Budo Concepts & Phrases
Warning: This literature is not about fighting concepts; on the contrary, it is about concepts to live and practice ones life. If fighting is your primary aim and interest, then it will be a waste of your time to read this literature, I would suggest that you stop here and move on. [Exit]

Austere physical training is only beneficial if conducted intelligently and in tune with your own body's requirements and abilities. True progress in the martial arts is only possible if we cultivate ourselves as morally upright people. According to Shoshin Nagamine's book "Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters", this maxim was taught by Kanryo Higaonna as bun bu ryo do 文武両道 i.e. philosophical and physical are one study. The same principle was also expounded by the renowned White Crane and Tai Chi Master Huang Sheng Shyan.


Bun Bu 文武 (pronoun "Boon" "Bo") - to be accomplished with The Pen and The Sword


Budŏ  武道 - Martial Path/Way

The modern budŏ has no external enemy, only the internal enemy, ones ego that must be fought (state of Muga-mushin 無我無心). Similarly to budŏ, bujutsu is a compound of the words bu (), and jutsu (), meaning science, craft, or art. Thus, budŏ is most often translated as "the way of war", or "martial way", while bujutsu is translated as "science of war" or "martial craft." However, both budŏ and bujutsu are used interchangeably in English with the term "martial arts". Some scholars note that an examination of the kanji for the term "bu" reveals a depiction of crossed halberds, a flick of blood, and the character for the word stop. One important interpretation among some schools of budŏ and bujutsu is that the term "bu" is more accurately rendered as "a means to stop the conflict". This would lead to an alternate translation of "budŏ “as "conflict resolution".


Dŏjŏ  道場

Dŏjŏ is made up of two kanji 道場: "dŏ" meaning the way or path and "jŏ" meaning place. In its most basic and functional definition, a dŏjŏ is a training hall. Simply, a facility wherein one may practice some sort of physical endeavor such as a martial art or gymnastics. Because the word is Japanese, it is appropriate to mention that it was originally a place devoted to the practice of Zen, which was eventually adopted by practitioners of budŏ.


Because of its original usage, a dŏjŏ became known as a place of "enlightenment"; the ultimate goal of Zen Buddhism. When practitioners of budŏ, such as the Samurai, adopted it for use, it became known as a place where the "Dŏ", or the Way of "Bu", could be practiced. Dŏjŏ means "the place where one walks the way" in physical and spiritual growth (the pursuit of purity and perfection in craft, truth and living). From earliest times, we can see that a dŏjŏ was never merely a gymnasium. It was always a place of very special learning and remains so today.


Dŏjŏkun  道場訓

The kanji "kun" literally means lessons or teachings. The term dŏjŏkun can be translated as objectives for training (lessons learnt or to be learnt in a dōjō. They are generally posted at the entrance to training halls or at the front of the dojo (shomen). In some styles of martial arts they are recited at the end of a class.


The purpose of the dŏjŏkun is to remind all of the students in the dŏjŏ, regardless of their rank, that the physical, mental, and spiritual growth that they enjoy as a by product of their martial art training must also extend beyond the dŏjŏ's walls.


Examine the similarities of the dŏjŏkun of the respective martial arts below:




Shorinji Kempo (Dŏkun)


Upon examining the dŏjŏkun or dŏkun of the respective martial arts, one will find that the common root nature of these arts is Budŏ, the way to resolve conflict. The purpose of martial training is to develop ones physical, mental and spiritual strength (body, mind and spirit) ideally creating a person of strong character that beyond the walls of the dōjō others could not find an opening for conflict.


Shŏshin or Nyuanshin 初心 - Beginner’s Mind

It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.


Mushin 無心 - No Mindedness

It is a mental state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat. The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning mind of no mind. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. Mushin is achieved when a fighter feels no anger, fear or ego during combat. There is an absence of discursive thought, and so the fighter is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively.


Mushin is very closely related to another state of mind known as heijŏshin.


Muga Mushin  無我無心

It is a compound term of muga and mushin. Muga literally means no-self (derived from the Sanskrit anātman) and Mushin no-mind (also from the Sanskrit a-citta). What is negated is the empirical body-mind as an ontological independent state of existence. Muga and mushin point to the same thing - the state of egolessness - but from different perspectives. Muga refers to the negation of the physical state, mushin to the mental state of empirical existence.


Heijŏshin 平常心 - Plain Mind/Presence of Mind/Peace of Mind

It refers to state of mind wherein a complete balance and harmony is attained in one's life through mental discipline. Hence, lessons learnt or lessons to be learnt (within and without a dŏjŏ) are for the practice of one's life.


Junshin 純真 - Pure Hearted


Kiyoikokoro 清心 - Pure Mind


Zanshin 残心 - Remaining Mind

It refers to a state of awareness - a state of relaxed alertness.


Fudoshin 不動心 - Immovable heart or immovable mind

It is a state of equanimity or imperturbability - a philosophical/mental dimension to a martial art which contributes to the effectiveness of the advanced practitioner.


