View Full Version : To be or not to be....Gendai Budo

Paul Steadman
22nd July 2002, 16:54
Hello All,

May I pose a question. I am not about to lie to the public to promote my art as koryu bujutsu art as I know it's not, but can I claim the next best thing in pop-martial arts? If I were to mix-n-match some unsanctioned (ie: not recognised or not a member of an official Japanese headquatered budo organisation) karate, judo and aikido together (especially some Australianised/modernised, 3 times removed from anything remotely resembling a Japanese budo, street enhanced style etc) and call it traditional Japanese jujutsu. Or if I mix-n-match a little ZNKR iaido, kendo and jodo together that a friend of friend taught me in addition to what I picked up off videos and at seminars and called it traditional buki-jutsu or kobudo/kobujutsu. And if I founded a martial arts club/school and named it Shinshinto-ryu Budo-jutsu (Way of the heart of the hearts style of the way of the martial arts) having looked up the appropriate terminology in my $5.00 Japanese/English-English/Japanese Dictionary. Could I now announce to those who ask, that I teach a gendai budo art (because it was formed after 1868)? Oh by the way, I've never trained under or have never been taught by a Japanese sensei, except the ones I have photos of with me standing/knealing next to (you know at 2 day open seminars) and who's discussion to me on the fine points of Japanese budo, I could not for the life of me understand a word of!

So am I now teaching a gendai budo, a goshin-jutsu system or am I just misleading the public? Please let me know your views.


Paul Steadman

23rd July 2002, 14:08
Hi Paul.
Surely you're simply teaching self defense. Nothing more and nothing less...Why is there any need to use Japanese at all? (I know that they use it for effect but still..).
As long as you are open about where the art came from i.e.; A little of this and a bit of that etc. Why should there be any misleading of anyone..Using Japanese terms will work if you are Japanese but not since you're a westerner...The only reason to use them is to mislead the public buyer into the belief that they ar getting 'Japanese training' from the group...

Paul Steadman
23rd July 2002, 16:36
Hi Ben,

I tend to agree with you. The above hyperthetical sample is a reflection of what is going on in Australia at the moment. Thank you for your reply.


P. Steadman

Mike Williams
23rd July 2002, 17:30
It's happening here (UK) too, and I suspect all over the world.

In fact I train in just such an organisation. Personally, I think they should drop all the Japanese trappings (they've already lost Japanese names for techniques) and call what they do British Jujutsu and claim it as their own (as the Brazilians have done) - maybe just acknowledge its roots in Judo (mainly).

Britain has a long history in Jujutsu/Judo, going back to Barton-Wright, so why not emphasise that?

On the other hand, most people want to feel they're training in an oriental MA - there's still that mystique, and it pulls in the punters.

At the end of the day, does it matter? As long as the training is good? For myself, I have no more than a vague academic interest in authentic Koryu anyway.



24th July 2002, 15:31
Hi all.
"With Japanese martial arts though, how can someone reach the top of the mountain with a guide who has only heard of the mountain, or another who has only walked the foot of it from several angles?"
Indeed...Or one who can pronounce the names expertly in a foreign language.
I think things like this tend to lower the whole public understanding of exactly what Budo is and what it represents...This then goes full circle and the idea can be used to 'mysticise' (??) the training....A hip throw becomes 'Koshi nage' and acquires a 'ancient heritage' of sorts...Or a respectability that it really should have had in the first place....A pity. But one can see why...The public idea of any martial art is based on Bruce Lee, spinning kicks/jumping kicks, fast moving weapons, and lots of screaming...This is the 'mystical' side of it all and the public prefer this image to that of the 'typical' Budoka and his art (i.e. the short, sharp, finish type of moves preferred by most arts..). As long as this idea is perpetuated it will be hard to change the people who promote their own (Often homegrown) arts as Japanese/Chinese/Korean etc...
What can you do? :rolleyes:

Paul Steadman
25th July 2002, 00:50
Hello Daniel,

Yes, I agree. I have an insiders insight to the problem as I have been guilty of doing similar things. There are a lot of good self-defence and combative schools in Australia, who train hard and have effective self-defence skills under their belts. It's a pity some of them try to apply a thin veneer of Japanese budo culture over their art in an attempt to make it look, sound and feel more authentic.

Anyhow thanks for the responese everyone. It's just that some of these schools/instructors have realised they can not fool all of the people all of the time. So instead of claiming some kind of affilitaion or lineage from a koryu (no matter how small or feint) they are proudly proclaiming that they are indeed teaching a gendai budo (they've obviosly read Draeger's "Modern Budo and Bujutsu.") because they (the instructor & maybe his technical 'cronies,' oops I mean committee) have formulated/founded their martial art post 1868.

I know that Dr. K. Friday, Dave Lowry and others have addressed these issues before. Perhaps due to these writings naive and ripped-off students are waking up and smelling the coffee! Thus we now maybe have bogus claims of being a gendai art. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but to be a gendai budo the art would have to be:

1) Founded by a Japanese national (with a high rank [licence/authority to teach] or senior dan grade in a classical or modern root-art to their new art).

2) Founded in Japan within the social, philosophical & cultural enviorons conducive to the establishment of a new art.

3) Said gendai art would not try to reinvent the wheel ie: karate-do was something totally new and different from Tode/Okinawa-te, judo had diversified from the jujutsu of the time and aikido was founded because it was obviously no longer Daito-ryu aikijutsu/aikibujutsu.

4) Founded to fulfill an obvious need with real and responsible training goals, ideals, functions, ethics, theory and technique including an appropriate spiritual & philosophical base.

So Shotokan karate-do, Shito-ryu karate-do, Kodokan judo, ZNKR kendo, ZNKR seitei iaido, Tomiki aikido, Tokyo Metro Police taiho-jutsu (inc- keijo-soho etc) are all gendai arts...yes? Such arts as You-Can-Do Budo-jutsu are not gendai budo...yes? Or no?

Thanks again for your response and replies.


Paul Steadman

Daniel Lee
25th July 2002, 02:02
OK Paul, I see where you're coming from.

I don't see why a new budo couldn't be created by a non-Japanese if they were the equivalent of menkyo kaiden (indicative of their own teachers recognition of full transmission of the art, and implicative of understanding of the history and culture of the mother culture).

Daniel Lee

29th July 2002, 18:45
If I had a menkyo kaiden ( a long way off!) I feel it would belittle my teacher and all the effort I had put in just for the sake of a name change of the ryu.... Why bother? Unless you are just out to rip off Joe Public of course then I suppose its alright....:D

Tim Hamilton

31st July 2002, 09:42
Britain has a long history in Jujutsu/Judo, going back to Barton-Wright, so why not emphasise that?

Barton-Wright did do exactly that, did he not? He called it Bartitsu so perhaps this anglocized name for it could be used again? In GB at least, it makes sense.

BTW: The Brasilians didn't call it jiu jitsu, the Gracies did, and I believe it was Rorion Gracie who copyrighted the name as Gracie Jiu jitsu? The others were eventually calling it judo.

Out of all Brasilian people who train in a martial art, the majority (most likely, anyway) are doing true budo, other than the Gracie version.


PS: Why isn't this thread in the Gendai Forum? I don't mind, but it does seem to be naturally drifting that way from the first post.