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    Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

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    Jon Z

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    Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Jon Z on Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:29 am

    Another piece on bushidō of likely interest to some.

    A review of Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan, by OLEG BENESCH.
    Dissertation Information: University of British Columbia. 2011. 353 pp.

    http://dissertationreviews.org/archives/1240

    For those in the UK, the author (of the dissertation, not the review) will be giving a talk on "Gentlemen, Knights and the Invention of Bushido in Modern Japan" at the University of Leeds in March:

    http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/info/20052/east_asian_studies/1671/research/8

    Cheers,
    Jon Z
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    BillC

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by BillC on Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:55 am

    Thanks, Jon. Ran into a case of the bushido myth just the other day at
    the dojo ... and the puzzled, unbelieving stare when I cut the
    conversation off bluntly with "by the time bushido was invented, the
    samurai were long gone, and even they weren't who they believed
    themselves to be."

    Following up on the thread you started a
    couple days ago ... it's been references like these that prompted me to
    quiz other JF members like NBK and Sugata Sanshiro. Through their kindness I am able to shore up my responses to samurai-movie-crazy
    students through some relatively easy airplane books ... I will with luck pass on less BS to my students than was given to me.



    Is it important to be Mr. Know It All? No, but in the middle of a real
    crisis in judo ... I believe with strong evidence in the news ... it's
    important than judoka themselves understand what judo is ... and what it
    is not. Thanks for your efforts.

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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:03 am

    Oleg's thesis is great. We had a nice discussion of it in London last summer right when he moved there. Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    Congrats to Dr. Benesch! I recommend it highly. Link here:

    https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/31136/ubc_2011_spring_benesch_oleg.pdf

    NBK


    Last edited by NBK on Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:35 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added link)
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    seatea

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by seatea on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:57 am

    NBK wrote:Oleg's thesis is great. We had a nice discussion of it in London last summer right when he moved there. Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    Congrats to Dr. Benesch! I recommend it highly. Link here:

    https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/31136/ubc_2011_spring_benesch_oleg.pdf

    NBK
    Thank you for that link.
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    cuivien

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by cuivien on Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:32 am

    seatea wrote:
    NBK wrote:Oleg's thesis is great. We had a nice discussion of it in London last summer right when he moved there. Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    Congrats to Dr. Benesch! I recommend it highly. Link here:

    https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/31136/ubc_2011_spring_benesch_oleg.pdf

    NBK
    Thank you for that link.

    I second that. I've seen the abstract, but never the entire thesis Smile
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    DCS

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by DCS on Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:02 am

    Hello,

    NBK wrote:... Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    In this sense, see also Benesch's "National Consciousness and the Evolution of the Civil/Martial Binary in East Asia"


    Hanon

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Hanon on Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:19 am

    VERY interesting. Thanks for posting this.
    Mike


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    Jonesy

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Jonesy on Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:19 am

    NBK wrote:Oleg's thesis is great. We had a nice discussion of it in London last summer right when he moved there. Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    Congrats to Dr. Benesch! I recommend it highly. Link here:

    https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/31136/ubc_2011_spring_benesch_oleg.pdf

    NBK

    A quick skim suggests that I will really enjoy reading this......
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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:44 am

    DCS wrote:Hello,

    NBK wrote:... Our talk devolved into an exploration of Wang Yangming (say that ten times really quickly).

    In this sense, see also Benesch's "National Consciousness and the Evolution of the Civil/Martial Binary in East Asia"

    This paper was part of our discussion, yes.

    We tackled Wen Wu / Bun Bu in the old forum, i think in the thread on Confucian philosophy. I posted a photo of 文武 carved into a pillar of an ancient temple in north Vietnam.

    I think this paper is great too but a bit more esoteric eh?

    NBK
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    DCS

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by DCS on Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:30 am

    I'd say is more dense, but esoteric? Not really.

    There's no tales of spirit posession, tengu handling scrolls after long periods of asceticism, daoist internal alchemies for both longevity and unstoppable martial skill... all the funny part of east asian martial esoterica.

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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:06 pm

    DCS wrote:I'd say is more dense, but esoteric? Not really.

    There's no tales of spirit posession, tengu handling scrolls after long periods of asceticism, daoist internal alchemies for both longevity and unstoppable martial skill... all the funny part of east asian martial esoterica.
    Please don't take this wrongly, but my understanding is that while this usage of the term 'esoteric' is rampant, it is wrong. It is not limited to religious or mystic origins. But I think that this is an important point so here goes.

    es·o·ter·ic /ˌesəˈterik/
    Adjective
    Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.


    Really, how many people you think are interested in the history of the diffusion of the bun-bu binary? How many people even know of its very existence?

    But, when someone like、say, NBK thumbup1 says, 'The archangel Lucifer showed me this really cool kotegaeshi, and I'll teach anyone that sends me $29.95!!', and I sign up a thousand suckers customers students, that's not 'esoteric'. The origin legend could be termed as 'based on way too much moonshine', or 'his normal insane ranting', or 'NBK's typical testosterone-fueled BS' but if I am willing to show everyone the technique and they get it, and openly explain in detail how Beelzebub and I sat on a a mountaintop and went through a case of ice cold Schlitz to master the technique, it is, by definition, not 'esoteric'.

