Japanese Martial Arts: Most well known is from Gendai Budo! – Part 3

|This post is written by Saladine|

brick hand crush

They say new is always better. Is it? Aside from Gendai budō is created after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, there is not much difference shown between Koryū and Gendai budō. As a matter of fact, the Japanese modern martial arts is pretty much developed from Koryū, although the uses of the martial arts are very different. You might notice that there are an increase of unarmed martial arts in Gendai budō. That’s because the aim of modern martial arts is a study of life principles, for example as a means to refine one’s approach to conflict or danger. To study the philosophy of defense rather than attacking, is easier being incorporate in unarmed martial arts.

List of Gendai budō Martial Arts

I’m sure you will know more than 4 of the martial art stated here, considering how vast these martial arts are well known. Of course, there are unarmed combat and weapon specific, as usual. Let’s see what I can scrap from the media.

Unarmed Martial Arts

Weapon-oriented Martial Arts

Unarmed Martial Arts



Aikido (合氣道) is a modern grappling-based Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. The art consists of “striking”, “throwing” and “joint locking” techniques and is known for its fluidity and blending with an attacker, rather than meeting “force with force” (I know, it’s very much alike with Jujutsu). Emphasis is upon joining with the rhythm and intent of the opponent in order to find the optimal position and timing with which to apply force. Aikidō is also known for emphasizing the spiritual and philosophical development of its students reflecting the religious background of its founder.


Morihei Ueshiba incorporate training movements from many weapons such as those for the yari (spear), (a short quarterstaff), and perhaps also juken (bayonet). Arguably the strongest influence is that of kenjutsu and in many ways, an aikidō practitioner moves as an empty handed swordsman. While practicing, the 3 most used weapon are tantō (wooden knife), bokken (wooden sword), and .


Judo (柔道) literally meaning “gentle way” or “way of softness”, is a modern grappling-based martial art, practiced primarily as a sport. It was created by created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an opponent to submit by joint locking or by executing a strangle hold or choke (Yes, it’s also very much like Jujutsu). Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defenses are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori).


The first time judo was seen in the Olympic Games was in an informal demonstration hosted by Kano at the 1932 Games. Judo became an Olympic sport for men in the 1964 Games in Tokyo, and has spread throughout the world. The women’s event was introduced at the Olympics in 1988 as a demonstration event, and an official medal event in 1992. Paralympic judo has been a Paralympic sport (for the visually impaired) since 1988; it is also one of the sports at the Special Olympics.

Karate Do

Karate (空手) is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. Karate literally means “empty hand”. However, the word “karate” can also means “China hand” because Karate is a fusion of pre-existing Okinawan martial arts, called “te“, and many Chinese martial arts. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. In some styles, grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught.

Shotokan Karate England 2

There are several different styles of karate, most of them stemming from the same genealogical tree, and some others acquiring the name “karate” for practical reasons while actually deriving from a mix of other martial arts. Each style of karate stresses some techniques more than others, or has some differences in performing the same techniques from what other styles do. However, most karate schools and styles adhere to the same basic principles, and use the same basic attire, stances, and terminology.

Interesting Trivia: Karate is the most famous and well known martial arts in the world, according to Here. It is also true that most movies use Karate martial arts rather than other style.

Shorinji Kempo

Shorinji Kempo (少林寺拳法)is a modern (post World War II) system for self-improvement and training with many similarities to Shaolin kungfu (including using the same first three kanji). It was established in 1947 by Doshin So, a Japanese martial artist who had been exiled in northern China during World War II and who on returning to his native Japan after World War II saw the need to overcome the devastation and re-build self-confidence of the Japanese people on a massive scale.


“Kempo practicing the basic move and stance”

Shorinji Kempo derives its basic philosophy from ancient Buddhism and its basic techniques from old Chinese martial arts. It is a system of “self-defense and training” (goshin-rentan), “mental training ” (seishin-shūyō) and “promoting health” (kenkō-zōshin), whose training methods are based on the concept that “spirit and body are not separable” (shinshin-ichinyo) and that it is integral to “train both body and spirit” (kenzen ichinyo).

Through employing a well organized technical training schedule, Shorinji Kempo aims to “establish oneself” and to promote “mutual comfort.

