View Full Version : The Game of Go & The Martial Arts

1st September 2000, 04:32

Several months ago, before the time when E-budo was down, there was a thread relating to how we first learned or heard about Go. I made a mental note back then to tell everyone how I learned about Go. After digging around in storage boxes, I've found the particular periodical that gave me my first real introduction to Go ... "Journal of Asian Martial Arts", Volume 3, Number 1 - 1994. Sound familiar to anyone? I'm sure the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (JAMA) does.

Back when I was in Japan, I may have run across Go, but I don't remember. It was something I didn't really know anything about. It wasn't until 5 years later in the United States, when my interests in the martial arts had been peaked, that I ran into JAMA and found Go too!

The article in JAMA that caught my attention was entitled: "The Game of Go & The Martial Arts" - by Fred D. Baldwin, Ph.D. The idea of a game that related to the Japanese martial ways and history intrigued me. I read the article again and again. Fortunately, there was an address and phone number at the back where I could find some Go books, equipment, and computer software. I got on the phone, ordered a catalog, purchased some books and a board, and never looked back! I absolutely fell in love with the game! Sometimes, I would sit one the floor late at night in front of my go board and play through an old game or two that was played before the Shogun in his castle many years ago. Could almost imagine that I was actually there myself in front of the Shogun.

So ... my interest in Go actually began with my interest in the martial arts of Japan.

I'd like to quote a couple of parts from the article in the next couple of weeks, because I think everyone on E-budo would be quite interested ... .

Allow me to start with this -

Fred D. Baldwin, Ph.D. begins his treaties on Go:

"But the Master pulled away from this slashing attack, and, counterattacking to the right, blocked the thrust ... had the Master dodged away and turned to in-fighting by way of counterattack? Or was he asking for a slash so that he might slash back, wounding himself to down his adversary? - Kawabata Yasunari, The Master of Go (Meijin)

"The passage quoted above may sound like a description of a sword or stick fight or perhaps of a test of skill at karate. In fact, it comes from a novel entitled The Master of Go, written by Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author, Yasunari Kawabata. A casual observer of the scene being described would have seen nothing more dramatic than two men, one of them elderly, seated (or kneeling) at opposite sides of a wooden game board, each taking turns at popping down small disc-shaped stones at various points marked on the board's surface. The battle being described is an ancient Asian strategy game usually known in the West by its Japanese name go."

More later ... .



1st September 2000, 13:02
Please continue this thread. I would also give it as my opinion, having studied both Akido and Shorin-Ryu Karate, that Go has mental shaping and preparatory properties that directly improve one's prowess in martial arts as it developes essential attack and defense management skills.
Jared Edge

1st September 2000, 13:28
I discovered go while I was at university, where some odd people at the chess club were playing a game I'd never seen before over in a corner... It wasn't long before chess (which I'd been playing since before I could talk) had been replaced completely by go.

This was a few years after I'd started martial arts, but before I started any Japanese martial arts. My attraction to martial arts and go are not related to each other in any obvious way, although there are certainly enourmous similarities between the two, as mentioned in the post above. A discussion of those similarities would make an interesting topic, but it would be a bit off topic here, and besides it's late at night, and a post on that subject would require much more time and thought than I have available right now.

The fact that the martial arts and board games that I now practice are are all Japanese (I started with Tae Kwon Do and chess) is purely co-incidental (I think) although I'm sure that it says something about my personality or Japanese culture (or both).

I've spent a few years living in Japan studying martial arts, and when I first went there I thought it would be a great opportunity to really study go as well. That is, if there was any time left over after my budo practice and earning enough money to survive. Unfortunately that was before I discovered what it is like to sit in a room with fifty people all of whom are chain-smoking, and have been for many hours. I can honestly say that the only reason I didn't play go much in Japan, even though I was a very keen (notice I didn't say very good) player at the time was because I couldn't stand the volume of cigarette smoke in the go clubs. In many ways it was a wasted opportunity, but as I said, there wasn't much time anyway, since budo and work had to be higher priorities. I'm sad to say that my priorities are not very different now, so I don't play as much go as I'd like to. It's probably just as well, because I can easily imagine go completely consuming my life, at the expense of everything else I do, if I let it.

Warwick Hooke