    So, in judo, we have some fabulous examples of esoteric dichotomies - while Kano shihan wrote and spoke openly of what he intended judo to become (hence by definition not esoteric, as in it was intended for the broadest dissemination possible....), in my hard earned opinion, only a handful of people in the world now have a glimpse of the total picture (in part because of Kano shihan's failure to complete his magnum opus, in part because of the different agenda of his successors and minions, in part because he played so many different roles to so many different people and organizations), hence fulfilling 'the likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest' portion of the definition.

    I'd call judo an esoteric exotericism.

    There's a point to this - I hope to get to it later this spring.

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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:30 pm

    Back to a tiny thread in my magnum opus.

    So, was judo meant to be esoteric or exoteric?

    Kano and others mention advanced levels of judo that seem to be inaccessible, or at least very difficult to explain, to most practitioners.

    The question is whatever these descriptions of advanced judo levels were meant to be integral to judo, or peripheral descriptions appended by people other than Kano. That is, understanding that is either core to the concepts of judo, or attributes appended to judo by judo practitioners of various philosophic persuasions.



    PS - where is Wu Ji when we need him?
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    finarashi

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by finarashi on Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:49 am

    I read you loud and clear and up you one. What is the meaning of man's life? How should he then conduct himself? How can he be best in whatever he wants to achieve?


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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:07 pm

    正力善用
    。。。
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    cuivien

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by cuivien on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:35 am

    So, was judo meant to be esoteric or exoteric?

    As I also am struggling to make sense of these matters (as well as being able to write it down for others to possibly understand), I find that I'm arguing with myself at times.
    I feel that in a way, Kanô much like Ueshiba Morihei made few efforts as to 'properly' explain the non-material aspects of their art beyond stating that it is/was a tool for education (this is of course an oversimplification, but you understand what I mean). Combine this with the fact that people came to the art(s) for different reasons; some were attracted to the "martial" aspects; others to the more lofty ideals. Thus, it is completely natural to have all these people who take away and emphasize different parts of what they learned, so that we end up with branches who fail to see the other sides' point of view...


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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:07 pm

    Judo was not meant to be esoteric. It isn't. Even if one considers all the advanced and complicated knowledge, it is by no means esoteric. There are no mantra, no mudra, no secret hand signs, kujihô, jûjihô, no esoteric symbols, no shutsujin, no secret densho. Even Tenjin shin'yô-ryû one of its parent schools could hardly be referred to as 'esoteric'.

    The most esoteric part in judo is INK. Not because it was intended in judo to be esoteric, but because Kanô was unable to finish decanting its esoteric ingredients and full integrating it in judo in an original way.

    The fact that judo has become such a mess has mostly to do with Kanô losing control, and being too thinly spread (Olympics, politics), several utopian views, imperfections in his pedagogy, etc. Kanô basically 'lost' 25 years due to the problems he faced in trying to get judo accepted as a comprehensive physical education and replacement in schools, his prime objective. By the time his SZKT was finished he barely had another decade to live. He got sidetracked into numerous disputes, and the development of judo to some extent became dysfunctional. You know the effect of the second World War on judo and how the competitive aspect started to dominate. The introduction of judo to the West largely became a failure with the educational message not transpiring and Westerners first mainly seeing judo as a system of tricks, and later as a competitive sport. The entire system to form instructors, coaches usually lacks the material and staff to teach much beyond the typical stuff, and the judo promotion system does not include it either. Even Kanô's own judo instructor multiyear formation system was cancelled after a couple of years, and you know what happened to the Busen. Judo isn't taught at all in the way Kanô envisaged it, and anti-intellectual attitudes are prevalent among judoka and judo organizations both in the West and in Japan. Kanô was originally surrounded by many 'enlightened' judoka, the kind of Murakami, Sukaraba, Honda, all people who as judoka had a ken interest in education. Seventy-five years later judo has lost most of its original goals and syllabus, and the IJF does a superb job in pushing it further down the drain. Some organizations have educational committees but they don't do much else either. How could they ? The ideas, philosophy, other material is not typically known by those committees and not readily available to learn. So, their focus often resembles more marketing than education, namely to attract more people in judo, and to have instructors better prepare their students for their next belt color. That doesn't mean it is all negative. For example they do good things, such as introducing modern Western pedagogical teaching approaches in children's judo. Much of this is knowledge that has been developed in the 75 years since Kanô has passed away. Hanon-sensei has said several times here or on the previous forum that judo is dead. I admit I would exaggerate if I would say that you can go learn more judo in a BJJ club than in a judo club today, but you understand what I mean. Already today, you will have clubs where they will scold you if you do things that yet another IJF revision has outlawed for IJF international tournaments. It is no longer just education, philosophy, understanding of kata, newaza, but now also many key standing techniques we are losing. And the national federations and many clubs follow like a dog on a leash. You could argue, well if judo is dead then why are there hundreds of thousands of people doing judo. Well, let's wait some more. Already today transition from juniors to seniors is hardly significant. Yet, I have found though that many people today are interested in listening when you do teach the breadth of what judo has to offer, but that doesn't mean that all who are interested suddenly become able to transfer that knowledge themselves to their students or to others. Listening, understanding, and having the ability to teach and transfer knowledge are all quite different skills and abilities.



