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Hanna B
2nd March 2003, 11:59
I have heared the word "kobudo" used with two different meanings:

1) as a synonym to koryu bodo.
2) meaning "budo where weapons are used".

Are both, one or neither of these descriptions correct?



Regards

fifthchamber
2nd March 2003, 13:55
Hi Hanna.
The 'Ko' in both 'Kobudo' and 'Koryu' is the same Kanji. It means roughly 'Old' or 'Classical' and thus these terms are translated as 'old-martial-ways' and 'old-school/traditions'....Although many of the Kobudo do use weapons the kanji 'Ko' does not describe 'weapon use' in the terms. 'Ko' is also used in the term 'Kobujutsu' in the same way and means 'classical martial techniques' in this instance.
I have not heard it used to describe weapon arts. And have found no Kanji for 'Ko' meaning 'weapon'....So your second definition is incorrect.
Regards..

kaishaku
2nd March 2003, 14:38
I post the following with the caveat that I am not a langauge expert.

I agree with the above post; however, it seems of late that the term "kobudo" or "kobujutsu" is often related to weapons arts and sometimes specifically Okinawan weapons arts.

The reason for this may come from defining "bu" versus defining "ko."

Bu is is related to terms such as warrior, military, or arms. Most often it is thought of as a meaning "military" or "related to the military".

Soemtimes it is found inother words like "bushi" and "bujutsu."

The character for "bu" is a composite of two others. The bottom inside left character, I believe means, or is, "foot" suggesting movement on foot whereas the upper larger character to the right is a prototype character of a halberd or a spear attached to the end of a pole. This is an obvious inference to cutting, piercing, stabbing, or even killing.

When these are conjoined, one interpretation is is advancing on foot with a weapon, thus referring to a warrior (bushi) and therefore the military.

In my school we make another interpretation which we feel is more salient. The first character (foot) has been interpreted as "stop", based on the idea of planting the foot. Taken in conjunction with the second character (pole arm, halberd) we interpret it as the means to stop a weapon; hence, peace is the goal. Thus our practice of budo is actually a means of achieving worldly and spiritual peace.


Yours in Budo,

Frederick D. Smtih

fifthchamber
2nd March 2003, 15:00
Hello Mr. Smith.
Yes....I did forget that the Okinawan 'Kobudo' arts are more often associated with weapons and that this could be where Hanna B. had seen the term..Thanks for the reminder!
I also agree with the 'Bu' pointer....I have also seen it said that the lower left character can be read as 'Sei/Sho' meaning 'correct' which gives the nuance of 'correct spear' also...Although I am aware that the language experts consider the 'Dome' usage to be correct now...Many paths up the mountains ;)
Regards.

Oda
2nd March 2003, 15:05
Hi Hanna.

Ben already made quite a good point, but if you need more explanations check out this article. I found it in koryu.com where they deal with all this old stuff.

Koryu budo, kobudo, kobujutsu, koryu bujutsu: what's the difference? (http://www.koryu.com/library/koryubudo.html)

ghp
2nd March 2003, 16:07
Bu/Take

Both Fifthchamber and Kaishaku are almost correct. The lower left sub-element is "tome" and means "to stop" . Stop signs all over Japan testify to that concept :D So, the nuance of "Bu" is "to stop the spear/halberd" -- in other words, avoid combat. However, I somehow believe that we modern people tend to romanticize that overly much. Maybe the person who originally coined that kanji meant "stop that feller's spear so I can stick him with my sharp pointy object!" That's more like it.

For the lower left sub-element to read [i]sei/sho it would need a horizontal line centered upon the vertical line. Granted, the kanji might have been originally drawn this way and eventually simplified (allowing the long horizontal line of "halberd" to represent the now missing line. But that is merely speculation on my part. I've never seen it drawn as "sei/sho" -- always as "stop."

Regards,
Guy

Jack B
3rd March 2003, 13:42
I have been shown the SEI/TADASHI character as a "pun" or hidden meaning within BU. Not etymological but as a fortuitous connection.

My interpretation of STOP SPEAR is that the purpose of the bushi was to PROTECT. Since the best way to protect may be to pre-empt with attack, one could not eliminate that option.

Hanna B
3rd March 2003, 14:52
Gee, thanks alot everyone!