Weapon-Oriented Martial Arts


Close-range Combat

Mainly using sword and bayonet, it’s a weapon where one enter the enemy field to commence an attack. Although the study is using a weapon, we should not forget what “arts” in martial arts means. Claiming only to seek destruction is not the intention in learning martial arts, moreover while using weapon. Let’s start from the most famous one


Kendo (剣道) that literally means the “way of the sword”, is based on Japanese sword-fighting that evolve from the art of kenjutsu, and its exercises and practice are descended from several particular schools of swordsmanship. The modern form of kendo really began to take shape with the introduction of bamboo swords, called shinai, and the set of lightweight wooden armour, called bogu, which allowed for the practice of strikes at full speed and power without risk of injury to the competitors.


Today, virtually the entirepractice of modern kendo is governed by the All Japan Kendo Federation, founded in 1951. Competitions are judged by points, with the first competitor to score two points on their opponent declared the winner. One point may be scored with a successful and properly executed strike to any of several targets: a thrust to the throat, or a strike to the top of the head, sides of the head, sides of the body, or forearms. Practitioners also compete in forms (kata) competitions, using either wooden or blunted metal swords, according to a set of forms promulgated by the AJKF.


Iaidō (居合道) which would be “the way of mental presence and immediate reaction”,a modern Japanese martial art associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard or saya, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard.


“What you didn’t see here is the next 5 second where the car in the back also get slashed. Okay, no, its a jest.”

Iaidō is nominally the modernization of iaijutsu, but in practice is frequently identical to iaijutsu.  The replacement of jutsu with is part of the 20th century emphasis upon personal and spiritual development; an evolution that took place in many martial arts. In the case of iaidō, some schools merely changed in name without altering the curriculum, and others embraced the wholesale change from a combat-orientation to spiritual growth.


Jūkendō (銃剣道) is the Japanese martial art of bayonet fighting, and has been likened to kendo (but with bayonets instead of swords). Jukendo techniques are based on sojutsu (spear fighting) and bayonet techniques from the 17th century, when firearms were introduced to Japan.


Modern jūkendō uses a mokujū, a wooden replica of a rifle with an attached and blunted bayonet at the end, in place of an actual rifle. The art is practised by both Japanese military personnel and civilians. Training incorporates kata (patterns), two-person drills, and competitive matches using mokujū and protective armor.The three main target areas are the heart, throat, and lower left side of the opponent.

Long-range Combat

Okay I’ll be honest, there is only 1 martial arts that use long-range weapon and it’s not really a combat either (Though, there are several competition), and that weapon is a bow. Because there are several steps and philosophy in drawing a bow, it is considered as martial arts.


Kyūdō (弓道) which means “way of the bow”, is the modern name for Japanese archery. As the bow lost its significance as a weapon of war defeated by firearms, and under the influence of Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism and Confucianism, Japanese archery evolved into kyudō, the “way of the bow”. In some schools kyudō is practiced as a highly refined contemplative practice, while in other schools it is practiced as a modern day sport.


“Courtesy of Corneliu Nicoara. Taken from a blog Here

In Japanese kyudo competition, an archer shoots four arrows in two sets, placing one pair of arrows at his or her feet and retaining the second pair at the ready. He or she first shoots the haya clasping the otoya tightly with his glove hand’s one or two last fingers. He then waits until the other archers shoot, then he sets the otoya and shoots. Once all the archers have shot, the archer will then pick up the second pair of arrows at his feet and repeat the process, starting with the second flight’s haya. During normal competition, this process is done with the archers standing, however, the complete shooting procedure includes having the archer kneel in kiza while waiting between each shot.

For each hit on the mato, the archer is awarded a “maru” (circle) mark. For each miss, the archer is awarded a “batsu” (X) mark. The goal is to strike the target with all four arrows.

With that, I have explain both the ancient and modern style of Japanese Martial Arts. Let’s have trivia question, have you ever heard this phrase?

“You see but you didn’t saw”

The general meaning is that “I know, but I don’t understand”. Just knowing all kinds of martial arts, does not mean you’re an expert in it. To fully understand the value and norms in martial arts, one must practice for it. That’s being said, there are several concept in all Japanese Martial Arts that must be known by the practitioner, in order to achieve better understanding and development. It is the most crucial, yet somehow always forgotten to be followed by most students. And yes, I’m going to discuss that in the next article. Look forward to it :P


About Saladin

Another weird college kid in search for something not boring. Have a very high confidence in everything I do, and can debate to death to prove a point. Majoring in International Relation, studying diplomacy, but love martial arts. Never allow me to see your gesture, if you don't want to be judged. Oh, and god, I love sweet!

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