La classe guerriera: i Samurai

Quando si parla di Giappone tradizionale, quali sono gli argomenti ai quali si pensa immediatamente? Il Monte Fuji, la natura e..i Samurai! Siete pronti per conoscere la classe guerriera giapponese?

via La classe guerriera giapponese: i Samurai — Mukashi Mukashi Café

Chiarimenti sul kanji: Bu

Clarifications on the origin of the character “Bu” “武”

The background of a false interpretation

In Asia as in the West, we often speak of the first Kanji of “Budo” (武道), the “Bu” (武), meaning “stopping the spear”. This is an interpretation that dates back almost to the origin of Budo, that aimed to draw the picture of peaceful martial arts, ignoring historical facts. Let’s go back to the origins of the term to determine its true meaning.

Kanji bu artistic calligraphy by

Kanji bu artistic calligraphy by

The current use of the Kanji “Bu” and its origin

The Kanji are the Chinese characters brought to Japan and introduced into the Japanese language through Buddhism around the 6th century.

First reserved to the religious community and literary figures and from there, spreading gradually at the pace of the alphabetization of the population.

The introduction of the Chinese characters into the pre-existing Japanese language, was achieved in three ways. First, adapting the Kanji closest to both, sound and meaning, then in terms of meaning and finally terms of sound. Many sounds did originally not exist in Japanese, but got integrated into the language to facilitate the implementation of the Kanji. We thus find words with the same meaning, but two different origins, “words of Yamato” (ancient Japan) and “Chinese words” from Chinese.
Let’s add an example. Derived from the Kanji “fue/zou” (増) meaning “increase”, the form “Fueru” (増える), the verb “to increase”, and “Zouka” (増加) “increase” as noun were created. “Fueru” already existed in Yamato, before the Kanji was introduced, and it was arbitrarily determined that this Kanji could be read “Fue”, while “Zo” from “Zouka” is derived directly from the Chinese pronunciation.

The multiple pronunciations that a single Kanji can have, are the result of the “forced” introduction of the Kanji into the Japanese language. Not everything could be adapted, syllabic Kana alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana) to modify the function of a word (verb, noun, adjective) got added, whilst the religious and official texts were still written entirely in Kanji over an extended period. (This is no longer the case and there are few Japanese who would be able to read a text containing no Kana.)
The Kanji “Bu” has its roots in China, it was designed before the 6th century, at a time when violence, terror and wars reigned. From there brought to Japan when the Chinese writing got simplified and evolved very little in the centuries to come.

It can be found in Japanese in terms much older than “Budo”, for example “Bujutsu” (武術) (war techniques), “Bugei” (武芸) (art of war), “Bushi” (武士) (soldier), “Buki” (武器) (weapon), etc.

Taking this into account, it is difficult to justify a “peaceful” interpretation of this Kanji by historical facts. But back to its composition to see more clearly.

The composition of the Kanji “Bu”

The Kanji “Bu” is a so called “Kai Moji”, meaning the combination of two Kanji to form a third one with the cumulative sense of the first two.
It was found in its primary form already 3 thousand years ago. Oracle bone script, the oldest form of Chinese writing,

Evolution of the Chinese Kanji Wu to the Japanese Kanji Bu

Evolution of the Chinese Kanji Wu to the Japanese Kanji Bu

A more detailed version presenting the evolution of each part of the Kanji as well as what they symbolize is available on Wiki.

The defenders of the theory “Hokodome”, of “Hoko” (戈) the spear, and “tome/dome” (止) stopping, thus meaning “stop the spear” decompose the Kanji as follows.
The interpretation of “Hoko”, spear, is accepted by all Japanese and Chinese experts and does not pose a problem.

However, the interpretation of “dome” is more problematic. It is absolutely true that “dome” is also the Kanji used for “stop, halt, terminate”…and if one is satisfied with a superficial analysis, it works.

But let’s not forget that the Japanese Kanji are a “forced” adaptation of Chinese characters on a preexisting language.

In the forum “Aikiweb”, Peter Goldsbury, linguist and researcher who was living in Japan for many years, presents two different interpretations, matching much better the historical background and are commonly accepted by researchers of the Japanese and Chinese language.

