Thesis in English « Bunburyodo » by master Patrick Rault

          BUNBURYODO by Master Patrick Rault 

. Kyoshi 7th dan FFKDA,  Kyoshi 8th dan Okinawa

. International expert of world Kyudokan

. Cultural Ambassador of the Okinawa prefecture , Japan

. Fédéral expert of the Karate french federation FFKDA , WKF .

His thesis : 

Part I


I. My way in karate.

1. My beginning in karate 1970’s
2. My path as a karateka from Okinawa in 1985 …

a. Visitor and living there: it’s different.
b. Shimpo Matayoshi, Kobudo master
c. Two expressions that have influenced me throughout my life.

d. Meeting Master Yoshio Nakamura, 10th Dan

3. Karate classes

a. During the classes

b. Learn by observing and feeling

4. University of Martial Arts
5. The first French person to teach karate in Japan

6. My current master, Minoru Higa, 10th Dan

II. Calligraphy
1. Calligraphy with Master Tsuji Tamizo 2. The hidden agenda of calligraphy
3. The study of calligraphy

a. Bunbu no Mitchi b. Bu
c. Mitchi or Do
d. Rei

e. Katsu Jin Ken / Ken Satsu Jin f. Hoho kore dojo / e Itchi go itchi g. Shu Ha Ri
h. Onore ni katsu
i. Shugyo
j. Shin Gi Tai




This thesis has a dual purpose: on the one hand, to present a part of my practice, hoping it will last much longer ; on the other, to share with you the thoughts generated by this practice.

Bunbu Ryodo is a traditional Japanese martial arts concept. The English translation would be: « the way of both culture and martial arts ». Bunbu Ryodo therefore attempts to harmonize physical training martial arts with Japanese culture. So many martial arts masters between the 16th and 20th century art practiced at least one « soft » discipline. They were painters, sculptors, philosophers, poets, or studied the literary classics of their time. Most often, they were masters of the Japanese tea ceremony (the Cha No Yu), flower arranging (Ikebana), or a musical instrument like the bamboo flute (Shakuhachi). Many cultivated bonsai. But calligraphy remained main « gentle art », in the sense that it was the most practiced one.

I will try, through this paper, to demonstrate the importance of the contribution of cultural elements to balance martial-arts practice. It seems to me that the practice can dispense knowledge, even if only partial, of Japanese culture. This knowledge allows us to understand and improve the practice itself, through verbal expression and traditional art.

Among these traditional artistic expressions, I learned calligraphy.

The first part of this thesis concerns my journey as a karateka, beginnng in the 1970s at Versailles and continuing in my 15 years of life in Japan. I will meet teachers, places, words. In the second part, I will develop my encounter with calligraphy and the significance of this art for the practitioner. Finally, in the third part, I will outline and analyze why calligraphy is of major importance for one who engages in the martial way.


1. I begin karate  1970’s


Versailles 1975: I’m 15 and my teacher is Guy Juille; Shito ryu is the style. My passion for this art is immediate, and I throw myself into it with great enthusiasm. I participate in all seminars that I can with the masters of style: Satoru Nino, Teruo Hayashi, Hidetoshi Nakahashi …

I reach a level that allows me to participate in many karate championships. Shortly after one competition, I attended a Japanese cultural day organized by the city of Versailles. It was then that I began to wonder about the essence of karate, beyond its « sport » element. I wonder about its origins, its relationship with Japanese culture … The idea to go to Japan starts to form …

During a seminar organized by my first teacher, I encounter a master of Okinawan karate. This discovery of traditional Okinawan Karate Shorin Ryu is crucial in my journey of practicing. We are in 1981 and four years later, I leave for a year to finally study Okinawa Karate and Kobudo in Okinawa. At the time, I never supposed that I would stay 15 years in Japan.

This is what I will explain now.

2. My path as a karateka from Okinawa in 1985 …

a. Visitor and living there: it’s different.
I would like to clarify the difference between coming to Okinawa to train or discover

Japanese culture for a visit, and living and working there.
When a person comes to spend a month in Okinawa, they are a little « center of the

dojo »; everyone is friendly with them. This is because they are a passing stranger.
But when you’re there for a long time, nothing is easy. You really need to adapt to the culture.