Fudoshin: A spirit of unshakable calm and determination, courage without recklessness, rooted stability in both mental and physical realms. Like a willow tree, powerful roots deep in the ground and a soft yielding resistance against the winds that blow through it.


Shuhari 守破離

Shuhari is a Japanese concept; it describes the stages of learning to mastery. Besides martial art, it is also applied to other disciplines, such as Go.


A rough translation of the three stages:


Shu ( "protect", "obey") traditional wisdom learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs


Ha ( break, "detach", "digress") breaking with tradition finding exceptions to traditional wisdom, reflecting on their truth, finding new ways, techniques, and proverbs


Ri ( "leave", "separate") transcendence there are no techniques or proverbs, all moves are natural


Shu Ha Ri can be considered as concentric circles, with Shu within Ha, and both Shu and Ha within Ri. The fundamental techniques and knowledge do not change.


During the Shu phase the student should loyally follow the instruction of a single teacher; the student is not yet ready to explore and compare different paths.


Its Chinese equivalence (Wu Tao) have similar 3-stage concept to Mastery. They are sometimes known as:


Ti (Earth): Basics. To experience movements at the fundamental levels.


Ren (Human): Ready to learn. (Some Chinese martial grandmasters equates the entry to this level as the Japanese belt system level of Black Belt (1st Dan))


Tian (Sky/Heaven): no conscious thought, flows/moves like the elements. This stage takes years of training and coaching from other Grandmasters


The “Shuhari” concept is first presented by Fuhaku Kawakami as Jo-ha-kyū in Tao of Tea. Then, Zeami, the master of Noh, extended this concept to his dance as Shu-Ha-Ri.


Aiki 合氣

Aiki is a martial arts principle or tactic.


- Ai joining, matched. - Ki air, gas, spirit, energy.

The kanji for "ai" represents a pot with a lid on it. Hence, "ai" symbolizes to two things fitting together. Aiki should not be confused with "wa" which refers to harmony. The kanji for "ki" represents a boiling pot filled with rice. Hence, "ki" symbolizes energy.


Thus aiki means is to fit, join or combine energy. However, care must be taken about the absolute meanings of words when discussing concepts derived from other cultures and expressed in different languages. This is particularly true when the words we use today have been derived from symbols, in this case Chinese and Japanese kanji, which represent ideas rather than literal translations of the components. Historical use of a term can influence meanings and be passed down by those wishing to illustrate ideas with the best word or phrase available to them. In this way, there may be a divergence of the meaning between arts or schools within the same art. The characters "ai" and "ki" have translations to many different English words.


 Other terms used in conjuction with this concept are:


Atteru 合って(い)る verb atte-i-ru  matching, meeting.


Awase 合わせ Blending movement; from verb awaseru, to blend, harmonize. Frequently used in aikido to evoke the notion of harmony with the movement of one's partner.


Musubi 結び - Knot; tie.

The concept of a link between the attacker and defender permitting the smooth execution of techniques.


Ki no Musubi 気の結び used in aikido to refer to blending one's energy with that of the partner. For Ki no Musubi to take place, we will require Ki to be poured forth; hence, the term Ki no Nagare 気の流れ the flow of energy.


Sēn - Ahead, before, initiative


Sēntē 先手 – ahead/before hand (tē) (the one with the upper hand)


A traditional explanation of strategies in a Japanese martial arts context often involves a discussion of three levels of combat initiative. These strategies are:


Go no Sēn 後の先

After ( Go) the initiative (Sēn) Late attack. This is a defensive initiative; in this situation, after dodging or blocking the attacker’s first strike, you attack him before he can recover from his initial movement.


Sēn Initiative (Attack ahead). Sēn is a defensive initiative launched simultaneously with the attack of the opponent. Your awareness of his intention to attack allows you to attack just slightly faster (ahead),


Sēn Sēn no Sēn 先先の先 Seizing the initiative. It is an initiative launched in anticipation of an attack where the opponent is fully committed to his attack and thus psychologically beyond the point of no return. In this situation, your attack is launched first in a spilt second between the time your opponent mentally commits to his attack and the moment he begins his actual movement. His commitment to attack will prevent him responding with a defense. The latter strategy is generally considered to be the highest level in the classical martial arts scenario.


Aikido’s movements reflective of the above strategies are:


Go no Sēn - Ura techniques using Tenkan (turn/pivot) movements


Sēn or Sēn no Sēn - Omote techniques using Irimi (entering) movements


Sēn Sēn no Sēn - Ki no Nagare techniques using Irimi movements or combination of both Irimi and Tenkan movements.


The founder of Aikido’s concept of aiki strategy goes far beyond the dimension of psycho-physical confrontation. In an interview conducted in 1957, he expresses the concept in these words:


“It is not a question of either ‘Sēn Sēn no Sēn’ or ‘Sēn no Sēn’. If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory. There isn’t any question of winning over or losing to an opponent. In this sense, there is no opponent* in aikido. Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only.”


* Muteki – no opponent/enemy