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The Symbol of a Samurai

The Samurai Way and the Japanese-Russian Cultural Exchange

The Symbol of a Samurai

In the middle of the Heian era (794–1185), a special sword, the katana, or nihonto, was created in Japan, with a bend and a convex border along the blunt side. During the Edo period (1603–1867), fencing from a technique of killing people turned into a more humane art of swordsmanship, with the aim of forming the personality of a samurai.

The period from the Muromachi era (1392-1573) to the beginning of the Edo period saw the birth of numerous styles of samurai fencing. And in the middle of the Edo period, training using special protective armor and bamboo swords came into practice. In this peaceful era, they began to attach great importance not only to the technical, but also to the moral and cultural aspect. After the Meiji bourgeois revolution (1868), at the beginning of the Taisse era (1912-1926), the art of samurai swordsmanship began to be called kendo - "the way of the sword." Kendo has gained wide acceptance as a budo (martial art) based on the spirit of the Japanese samurai. Kendo is now considered one of the main types of Japanese martial arts. Thus, more than 1,6 million Japanese have master ranks (degrees - dan) in this sport, and since 2012 kendo and other types of budo have been included in the compulsory curriculum of Japanese high schools.

Strict upbringing

Kendo and other Japanese martial arts differ in many ways from European sports. So, Yesifumi Nonaka in his book "Budo Etiquette" states: "Sport is in its essence entertainment, and budo is a world of asceticism, which is based on the path." Masatake Sumi (8th dan Hanshi) writes in Kendo: Human Education: “Unlike the rapidly progressing innovations and pursuit of technique in sports, Kendo training is based on the principles of shu-ha-ri:“ first follow the words teachers, then break them and finally go your own way. " Great importance in Kendo is attached to the student's attitude - it is necessary to make efforts in order to at least one step closer to their predecessors. " Yoshihiko Inoue (8th dan Hanshi) remarks: “The spirit of sport is the spirit of honest, open, courageous and light fighting according to the rules ... In budo, besides this, there is something else. These are the principles of "do not compete" and "do not set victory as the ultimate goal." This is what constitutes the spirit of budo, which has become a good addition to the spirit of sport. "

The main value in kendo is not a purely sporting component, but a moral aspect - the formation of human dignity. In Sadamune Ogasawara's treatise "Xinxing Rondze" (1335), it is said that for the samurai's honor, "strict self-education with respect to one's words and deeds in everyday life is important, as well as giving more importance to the spirit of politeness than winning a battlefield." According to the definition adopted by the All Japan Kendo Federation in 1978, "kendo is the way to shape human dignity through improvement in the law of the sword."

Takenori Baba (7 dan Kesi) in his monograph “Spirit, technique and body: improvement through kendo” notes the role of etiquette in the formation of personality: “In kendo there are many elements of the“ path ”that highly values ​​form, including etiquette, through which there is a formation of human dignity. " Masatake Sumi (8 dan Hansi) in the book Kendo: education of a person speaks about the formation of personality through perfection in kendo: “Kendo promotes the growth of a person’s spirituality through improvement of mastery”.

In all cities, towns and villages of Japan, there are schools and kendo sections, where a large number of children are engaged. When parents are asked why they give their children there, the majority responds: "We want through kendo they learn courtesy, etiquette, brought up the strength of the spirit." There are practically no parents who hope that if they grow up, their children will become professional kendoists or earn kendo for a living. Thus, in Japan, no emphasis is placed on the sports element of kendo, the main importance is attached to its moral component.

Kind attitude towards the enemy

One of the characteristic features of kendo, which is not often found in other sports, is the spirit of caring for other people and self-testing. It is necessary to always show respect to the enemy, thank him for every movement, and also constantly think about his actions.

In the case of a real sword fight, the outcome is always the following: the winner remains alive, and the defeated one dies. In this case, the winner looks at himself, whether he acted correctly, taking away the life of the enemy with his blow, and asks him for forgiveness. Such an act in kendo is called zansin (sediment on the heart, regret).

Modern kendo opens even more ample opportunities compared to duels on real swords. This is the possibility of unlimited growth, which is due to the fact that there is a winner and a defeated one, but no one dies. The one who strikes an accurate blow to the body of the opponent thinks over whether this blow was the right one, and thanks the partner for the opportunity to improve his skills. And the attacker thanks the partner for the fact that he with his blow gave him the opportunity to see his weaknesses, and reflects on his imperfection.

