Bunburyodo 文武両道

Bunburyodo is a term that I’m sure many if not all budo practitioners are familiar with. It’s a term used to describe someone who has become or is trying their best to become ‘accomplished in the both military and literary arts’ (martial arts and arts/sciences). The first recorded use of a similar term (「文事ある者は必ず武備あり」) is found in the ‘Records of the Grand Historian’ (史記), written in Han-era China around about BCE 109-91. When the Records came to Japan and how and when the term was was changed to ‘bunburyodo’ seems to be unknown, but various other synonymous kanji combinations have been used for a very long time.

During the classical, feudal, and Tokugawa periods of Japanese history, the term is said to have referred to the importance of understanding both academic and warrior arts in order to be able to govern effectively. That is, an effective ruler (and subordinates) would ideally have a balance of both. The need for this balance was promoted by Tokugawa Ieyasu, and became increasingly looked at as an ideal situation for the ruling class in general by the 19th century. However, nowadays in Japan (a country with a far less hierarchical class system that existed before), this ideal has been reworked to simply refer to those that try hard in both their study and some sort of physical activity (e.g. baseball), and it seems to be used almost exclusively in reference to students.

… which brings me neatly round to the point of this article – the reason for the slow down of written content over the last while (or, at least, why I’m not writing as much as I want to!). Basically, the study for my 2nd degree is literally taking up all my free time, which I didn’t have enough of anyway! Between an agressive keiko schedule (8 times on a slow week), a full time job, and my private life, its been hard to fit in time for translations and article writing. I also had to suspend work on the next kenshi247 publication… which is about 65% done as we speak.

Not to fear, however, as I intend to start work on the above publication in May with hopefully a summer release, and will be back to work with some kendo articles around the same time. In the meantime, I will continue to post updates on facebook, and I also seem to be addicted to instagram at the moment (#kenshi247)… so check out both those channels for continual kendo-related updates and pictures. Cheers!!!!!

* In case you are interested, I’m currently studying History. My first degree was in the completely unrelated area of Computer Science…

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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10 replies on “Bunburyodo 文武両道”

Cheers! I’ll manage… just can’t concentrate on writing here as much as I’d like to for the next couple of months….

Welcome to the wonderful world of history degree holders. I wish you good will need it

Its solely for my own edification, I’m not banking on making a profession out of it. Anyway, I’m too old !

Best of luck to you George! I’m impressed by your schedule! I don’t know how you do it! 🙂

Between my job, two keiko a week, my studies for work and my family I don’t have much time left. I do intend to write a book (on the history of kendo in the Netherlands) at one point in time, but I don’t want to keep postponing that. So I’d better get a move on 🙂

Well, as someone who suffered doing a Master’s degree, I completely understand. What a pain in the ass education is sometimes, but ultimately worth it. So, best of luck! By the way, which period of history are you focusing on?

I am planning to go the whole way if I can… but even at the moment its hard to fit in, so I’m not sure I’ll actually manage/survive. I’m currently looking at the birth of Western/Christian Europe, political thinkers (from Plato-Rousseau), and the changes in society in the non-Western world since 1800.

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