Japanese Martial Arts Essay

1301 words - 5 pages

Japanese Martial Arts

In Japan, especially during the earlier periods of Japanese history such as the Tokugawa, physical adeptness was much revered and valued. This was mainly because of the fact that these strengths were the basis on which much of the population depended upon for survival during these fairly turbulent periods. Throughout time, Japan has been a very organized and scrupulous society, and even its style of physical combat has been sorted into specific categories according to what particular method is being used or referred to. These ways of fighting, primitive in the fact that they do not use automated weapons, are generally called “Martial Arts” and include the following categories: Kenjutsu, which uses swords, Kyudo, which is archery, and unarmed forms of combat such as Jujutsu, Sumai, and Karate, which are the major techniques. The Martial Arts of Japan, especially during the Tokugawa period, was very relevant to the society and played, and still plays, an important role in Japanese culture. The history and evolution, use in everyday life, and specific characteristics of these Japanese Martial Arts will be thoroughly explored during the course of this paper.

Martial Arts, as defined by The Oxford English Dictionary, are “Any of various sports or skills, mainly of Japanese origin, which originated as forms of self-defense or attack, such as Judo, Karate, and Kendo.” As stated by this excerpt, Martial arts did originate in East Asia, and the forms most commonly practiced during the Tokugawa period were Kenjutsu, Kyudo, Jujutsu, Sumai, and Karate. Kenjutsu is also referred to as “Japanese Fencing” and is Japanese for “art of the sword”. It originated in Japan and is very ancient, although it is not apparent when exactly it started, only that it has been included in Japanese culture for many, many years. It was used in mortal combat by Japanese Samurai, and has evolved into the more modern form of Kendo. Kyudo, which refers to the sport of Archery, was very widely used throughout the Tokugawa period and also as long as the Samurai have existed. It uses bamboo to form it’s bows and arrows and was most commonly practiced on horseback, the skill of being able to shoot well and ride at the same time was very well revered at the time of the Samurai because it was not an easy task, a samurai who had mastered these skills had a very large advantage over a less experienced Samurai who was not skilled enough to ride and shoot at once. Jujutsu, Japanese for “art of gentleness”, is a method that uses “holds, chokes, throws, trips, joint-locks, and some kicks and strikes. It’s origins are lost, but experts conclude that it began in the 15th or 16th century and was used during the Tokugawa period, especially by the Samurai warriors. Sumai, meaning “struggle”, is an ancient type of wrestling which is dated from 23 BC. Sumai uses “pushing, pulling, slapping, throwing, and grappling”. Karate, Japanese for “empty hand”, is...

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