Bunbu Ryodo 文武両道, to soothe a savage beast

With its origins tracing back to ancient times, martial arts were developed in order to protect oneself and others from harm. Bunbu Ryodo was an idea that loosely emerged in the Middle Ages of Japan. Largely borrowed from the ancient Chinese concept of warrior scholar. An individual who possessed knowledge of combat and general military strategies, and embraced the ‘arts’. Calligraphy, Weichi (game of Go), Painting, Music, we’re the big four or Siyi 四藝. Another ‘balancing’ popular pursuit was gardening and garden making (creating rock and sand landscapes). This practice emerged as a way of encouraging individuals towards balancing mental growth with physical prowess. It wasn’t until Ieyasu Tokugawa became Shogun though did this concept become part of his restoration plan for peace within Japan – promoting balance between literary and military knowledge, for the betterment of society.

The first time the concept of Bunbu Ryodo appeared in print was the Tale of the Heike, published mid 14th century. The treatise is a record of the struggle between the Taira clan and the Minamoto clan for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War.

Japan’s quest for a harmonious balance between mental and physical health has long been at the heart of its culture for centuries. Personified in Bunbu Ryodo, this highly useful doctrine aimed at cultivating individuals with excellent interpersonal skills, superior intellects, moral excellence and strong community values – all combined to create the perfect embodiment of good spirit living within a healthy body.

What are the benefits of Bunbu Ryudo today?

Balancing martial art and creative or scholarly efforts is a great way to reduce stress, clear your mind and unleash creativity. To truly harness the power of life, one must cultivate a holistic connection between physical disciplines and intellectual or creative endeavours. Through this union, we can find our lives more meaningful, calm and rewarding.