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    NBK

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:27 am

    Taken from the thread on 'traditional KDK judo'...

    "Um, no, budô is not an invented tradition at all.

    An North American school of thought (US & Canada) has suggested this regarding bushidô, and there is at least as much evidence of the contrary. One could at least argue as strongly that the idea of "invented tradition" is an invention itself. What is true is that the set of values that are today understood under bushidô were not always called bushidô nor always existed as a single coded idea. What is also true is that probably the most famous book to have introduced to the West, namely that by Nitobe Inazo is obviously romanticized.

    As usual with these cases unless you have at least the same level of specialized historic scholarly knowledge to question or counter on an objective basis whatever claim made, you would be in a poor position to do much with those findings. I note, once more, that those who have suggested that these concepts would be invented ideas, have quite remarkably selectively excluded most scholarly research that claims the complete opposite (for example, the PhD Dissertation and excellent historic work of Professor Catherina Blomberg) from their reference section ... One could expect that at least proper scholarly research would oppose both the supporting and nonsupporting sources rather than selectively withhold only that what is in support of one's own views (note: do not misinterpret at all what I write as a sneer to wdax; on the contrary, wdax has put great care into writing what he wrote, and you are not quite correctly quoting ....
    CKano

    Surely there were elements existing that were useful in developing the concept of bushido. It would not be a total fabrication but rather an assembly of elements, some traditional, some new.
    There is more analysis coming out regarding the origins of 'bushido'. The concept was touted by an array of scholars and crackpots circa early Taisho until the Occupation put the brakes on such. It shows up in just about everything. I guess there's a certain time that has to pass before newer generations take a dispassionate view of things. Perhaps like the recent fairly serious look at the origins of Korean martial arts - post-Japanese colonial period you weren't going to make any friends selling Japanese karate or aikido in Seoul so new names and fabricated tales of ancient Korean warrior skills pop up. That has to play out, let the passions die down before any real scholarship can take place. Cassandra was honest about what she foresaw but look where her mouth got her. So there has been some time since the madness of WWII and enough of the senior sensei are gone so it is not a direct affront to ones elders (not that many judoka are exploring this history).

    I saw one interesting essay recently drawing links between budo and geido - the pursuit of perfection in art (or artiface?).

    Most of the pop books on bushido tend to use the same references from prewar Japan and not delve as deeply into the true origins.

    I'm writing on an iPhone so it's difficult to get this edited so shd stop for now.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:46 am

    NBK wrote:Taken from the thread on 'traditional KDK judo'...

    Surely there were elements existing that were useful in developing the concept of bushido. It would not be a total fabrication but rather an assembly of elements, some traditional, some new.
    There is more analysis coming out regarding the origins of 'bushido'. The concept was touted by an array of scholars and crackpots circa early Taisho until the Occupation put the brakes on such. It shows up in just about everything. I guess there's a certain time that has to pass before newer generations take a dispassionate view of things. Perhaps like the recent fairly serious look at the origins of Korean martial arts - post-Japanese colonial period you weren't going to make any friends selling Japanese karate or aikido in Seoul so new names and fabricated tales of ancient Korean warrior skills pop up. That has to play out, let the passions die down before any real scholarship can take place. Cassandra was honest about what she foresaw but look where her mouth got her. So there has been some time since the madness of WWII and enough of the senior sensei are gone so it is not a direct affront to ones elders (not that many judoka are exploring this history).

    I saw one interesting essay recently drawing links between budo and geido - the pursuit of perfection in art (or artiface?).

    Most of the pop books on bushido tend to use the same references from prewar Japan and not delve as deeply into the true origins.

    I'm writing on an iPhone so it's difficult to get this edited so shd stop for now.

    Hang on a sec, there ! One of the reasons I wrote the post is that I was also about BUDO, not just BUSHIDO, since in the post I was reacting to the two seem to be somewhat mixed. In addition to bushidô supposedly being a fabrication, now budô too would be a fabrication ?! That was the primary thing that was nonsense, since as far as I can remember neither of the the authors to which a previous post made reference had claimed that BUDO would be an invented tradition, even if Benesch may believe that bushidô was. 'Bushidô' and 'budô' are not the same concepts.

    It would be inappropriate for me to scrutinize the scientific work of someone here, who isn't here. It's also not the proper forum to do so. That is something I have to do under my own name in an appropriate scientific environment, if I would wish to do so. But, in general terms ... the idea that bushdô would suddenly be fabricated in the Meiji era is nonsense. Bushidô long precedes the Meiji era and its development started already as early as 1100, though obviously not under the same name. One can of course write about how bushidô 'developed' in Meiji times, but that doesn't mean it did not develop before that. The fact that some scholar's work is more recent does not mean very much since it is not a new topic, nor any that really evolves since it is historic. One might perhaps add new sources, which would be very nice, but most what I see is the absence of sources, particularly all those that have a different view. So simply on that basis it is kind of hard to consider new work as more authoritative.

