Both Ways – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo

You can’t have it. You can’t export budo to the rest of the world and still have it remain unchanged and under your control. No plan survives contact with the enemy and no budo survives contact with people. If I remember my Alex Bennett correctly, kendo after the war became “Japanese fencing”, a sport. It was pretty popular, it started to go into the world. Then around 1975 the leaders in Japan decided that Kendo was a more spiritual art which would now be exported to the world to teach the Japanese way of peace.

I’m pretty sure kids everywhere still go at it to win. Especially in the west, but I’d say Kendo is about the best art at keeping it centralized and under control. That, ironically, would be due to the sport, the world championships, which puts control of the rules and the participants in Japanese hands. To the extent that if you aren’t striking in the approved Japanese manner you don’t get the point. Or so the inevitable complaints put it at every championships. Electric Kendo? Never happen.

Judo had roughly the same setup until it joined the Olympics and handed control of the sport to an international body. Judo is now international. Olympic Kendo? Never happen.

Karate? It never had that unifying force behind it and so split up even before internationalization. How can you control something you don’t control? Stuff gets added, people go off and develop new attitudes, like the one that was in effect when an acquaintance told me about knocking the visiting sensei on his arse when he said “try to hit me”. He hit him, strange new attitudes from the foreigners indeed.

Or my own story of dumping Japanese college 3dans on their heads with koshinage, a hip throw we’d been taught (at kyu levels) by “our” Japanese that the Japanese, Japanese had not seen yet.

Everyone wants to say “I am the head of an international organization” but few want to have that organization change in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. Yet you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Foreigners are going to have their own culture, if you want to impose yours you’d better have a firm grip on your art and some compelling reason for the folks elsewhere to stay in line. Lose either of those and you lose control at the same time you gain territory.

Influence is what you need to think about, not control. Your transplanted art is going to be something else, but it will be the same art at its core. If there is a core there in the first place.

Have faith that there is and that it will survive contact with the enemy. Let there be a Canadian Kendo and a Dutch Judo and a French Karate. Let there be an Ontario Jodo and a Vancouver Jodo. Why not? The differences are going to be subtle but interesting, instructive, possibly even developmental. Fresh eyes on old problems.

But at the core? It’s all budo. At the core you really can have it both ways if you are big enough to allow those strange people with their weird food into your neighbourhood.

Or build the wall and don’t dare let your kids out.

Kim Taylor
Sept 16, 2017


Fall seminars coming up for me:

Sept 30-Oct 1 Ottawa iaido, jodo and niten seminars, Taylor
Oct 28-29 Peterborough koryu iaido, Ohmi sensei, Galligan and Taylor
Nov 17-19 Jodo Grading and Koryu Seminar Shiiya sensei and Kurogo sensei, Mississauga location tbd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s