Kodawari Hombu Dojo

What Is In A Name Part I - Kodawari Hombu Dojo

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What Is In A Name?

Part I: Kodawari Hombu Dojo

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

Kodawari, it’s just a word right? The Japanese language (as well as Chinese for that matter) is a beautiful and frustrating language. But, it is full of amazing concepts like Shuhari (守破離)1This is a Japanese concept that is commonly used within the martial arts community. It describes the stages of learning from beginner to master. Translated, you get the following: shu (守) “protect”, “obey”—traditional wisdom—learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs, ha (破) “detach”, “digress”—breaking with tradition—detachment from the illusions of self and ri (離) “leave”, “separate”—transcendence—there are no techniques or proverbs, all moves are natural, becoming one with spirit alone without clinging to forms; transcending the physical. Quite often, you will hear it defined as “Learning the Rules”, “Breaking the Rules” and “Developing New Rules”, Ikigai (生き甲斐)2Ikigai is a compound of two Japanese words: iki (生き, meaning ‘life; alive’) and kai (甲斐, meaning ‘(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit. It fully translates to a reason for living or being alive; a meaning for or to life; something that makes life worth living…in other words, it is what gets you out of bed in the morning. and, of course, Kodawari.

This is one of the very first blog posts I have done on this site. My intent was to take you, gentle reader, and slowly introduce you to some of the more “out there” concepts and ideas that I research, study and reflect on (notice that I didn’t say, very specifically, that I necessarily BELIEVE). So, should I just right into some mystical thinking and top it off with some theoretical quantum physics? Maybe throw in a religious reference or two as well? Ah…what the hell! Why not?  I have been called pianxin (偏心)3Pianxin would translate, roughly, to “eccentric” more than once! In for a penny, in for a pound I guess!

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

 

Kotodama or kototama (言霊, lit. “word spirit/soul”) refers to the Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. English translations include “soul of language”, “spirit of language”, “power of language”, “power word”, “magic word”, and “sacred sound”. The notion of kotodama presupposes that sounds can magically affect objects, and that ritual word usages can influence our environment, body, mind, and soul.
“Sound energy is the vibration of matter. When vibration in an object occurs, movement in the surrounding air particles happens. These particle collide with each other and cause further vibrations. As the particles collide further in a domino effect, the movement continues as a sound wave until they run out of energy. If your ear is in the range of the vibrations, you will hear the sound.”

Kodawari Hombu Dojo Backstory

Back towards the end of 2021, my Yangshi Taijiquan (揚式太极拳)4Yangshi means “Yang family” and refers to the Yang style of Taijiquan (Grand Ultimate Fist or Grand Ultimate Boxing). This style originated with Yang Luchan ((楊露禪). This is the second oldest style of Taijiquan in China and is probably the most widely practiced style in the world. sifu (師父)5Sifu or Shifu in terms of martial arts generally means “teacher” and would be the equivalent of “sensei” for those in Japanese or Okinawan martial arts. The character 師/师 means “skilled person” or “teacher,” while 傅 means “tutor” and 父 means “father.”(CMC lineage)6CMC stands for Cheng Man Ching

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

Kodawari

Kodawari means an uncompromising and relentless devotion to a pursuit, an art, a craft, an activity. It happens when a very high standard is set; when special consideration and attention is given to something; when a breach of the standard is unthinkable; when compromise is intolerable.

 

A relentless pursuit of perfection, attention to detail, and meticulous craftsmanship are the minimum requirements if you want to be great. In Japanese culture, the term for such devotion is known as Kodawari.Ken Mogi - Author of Little Book of Ikigai

 

Dojo Kodawari Personal

The deep attention to detail and the exquisite craftsmanship you apply to your tasks and goals are all part of your quest for perfection. But they are, by nature, personal. Over time, they become fundamental to who you are. They are what lights your own inner spark.Ken Mogi - Author of Little Book of Ikigai

 

The key to kodawari is that it is personal in nature. It is partially rooted in pride, but not the petty kind. It is the kind of personal pride that you feel when you are alone and you know that you tried your best. It comes from that deeper presence inside your head that watches you and knows when you are cutting corners. Whenever you ignore this discipline you feel weaker, and when you engage with it you feel stronger.

