This post is going to be a very brief summary of what various martial arts have become in modern times. The summary may include some brief history or philosophy that is specific to the martial art, although some may not. There are some interesting differences in some of these martial arts…
Judo is best explained in Seiryoku Zenyo’s words:
“Minimum effort — maximum efficiency.”
Seiryoku Zenyo believed this simple statement applied to practically every situation in life. He believed there is often too much wasted energy in movements and actions. For example, a person locks himself out of his house. They waste an enormous amount of energy trying to get the door open, calling people for a spare key, and so on. However, another person may lock himself out of his own house only to search his belongings to find a paperclip or credit card. With their utensil of choice in hand, they could unlock the door because of lockpicking or with a simple swipe of the card through the doorway. As you can see, effort and efficiency can make a world of difference.
Kendo originated during the time of the samurai, but was emphasized when restrictions on samurai and katana increased. As these restrictions increased, the martial art began to develop more on the spiritual aspect instead of the physical. Because of this switch, padded gear and safer weapons were encouraged and eventually developed into what we see today. In earlier times the samurai looked upon Kendo with contempt because of how different it had become from traditional samurai swordsmanship. Vitals were no longer emphasized, only the “target areas,” which were designated by areas that were padded.
Here is a section of the book that describes the current status of Kendo in modern times:
“Modern Kendo is a sport and a means of spiritual and moral development that promotes a positive attitude, strength of conviction, fast reactions to sudden situations and a mature attitude in society.”
The above quote is actually part of the reason why the Japanese police force practices Kendo.
What we know as Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba after learning under Takeda Sokaku. Aikido is based off of the principles of harmony:
“When two opposing entities meet, discord is created; when two non-opposing entities meet, harmony exists. If an opposing entity meets a non-opposing entity, it meets no resistance. In aikido the enemy’s attack is absorbed by the defender who does not oppose it. The defender, however, is not defeated because in the fusion of unity between the two spirits, by yielding he has become the controlling force and directs the opponent’s energy where he wishes.”
Eventually major aikido masters split and founded their own styles. Kenji Tomiki established a sport-based aikido with elements of self-defense. Yoichiro Inoue developed a similar style. Gozo Shioda developed a strong self-defense style. Another style was developed that places a very strong emphasis on the development of spirit (or ki). The style was founded by Koichi Tohei.
The founder of karate was Ginchin Funakashi, who lived in Okinawa. He was invited to perform a demonstration in Japan, which ended up being a great success. So much so that Jigoro Kano (founder of judo) asked him to lecture at the judo hall.
An interesting fact is that when broken up, kara meant China and te meant hand. The name was not a good introduction of the martial art to Japan, so the character used to write kara was actually changed to mean empty. Thus, empty hand.
Today most knowledge of the various weapons used in karate has been lost. Basically, it is now a system of various forms of striking and kicking. There are also forms of competition, one of which being full contact (with rules and regulations of course). The public’s image of karate is typically breaking because of flashy demonstrations and such. True karate is much more than breaking, its true emphasis can be found in a quote by Funakoshi:
“As a mirror’s polished surface reflects whatever stands before it and a quiet valley carries even small sounds, so must the student of karate render his mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately towards anything he may encounter.”