The ideology of 'do'   道の思想

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Kendo, a Japanese martial art

Kyudo, traditional Japanese archery

Shodo, Japanese calligraphy

Aikido, a Japanese martial art

A monk of Shofuku-ji temple

A zen buddhist monk in Shofuku-ji temple.

All roads lead to Japan

In Japanese, 'do' 道 means the way, the path. This character is used in many words, and some are probably already familiar to you. Dojo, judo, shinto... So, what do they have in common?

Young Japanese girls practicing kyudo

Buddhism in Japanese culture

Do originated in Zen Buddhism, influenced by Chinese Taoism. Buddhist monks were not only engaged in religious activities, but also in diplomacy and creative arts, such as gardening, literature, and painting. The concept of do, with the expansion of Buddhism, became deeply anchored in Japanese culture. Its influence even reached up to the military class, with bushido 武士道, the way of the warrior.

To read : Zen Buddhism in Japan

do: an art

Do expresses progress in the practice of an art, whatever it may be. Indeed, the kanji is particularly used in traditional Japanese arts, whether martial arts or aesthetic arts. So kado 花道, is 'the way of flowers', that is, the art of flower arranging also known as ikebana. Shodo 書道, 'the way of writing', is the art of calligraphy. Kyudo 弓道 is 'the way of the bow', or Japanese archery. And kendo 剣道, the martial art using bamboo swords, is 'the way of the sword'. Some words also refer to religious or philosophical doctrines, such as Shinto, literally 'the way of god'.

Discover : Shintoism

All of these practices meet similar requirements and give a great importance to spirituality. They require tranquility, obedience and respect. From the mid-Edo period (1603-1868), the practice of do was formalized. Whatever the art, there is emphasis on silent meditation, the teacher-student relationship, and learning through repetition. An apprentice must follow a form by the rules, then master it, become one with it, before moving on. It's about reaching mushin, which is the essence of do. Mushin 無心, "without thought," is the state in which action and thought are one, leading to acceptance of the world as it is. Thus do is not only about learning, but also about self-transformation. It's a real journey.

See also : Japanese sports


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