Martial Arts Philosophy

The following expressions of wisdom are intended to advise and motivate the martial arts practitioner. - page contents and Chinese Calligraphy Art used with permission of Chinese Calligraphy Artwork

Fusatsu Katsujin (Protect People Without Injury )





Fusatsu Katsujin (Protect People Without Injury): one must not embark on a course of action designed to cause injury.


Fudoshin (Steadfast)

Fudoshin (Steadfast): is a state of equanimity or imperturbability (literally and metaphorically "immovable heart" or "immovable mind") - a philosophical/mental dimension to a (commonly Japanese) martial art which contributes to the effectiveness of the advanced practitioner.


Do Mu Gen (There is no end to learning "the way")

Do Mu Gen (There is no end to learning "the way"): there is no end to learning. Even at advanced levels, there are still higher levels to reach. There is no point at which one's skill or understanding is complete. Learning "the way" is done day by day, minute by minute, second by second, now, to eternity. There is no faster way.

Ryu Sui Saki o Kiso Wasu (Flowing water does not compete)

Ryu Sui Saki o Kiso Wasu (Flowing water does not compete): The highest good is like water. Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

Bunburyodo (Pen and Sword in Accord)

Bunburyodo (Pen and Sword in Accord): true progress in the martial arts is only possible if we cultivate ourselves through the even balance of 'austere conditioning', 'philosophical assimilation' and 'literature' Martial arts or ways in its real sense was character building in embodiment of physical, mental and spiritual excellence.

Onkochishin (Study the old to understand the new)

Onkochishin (Study the old to understand the new): Examine things of the past, and obtain the new knowledge and the opinion from there.Taking a lesson from the past. Taking a lesson from the wisdom of the ancients. Follow the old ways.

Renma (Practice and polish)

Renma (Practice and polish): It takes 1,000 days to forge the spirit and 10,000 to polish it.

Shin-Gi-Tai (Mind/Work/Body)

Shin-Gi-Tai (Mind/Work/Body): the coming together of the mind, skill and body to produce a "complete person". These three human qualities are indicative of the essence of the heavens (represented by a person's mind), earth (an individual's skills) and man (by the body).

Shuuchuu (Concentration)

Shuuchuu (Concentration): the concentration of the entire body, unifying it into one focused point. If we can develop the ability to do this our technique greatly increases in power and effect. Shuuchuu is also a metaphor for life. We all know that success comes with full commitment to the task at hand.

Masakatsu agatsu (Victory Over Oneself)

Masakatsu agatsu (Victory Over Oneself): victory over oneself begins with a journey of recognizing one's own weaknesses, limitations and failings. The failure to confront one's own weaknesses is the principal barrier to finding one's true self, hence living a life in disharmony with our self and others.

Mushin (Clear mind)

Mushin (Clear mind): a state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat. The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心}, a zen expression meaning mind of no mind. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

Shu Ha Ri (Obey, digress, seperate)

Shu Ha Ri (Obey, digress, seperate):

Shu: Observe the old without straying. The student directly studies the teacher's way. Ha. Break strict observation and adapt different teachings. This is the stage of experimentation and research. Ri. Leave, advancing beyond both former stages.

Michi or "Do" (The Way)

Michi or "Do" (The Way): the rich and varied journey of life, encompassing all opposites, connecting all things. The Great Journey is full of blessings for the person who has the eyes to see.


Bun Bu Ryo Do - The Pen and The Sword:

Bun Bu Ryo Do - The Pen and The Sword:

A Necessary Balance to Achieve Enlightenment

The traditional approach in martial arts training is referred to as Bunbu Ryodo, loosely translated to mean “the pen and the sword.” The concept depicts a balance between the physical training and discipline of martial arts and a highly developed appreciation for cultural and aesthetic arts. A student does not advance if he has honed his physical skills, but has not gained a complementary understanding of the beauty of nature and the love of culture and art.

In the concept of “the pen and the sword,” the pen represents the pen used to write a poem, the brush used to paint a landscape, or the scalpel used to create a sculpture. The sword represents the brute strength and physical skill and prowess to master the art of defending oneself or fighting an enemy. Both realms are areas that require great discipline and self control in order to reach the highest objectives.

Certainly, if you look at the history of Japanese and the martial and classical arts, you will find that most martial arts masters were also painters, sculptors, philosophers, or poets. They may have been masters of flower arranging or musicians, but whichever their outlet, they only truly became martial arts masters by achieving great skill and knowledge in areas of both the pen and the sword.

It is not surprising that the Asian cultures brought the concept of Feng Shui to the western world, because the art of balance is truly one of the most important tenets in Japanese culture. Revered theologians and philosophers speak of learning to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes around you and the need to surround yourself with peace and beauty in order to exude peace and beauty. On the other hand, martial arts masters, who have achieved great physical strength and skill, will talk about the beauty and artistic quality of the human form, when it is cared for and honed.

The balance and appreciation that exists in Japanese philosophy of both martial and aesthetic arts will lead to an enlightened individual with a keen sense of self and of the beauty and peace around him, in the form of the pen and the sword. Author - Anthony R. DiFilippo