Brian Kagen pick: “What is Shugyo?” by Craig Cox

“What is this concept we refer to as “Shugyou” ? Within the context of the martial arts, constant reference is made toward it, yet how many of us stop to consider its relevance and all that it implies? As practitioners of Chito Ryu karate, we recite the word glibly each night as part of the Showa ( 唱和 ) ceremony to finish training, generally, giving it little more regard than that it serves a mere function in formality. By the conclusion of this paper we shall come to recognise the massive underestimation of shugyou and the relevance of it to every living one of us.

Shugyou is commonly translated to mean “study ” in English, however, this oversimplified definition suffers a distinctly Western loading, as we shall see. Such oversimplification is a direct result of the frequent misconception that for all lexis and expression within a foreign language, a literally direct match also exists within one’s native tongue. As martial artists, we regularly encounter Japanese expressions that have highly specialised definitions or culturally specific applications. Despite this, very few individuals question whether or not equivalent expressions exist within our own language to communicate effectively the intended meaning of the original. Actually, the vast majority are unaware that such incongruence exists between languages. Such being the case, it is extremely relevant, even necessary that in order to progress in our martial studies, we are mindful of the importance to fully appreciate the full range of connotation one may apply to these extremely interesting expressions.”

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