Budō Jiten − Martial Arts Dictionary
This dictionary is the result of my personal research to develop a martial arts vocabulary based on the living traditions of Ti, as taught by my teacher Onaga Yoshimitsu Kaichō at the Shinjinbukan School. Unauthorized reproduction, translation into other languages or sale of these materials constitutes a copyright violation.
Written by Jimmy Mora
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Lit. Sitting meditation. A type of meditation unique to Zen Buddhism. Zazen is the study of the one self, by bringing together mind, body and breathing during sitting meditation. In Martial Arts, zazen is done with the eyes open focused on a point on the ground approximately one meter away.
By controlling the breathing, the muscles will loosen and relax, allowing the knees to drop and touch the floor. At the same time the spine stretches to its full length by maintaining the head’s natural upward direction. As a result, the diaphragm can move freely and generates the control needed for very deep breathing. The purpose is to recover the natural breathing we had as infants: allowing the belly to rise and fall effortlessly. As a beginner, it is recommended to keep a mental count during each inhalation and exhalation. This keeps the mind from drifting off and creates a breathing cycle.
The objective of zazen is to develop awareness, consciousness, and mental activity by focusing breathing, muscle relaxation and body posture. This creates an intense power of concentration, called joriki. This allows the mind to focus on where, when, and as long as needed. The development of joriki is at the center of Martial Arts.
There is common misconception to assume that zazen has an esoteric or mystical meaning. Some types of zazen use a small cushion called zafu. The typical hand position is to have both hands palm up, with the dominant hand on the other and the thumbs touching lightly forming an oval. The hands may rest on the thighs. There are several types of sitting positions:
— Burmese position: The legs are crossed with both feet and knees resting on the floor. While sitting on the zafu, the body shifts slightly forward.
— Half Lotus position: The left foot is placed on the right thigh, while the right leg is tucked under the left leg. A zafu may or may not be used. This creates an asymmetrical position that needs to be compensated by the upper body.
— Full Lotus position: Each foot is placed up on the opposite thigh, creating a very solid and symmetrical position. A zafu may or may not be used.
— Seiza: The typical Martial Arts sitting meditation done by kneeling on both calves without a zafu and both hands rest on the thighs. In other arts, a pillow or a small seiza bench could be used.
Lit. Lit. Zen Buddhism. Chinese pronunciation: Chuan, Chan or Ch’an. Zen influenced all Japanese culture and arts, particularly among the Samurai warrior class. It is considered both a religion and a philosophy. Zen is part of Buddhism’s historical development, which originated in India around 500BC and later developed into two main schools: Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism originated out of the Mahayana school called Dhyana, which in Sanskrit means meditation. The exact date is unknown, but around the year AD520, the Indian monk Bodhidharma introduced Mahayana Buddhism to China, where it mixed with Taoism and became known as Chuan.
There is a lot of myth around the historical figure of Bodhidharma, known as Pútídámó in Chinese (pinyin) or Daruma in Japanese, who has been in some literature as a blue-eyed barbarian. According to legend, Bodhidharma’s mind and body approach to enlightenment taught to the Shaolin monks lead to the creation of the Shaolin Martial arts.
Through the next centuries, Chuan split into a number of schools as it spread from China, to Korea and finally to Japan, where it was renamed Zen Buddhism. In the 12th century Japan, the Samurai class made Zen their way, and it has remained closely connected ever since to Japanese culture: arts, poetry, literature and martial arts.
Lit. All, whole, entire, complete or overall. In Japanese Martial Arts, this term is used as part of the name of a national or regional Federation, which implies that it includes several ryūha (styles). For example: Zen Nippon Kendō Renmei (All Japan Kendō Federation); Zen Nippon Iaidō Renmei (All Japan Iaidō Federation); Zen Okinawa Karate Dō Renmei (All Okinawa Karate Dō Federation), etc.
Lit. Before, ago, former, previous, one-time, the above. Refers to the direction in front or ahead of you.
Lit. To bend forward.
Lit. Forward leaning stance. Also known as Front Stance, it is commonly used for basic tsuki and keri drills. Zenkutsu dachi is basically the same stance as kokutsu dachi (back stance), with the body orientated to the front instead of the back. Both zenkutsu dachi and kokutsu dachi work together as a set by rotating from the body's center axis.
Lit. Advance, progress or drive. This command is used to advance, or movement forward during drills. In the Shinjinbukan School, we do no have the concept of moving back and forth. According to Onaga Kaichō, "Our bodies do not move back and forth, but left or right." The reasoning behind this approach is that we do not have four legs. We do not have front or back legs, only left and right legs.
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Shibu Chō: Jimmy Mora, Renshi, Roku Dan (6th Dan) ∙ © 2016 Shinjinbukan Foundation
Shinjinbukan.com is a free resource sponsored by the Shinjinbukan Foundation. The statements on this site represent my own personal understanding of Onaga Yoshimitsu Kaichō's teachings. Therefore, I do not claim to speak on his behalf. As one more of his students, I am eager to share his living and oral traditions. Jimmy Mora