What Empty Hand Japanese Martial Arts Means

The legendary Japanese martial arts such as karate or judo are also popular sports in other parts of the world. But did you know that all Japanese martial arts are categorized under the word “Budo”? Budo means “way of fight”. That is why martial arts like Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Suijutsu, Aikido and some more (more than 60!) Japanese martial arts are a part of Budo. Keep in mind not all of them are just about fighting: they are based on an inner teaching and harmony. Want to learn more about Budo? Keep reading

Budo is conceived to achieve harmony of body and mind. The diverse martial arts that can be considered Budo are very vast, even martial arts with weapons are considered Budo. Those that “mastered” budo are known to have the ability to defend themselves and higher mental capabilities than those with no training.

It was said that all Japanese martial arts originates from one, Kalaripayattu. it comes from India and was brought by monks across China to Japan. During this time, the original martial arts had already developed to the currently known as Jujutsu, which is the origin of all Japanese martial arts known today.

Jutsu means technique or art. The syllable “Do” to which many Japanese martial arts end, means way. That is why many Karate gyms named their gyms with a “do” on the end. “Do” represents the mental aspect of martial arts training that should exist in every martial arts, because without mental training you won’t be able to employ your martial arts skills effectively when the time demands you to.

What Empty Hand Japanese Martial Arts Means?

All Japanese martial arts are based on different schools or styles, also called the “Ryu”. A great example of a pioneer martial arts in Japan is jiu-jitsu which encompasses every aspect of fighting such as striking, grappling, you name it. But it does so in a very basic way because in the early days even the most simple knowledge of a martial arts skills can save you from harm (Unlike today).

Another well-known Japanese martial art is karate, the most famous empty handed martial arts in the world. It dates from the time when only samurai were allowed to carry weapons. But those who mastered the highly dangerous karate could also defend themselves unarmed against several opponents. When Japan was occupied by the US after the Second World War, jujutsu and karate were banned. Thus, until the end of this occupation in 1951, other Japanese martial arts developed: judo and aikido.

Very well known and legendary are still the Ninja or Shinobi with their martial arts Ninjutsu or Ninbu. What differentiates this technique from Budo’s others is that the execution of the task is more important than the training of consciousness.

Of course, no martial arts is forbidden today, only some seriously dangerous techniques should not be practiced anymore. In the foreground of all Budo techniques is therefore today the training of the mind.

You might notice that all the martial arts I listed above are empty handed, that is because most Japanese martial arts are based on defending yourself empty handed. “empty hand” fighting is the trend in Asia, Japan also has martial arts that involves weapons but that is a story for another post

Mental Training Through Budo

Japanese martial arts often prohibits weapons. The idea is someone should be able to defend themselves without any weapons at all by training their skills and reaction to specific combat scenario. This will train someone mentally to not be deterred by hostile situations and to remain calm under storm. Another important part of Japanese martial arts is the respect: in front of the coach “Sensei”, the other and himself. Even in front of the field on which trained, the fighters bow.