A Parent's Guide to the Martial Arts  p. 3  

So what is this Martial Way or budō?  How does budō, "martial way," differ from bujutsu, "martial arts?"  Moreover, how does pursuing this Martial Way differ from pursuing athletic excellence in combative sports?  First, we should understand that budō developed from the technical basis of bujutsu, however the classical budō were not designed to serve the warrior in combat.  Whereas the bujutsu emphasized form to be used in bringing about an effective combat result, the budō stressed form to be used as a means for gaining an understanding of the self and for gaining self-perfection.  Training in budō thus, it was believed, aimed at "higher values" than those of bujutsu. (Draeger, 2, 33)

"It should be understood, however, that the budō were not created as forms of social amusement or sport, or as methods for the display of pure aesthetic artistry.  They were intended to be austere disciplines that engage and train the mind directly, in serving one's daily life through a process of dedicated and protracted training.  The classical budō are meant to be experienced, serving as a pattern of behavior for life and self." (Draeger, 2, 34)   

Furthermore, Hirokazu Kanazawa, in his book Kumite Kyōhan, states; "From the viewpoint of karate as a competitive sport, the teaching method reaches its goal when only five students among the fifty become good competitors.  This number succeeding in individual or team competition is sufficient to establish the reputation of their Dōjō.  However, from the point of view that karate is a martial art, the method of teaching does not reach its goal unless it achieves the physical and mental development of the entire class." (Kanazawa, 10)

What does all this mean to you and how does it influence your decision as to which style to choose?  What you as a parent should realize is that mastery of the system that your child practices is not the desired end in itself but only a vehicle towards that end.  The student must learn to "subdue the external gratifications of rank, prestige, competitive victory, and ego in general for the truer rewards of personal development." (Morgan, 10)  This is the essence of budō, martial way.  "The Martial Way is a discipline devoted to the perfection of character.  Outward displays of finery expose an individual who needs external reinforcement to reassure him of his self-worth.  Even public displays of skill and prowess, when motivated by the desire to impress others, demonstrate and intensify fundamental weaknesses within.  And therein lies the pitfall of tournament competition." (Morgan, 28) 

In his book, Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and Desire in the Art of Teaching, Jim Garrison states "Everyone passionately desires to possess what is good, or at least what they perceive as good, and to live a life of ever-expanding meaning and value.  It is for the sake of the perceived good that practitioners strive to perfect their practice.  What they seek, however, soon comes to possess them and eventually becomes the content of their character." (Garrison, 1)  When one practices martial arts with the goal of acquiring trophies, amassing tournament victories, or to boost one’s ego, then their practice takes them down the path of self-gratification, and weakens, not strengthens, their character. 

"The simple answer is there is much more to be gained from following The Martial Way than technical proficiency and the external rewards of athletic success.  The Martial Way does not start and end at the door of the training hall.  This is what separates The Martial Way from other pursuits and makes it so valuable.  Where one may play a sport or have a hobby, one lives The Martial Way." (Morgan, 10-11)  Now you should have a better understanding of what a martial art is and is not.  You should also understand that budō, with its goal of personal development and self-perfection, requires time and effort, but is a rewarding and valuable endeavor. 




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