winning and losing tournaments means something." David stared at his feet. "It is a long way from the tournament floor to the battle field and they are in two different directions, one does not lead to the other." "But we practice spiritual development." "Yes, we do. One can know how to kill and also how not to. In order to understand either one, it is important to know both.
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Postby paul giella » Sun Jan 18, 2004 4:03 pm

test massage... George, I just spent an hour composing a reply to this thread. For the second time this week! And it was lost. Home computer and work computer.
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Postby Akil Todd Harvey » Sun Jan 18, 2004 5:46 pm

Howdy Paul,

I know how you feel about lost posts that had lots of time invested in them.......Like getting hit right in the chest..........Which is why I created post savers......for only $19.95 and two box tops you can get post savers loaded on your machine.......

Seriously, whenever I am posting anything significant, on this forum or others, I almost always copy the entire post before hitting the submit button. Just in case, God forbid, for whatever reason (the server woke up on the wrong side of the office or the server settings got set to default and you got logged out while you were typing your post).....I hate losing posts that have more than an hour of my time in them......

Let's still try to fix the problem, but this is my own little way of preserving what sanity I still have......

Hope you are well Paul.....Akil

Oooops, I almost pressed submit without copying....
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Postby Rick Wilson » Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:55 pm

After losing a few posts I started writing and saving them in Word, then just copy and paste into the forum.
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Postby Ted Dinwiddie » Tue Jan 20, 2004 2:50 pm

I have been taught Do = Way, Jutsu = Art, that Do is the essence without teaching the really nasty stuff. But, these are indeed Japanese terms not Okinawan, so they imply a cultural filter which is not necessarily applicable to Okinawan arts, though perhaps useful. Karate-Do was what Funakoshi taught in Japan based on what Itosu had developed as a "for the masses" program. Good for the conditioning of body and spirit and discipline and large groups; homogenized, if you will. The various teachers and styles on Okinawa taught material that was individual and personal and meant to be nasty and effective in personal combat and not for mass consumption. As the more formalized society of Japan (and later the "Western World") became aware of Okinawan fighting arts, they began to have commercial value. Yet, some of the more brutal applications and knowledge as well as "trade secrets" were undoubtedly left out of the package that was being marketed. This package might be called Do. Later on, as some of the "real stuff" began to be uncovered in the "West", the term Jutsu may indeed have aquired relevance again.

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Postby Dana Sheets » Thu Jan 22, 2004 4:46 pm

Who was it who started "Uechi-Ryu karate-do". Because I belive somewhere on this site there are mentions that when Kanbun hung out his shingle it was "karate-jutsu"

Was the transition from father to son? Did Kanei - who seemed to embrace much more of Japanese culture and the Sport karate tradition change the "jutsu" to "do"?

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Postby Stryke » Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:19 am

i dont really see how you can have one without the other , If your not adressing the application how can you confront the subject and challenge your limitations , same goes for the Do or spirit if your not confronting your phsychology and beleifs and growing emotionally an spiritually and mentally , how are you prepareing yurself for application .

I think it`s another western problem of label desease , im sure they both get reflected in one another , yet I do beleive perhaps the do was watering down of things for the masses , and wasnt really meant to be as serious in a martial sense .

Postby Bruise* Lee » Thu Nov 04, 2004 3:44 pm

Its interesting the different takes on these foreign words (assuming we are all American).

Do, Jutsu,sport.


I was taught that Bu is a Chinese/Japanese Kanji symbol created by the combination of 2 other symbols - one for "to stop" and one for "conflict". I don't know how true this is since I don't speak Japanese or Chinese.

I was taught that Jutsu is technique, often developed by those who need fighting : LEO's, criminals and soldiers.

Do takes that technique and teaches it so as to develop the person inside as well as outside.

Sport takes out the dangerous techniques and makes them "safe" since most people do not want to see sport players seriously injured. However sport techniques may not be the most effective - the hip throws common to Judo are a bit safer since the throw can be controlled more than if you grap someones elbow and twist it to the point they flip through the air. but it also requires a good bit of strength (more than twisting their finger until they fall to the ground), and also involves some danger to the thrower since you have to turn your back to your opponant (one rule of fighting is never turn your back to your opponant) where as a finger, wrist, elbow throw allows you to maintain frontal alignment and face your opponant should they still attack while you are attempting a throw. Interestingly there are systems of "Judo" predating Jigoro Kanos Kodokan form of Judo by several hundred years - and were a good bit different.

Sport has rules which dissallow certain techniques. Fighting has no rules. Jutsu may follow principles, but not rules.

In Chinese martial arts the words internal and external are often bandied about. Usually many think internal means something to do with Qi. However I was taught internal arts had two things in common : taught to an elite cadre of students (inner circle), involved whole body motion that was initiated with the torso - in contrast to the "arm chair punching" seen when someone is in a horse stance throwing seiken punches without their hips or shoulders turning to any degree. Also internal arts often judge a persons character, his inside development. External arts were not family arts but school arts - taught to everyone, and involved the strength of the limbs more than whole body movment initiated from the torso. People can have questionable character in external arts as the instructor often has not taken them undre his wing, has little concern of their well being or what sort of person they turn out to be.

Do arts (Kendo, Karate Do, Judo,Aikido) often use the same techniques but their emphasis is on internal development.

By contrast sport arts are about winning or losing a "fair" fight in a sport situation - people matched up evenly according to rank, weight and skill. Jutsu arts are about winning an "unfair" fight - beign able to survive when you are matched up and you are outnumbered, outsized and outskilled.
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