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aaf9f7-Q0GQ” title=”Ken Mogi on Kodawari” /]

Ken Mogi (茂木 健一郎, Mogi Ken’ichirō) is a Japanese scientist who studies the human brain (neuroscientist). He works for Sony Computer Science Laboratories and teaches at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is also a published author. And, as the gentleman in the video says (Nicholas Kemp), he has a great YouTube channel (but not enough videos!) that can be found here:

Ken Mogi TV

Kodawari Hombu Dojo Line Divider

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

Hombu

Hombu (本部) is a common Japanese word and is translated as “headquarters” or something along the lines of “main office”. What is interesting here is “hombu” with an m as opposed to “honbu” with an n. I have had some people tell me it is one way and the other is incorrect and vice versa. One day, I was even researching something on the interwebs and came across a martial arts forum where they apparently had absolutely nothing better to do that argue for 3 or 4 pages (and I have a LARGE monitor) whether it was hombu or honbu!7I should not give them too hard of a time as I was pretty much a “Richard Head” when it came to martial arts topics and arguing about them online in martial arts forums and email lists. So, I reached out to the person that does all of my kanji calligraphy here. This person speaks Japanese fluently and lives in Asia. I was told, basically, that it was almost a dialect sort of an issue and either can be correct. This is also why you will see words like sempai and senpai (先輩 – senior), enbusen and embusen (演武線 – demonstration line…where a kata begins as well as its line of movement from beginning to end) as well as kempo and kenpo (拳法 – fist law – from the Chinese for quanfa). Normally, when my go to person on the Japanese language tells me that “hombu” (as well as “kempo“) are correct, then I am good with it. So, I looked further. Shown below is a screen shot of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo website in Japan. I am going to assume that they understand their native tongue better than I do.

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

A quick snippet from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan as of 09/13/22

And then there is the Shorinji Kempo Hombu Dojo (also in Japan) that give you a double whammy of Hombu and Kempo. Again, I may be going out on a limb here, but I am assuming that they know their native language better than I do.

Kodawari Hombu Dojo

  • 1
    This is a Japanese concept that is commonly used within the martial arts community. It describes the stages of learning from beginner to master. Translated, you get the following: shu (守) “protect”, “obey”—traditional wisdom—learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs, ha (破) “detach”, “digress”—breaking with tradition—detachment from the illusions of self and ri (離) “leave”, “separate”—transcendence—there are no techniques or proverbs, all moves are natural, becoming one with spirit alone without clinging to forms; transcending the physical. Quite often, you will hear it defined as “Learning the Rules”, “Breaking the Rules” and “Developing New Rules”
  • 2
    Ikigai is a compound of two Japanese words: iki (生き, meaning ‘life; alive’) and kai (甲斐, meaning ‘(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit. It fully translates to a reason for living or being alive; a meaning for or to life; something that makes life worth living…in other words, it is what gets you out of bed in the morning.
  • 3
    Pianxin would translate, roughly, to “eccentric”
  • 4
    Yangshi means “Yang family” and refers to the Yang style of Taijiquan (Grand Ultimate Fist or Grand Ultimate Boxing). This style originated with Yang Luchan ((楊露禪). This is the second oldest style of Taijiquan in China and is probably the most widely practiced style in the world.
  • 5
    Sifu or Shifu in terms of martial arts generally means “teacher” and would be the equivalent of “sensei” for those in Japanese or Okinawan martial arts. The character 師/师 means “skilled person” or “teacher,” while 傅 means “tutor” and 父 means “father.”
  • 6
    CMC stands for Cheng Man Ching
  • 7
    I should not give them too hard of a time as I was pretty much a “Richard Head” when it came to martial arts topics and arguing about them online in martial arts forums and email lists.

About Michael Davis

Michael Davis
Beginning his martial training almost 50 years ago, Michael Davis has spent almost his entire adult life attempting to internalize, add to and propagate the body of knowledge that makes up the principles and techniques of the life preserving combative arts and sciences. Michael has taught or assisted with the teaching of seminars and events in 17 US states and four countries. In addition to training every day martial artists, he has taught members of the US military as well as law enforcement at every level...from local LEOs to Federal Marshalls and US Secret Service agents (protective detail). He has co-authored a martial arts book, written numerous magazine articles that were published internationally as well as appearing in and assisting with the production of martial arts videos and other training materials.
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