    The North-Americans seem to be hung up on the work by Inazo Nitobe. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that this book would have constructed the term Bushidô, etc. That is complete nonsense. The book may have pretty much introduced the topic for Westerns, but that does not mean at all it did not exist before. It seems that the initiative to the claim of bushidô being a recent concept actually came through a Japanese paper. This paper, yes, is Japanese, so ? Why would suddenly the view of one (or a few other Japanese papers) be true over others that do not agree, unless that papers is able to convincingly prove the others wrong ?

    Bushidô is much older than Meiji times, but conceptually existed under different names, or better, its earlier phases, perhaps less formally codified, existed under different names. For example, it was long knonw under one of its earlier terminologies, namely "Kyûba no michi" (The way of bow and horse). It did not have all the formally codified concepts in it yet, but it certainly was not a merely mechanistic managment of riding on a horse and shooting arrows, just like kata was not merely a mechanistic performance of some movements.

    In fact, the argument that even the term 'bushidô' would not exist prior to Meiji is outright absurd and shows one thing, namely that those claiming it did not have the scholarly knowledge of the sources that prove the contrary. For example, the term bushidô in the proper sense clearly appears in the legend of Torii Mototada dating from 1539-1600. How can that be if it would be a Meiji concept ? In fact, this use is clearly even pre-Tokugawa period ! The term kyûba no michi is even older !

    People often refer to the 47 Rônin and that is appropriate. However, once again, the Akô Affair is by far not the first sign of bushidô. Bushidô is clearly already present in an earlier and developing form in the Heike Monogatari, which dates back to 1371.

    I see several problems in the view of some who have insinuated that bushidô supposedly would be a fabrication, namely an exaggeration of the role of Nitobe. The North Americans seem to attack Nitobe based on some kind premise that he supposedly would be the original source of bushidô. Now if you do hold Nitobe as a such a source knowing that it is not true, and then prove it isn't true, all you have done is making a circle. One could as well write a book claiming that Nitobe discovered Apple Computers and then write another one to prove that is not true. It is a little bit like taking the color white knowing that it is not black, then saying that it is black, and then proving that it isn't black but white.

    People buy too much into this Nitobe hype and this Meiji Bushidô thing. In fact, one can perfectly write about Bushidô without even mentioning Nitobe. Nitobe really is not important for bushido. The only reason Nitobe is in there, is because of his importance for ... INTRODUCING THE CONCEPT OF BUSHIDO IN THE WEST !! Now that is something entirely different. Nitobe was not intended as an academic work, but as an unscientific cultural anthropological introduction of something Japanese to the West.

    I do not have access to my own thesis on bushidô of the days of yonder when theses were still typed on typewriters and I obviously don't remember all the sources off the top of my head, since it is a long time ago, but when I read some of that new stuff I could not but shake my head. I mean, seriously attacking the Hagakure etc, and claiming that people on a battlefield would not first recite their own genealogy, based on what ? Where the only fights large battlefield fights ? There were no duels ? Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin did not exist or it was all fabricated or romanticized. Not even mentioning Kyûba no michi, seriously ? As a scholar the transgression of kyûba no michi into bushidô is as much a truism as is anything, and that term is damn old. Even lots of the criticism on the Hagakure is largely distorted. The thing was written, it's not a fabrication, it's date is not a fabrication, what is in there is not a fabrication. The only thing where one might fabricate something is its impact in society. But supported by what evidence ?

    I remember once in Japan a discussion with a Japanese Walmart scholar I had about Kitô-ryû. I did not believe a word of what he said, and I could prove that referring to a makimono. You know his reaction ? He warned me because if the makimono was Meiji it could very well be a fake because much was faked in Meiji. Um ... OK, but why would my stuff if it dated from Meiji be fabricated, but not his stuff from Meiji ? In fact, my stuff was authentic and extensive additional research not just by myself, but by a colleague who independently from me researched the same topic and was very knowledgeable ran very parallel to mine; it was mostly the Japanese Walmart scholar whose stuff was nonsensical. My point is ... the knife cuts both ways. We need to work from an objective mind, see what the sources say, cross-reference the evidence, analyze, apply heuristic methods and come to conclusions. What we should not be doing is going the teleological way, and try to prove our beliefs, that is construct a conclusion, and then fill up the way to that conclusion with references which support our conclusion and leave out everything that does not.

    When one makes a claim that bushidô would be a fabrication, yes, some part of the martial arts community might be wildly enthusiastic, but the truth of the matter is that when such scholarly evident things like kyûba no michi, or the much older sources that contain bushidô are missing, as are all scholars who do not support the fabrication claim, one scholarly has a huge problem.

