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Gendai budō
Judo was one of the first modern martial arts.
Japanese name
Kanji: 現代武道
Hiragana: げんだいぶどう

Gendai budō (現代武道 ?), meaning "modern martial way", are modern Japanese martial arts which were established after the Meiji Restoration (1866–1869). Koryū are the opposite: ancient martial arts established before the Meiji Restoration.


Scope and tradition

Gendai budō includes such arts as aikido, judo, jūkendō, iaidō, karate-do, kendo, Kyūdō, and shorinji kempo. Certain ryūha (schools) of these arts, however, can be classified as koryū, having been established before the Meiji Restoration (for example, Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryūha of iaidō is more than 400 years old).


The Japanese art of sumo is often defined as a gendai budō. This definition is incorrect, however, as sumo is, in fact, an ancient art that has attained popularity and media coverage in the modern era.

Gendai budō often have origins in koryū, or the traditional Japanese martial arts. For example, Kano Jigoro (嘉納 治五郎 Kanō Jigorō, 1860–1938) founded judo in part as an attempt to systematize the myriad traditions of jujutsu which existed at the time. Kendo similarly derives from the many schools of kenjutsu that evolved over the centuries.

Gendai budō generally stress martial arts as a study of life principles, for example as a means to refine one's approach to conflict or danger. Most, therefore, agree that it is improper to classify koryū as nothing more than fighting techniques, or to classify budō as merely a show or game. Rather, this perspective suggests that both koryū and gendai budō contain elements of both (path, with spiritual overtones) and jutsu (technique). Many martial artists see the two as fundamentally interconnected, and the difference in emphasis may nonetheless manifest in various ways in content of the instruction, such as the focus on the state of mind during a technique or a focus on the technique itself.

Teaching methods

Traditional koryū teaching methods emphasized a sharp and observant mind in the student. Sometimes the teacher would merely demonstrate a technique once and then withdraw to let the students piece it together themselves. The detailed, repeated, and "scientific" explanations of many gendai budō are a marked contrast to this style. This fuels many debates about martial arts pedagogy, and much inquiry into how teachers of either koryū and budō can make their particular type of instruction effective.


One major departure from koryū was the introduction of kyū and dan rankings, along with (in some dojo) colored belts. These rankings replaced the various certificates awarded within koryū. Gendai budō also generally do not contain the same strong entrance oaths and rituals as koryū, such as the keppan ("blood oath"). Whereas in most gendai budō dojo all are welcome provided they follow basic rules of conduct, koryū instructors often strictly scrutinize candidates. (Of course, both groups contain variance based on individual instructor and circumstance.)




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