Japanese martial arts 格闘技
Credit: Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games
Credit: guide Japon
Credit: christian Kaden
Credit: Patrick Vierthaler
Credit: martin nobida
Japanese Martial Arts
Martial arts are practiced in many countries in Asia: Taekwondo in Korea, Tai-Chi-Chuan in China, Muay Thai in Thailand, but Japanese martial arts are some of the most well-known and most practiced around the world.
THE DIFFERENT JAPANESE MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts hold an important place in Japanese culture. Exported throughout the world, these martial arts relate to three terms: budo, the "way of war", bujutsu, "techniques of war", and bugei, "martial art".
The ancient schools of martial arts, where the famous samurai studied and taught, were named Koryu. Nowadays, there are two categories of martial arts: Koryu Bujutsu (ancient school martial arts) and Gendai Budo (modern martial arts).
Here are the six best-known and most prominent Japanese martial arts.
Judo: the most famous
When we talk about martial arts, judo is probably the one that comes to mind first, which means "the gentle way". Developed by Dr. Jigoro Kano in 1882, Judoka uses a series of techniques including ground techniques, choking and joint locking.
Judo became an Olympic sport in 1964 at the Tokyo Games. It is practiced barefoot and the fighters are dressed in a judogi.
Karate: the most exotic
Karate (or karate-do, the way of the empty hand) was invented in the tropical archipelago of Okinawa, today a prefecture of Japan but formerly the independent Kingdom of Ryukyu, with strong Chinese influence (karate has its origins in the Shaolin temple). Karate is a clever mix of offensive and defensive techniques that requires the use of multiple body parts (hands, feet, etc.).
Karate will become an Olympic sport for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Sumo: the oldest
Although there are few practitioners of this sport in the West, sumo is well-known to many people. In sumo the aim is to push your opponent out of the circle, or to touch the ground with a part of your body other than your legs. If you go to Japan, don't hesitate to attend a tournament of this impressive and iconic sport, which only takes place in certain months of throughout the year.
- Read more: Sumo
Aikido: the most peaceful
In aikido, the aim is to use the strength of an opponent to disarm them, so neither person is harmed. It is based on the principle of non-violence, so it's actually a kind of self-defense.
Basically, this martial art is incompatible with the idea of competition, and is practiced with bare hands or with weapons. It is also intimately linked to Shinto rites.
Kendo: the most heroic
Kendo, the way of the sword, is the oldest discipline of budo, Japanese martial arts. This Japanese version of fencing is practiced with armor and a wooden sword, the bokken, and bamboo, the shinai. Its ancestor, kenjutsu, is one of the eighteen martial arts that all samurai had to practice.Kendo also has an important spiritual side, intended to strengthen determination.
Today, kendo has become a competitive sport widely practiced in the world.
Kyudo: the most patient
Kyudo, the way of the bow, is a form of Japanese archery influenced by Zen and Confucianism, but also Taoism and Shintoism. The practitioner seeks the perfect movement: hitting the target is proof of balance between a disciplined and harmonized body and mind. Kyudo has strict rules and the shooting itself takes place in eight consecutive phases, called "hassetsu".
- Find out more: Yabusame archery