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Innumerable times over the years students have come to ask the difference between JUTSU and DO, and for the most part my answers have always been to describe the basic surface distinctions—the historical, the philosophical, technical—the simple pragmatic basis of JUTSU as the basic military or soldierly training model, and DO, the modern pursuit of excellence and self actualization, the making of happier, healthier people and society and such.
It is much deeper than that. On a most basic level JUTSU is the madness of violence and DO is the sanity of nonviolence.
JUTSU is deeply and committedly a perspective of dualism—of self and other, of good and bad, of heroes and villains, of us and them. JUTSU promises empowerment through competence, technical and strategic skill and through superior firepower. JUTSU is all about winning and killing. This is basically kid’s stuff, the adolescent fantasy of the ultimate warrior who can conquer the world and make everything fit into the “big plan.” It is a natural extension of the mind that cannot but react to the karma of the circumstance except to try to steer it, control it, and force it. Make no mistake, JUTSU is a commonsense direct approach and it will solve some problems; it does have its good points, it has developed remarkable tools and techniques in the pursuit of its ends. But at the end of the day, since blood never successfully washes away blood, it is still madness. When we enter the path of training in the martial arts we all tend to start from just such a perspective (and notably, this is irrespective of what art you are pursuing and whether its name ends in the suffix “-jutsu” or “-do”).
DO requires something different. DO will not bend to the will, will not be tamed into submission, will not become subservient to the ego, to the “self.” DO does not lend itself to self-aggrandizement (those who attempt to do such leave behind a wake of sad and humorous carnage in their lives. They reduce themselves to becoming caricatures of real seekers of the way—can you say Segal?) DO is a move past dualism into the nondual and back out the other side. It transcends and includes JUTSU. It is a complete liberation of self from self that compels us to work according to principles, to harmonize the activity of self to align with these principles and to follow where they lead. DO is not, and can never be attained or mastered. DO is rather what we surrender to, once we have gotten still enough and quiet enough to pay attention to reality. Through DO we can come to understand and embody principles such as AIKI and JU.