The special point of Budo is that the inspiration has to manifest at high speed

Some people think that Budo has no future as such, because its typical representatives have now become mere games. Like many games, they have dropped away from the ideal of training into the aim of winning, often as professionals entertaining a crowd. To win or lose a Kendo contest, they say, is the same thing …

Read moreThe special point of Budo is that the inspiration has to manifest at high speed

The British respect sincerity , but unless it brings something good we feel it is often wasted.

An Indian scholar whom I knew very well once told me a story about a typical Japanese born in Meiji. This Indian lived in Japan in the early part of this century and lectured on Indian philosophy at a few universities in Tokyo. He was a great friend of Prof. Junjiro Takakusu. When the late …

Read moreThe British respect sincerity , but unless it brings something good we feel it is often wasted.

The Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision

In fact, the Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision. Of course, if a road branches into two, it is easy to make a decision: you go either right or left. But if it branches into five roads, it is far more difficult to choose. If it branches …

Read moreThe Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision

Buddhist monks are in general far more educated than most samurai.

In a small book of introduction to Budo entitled Budo shoshin-shu, there is a section called ‘Shukke-shi,’ in which Daidoji Yuzan, the author, says that samurai should travel round and learn while they are young, as do the Zen monks. This book points out that Buddhist monks are in general far more educated than most …

Read moreBuddhist monks are in general far more educated than most samurai.

In life, most people judge what to do by looking at outside standards often they simply do what other people are doing.

People who live in towns (in other words, most people) keep themselves upright by looking at the walls when they are indoors, and looking at the corners of the buildings when they are outside. They use these things to tell them what is vertical. This is proved by putting people in special rooms where the walls …

Read moreIn life, most people judge what to do by looking at outside standards often they simply do what other people are doing.

Everything changes; everything ends in Goodbye to all that

Like Japanese, French people do not like to say, “Goodbye”. Instead of “Adieu” (goodbye) they would rather say “Au revoir”, meaning roughly, “till we meet again”. The French have the famous saying: “To say ‘Goodbye’ is to die a little.” This became a song, popularized by Ella Fitzgerald, among others. That French expression is attractively …

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The man who relies on certain tricks in life, may have success for a time, but it cannot last long.

One of the elements in more advanced stages of the Ways is, to develop ingenuity. Some of this can be done by the student himself. For instance, in judo he can try practising with one arm tucked inside his belt, so that he has only die other arm to fight with. This will sometimes give …

Read moreThe man who relies on certain tricks in life, may have success for a time, but it cannot last long.

The outer calm, which so impresses visitors to Japan, is part of an external gloss.

When I am asked how to tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese, I sometimes answer: ‘In general, Japanese are more self-controlled. They talk less excitedly, speak in lower tone, move their bodies less and do not use many gestures. They usually do not interrupt each other. They seem a rather placid people’. ‘But remember’, …

Read moreThe outer calm, which so impresses visitors to Japan, is part of an external gloss.

Let us shoot at each other. If you are the better archer, you will win’. The challenge was declined.

For over 10 years from 1952 at the 100-tatami London Budokwai, I ran a weekend class for black belts, who came from all over Britain every week to attend. There were about 60 of them, and they became the Judo teachers of the next generation. We held a kangeiko every year. An athletics coach once …

Read moreLet us shoot at each other. If you are the better archer, you will win’. The challenge was declined.

Ghost Lodgers are ideas, notions, beliefs, which we have once invited into our minds for a few minutes, but which then come to live with us.

A common bad habit in life is to take in ghost lodgers. What are ghost lodgers? They are ideas, notions, beliefs, which we have once invited into our minds for a few minutes, but which then come to live with us. Often we do not want to have these lodgers, but somehow they are there, …

Read moreGhost Lodgers are ideas, notions, beliefs, which we have once invited into our minds for a few minutes, but which then come to live with us.

One of the most important things in life is gentle persistence.

Both Japanese and British are keen gardeners. That means that we know how to observe nature, and how to co­operate with nature. It is like making now friends: we have to look carefully at their ways of thinking and feeling, and discover how to co-operate with them without hurting their feelings. They may also teach …

Read moreOne of the most important things in life is gentle persistence.

The principle of Ju, or Gentleness, or not using unnecessary force, was well-known in the Taoist texts of China.

The principle of Ju, or Gentleness, or not using unnecessary force, was well-known in the Taoist texts of China, but it was not a Way. That is to say, the technical excellence, though it showed the principle of Ju, was not thought of as a Way to learn that principle of Gentleness for life. For …

Read moreThe principle of Ju, or Gentleness, or not using unnecessary force, was well-known in the Taoist texts of China.