So, during serious fights with a partner, you can cultivate feelings of gratitude, respect for the enemy and a habit of self-examination. The possibility of mutual growth is the most outstanding feature of modern kendo.

Cultural exchange

It is believed that kendo in Russia began with the founding of the first club at Moscow State University in 1964. Then, in connection with the policy of the USSR, this martial art for a long time was prohibited, and from about 1989 the classes were resumed, primarily in Moscow. In 1998, former Prime Minister of Japan Ryutaro Hashimoto (then he had 5-dan in kendo) visited Moscow, who conducted a master class for Russian kendoists. In the same year, the first All-Russian Kendo Championship for the Cup "Peaceful Heart" was held, donated to them. Ryutaro Hashimoto took part in the second championship, and also exchanged with Russians in the kendo area.

Now under the leadership of the President of the Russian Kendo Federation R. S. Aloev, who continues to support the Russian Kendo since its inception, this type of samurai martial art has spread throughout Russia. Kendo is practiced everywhere: from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin and from Murmansk to the North Caucasus. Championships and master classes, events with the participation of leading Russian kendoists and Japanese masters, who are invited to Russia, are held in different cities. In addition, Russian kendoists visit Japan and train in clubs and university sections of kendo in different cities of the country. All this speaks of constant active contacts between our countries in this area.

Diplomatic representations of Japan in Russia hold various cultural events, seminars, master classes on modern and traditional culture, including kendo. In recent years, a number of master classes and championships have been held in cooperation with regional kendo federations in Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities of the European part of Russia, in the regions of Siberia and the Far East, including Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk.

In August 2011, within the framework of the program of Japanese-Russian youth exchanges based on an intergovernmental agreement, the Japanese government sent a group of kendoists - schoolchildren and students (24) from Iwate Prefecture, who suffered from a powerful earthquake in eastern Japan, to Krasnoyarsk. During this trip, the Japanese youth, affected by the disaster, met and communicated with Russian kendoists. In December of the same year, members of the Kendo Section of the Fukuoka Pedagogical University (16 people) were invited to Moscow, where they took part in the exchange for 4 days. And in June 2012 in Fukuoku already went young Russian kendoists (29 people) who deepened communication with their peers through kendo and joint recreation, including walks in tourist places.

Through cultural exchanges within the framework of such intergovernmental agreements, exchanges between citizens of our countries are indeed becoming increasingly active, and in 2012, the number of participants in the programs of Japanese-Russian youth exchanges for the first time in their entire history exceeded 500 people. In March of this year, it is planned to send a group of young Russian kendoists (about 35 people) to Tokyo University Sofia and Kyoto.

Russian spirit

About half a century has passed since the arrival of kendo in Russia, and despite the various difficulties it faces, kendo in Russia is beginning to take root firmly. The fact that in 2010 and 2011 the juniors of Primorye won the European Kendo Championship, prove that the Russian kendo is developing remarkably. On the other hand, in Moscow and other central cities, kendo, as before, is considered a martial art for adults, and children have very few chances to do it. For the spread of kendo in the future, an important task is to increase the youth sections.

In addition, the apparent lack of the number of Russian-language books on kendo and information about it in the Russian-language Internet also hinders the spread of this martial art, especially given the fact that the true essence of kendo is the spiritual culture, samurai philosophy that was cultivated by ancestors from ancient times. If you train without understanding such basic postulates, then even studying techniques and techniques of kendo, it will be impossible to talk about its development in the true sense of the word.

It is likely that the art of combat, like kendo, is widely spread among Russians - the reason for this lies in the Russian mentality. In Russian families, all respect grandparents, and harmony is honored between family members and close friends. Such traditions are very close to the spirit of Japanese courtesy and harmony, which is most appreciated in kendo. Japanese students who spent several days with Russian kendoists during the Japanese-Russian youth exchange were touched by the Russian mentality and in one voice said: “Russian kendoists have a lot to learn.” I want to believe that the Japanese-Russian kendo exchange is not only an exchange in the field of sports, but also an exchange of spirituality of the Japanese and Russians, and this exchange will contribute to greater mutual understanding between our peoples.

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