History of Japanese Budo 02


Emergence of the Samurai

Warlord Nobutaka Oda. From “Taiheiki Hero Biography” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

From the 8th century to the 10th century, the aristocracy ruled Japan and the society stabilized. And the ruling class of each place hired a large number of soldiers “Bushi" to protect themselves. “Bushi" are soldiers with weapons who fight to protect their territory. “Bushi" eventually came to be called “Samurai". A samurai is a warrior hired by a powerful person to fight for his master.

However, the power of the “Samurai" was getting stronger and stronger. Because the emperor relied on that power, the “Samurai" came to have more power than the nobility. By the end of the 12th century, the samurai had become more powerful than the emperor and nobility. A military government was established in Kamakura by the top Samurai ”Shogun”.

General Tokugawa Ieyasu and 16 military commanders. Cultural Heritage of Hamamatsu City

The position of “shogun" has passed into the hands of various Samurai, and The Samurai military government has continued for over 600 years. During that time, Japan repeatedly went through times of war and times of peace, and the Budo continued to evolve.

Budo were the techniques that supported Samurai battles. It is believed that new technologies were born in times of war and developed and spread in times of peace. Bows and horses were the Budo that samurai valued most in war. These Budo schools are still passed down today. However, these two are not covered here yet. First, let’s look at bare-handed fighting techniques and martial arts that fight with weapons.

There are two major streams in Japanese martial arts. One is bare-handed martial arts that leads to today’s Sumo. The other is Kenjutsu and Sōjutsu, which uses Japanese swords and spears.

Ancient Sumo wrestlers used not only thrusts, pushes and throws, but also striking techniques such as punches and kicks. Sumo was a competition of strength without rules. As an image, it is thought that it was close to the current mixed martial arts.This skill of sumo was useful in times of war. Samurai would fight with swords against their enemies, finally grappling with them, throwing them down, and finishing them off with a small sword “Wakizashi". This various techniques for throwing down and immobilizing the enemy were refined, and schools of Ju-jutsu were born.

The scene where the warlord, Toshimoto Saito, throws down his enemies. From “Taiheiki Hero Biography” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Weapons such as iron swords and spears introduced from China developed during the Japanese war era. At the same time, the techniques for using these weapons also developed. Before long, a person called a master “Tatsujin" appeared, and a school of Ken and Yari was born.

Sumo master Seizo Shimura. From “Taiheiki Hero Biography” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.