NBK wrote:Taken from the thread on 'traditional KDK judo'...
Surely there were elements existing that were useful in developing the concept of bushido. It would not be a total fabrication but rather an assembly of elements, some traditional, some new.
There is more analysis coming out regarding the origins of 'bushido'. The concept was touted by an array of scholars and crackpots circa early Taisho until the Occupation put the brakes on such. It shows up in just about everything. I guess there's a certain time that has to pass before newer generations take a dispassionate view of things. Perhaps like the recent fairly serious look at the origins of Korean martial arts - post-Japanese colonial period you weren't going to make any friends selling Japanese karate or aikido in Seoul so new names and fabricated tales of ancient Korean warrior skills pop up. That has to play out, let the passions die down before any real scholarship can take place. Cassandra was honest about what she foresaw but look where her mouth got her. So there has been some time since the madness of WWII and enough of the senior sensei are gone so it is not a direct affront to ones elders (not that many judoka are exploring this history).
I saw one interesting essay recently drawing links between budo and geido - the pursuit of perfection in art (or artiface?).
Most of the pop books on bushido tend to use the same references from prewar Japan and not delve as deeply into the true origins.
I'm writing on an iPhone so it's difficult to get this edited so shd stop for now.
Hang on a sec, there ! One of the reasons I wrote the post is that I was also about BUDO, not just BUSHIDO, since in the post I was reacting to the two seem to be somewhat mixed. In addition to bushidô supposedly being a fabrication, now budô too would be a fabrication ?! That was the primary thing that was nonsense, since as far as I can remember neither of the the authors to which a previous post made reference had claimed that BUDO would be an invented tradition, even if Benesch may believe that bushidô was. 'Bushidô' and 'budô' are not the same concepts.
It would be inappropriate for me to scrutinize the scientific work of someone here, who isn't here. It's also not the proper forum to do so. That is something I have to do under my own name in an appropriate scientific environment, if I would wish to do so. But, in general terms ... the idea that bushdô would suddenly be fabricated in the Meiji era is nonsense. Bushidô long precedes the Meiji era and its development started already as early as 1100, though obviously not under the same name. One can of course write about how bushidô 'developed' in Meiji times, but that doesn't mean it did not develop before that. The fact that some scholar's work is more recent does not mean very much since it is not a new topic, nor any that really evolves since it is historic. One might perhaps add new sources, which would be very nice, but most what I see is the absence of sources, particularly all those that have a different view. So simply on that basis it is kind of hard to consider new work as more authoritative.
The North-Americans seem to be hung up on the work by Inazo Nitobe. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that this book would have constructed the term Bushidô, etc. That is complete nonsense. The book may have pretty much introduced the topic for Westerns, but that does not mean at all it did not exist before. It seems that the initiative to the claim of bushidô being a recent concept actually came through a Japanese paper. This paper, yes, is Japanese, so ? Why would suddenly the view of one (or a few other Japanese papers) be true over others that do not agree, unless that papers is able to convincingly prove the others wrong ?
Bushidô is much older than Meiji times, but conceptually existed under different names, or better, its earlier phases, perhaps less formally codified, existed under different names. For example, it was long knonw under one of its earlier terminologies, namely "Kyûba no michi" (The way of bow and horse). It did not have all the formally codified concepts in it yet, but it certainly was not a merely mechanistic managment of riding on a horse and shooting arrows, just like kata was not merely a mechanistic performance of some movements.
In fact, the argument that even the term 'bushidô' would not exist prior to Meiji is outright absurd and shows one thing, namely that those claiming it did not have the scholarly knowledge of the sources that prove the contrary. For example, the term bushidô in the proper sense clearly appears in the legend of Torii Mototada dating from 1539-1600. How can that be if it would be a Meiji concept ? In fact, this use is clearly even pre-Tokugawa period ! The term kyûba no michi is even older !
People often refer to the 47 Rônin and that is appropriate. However, once again, the Akô Affair is by far not the first sign of bushidô. Bushidô is clearly already present in an earlier and developing form in the Heike Monogatari, which dates back to 1371.
I see several problems in the view of some who have insinuated that bushidô supposedly would be a fabrication, namely an exaggeration of the role of Nitobe. The North Americans seem to attack Nitobe based on some kind premise that he supposedly would be the original source of bushidô. Now if you do hold Nitobe as a such a source knowing that it is not true, and then prove it isn't true, all you have done is making a circle. One could as well write a book claiming that Nitobe discovered Apple Computers and then write another one to prove that is not true. It is a little bit like taking the color white knowing that it is not black, then saying that it is black, and then proving that it isn't black but white.
People buy too much into this Nitobe hype and this Meiji Bushidô thing. In fact, one can perfectly write about Bushidô without even mentioning Nitobe. Nitobe really is not important for bushido. The only reason Nitobe is in there, is because of his importance for ... INTRODUCING THE CONCEPT OF BUSHIDO IN THE WEST !! Now that is something entirely different. Nitobe was not intended as an academic work, but as an unscientific cultural anthropological introduction of something Japanese to the West.