    You write in your post "It would not be a total fabrication but rather an assembly of elements, some traditional, some new." But what has that to do with a fabrication or with "not a total fabrication". Who has ever claimed that bushidô would be created at one instance. Has Nitobe even done that ? When and where ? Bushidô is a concept that developed over ages. No one has ever claimed anything else unless the new North American group apparently. The transition from Kyûba not michi to full-blown bushidô took centuries. It required the infusion of neo-Confucianist ideas from Hayashi Razan and Kumazawa Banzan, etc. They hadn't lived yet when kyûba no michi arose, and the evolved concept of bushidô did not yet exist under that name in that sense until that neo-Confucianist influence occurred and was consolidated. But what on earth does that have to do with 'fabrication' ? That's simple historic development. Yes, if one cuts off kyûba no michi and then would start from bushidô that would suddenly emerge from the fog of history, sure, but what serious scholar on bushidô would take such a view ? That in itself is beyond my comprehension, unless an author would do scholarly research on bushidô without knowing about kyûba no michi, but if that is remotely true, then something very seriously is wrong.

    One could extend some of the "invented tradition" labels to about at least half of what the Kôdôkan writes. But is that "invented tradition" ? Most is the result of poor scholarship, the absence of what for Western scientists is one of the cores of science, namely critical analysis, etc. So, bad, bad, research, one should not even call it 'research'. What they do are juxtapositions of likewise findings, being respectful, respecting hierarchy, almost the opposite of how a scholar would work. Name one Kodokan books that concludes that a previous Kodokan book or author was wrong ? They don't do that, mostly because they haven't learnt anything else. That doesn't mean it is the automatically all "invented tradition" there either. I don't believe that all these errors are the result of a conscious attempt to deceive and fabricate history to glorify itself. Some of it, no doubt, yes, but you see that mostly during times of power struggles, and much of that seems to have happen in the era immediately following Kanô's death, and probably for obvious reasons. Should one extend the label of "invented tradition" to the hundreds of authors who have published books on jûdô yet do not read a word of Japanese and have never before consulted an original Japanese sources because it is out of their competencies ? So, they write based on what they learnt from other sensei usually without sources, challenges, and evidence, and based on books written by similar people ? You know the limitations on what one can do scholarly in judo if one does not know Japanese. But does that make what these people write "invented tradition" ? I don't thin so. Most of these people do not have the intend to deceive. They do the best they can and they sincerely believe they are correct. I think though it is very important to separate that what is caused by poor scholarship and limited insight from "invented tradition". "Invented tradition" now and then occurs; the whole Dutch Busen kata stuff, now that's a clear example of "invented tradition" that has been fabricated.


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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:32 am

    I really don't like the new forum's review function - I wish it had a 'review posts from today / this week / this month' or something. Somehow I missed this.

    I know of no one that claims bushido was made from whole cloth in the Meiji era. The claims are that bushido _as praised and use by the Meiji, Taisho, and pre-war Showa governments and supporters_ is a modern construction。 It seems persuasive to me, and I read a lot on this. If you could resurrect your paper, I'd read that, too. I have seen a lot of references in modern bushido texts to Torii Mototada as an example of bushido, but have never seen the opposite - a text purporting to be an historic account of Torii's demise quoting him discussing bushido.

    Surely 'bushido' was based on notions found in early Japanese culture, but I don't see how you can equate the modern construct of bushido with kyuba no michi or shido or whatever.

    And is it not curious that Nitobe's book is yet and still one of the foremost books to introduce 'bushido' to the people of Japan?

    Dr. Karl Friday does a fine job of discussing this in shorter form than Benesche:
    Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition
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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:06 am

    NBK wrote:I really don't like the new forum's review function - I wish it had a 'review posts from today / this week / this month' or something. Somehow I missed this.

    I know of no one that claims bushido was made from whole cloth in the Meiji era. The claims are that bushido _as praised and use by the Meiji, Taisho, and pre-war Showa governments and supporters_ is a modern construction。 It seems persuasive to me, and I read a lot on this. If you could resurrect your paper, I'd read that, too. I have seen a lot of references in modern bushido texts to Torii Mototada as an example of bushido, but have never seen the opposite - a text purporting to be an historic account of Torii's demise quoting him discussing bushido.

    Surely 'bushido' was based on notions found in early Japanese culture, but I don't see how you can equate the modern construct of bushido with kyuba no michi or shido or whatever.

    And is it not curious that Nitobe's book is yet and still one of the foremost books to introduce 'bushido' to the people of Japan?

    Dr. Karl Friday does a fine job of discussing this in shorter form than Benesche:
    Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition

    The text (and other texts of Friday) is what set many North-Americans off, for all kinds of reasons. However, it is neither the time or place here to write about severe disagreements with what another scholar writes. That simply would not be fair of me. If this is what one aspires to do, it needs to be done in a proper scholarly forum (not an Internet forum) but a place where one's arguments and research methods are submitted to peer review and discussed between scholars. I hope I can eventually have my stuff scanned in and from their converted into editable electronic text, because my God, if I have to retype all that stuff again. My analysis of bushidô is a 385-page dragon. It is way too voluminous for a published paper, even if chopped up in several parts. I am debating to include it in my book as it is intertwined with the creation of koryû and budô, but it would make the whole volume even more massive. So, I don't know if that is realistic. At the time when I concluded those who read it insisted I'd publish it, but that is easier said that done.

