Interview with Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei about the meaning of Budo (EN)

Insightful interview with Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei (Shinto Muso Ryu Jodo / Sei Ryu Kai) :

The meaning of Budo from the perspective of a Koryu

Recorded by Manuela ZIPS and Univ. Dr. Werner ZIPS

Translated from the Japanese by Aikio YOKOYAMA and Bernhard WARDEIN

German version


Tokyo Bunbukan (文武 馆) March 2007


Foto: Bernahrd Wardein

(times in min : sec)

0:00 Zips:

 What is Budo?

Nishioka Sensei:

Our school is called Shinto Muso Ryu (SMR). It began about 400 years ago. I would like to build a large Honbu Dojo here.


1:00 Zips :

 Please tell us something about the SMR

Nishioka Sensei:

This goes back to a person called Muso Gonnosuke Katsushiki, who was our first sensei. 400 years ago this master went to Kyushu, and now the SMR is spreading around the world. It has been passed down from master to master up to Shimizu Sensei, who has been here before me. He was the one who sent people out into the world. One of them was Pascal Krieger, who went to Europe. 2:00: Philip Relnick went to America - and also in Brazil there is now SMR. Here is the center.

But there is the following problem: The art must be passed on from body to body and not from head to head, as it is now the common method to teach.

3:00: Abroad I cannot really talk to people, as for example to Brigitte PRASEK from Vienna, because I speak only Japanese.


3:30 Zips:

The origin and the Spirit of Budo (Sei Shin)?

Nishioka Sensei:

The spirit of Bushido was passed down within the SMR by Muso Gonnosuke in the form of Kata. By studying these Kata, one understands the spirit of Bushido.

4:00: And this is the most difficult explanation. I have already written about this on my HP. (I gave this to Pascal in form of a CD. - short Discussion about CD. In French this is already available on the net, which is wonderful.)

5:30: There are many Kata in the SMR, but within them only 5 secrets (Uchikomi) are passed on - and no one can really understand them.

6:00: These 5 secrets are the nature of the SMR and of Budo. In Japan this is the case in all Ryu-Ha (= schools). Eg. in the Shin Kage Ryu. Usually there are three to five. The hard part is that you do not understand them. But the Uchikomi contain the nature of the secrets.

7:00: Aikido is very popular nowadays, but I'm not sure if anyone at all has inherited the spirit of O-Sensei Ueshiba. I even think he is understood less and less. Therefore, I am grateful for the interest in Jodo and find it important to spread SMR. Nitobe Inazu wrote his book "Bushido" - in my opinion - first in English in the Meiji period. I would also love to do that: write a book about Bushido.

8:00 : The content should be that it is a brutal matter of life and death (Satsu - Batsu). The most important point is that it is about a serious battle (Shin Ken Shoubu) in which you want to take another's life - and then suddenly stop. Life is simply too important, and then you swap the roles (Kotai) . But unfortunately, people still kill.

8:30: I would most of all like to give a seminar (Jodo) to the Presidents of the various countries in order to make them understand this. It might sound like I'm crazy, but I mean that quite seriously.

9:00: After Meiji the Bushi were gone, and with them the katana, therefore it became more and more difficult to learn the art. Older people, who still know it, also disappear gradually, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to pass it on.

9:22: Budo is definitely not a sport. 60-80-year old people need to stay healthy and take care of themselves so that they can practice it as long as possible and pass it on. And that's why I rented this dojo and founded the Seiryukai. It is marvellous that specialists even come from Vienna, that they are interested in it.

10:00: Maybe all this seems absurd, but I think it makes sense and I am very grateful that I have learned this art. I have travelled a lot around the world. This year in Brazil a health incident occurred to me, and it's better that I do not go on trips any more, but instead pay more attention to my health.

11:00: But the others are still welcome to come to me. Not because of me but because of the art. Just as the people of Austria, France, and Scandinavia - they all visit me and I am very grateful.

When people visit me no more, I cannot pass on the art.


