Dansk Kendo Societet på dansk


Kobudo and bujutsu

Today kendo traditions based on kobudo is practiced by the minority. This is also the case out of Japan.

The Japanese term kobudo indicates a deep connection to 'military' and 'way'. Kobudo is the combination of following characters ko , bu , and do . Ko means 'old' while bu means 'military, warrior', and do means 'way'. Kobudo is often translated into English as "classical martial ways".

Kendo based on the old budo system, kobudo, can be traced back to the time of the transformation of kenjutsu which was based on the system bujutsu ¹.

Kobudo refers to the method of education which was used during the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). This was in the first half of the seventeenth century when the total power was consolidated by the ruling Tokugawa clan.

The Confucian ethical outlook on social organization is found in the kobudo system in its emphasis on the social responsibilities of man. Kobudo serves as the moral education and is not considered to be an instrument for killing. Bujutsu and kobudo share a concern for morality. From the hoplological² perspective the term bujutsu and kobudo differs from each other and has following priorities:

Bujutsu: (1) combat, (2) discipline, (3) moral
Kobudo: (1) moral, (2) discipline, (3) aesthetic form

Social changes during the Tokugawa period made possible the emergence of kobudo. With these changes, what had previously served as training for battle (bujutsu) for the warriors was modified so that it became available as the basis for a system of training for everyday life (kobudo) for common men.

Danish Kendo Society does not consider the Japanese swordsmanship based on kobudo as entertainment or sport because kobudo rests in 'bu' (military affairs). Kobudo was an educational system based on military ancestors but the educational system was oriented towards the cultivation of warriors and common people in an age of peace in Japan.

Furthermore the term kobudo used in this description must not be confused with Okinawan kobudo which is used to described the combative systems from Okinawa and has its own distinct cultural background and legacy.


Danish Kendo Society organizes iaijutsu and kenjutsu which are denoted as bujutsu . Teaching under Danish Kendo Society is a matter of preserving life (katsujinken ) and not using the sword in order to kill (satsujinken ).

The Purpose of the Education Systems

The Purpose of the Education Systems under Danish Kendo Society is that the groups will learn and understand the Japanese martial culture prior to the modern period of Japan (prior to 1868) and preserve these traditions which are based on (a) bujutsu including the principle of katsujinken, and (b) the old budo system, kobudo.

Danish Kendo Society supports the use of education systems which exist prior to the modern period of Japan. One of these systems was the menkyo system which fundamental purpose was to educate the students in order to preserve the traditions of the group.


Lumping all Japanese martial systems together as "martial arts" is insufficient for understanding the evolution of Japanese martial systems. Historically it is not possible to attribute more consistency to the generic term 'martial arts' than surviving texts allow.

Draeger, Donn F. (1922-1982) has presented a general typology of Japan's history, organization, philosophy, training methods, and Japanese martial systems. Draeger based his pioneering work on observation and participation in a number of the Japanese systems within martial arts and ways in addition to interviews with leading authorities in the field. These interviews included leaders of a number of martial traditions and martial historians for example Watatani Kiyoshi, Otsubô Shihô and Watanabe Ichirô. In 1973-1974 Draeger published his trilogy on Japanese martial traditions in which he made a historical analysis of the evolution of Japanese combatives from classical martial arts (bugei³ or bujutsu) to spiritually oriented martial ways (budo) prior to the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and their counterparts in the modern era of Japan (after the Meiji Restoration).

Classical Bujutsu
Volume I
by Donn F. Draeger.
Publisher: Weatherhill, 1973.
Language: English.
Pages: 112.

Classical Budo
Volume II
by Donn F. Draeger.
Publisher: Weatherhill, 1973.
Language: English.
Pages: 128.

Modern Bujutsu and Budo
Volume III
by Donn F. Draeger.
Publisher: Weatherhill, 1974.
Language: English.
Pages: 192.

¹ Bujutsu: 'Bu' means military, warrior and 'jutsu' means technique.
² Hoplology is the study of the basis, patterns, relationships, and significances of combative behavior at all levels of social complexity.
³ Bugei: 'Bu' means military, warrior and 'gei' means art or skill.