    I don't think it is curious at all that Nitobe still appears so prominently present. There are marketing reasons for it, and it is understandable for non-budo people. By the way Nitobe wrote in other things too, such as magazines, sometimes in the same as ... Kanô. Did you know that ? I remember well when I was writing my thesis that in those days Ruth Benedict's Chrysanthemum and the Sword was a very frequently referred book. Then again, my professor of cultural anthropology hated her so much that if you even mentioned her in a paper, he would almost fail you. Sometimes scholar seem to get an outright hatred for some historic author, I guess ... In my opinion, my prof at the time exaggerated, irrespective of whether he disagreed with her.

    Correction there, it isn't a simple matter of referring to Torri Mototada as an example of bushidô. Why would one have to do that ? One can go even back further for that and refer to Yoshitsune. What I said is that the actual TERM 'bushidô' appears in that legend. That is something entirely different, and clear evidence that the insinuation that the term was created much later is nonsense. I never 'equated' kyûba no michi and shidô with bushidô, but they are more than just some scarce notions. That I did not 'equate' those terms should be obvious from when I said that these concepts were infused later much more with neo-Confucianist philosophical inspirations from Hayashi Razan and Kumazawa Banzan, and others. This is a difference between kyûba-no-michi and bushidô, but the first one certainly already forms a solid bedrock for the latter.

    I am not sure what this supposed "modern construct" is that bushidô would be. What precisely is a modern construct of bushidô that you believe has no historic grounds ? I can refer to the text of Friday you mention, but I am very reluctant to do so, although nevertheless referring to the Rape of Nanking as evidence that bushidô would be a modern construct is somewhat odd. Actually, I don't think that Friday is at fault there. People are also reading a lot into Friday which he is not actually writing. A considerable part of what he writes is about basically not many traces being there when one regards the supposed influence of bushidô on the imperial army. But that is something entirely different than rejecting bushidô as a historic concept. After all, you could on a similar course correctly say that there aren't many influences of Taoism or neo-Confucianism in thos misdeeds either. Does that mean then that Taoism and Neo-Confucianism are modern constructs ?

    The way 'I' read Friday, he is more arguing that in modern days for propagandist reasons Japanese fascists 'used' traditional bushidô references that were often untrue. So, at the most, referring to the rape of Nanking proves that the military leadership was able to get what it wanted just like any military leadership anywhere in the world gets its underlings to do what it wants, and that it shows that these military leaders were rather guided by all kinds of burning earth and other war tactics than by a traditional bushidô ethic. That is something entirely different from claiming that bushidô would historically not exist and would merely be a modern construct.I have to stop this, and I also may delete this post. I think we can continue this discussion in private.


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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by NBK on Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:32 am

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    NBK wrote:I really don't like the new forum's review function - I wish it had a 'review posts from today / this week / this month' or something. Somehow I missed this.

    I know of no one that claims bushido was made from whole cloth in the Meiji era. The claims are that bushido _as praised and use by the Meiji, Taisho, and pre-war Showa governments and supporters_ is a modern construction。 It seems persuasive to me, and I read a lot on this. If you could resurrect your paper, I'd read that, too. I have seen a lot of references in modern bushido texts to Torii Mototada as an example of bushido, but have never seen the opposite - a text purporting to be an historic account of Torii's demise quoting him discussing bushido.

    Surely 'bushido' was based on notions found in early Japanese culture, but I don't see how you can equate the modern construct of bushido with kyuba no michi or shido or whatever.

    And is it not curious that Nitobe's book is yet and still one of the foremost books to introduce 'bushido' to the people of Japan?

    Dr. Karl Friday does a fine job of discussing this in shorter form than Benesche:
    Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition

    The text (and other texts of Friday) is what set many North-Americans off, for all kinds of reasons. .....

    I don't think it is curious at all that Nitobe still appears so prominently present. There are marketing reasons for it, and it is understandable for non-budo people. By the way Nitobe wrote in other things too, such as magazines, sometimes in the same as ... Kanô. Did you know that ? I remember well when I was writing my thesis that in those days Ruth Benedict's Chrysanthemum and the Sword was a very frequently referred book. Then again, my professor of cultural anthropology hated her so much that if you even mentioned her in a paper, he would almost fail you. Sometimes scholar seem to get an outright hatred for some historic author, I guess ... In my opinion, my prof at the time exaggerated, irrespective of whether he disagreed with her.

    Correction there, it isn't a simple matter of referring to Torri Mototada as an example of bushidô. Why would one have to do that ? One can go even back further for that and refer to Yoshitsune. What I said is that the actual TERM 'bushidô' appears in that legend. That is something entirely different, and clear evidence that the insinuation that the term was created much later is nonsense. I never 'equated' kyûba no michi and shidô with bushidô, but they are more than just some scarce notions. That I did not 'equate' those terms should be obvious from when I said that these concepts were infused later much more with neo-Confucianist philosophical inspirations from Hayashi Razan and Kumazawa Banzan, and others. This is a difference between kyûba-no-michi and bushidô, but the first one certainly already forms a solid bedrock for the latter.

