What is Budo?

Budo is water; Karate is a cup.

Budo is air; Karate is a breeze.

Budo is earth; Karate is a mountain.

Budo is fire; Karate is a spark.Sensei Bob

Budō is a philosophy and a way of life that utilizes Martial Arts (Bujutsu) as a means of self-improvement.

So what is it we are doing?

We are fighting. We are fighting in the sense that we are doing battle. We look at life in that way. In a practical sense, when we are out and about with our family, we look at the world the way a warrior would. We actively observe and seek to become aware and vigilant. We remain on guard and ready to fight for the purposes of good — in defense of life and liberty for ourselves and others.

Are we (personally) at war? I am not, in reality. I don’t pretend that I am a warrior in that sense. But I practice a philosophy where I choose not to be a victim nor wait for others to protect me. It is a sense of personal responsibility that goes beyond owning what I do. It includes owning who I am — my own existence.

In a less practical, or actual, sense. I choose to look at other aspects of my life as a battle. Whether it is my business or some personality trait I despise, I see it as a battle of will to overcome or deal with it. In the same sense, I strive to remain observant, aware, and vigilant for signs of my own weaknesses.

Why look at life this way?

I do it because it makes me feel awake and alive. The act of trying to be aware causes me to breathe in more of life and to appreciate it. The practical aspect manifests in the mindset that I will die kicking, punching, biting, tearing, and ripping. Whether it is fighting to my last breath in an actual combat or fighting for my life in other, less direct, ways.

However, there is much more to budo than fighting. “Budo Karate” goes beyond technical aptitude and physical prowess. The idea of self-improvement is a permanent and inseparable element of budo philosophy. We strive for this self-improvement in terms of our character and behavior. Looking beyond the self, we see that Budo is for life. (I like this purposefully loaded statement.) Budo’s purpose is to benefit life in general — and it is a lifelong pursuit. With our training comes the idea that we need to be good people and productive members of society. Because without that, we could become very effective bullies or villains. Most importantly, when we have control of ourselves (each, our own “self”), we are most able to help others.

Karate and Budo

I have read that Mas Oyama expressed the following

“For a long time, I have emphasized that karate is Budo, and if the Budo is removed from karate, it is nothing more than sport karate, show karate or even fashion karate – the idea of training merely to be fashionable.”

“Karate that has discarded Budo has no substance. It is nothing more than a barbaric method of fighting or a promotional tool for the purpose of profit. No matter how popular it becomes, it is meaningless.”