Budo and Proper Practice

Budo and Proper Practice
Budo is often difficult to define. The term budo is made
up of two characters “武” and “道”. The character “武” has many
meanings. It can mean “bravery” or “valor”; it can also mean
“warrior” or “military arms”. The character “道” also has many
meanings. It can mean “road”,” path” or “course” and “moral
teachings” or “journey”. When combined we can arrive at several
possible translations. However, it is unnecessary to disambiguate
the two characters into precise English terms. Instead, it would
be better to allow the concepts of the characters to swirl about.
Nonetheless, let’s focus on the process of studying and practicing

Budo is a practice. It requires continual self-refinement and
self-directed diligence combined with daily practice. One doesn’t
practice budo without these three aspects. Unlike religion budo
doesn’t require you to believe in anything. One merely maintains
a daily practice for self-refinement as an act of polishing a mirror
until the mirror reveals a true reflection. Even if one polishes the
mirror over and over, they might be polishing it incorrectly or
unevenly. The polishing of one’s mirror requires certain systematic
and pragmatic approaches, without it one might polish their
mirror with sandpaper or use caustic cleaners to quicken the process, but in doing so one will destroy their mirror so that it never reflects a true image instead it reflects a distorted image. The act of polishing our mirrors takes time and diligence with an even
amount of pressure and control – this is what is known as “proper

Most martial art schools have a natural progression and
transmission method of teaching. In the old days, masters often
didn’t teach the secrets or the principles of the movement; instead
they taught the movement and instructed the student to
repeat it over and over again, without ever speaking about the
principles. When the student showed promise and their movements became crisp the master would initiate the student into the principles. Only after many hours of practice and diligence on the side of the student would the master speak of the deep principles of the movements.

Today, teachers may begin by teaching the principles,
which in effect is akin to spoon feeding the student. This act of
spoon feeding kills the progress of the student, if the student
doesn’t have to rely on his own abilities he may not pursue what
is just out of his reach. More often than not, even the teachers
only have a superficial understanding of the principles and merely
parrot what they have heard without really understanding it. The
principles won’t be understood without proper practice, to the
effect that a principle without practice is a song without a single
note. To avoid superficial understanding of the principles proper
practice is a must.

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