To learn something positive we need instruction, observation, inference and experience

Many years at Judo—first as a student and then as an honorary teacher in London—have given me some valuable lessons for life. I discovered that one can learn in four main ways—instruction, observation, inference and personal experience. My conclusion is that to know something thoroughly one must learn it in all these four ways. This …

Read moreTo learn something positive we need instruction, observation, inference and experience

Some of the Japanese masters of the sword were also highly skilled in other arts

Some of the Japanese masters of the sword were also highly skilled in other arts. There is a phrase: Life-giving Sword, Death-dealing Sword, and some incidents in their lives illustrate it. Kojuro was a young sword master, who was also a beautiful dancer. He was from a noble family, and on one occasion went on …

Read moreSome of the Japanese masters of the sword were also highly skilled in other arts

Zen masters are fond of drawing a big circle, to represent the perfection of the universal Buddha-nature

An English Judo man is sometimes asked to control someone who has got drunk. In Japan, to get drunk is not thought to be a great disgrace; people tend to treat the drunken man like a child. They try to calm him and get him to fall asleep. But in England generally, it is thought …

Read moreZen masters are fond of drawing a big circle, to represent the perfection of the universal Buddha-nature

The Budo spirit does not give us technique, but it gives us calm courage

This applies in many fields, including speaking a foreign language. Japanese students tend to learn correct grammar and many sentences by heart. But often they have no fluency. They have to prepare each sentence inwardly before they speak it. I have sometimes taught the Japanese language to British people, and I have been told that …

Read moreThe Budo spirit does not give us technique, but it gives us calm courage

Bullying is a problem all over the world, but the amount of it varies in different countries and at different times

Bullying is a problem all over the world, but the amount of it varies in different countries and at different times in their history. There are a few scientists who say that it is a fundamental natural instinct in herd animals; the very weak ones are attacked, and finally killed. So they do not live …

Read moreBullying is a problem all over the world, but the amount of it varies in different countries and at different times

I have no strategy. I make kyojitsu, emptiness and fullness, my strategy

When I taught advanced Judo classes at the London Budokwai, I sometimes used a special training method, based on this Budo principle. About halfway I divided the class, usually of about 60, into two groups—A and B. Then I set them in pairs of roughly equal ability. I told the men in Group A: ‘Practise …

Read moreI have no strategy. I make kyojitsu, emptiness and fullness, my strategy

A part of the inner training of Budo is to overcome unconscious bonds

‘Boys, be ambitious!’ I came across these words recently. A British teacher working in Japan told me about these words, which he said has had a profound effect on Japanese youth. It made me wonder: ‘Have there been words spoken by Japanese which have had a deep effect on my own life?’ There have been …

Read moreA part of the inner training of Budo is to overcome unconscious bonds

The future of Budo is something which must come from Japanese themselves

The future of Budo is something which must come from Japanese themselves. No foreigner can decide it for them; nor can any single Japanese decide it. It must come from the inner life of the Budo tradition. But sometimes the interest shown by foreigners can help to reawaken interest in Budo among Japanese themselves. Furthermore, …

Read moreThe future of Budo is something which must come from Japanese themselves

There’s a traditional Japanese farce called Changing Zazen

There’s a traditional Japanese farce called Changing Zazen. Such farces are played between the serious Kabuki plays and are generally about some local lord, who’s always depicted as an absolute fool; it’s very democratic. Anyway, in this one, the local lord wants to go to the red light quarters, but he’s completely under the domi-nation …

Read moreThere’s a traditional Japanese farce called Changing Zazen

Training the Inner Self

Instruction: Learning through instruction consists mainly of hearing and reading. Some people say, ‘Instruction is wrong; let students find out everything for themselves by experiment’. That idea is nonsense. How can we say to a student? ‘Here are some copper, zinc, acid and wire. Now discover electric current! Geniuses like A. Volta, M. Faraday and …

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True Sportsmanship

The true spirit of sportsmanship is appreciation of the game itself. The game must not be a means of national or group superiority. In the English soccer, the teams were generally representative of a particular town. Soccer originally did not have a strong tradition of sportsmanship; it was the sport of the masses. So the …

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True Man of No Rank

Recently I wrote about a general impression that foreigners have, that Japanese people tend to put everyone into some rank or relative position.  The rank or position determines what the person is.  I have heard a Japanese say (and have read similar remarks) that without all the personal connections and relations, “I should be no …

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Shakespeare

It is pleasant to be praised. But when one is praised, or one’s country is praised, for some qual­ity which one does not like. .. what is one’s feeling then? I have seen young Indians listening to enthusiastic Western women talking to them about Gandhi, and saying how wonderful he was. The young people were …

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Social Service

About 5,000,000 people in Britain do some form of social service, on an entirely voluntary and unpaid basis. That is about 9 per cent of the total population. In terms of man-hours, these volunteers make a contribution greater than that of all the paid staff in the social services departments of the local authorities. It …

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Nationality

Occasionally in the past, a Japanese newsman who saw me practising Judo at the Kodokan, or playing Shogi at the Shogi Association, would have a few words with me. In his article later, he would say something about a blue­ eyed foreigner skilful at Judo, or Shogi. He saw of course that I did not …

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Onshi: Revered Teacher

ONSHI: REVERED TEACHER Onshi: there is no single word in English. Revered teacher, beloved teacher: these are not natural English phrases. The single word ’teacher’ can refer to anyone from Verrocchio who taught Leonardo da Vinci, to an irritable old lady forcing spelling into unwilling children. Master can mean the head of an Oxford College …

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