If we keep the idea of “stopping the spear”, then it is worth asking if this is the “stop to stop the fight” (pacifist meaning) or to “stop the spear in the enemy’s body” (martial meaning). This second interpretation makes more sense considering the history and any semantics surrounding the Kanji “Bu” (all words in which this Kanji is found).
But is it really the Kanji “dome” (stop) in the lower part? Nothing is less sure, if we believe the linguistic experts, searching again the origin of this Kanji. It seems that originally, it represents a footprint on the ground, with a detail concerning the movement.

​Only the Kanji of the oracle bone script gave us the meaning “stop” (止), but it is not because this Kanji standing alone has taken this meaning over time, that the same meaning has to be applied to the combination that makes the Kanji “Bu”. If one wishes to make a semantic explanation of the Kanji, we have to take its meaning at the time of its formation, and at that time, the lower part (4th Kanji in the image above) clearly meant “to move forward”.

“Bu” therefore means “to move forward with a spear”. The “Hokodome” theory has to be abandoned at this point and the true meaning of the Kanji appears. It is no longer “to stop the spear” but “to move forward with a spear”, like an army advancing towards the enemy.​

Ancient Halberd, symbolized by Kanji 戈
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Il Taiiku no Hi

Ad Ottobre, più precisamente il secondo lunedì del mese, in Giappone si festeggia il Taiiku no Hi – il giorno della salute e dello sport…

via Il Taiiku no Hi — Mme3bien

Origini delle Iaito

The origin and manufacture of the Iaito, replica of the Japanese sword, the Katana

Visits to the workshops Minosaka and Jisei

The origin of the Iaito does not date back very far, to the 60s or so. The creation of this tool for practice was primarily driven by new laws and regulations, enacted after World War ll. Since then, with the experience of many trades in the manufacture of the Nihonto (Japanese sword), some Japanese craftsmen have developed an expertise, still unparalleled outside the archipelago.
We went to the region called Gifu to visit the workshops Minosaka and Nihon Token (Jisei), two of the most famous in Japan. Familiar with this topic for some years, we had many questions to ask – which we are summarizing here.

Iaito set

Ban on the carrying of weapons

In 1958, relating to the new pacifist policy of Japan, a series of highly restrictive laws on carrying weapons was passed by the Japanese government. It became illegal to carry and transport anything that might resemble a weapon, whether a firearm or a simple kitchen knife, and further the manufacture of bladed weapons got heavily regulated and strictly controlled.

The Japanese Katana, also known as Nihonto, was put in a special category for the preservation of ancient arts and traditions, and its manufacture did not get prohibited. However, the regulations are strict and only forgers approved by the government are authorized to manufacture them, respecting relatively severe quotas. The manufacture of steel swords, machetes, as well as a number of other weapons of this type became totally prohibited outside the framework described above. It got also prohibited to make any blade that could be transformed into a sharp weapon. These new laws are very technical, but concerning the swords the result is simple: The production of unsharpened steel swords is prohibited, for the simple reason that a grinding wheel would be enough to turn it into a cutting weapon.

This set of laws probably benefited Japan, although until the end of the sixties, the country was not as peaceful as today (I am referring to some of the most violent riots of the 68 Movement). It remains to this day, that Japan is one of the countries with the lowest crime rate in the world, it is almost impossible to find a gun, extremely difficult to find a weapon more dangerous than a kitchen knife. We could even go as far as to think that these laws and the philosophy that accompany them, have also caused profound changes in the practice of modern martial arts – but this is another topic which deserves a thorough article.

Note that the possession of a Nihonto is allowed only if it is duly registered at the relevant police station of the place of residence and if the mentioned object meets a set of criteria placing it in the category of “objects of art”. The transport of the Nihonto is theoretically not allowed, but tolerated to some extent if it is justified, and the registration documents always have to be with the weapon.

Courtesy of
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Seminario tecnico ottobre 2019

Seminario tecnico ottobre 2019.

ore 8-9 meditazione marziale aperta a tutti
ore 9-10 Kenjutsu per tutti
ore 10-12 Aikijujutsu, Jujutsu, Torite e Hojojutsu
presso Taishan asd Brescia
costo 20€
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