Martial arts in Japan

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Martial arts in Japan. They were formerly called bugei (martial arts) or bujutsu (martial skills), but the word budō (martial ways) is commonly used today, though they are not identical in details. The budō, which evolved from bugei, aim at the self-realization of aspirants through discipline and training.

There is no standard list of martial arts. An expert enumerates thirty-four bugei, whereas the traditional list counts eighteen (bugei juhappan, the eighteen martial arts). In the Tokugawa period warriors had to master sword-play, spear, archery, horsemanship, jujutsu (protojudō), and firearms, together with academic subjects.

Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism provided the basic rationale by which warriors resolved the question of death as well as improved their skill in handling weapons. The principle, ‘Bushido means the determined will to die’ (Hagakure), was fundamental to every generation of warriors, and in this regard, the Zen doctrine of No-mind (mushin) or No-thought (munen) had an important role to play in martial arts, summarizing indifference to, or transcendence of, the events or accidents of life, including death.