    I am not sure what this supposed "modern construct" is that bushidô would be. What precisely is a modern construct of bushidô that you believe has no historic grounds ? I can refer to the text of Friday you mention, but I am very reluctant to do so, although nevertheless referring to the Rape of Nanking as evidence that bushidô would be a modern construct is somewhat odd. Actually, I don't think that Friday is at fault there. People are also reading a lot into Friday which he is not actually writing. A considerable part of what he writes is about basically not many traces being there when one regards the supposed influence of bushidô on the imperial army. But that is something entirely different than rejecting bushidô as a historic concept. After all, you could on a similar course correctly say that there aren't many influences of Taoism or neo-Confucianism in thos misdeeds either. Does that mean then that Taoism and Neo-Confucianism are modern constructs ?

    The way 'I' read Friday, he is more arguing that in modern days for propagandist reasons Japanese fascists 'used' traditional bushidô references that were often untrue. So, at the most, referring to the rape of Nanking proves that the military leadership was able to get what it wanted just like any military leadership anywhere in the world gets its underlings to do what it wants, and that it shows that these military leaders were rather guided by all kinds of burning earth and other war tactics than by a traditional bushidô ethic. That is something entirely different from claiming that bushidô would historically not exist and would merely be a modern construct.I have to stop this, and I also may delete this post. I think we can continue this discussion in private.
    I know Nitobe wrote with Kano in various media. I have several examples.

    Again, no one I have read posits that modern bushido had zero historic precedents. All mention some prior, limited use of the term in ancient texts, with one exception, the name of who escapes me just now.

    If you read all these references and disagree with the details and very thesis that there are distinct, and demonstrably 'manufactured' differences between traditional bushi values and the bushido of the modern era、 I expect there is nothing I can add.


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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by forgeron judo on Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:30 pm

    The thesis on Bushido is an excellent vehicle to lead us into a better comprehension of the historical and social developments in Japan. It situates to some degree, the perspective of Kano Shihan and other experts who influenced the Modernisation of Japan. Thanks for sharing.
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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:07 am

    NBK wrote:
    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    NBK wrote:I really don't like the new forum's review function - I wish it had a 'review posts from today / this week / this month' or something. Somehow I missed this.

    I know of no one that claims bushido was made from whole cloth in the Meiji era. The claims are that bushido _as praised and use by the Meiji, Taisho, and pre-war Showa governments and supporters_ is a modern construction。 It seems persuasive to me, and I read a lot on this. If you could resurrect your paper, I'd read that, too. I have seen a lot of references in modern bushido texts to Torii Mototada as an example of bushido, but have never seen the opposite - a text purporting to be an historic account of Torii's demise quoting him discussing bushido.

    Surely 'bushido' was based on notions found in early Japanese culture, but I don't see how you can equate the modern construct of bushido with kyuba no michi or shido or whatever.

    And is it not curious that Nitobe's book is yet and still one of the foremost books to introduce 'bushido' to the people of Japan?

    Dr. Karl Friday does a fine job of discussing this in shorter form than Benesche:
    Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition

    The text (and other texts of Friday) is what set many North-Americans off, for all kinds of reasons. .....

    I don't think it is curious at all that Nitobe still appears so prominently present. There are marketing reasons for it, and it is understandable for non-budo people. By the way Nitobe wrote in other things too, such as magazines, sometimes in the same as ... Kanô. Did you know that ? I remember well when I was writing my thesis that in those days Ruth Benedict's Chrysanthemum and the Sword was a very frequently referred book. Then again, my professor of cultural anthropology hated her so much that if you even mentioned her in a paper, he would almost fail you. Sometimes scholar seem to get an outright hatred for some historic author, I guess ... In my opinion, my prof at the time exaggerated, irrespective of whether he disagreed with her.

    Correction there, it isn't a simple matter of referring to Torri Mototada as an example of bushidô. Why would one have to do that ? One can go even back further for that and refer to Yoshitsune. What I said is that the actual TERM 'bushidô' appears in that legend. That is something entirely different, and clear evidence that the insinuation that the term was created much later is nonsense. I never 'equated' kyûba no michi and shidô with bushidô, but they are more than just some scarce notions. That I did not 'equate' those terms should be obvious from when I said that these concepts were infused later much more with neo-Confucianist philosophical inspirations from Hayashi Razan and Kumazawa Banzan, and others. This is a difference between kyûba-no-michi and bushidô, but the first one certainly already forms a solid bedrock for the latter.

    I am not sure what this supposed "modern construct" is that bushidô would be. What precisely is a modern construct of bushidô that you believe has no historic grounds ? I can refer to the text of Friday you mention, but I am very reluctant to do so, although nevertheless referring to the Rape of Nanking as evidence that bushidô would be a modern construct is somewhat odd. Actually, I don't think that Friday is at fault there. People are also reading a lot into Friday which he is not actually writing. A considerable part of what he writes is about basically not many traces being there when one regards the supposed influence of bushidô on the imperial army. But that is something entirely different than rejecting bushidô as a historic concept. After all, you could on a similar course correctly say that there aren't many influences of Taoism or neo-Confucianism in thos misdeeds either. Does that mean then that Taoism and Neo-Confucianism are modern constructs ?

