Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Yamato Damashii

In Hatsumi Soke's book, Ninpo: Wisdom for Life, there is a section towards the back called Do Not Forget Yamato Damashi. Yamato Damashii, he explains, means Japanese Spirit. There is more to it than just that, though. It is the essence of what give Japanese people their quality of life. There is a heavy emphasis on harmony in Yamato Damashii. Soke says, "This is the martial artist's true Tamato Damashii." -pg. 177 

This often confuses people, how can one be a martial artist and yet keep a spirit of Harmony? Isn't martial arts all about fighting? The word Budo contains the kanji for War (bu) after all. Except, that the the kanji for Do is path, referencing the path one takes toward enlightenment. While there are certainly times where a warrior takes up arms in defense of one's life, family, or country, the path of the warrior is one of harmony and enlightenment. "Budo is never meant to be a weapon for aggression." -pg. 177

In the west, martial arts are often seen as something violent. Locking two people together in a ring or cage and let them fight until one person in knocked out, taps out, or loses enough points that judges determine them the loser. But this is sport fighting, not martial art. And I'm not saying anything against sport fighting, it is just important to understand that sport fighting and marital arts, especially Budo, are separate things entirely. 

A person who trains in Budo, a Budoka, doesn't need to be in constant conflict. They actually avoid conflict and seek a path of harmony. They strive for enlightenment. It is very difficult to become enlightened if you are always in conflict, if you are always being aggressive, if you constantly feel the need to prove you are better than someone else. "The true master of budo avoids fighting until all other possibilities have been tried. By avoiding a confrontation, one finds the smartest way to become friends with an opponent." -pg. 177