12:00: Zips :

You said that Japan has changed a lot – how has it changed?

Nishioka Sensei:

Because Japan is changing so much, some things should not change and something should remain. The most important thing has been lost: the true spirit of Bushido. Today, many misunderstand it. I have a hard time explaining this, I would prefer to do it in English or maybe in French - but I have to present it in Japanese.

13:00: The good thing is that what has been lost in Japan, is found again in other parts of the world. The most important has been transferred in the wrong way from generation to generation and therefore it has been misunderstood- especially in Budo -  so Budo has turned into a sport. This has two reasons: firstly for bad explanations, on the other hand, a bad understanding of the listener.

14:00: There are many good books on Budo, but they are all just technical. Philosophical, there are very few, but those are more important. Each technique is based on a philosophy, and each country has its own philosophy. This ultimately gives identity. And everybody is looking for his identity. Today it is difficult to find ones identity.

15:00: Through Budo we find identity. Budo give identity to the practitioner. At first glance, it's all about fighting and conflict (Shin Ken Sho). But life is unique and therefore too important, and you need the repetition (Kurigaeshi) to understand. In everyday life, everything is changing fast and for me it is not always comprehensible. With the children of my daughters I talk often, and then I'm not convincing for them.

16:15: The present generations understand things differently. But Transmission is important, and the same for every nation - it's almost like religion. Unlike my grandchildren, these people here in the dojo have chosen to do so, they had to decide to choose  me. Because of such decisions Seiryukai exists at all. If I were arrogant, everyone would leave. Therefore I stay with the art and continue learning.

17:00: I am of the opinion that Bushido in today's era demands a new explanation (17:19). The essence has not changed - but the explanation. (Now we could go drink beer or tea, because we are grateful that you came from Vienna. - 17:39, while Dojo Cho lays the table.)

18:00: In the SMR learning happens within the principle of Uchidachi and Shidachi. This principle is almost impossible to explain, but a summary can be read in Pascal's book. Today we think that sport is better. 

(Unintelligible question)

 Bushido and Budo are the same, but that leads to an extreme point of view. And therefore the new explanation, which is in line with the times… 

19:00: Anywhere in the dojo you can find sayings on the walls that in their essence talk about the spirit of Budo. But they are long "dead" because the meaning is lost. We therefore need to bring them back to life differently.

20:04: Whether the spirit lives or dies depends on those who are now living. It is thought here that our people should adopt this. But those who come from far away, perhaps make the bigger effort. The essence of Budo isn't found in the term Budo, but in real life, and it's not a sport. Even if it is already outdated, we will practice it.

21:00: The world is changing faster and faster bringing us more and more into trouble, handing down is getting increasingly difficult. If you die at 30, you have not understood anything yet, and it is not possible to pass something on. To do that it is required to grow 80 or 100 years old, and therefore one should not get hurt. This is precisely the task of the Sensei who holds the Ken (Uchidachi) - therefore it is also important that the Uchidachi lives long (not to kill him 21:23). The sword is always wielded by Oya (literally: parents, also Uchidachi), and the other has the Jo. This is different in sports, there both are the same. I also have my Oya, which are now in the Kamiza, up to the highest deity. And that's really wonderful, there's always someone higher than yourself, and you can call him by clapping, with the meaning "come please and look, Sensei, this, as you have shown us, is it good this way?"

22:00: Hence you have to be modest. But in Budo practitioners are often arrogant and put on airs ("ore ga ... ": "I!“ in a selfish sense). But that is wrong. Above mankind there is one. The Japanese deities are the Oya in the Kamiza . The Japanese God is Oya . Therefore the training begins with a greeting (Ai Sazu): "Sensei kore kara keiko wo shimasu" - Sensei, so far so good, we train now, please look at us. This is a Embu no Ho (Ho no = votive offering, Embu = demonstration of Bu). The feeling that you are grateful that someone up there is watching.

23:00: This way I want to answer these questions, …