    The way 'I' read Friday, he is more arguing that in modern days for propagandist reasons Japanese fascists 'used' traditional bushidô references that were often untrue. So, at the most, referring to the rape of Nanking proves that the military leadership was able to get what it wanted just like any military leadership anywhere in the world gets its underlings to do what it wants, and that it shows that these military leaders were rather guided by all kinds of burning earth and other war tactics than by a traditional bushidô ethic. That is something entirely different from claiming that bushidô would historically not exist and would merely be a modern construct.I have to stop this, and I also may delete this post. I think we can continue this discussion in private.
    I know Nitobe wrote with Kano in various media. I have several examples.

    Again, no one I have read posits that modern bushido had zero historic precedents. All mention some prior, limited use of the term in ancient texts, with one exception, the name of who escapes me just now.

    If you read all these references and disagree with the details and very thesis that there are distinct, and demonstrably 'manufactured' differences between traditional bushi values and the bushido of the modern era、 I expect there is nothing I can add.

    According to the same logic that these "details and thesis" purport you could then argue that ... around 1100 the Crusaders committed all kinds of atrocities sometimes even with the fiat of the pope, between 1478-1834 the Spanish Inquisition supposedly acting in the name of Catholicism burnt witches, executed people suspected of pacts with Satan, and in the 20th century priests and bishops acting as servants of the Catholic children were proven by the hundreds to have committed act of molestation and pedophilia. Similarly to the 'thesis' claimed by some about bushidô this would then prove that the Catholic church is nothing but a modern construct where values of piety, love thy neighbor as you love yourself, humility, etc, do not really exist, but is merely an invention of modernism ... "quod erat demonstrandum" ?

    Which "demonstrable 'manufacture' differences" are there with what truly existed in bushidô and was supposedly created in modern times and falsely incorporated under historic bushidô ? One of the papers you mention for example puts forward the argument that loyalty supposedly would not be a specific characteristic of bushidô because ... "loyalty is an integral part of Confucianism" ... Yes, but "to death" ? Confucianist would simply sacrifice their lives and follow their masters in death ? Etc, etc, etc.

    The way how concepts are filled in over time may change, no doubt. But, the main problem I have is the tendentious choice of your words when you write about bushidô. There are other authors who too write about how things evolve, but the terminology you constantly use ("modern construct", "invented tradition") is of the kind that emphasizes 'fake', 'deliberately deceptive', ' intentionally misleading', thus a degree of maliciousness. Kôdôkan jûdô is probably far more such a 'modern construct' or 'invented tradition' than bushidô. The entire thing of judo as a competitive sport, now that's an "invented tradition", a large part of what the Kôdôkan writes about Kanô now there's quite a bit of "invented tradition", a 22-year old kid supposedly a shihan with merely 4 years of TSYR experience and a few years of Kitô-ryû where we conveniently suppress that Kanô never even studied to sôgô bujutsu of Kitô-ryû, but likely nothing else but a kata of 21 (+1) forms, nothing else, a master in an art based on one kata ?! But in the way Japanese authors work disentangling 'invented tradition' from the absence of critical analysis or going into anything that is of a hierarchically higher position is not always evident.

    'Modern constructs' ... modern constructs are how in the US terms like 'liberal' are used to simply indicate someone who is not Republican. Most liberals in the US I know are conservatives, just not hyperconservatives. Or the way in the US a term such as 'socialism' is used, that are 'modern constructs'. Remember how when Obama came with his medical plan so many referred to him as a socialist, a term that in the US is just a breath away from communism. I have never known of a socialist who would not proudly come out as a socialist, there were no major nationalizations of banks, railways, I would doubt that the man knows how to sing the 'international'. Willy Brandt, thàt is an example of a socialist. So, there we see 'modern constructs' terms that are deliberately misused simply to indicate one's disgust by using a term that one knows and anticipate to attract support for one's views of disgust but that factually or historically has little or nothing to do with what the term truly means. In a 2-party (or 3-party) system these are probably easier to achieve. Moreover, it HAS to be a modern construct as the US did not even exist when liberalism found is origin (17th century Europe), so while the term and direction actually EXISTED in Europe it was only 're-constructed' later in the US and with a different meaning (per Wikipedia): "In North America, unlike in Europe, the word liberalism almost exclusively refers to social liberalism in contemporary politics." (...) But even though the term is a modern construct in the US, is that the same as branding it as fake or deceptive ? It is more wrong terminology that becomes established as standard meaning there.

    Maybe if I can find the time and can get a hold of my own thesis from the past I will in future write a scholarly paper for a peer-reviewed journal and address these so far unsupported assertions by these modern bushidô conspiracy theorists. In this way we then have a scientific forum where they can react with counter evidence and encourage scholarly discourse in this way. They too need a fair chance to respond.


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    Re: Bushidō: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan

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