Numerous studies have been made in the field of budo studies concerning the “Body and Mind Theory”. These previous studies point out that the influence religion has in the Body and Mind Theory of early-modern period budo was actually Zen Buddhism’s “Doctrine of Self Discipline”.
This paper, utilizing prior research conducted by this author on the ideology of the sword, reveals another side to the history of budo previously unexplored in the aforementioned studies. This research will also delve into the significance, background, and circumstantial formation of the concept of budo throughout the principle countries of the Far East, namely Japan, China, and Korea.
The results are as follows:
・The concept of “Divine Gifts”, or divinely-granted power, can be seen in the process of acquiring secret teachings from the most distinguished swordsmen in the Muromachi period of the Middle Age, and yields a thread of commonality, as stated below:
1) Ascetic prayer at Shinto shrines
2) Penance as a prerequisite
3) Acquiring divine gifts through dreams
・The techniques of acquiring divine gifts or power find their place in the Shinto world where magic can eliminate evil. These techniques affect both the external and internal side of a twofold reality, where the killing of an actual enemy is correlated to eliminating the evil present in one’s own mind.
・Regarding magic in swordsmanship, the connection between the sword and the divine is important, and this connection was authorized by mythical imagery.
・The conceptual roots of the sacred sword were thought to originate in the kingdoms of Wu and Yue during the Spring and Autumn periods in ancient China.
・The concept of a sacred sword to vanquish evil (Bi Xie Sword for the elimination of evil) was first put into practice with sword use in Chinese Taoist rituals. These concepts then spread to Korea, as represented in the practices of the Hwarang, and later to Japan, further expanding upon the connected lineage amongst these three Far East Asian countries.
・The manner in which a sword’s sanctity was recognized followed ancient China’s Tian Ming Ideal (Mandate of Heaven), where stars were sacred and sanctified the sword through direct inscription. This practice was subsequently seen in the Korean Hwarang, where it was believed that through such sanctification a sword could channel mysterious powers from the stars or from Taoist gods, and in ancient Japan, where the mythical imagery that a sacred sword itself was brought down to Earth by deities was formed. This cites a particular transition from corporeal thinking to abstract thinking.
・The concept of a sword granted with divine power was formed in a flow of thinking stemming from ancient Korea and later connecting to Japanese sword ideology. This seemingly absurd belief in divine gifts was not as widespread in ancient China, where precise and rational thought was preferred, as opposed to Korea and Japan that had predispositions toward abstract thinking.