I do not have access to my own thesis on bushidô of the days of yonder when theses were still typed on typewriters and I obviously don't remember all the sources off the top of my head, since it is a long time ago, but when I read some of that new stuff I could not but shake my head. I mean, seriously attacking the Hagakure etc, and claiming that people on a battlefield would not first recite their own genealogy, based on what ? Where the only fights large battlefield fights ? There were no duels ? Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin did not exist or it was all fabricated or romanticized. Not even mentioning Kyûba no michi, seriously ? As a scholar the transgression of kyûba no michi into bushidô is as much a truism as is anything, and that term is damn old. Even lots of the criticism on the Hagakure is largely distorted. The thing was written, it's not a fabrication, it's date is not a fabrication, what is in there is not a fabrication. The only thing where one might fabricate something is its impact in society. But supported by what evidence ?
I remember once in Japan a discussion with a Japanese Walmart scholar I had about Kitô-ryû. I did not believe a word of what he said, and I could prove that referring to a makimono. You know his reaction ? He warned me because if the makimono was Meiji it could very well be a fake because much was faked in Meiji. Um ... OK, but why would my stuff if it dated from Meiji be fabricated, but not his stuff from Meiji ? In fact, my stuff was authentic and extensive additional research not just by myself, but by a colleague who independently from me researched the same topic and was very knowledgeable ran very parallel to mine; it was mostly the Japanese Walmart scholar whose stuff was nonsensical. My point is ... the knife cuts both ways. We need to work from an objective mind, see what the sources say, cross-reference the evidence, analyze, apply heuristic methods and come to conclusions. What we should not be doing is going the teleological way, and try to prove our beliefs, that is construct a conclusion, and then fill up the way to that conclusion with references which support our conclusion and leave out everything that does not.
When one makes a claim that bushidô would be a fabrication, yes, some part of the martial arts community might be wildly enthusiastic, but the truth of the matter is that when such scholarly evident things like kyûba no michi, or the much older sources that contain bushidô are missing, as are all scholars who do not support the fabrication claim, one scholarly has a huge problem.
You write in your post "It would not be a total fabrication but rather an assembly of elements, some traditional, some new." But what has that to do with a fabrication or with "not a total fabrication". Who has ever claimed that bushidô would be created at one instance. Has Nitobe even done that ? When and where ? Bushidô is a concept that developed over ages. No one has ever claimed anything else unless the new North American group apparently. The transition from Kyûba not michi to full-blown bushidô took centuries. It required the infusion of neo-Confucianist ideas from Hayashi Razan and Kumazawa Banzan, etc. They hadn't lived yet when kyûba no michi arose, and the evolved concept of bushidô did not yet exist under that name in that sense until that neo-Confucianist influence occurred and was consolidated. But what on earth does that have to do with 'fabrication' ? That's simple historic development. Yes, if one cuts off kyûba no michi and then would start from bushidô that would suddenly emerge from the fog of history, sure, but what serious scholar on bushidô would take such a view ? That in itself is beyond my comprehension, unless an author would do scholarly research on bushidô without knowing about kyûba no michi, but if that is remotely true, then something very seriously is wrong.
One could extend some of the "invented tradition" labels to about at least half of what the Kôdôkan writes. But is that "invented tradition" ? Most is the result of poor scholarship, the absence of what for Western scientists is one of the cores of science, namely critical analysis, etc. So, bad, bad, research, one should not even call it 'research'. What they do are juxtapositions of likewise findings, being respectful, respecting hierarchy, almost the opposite of how a scholar would work. Name one Kodokan books that concludes that a previous Kodokan book or author was wrong ? They don't do that, mostly because they haven't learnt anything else. That doesn't mean it is the automatically all "invented tradition" there either. I don't believe that all these errors are the result of a conscious attempt to deceive and fabricate history to glorify itself. Some of it, no doubt, yes, but you see that mostly during times of power struggles, and much of that seems to have happen in the era immediately following Kanô's death, and probably for obvious reasons. Should one extend the label of "invented tradition" to the hundreds of authors who have published books on jûdô yet do not read a word of Japanese and have never before consulted an original Japanese sources because it is out of their competencies ? So, they write based on what they learnt from other sensei usually without sources, challenges, and evidence, and based on books written by similar people ? You know the limitations on what one can do scholarly in judo if one does not know Japanese. But does that make what these people write "invented tradition" ? I don't thin so. Most of these people do not have the intend to deceive. They do the best they can and they sincerely believe they are correct. I think though it is very important to separate that what is caused by poor scholarship and limited insight from "invented tradition". "Invented tradition" now and then occurs; the whole Dutch Busen kata stuff, now that's a clear example of "invented tradition" that has been fabricated.