Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Budo as Physical Education in Japanese Schools

Apparently in Japan, Physical Education in schools offers a join of some sort of Budo study (or dance, which is what the girls mostly take).

Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at Kenshi 24/7 regarding recent proposed reforms to Budo study in schools. The full post may be read here.



The lecture that I decided to attend was entitled “Further enrichment of budo classes in school physical education” by Seki Nobuo, a senior specialist for national curriculum (P.E.) at the Japan Sports Agency.  It was given on the 5th of September 2023 at Osaka University of Education. 

An ex-high school P.E. teacher before he moved into his governmental post, Seki has had a wide experience across difference P.E. related divisions. It is important to note that he travels across the country promoting the governments sports curriculum and, also, that he is NOT a kendo person. 

Here is the English outline provided for the lecture: 

“Budo has been compulsory subject based on the policy that students exposure to the unique traditions and culture of our country and establish enrich sport life in school physical education since 2012. In the fact that about 10 years have passed since budo became compulsory and the current revision of the Courses of Study, we would like to consider issues and measures for further enhancement of martial arts classes in physical education.”

(Note that the decision to add budo into compulsory education was taken in 2008, but it took 4 years of preparation before going into effect.)

Prior to 2012 the only other time that budo has been mandatory in the education system in Japan was for boys starting in 1933/34 (girls were forced into very basic naginata training during the war).  This wasn’t as part of some sort of overall P.E. curriculum per-se, but was used to install nationalism (boys and girls) to create soldiers (boys) for/in wartime periods. This obviously stopped after the war. 

BTW, budo is not actually “compulsory” nowadays but rather, all first and second year junior high school students (approx. 12-14 year olds) have to choose between “budo” or “dance” as part of their P.E. curriculum. What budo is on offer depends on what teachers are at the school (at the moment across the entire country the rates are: 60% judo, 30% kendo, 10% others). Boys overwhelmingly choose budo, and girls dance. 

The inclusion of budo into the national curriculum only happened after years of work spearheaded by the Nippon Budokan foundation (NB) since it was formed in 1964. As such, only budo as represented by the NB can be allowed in schools, i.e. judo, kendo, kyudo, sumo, karate, aikido, shorinji-kempo, naginata, and jukendo. NB has also taken a lead in publishing teaching texts and methodology related to teaching budo in schools (and recently into exploring how to expand budo practice for special needs students).


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