P Goldsbury
3rd March 2003, 22:57
Originally posted by fifthchamber
Hello Mr. Smith.
Yes....I did forget that the Okinawan 'Kobudo' arts are more often associated with weapons and that this could be where Hanna B. had seen the term..Thanks for the reminder!
I also agree with the 'Bu' pointer....I have also seen it said that the lower left character can be read as 'Sei/Sho' meaning 'correct' which gives the nuance of 'correct spear' also...Although I am aware that the language experts consider the 'Dome' usage to be correct now...Many paths up the mountains ;)
Regards.

Well, yesterday I heard a lecture given by a professor of budo history at Waseda University and he was very clear that BU was completely neutral in meaning. 'Stop spear' is a romantic interpretation beloved of martial arts experts. 'Todome(ru)' originally meant 'hito no ashi ashiato' = a man's footstep, and from there to one line or perhaps two (opposing) lines of men advancing holding spears. The most succinct explanation I have seen is on p.1279 of 'Gendai Kanjigo Jiten' (㊿ꎫT), edited by Testsuji Atsuji (ғN) and published by Kadokawa, though Morohashi's 'Daikanwa Jiten' has a much longer and more detailed explanation. The professor, who is also a shihan of Tomiki aikido, jokingly complained about Japanese martial arts instructors who do not know what they are talking about.

Best regards,

kaishaku
5th March 2003, 02:17
Professor(?) Goldsworthy,

Thank you for the information and clarification. Although my explananation was not completely accurate, I was told several years ago that the lower left radical had this "foot" interpretation.

Your comments concerning Japanese martial arts instructors being ignorant on the meaning of various terms / kanji is also well taken; hence, the reason I placed the caveat concerning my admitted limitations on the Japanese language or its associated kanji.

Frederick D. Smith

P Goldsbury
5th March 2003, 04:52
7`iginally posted by kaishaku [/i]
Professor(?) Goldsworthy,

Your comments concerning Japanese martial arts instructors being ignorant on the meaning of various terms / kanji is also well taken; hence, the reason I placed the caveat concerning my admitted limitations on the Japanese language or its associated kanji.

Frederick D. Smith [/QUOTE]

Mr Smith,

I was not meaning you, of course. Non-Japanese are not expected to know the intricacies of kanji etymology & meaning and when they do, it is usually a cause for alarm, rather than rejoicing.

No, I was thinking of the many Japanese instructors who believe that their expertise in the martial arts thereby makes them experts in the incidentals of their language.

And, yes, I am a professor, but do not use the title in forums like this.

Best regards,

P Goldsbury

P Goldsbury
17th March 2003, 11:45
Originally posted by Mekugi
Hey there Peter,
Little off the subject, but here goes...

Given: "Bu" is used in a meaningless form in bujutsu, Budo, (etc.)However, the actual definition of the kanji is "spear".

Theory: In effect it seems there is a great deal of confusion about the etymology of the word in application of it's context; not only this example but also in older Chinese characters that are used in modern Japanese. Does in fact the confusion actually lie in the forming of the word and not wholly the interpretation? It is my belief that the farther that the Japanese go in limiting the use of kanji and Chinese idograms, the more meaningless the Kanji will become, eventually limiting them to sounds, like the kana. The only purpose they will serve is as a visual guide to the meaning of a word so it will no be confused with another which has a like sound.

Whatcha think? Possible? Isn't that what we are seeing right here, with the "romantic" interpretation?

Wondering if that made sense...

-Russ



Hello Russ,

Yes it made much sense, but I will need to consult my Chinese linguistics colleagues before I answer...

I think many Japanese people (in my experience) confuse the etymology of the language vocabulary with devices they have learned from childhood in learning the characters. Once I had a long and involved argument with a Japanese aikido shihan (8th dan) about BU and he insisted it meant 'stopping spears'. I argued he was wrong, but my words fell on deaf ears (the audience were all 8th dan and 9th aikido dan shihan--all Japanese).

Later, at a party, after praising me for displaying courage against overwhelming odds, he relaxed and explained that his reasoning was based on how he had first learned the character, which he thought followed the etymology of the word. He believed that 'stopping spears' was the original meaning of the word in Chinese (and he was born in Shanghai and spent his childhood in China).

Best,