Even with efforts I felt a « gaijin », a stranger. Perhaps the reason is that there are many Gis, US Military, on the island of Okinawa. And they are not necessarily appreciated. In addition, at the time I was there, the Japanese population did not differentiate between a French civilian and an American soldier.
For example, I remember that, during a demonstration, one of my « sempai » (senior) insisted telling the public that I was French, from Paris, and I could not even speak English (which was not true). He wanted them to like me! « by the way I have many american friends 🙂  »
b. Master Shimpo Matayoshi, Kobudo Master

It was thanks to Master Chinen Kenyu who gave me a letter of introduction that I met Master Matayoshi. My sempai, Kobudo Master Oshiro Zenei, accompanied me to meet Master Matayoshi. Master Matayoshi received me kindly, with a smile, even giving me a stone to strengthen my hands. He welcomed me to his dojo, where I lived as uchi deshi (disciple at home) for almost a year.

The first time I entered the dojo, I felt I was returning to a place as full of history as a museum. This sentiment is certainly born of the fact that, everywhere on the walls, weapons were fixed. But I also felt that it was an intense place of work: simultaneously a mixture of heat and austerity.

c. Two expressions that still influence my life.
Two expressions touched me deeply in Okinawa. I learned them a few weeks after

my arrival in Naha and they have subsequently influenced my life, my practice.
The first is « Itchaliba chode. » Its literal translation would be: « From the moment we meet we are brothers! » Hearing this alleviates doubts from a first encounter with an

The second, « Shimugurusan » translates to « feel the pain of the other. » This highlights

the importance of empathy. In a fighting art, feelling the other is a valuable aid, helping one not to anticipate. Going further, beyond the pain of another, it is to experience an atmosphere, vibrations specific to the place where you are.

d. Meeting with 10th Dan Master Yoshio Nakamura
I met Master Nakamura, Shorin ryu Grandmaster of the Enbukan school, through

the introduction of Master Matayoshi. Master Nakamura seemed warm and stern at the same time. A mixture of benevolence and austerity suggested uncompromising training.

Master Nakamura’s dojo was very small, made entirely of wood, and was the ground floor of his very old house. On one of the walls hung some calligraphy, reminding visitors that karate practitioners develop something other than just the physical body.

To name just one: KATSU JIN KEN means that the practice of karate strengthens vitality. If vitality is strengthened, the individual is not destroyed. So, by extension, KATSUJIN KEN implies a route of non-violence; that in karate we develop health, and harmony with others. « KENKO DAÏ ITCHI : Health First »!

3. Karate classes

a. During the classes
The classes were very repetitive. From the beginning, that is to say, the warm-up,

until the end, namely back exercises to relax, everything was identical. The same warm-up, the same Kyon, the same Kata, and some weights with Chishi, Makiwara and other instruments, meant to harden the body, hands, etc.

The warm up was already very hard, with exercises that would put off most practitioners. The dojo was very small and we were not more than five students in each class, besides the teachers. I learned all the kata of the school in a few months. We rehearsed at least once for each course. But it took seven months before we learned the kata in depth, with the knowledge of bunkai.

I was been amazed at the number and diversity of bunkai taught by Master Nakamura. I had forgotten fighting; I was focused on karate based on the discovery of bunkai and especially the attitude in the dojo. The dojo seemed to be sacred – and indeed I discovered one day a phrase that confirmed my feeling:  » Dojo wa Shinsei na basho de ari « , « dojo is a sacred place. »

In the Master Nakamura’s dojo, not a word was uttered. The atmosphere was very austere and, during classes, nobody dared ask a question or let their attention slip. Concentration had to be intense, at the risk of incurring the master’s anger back in his apartments above the dojo, which obviously meant being thrown off the course. Master Nakamura constantly presssured me to be introspective about my training.


b. Learn by observing and feeling

I also understood that there is more to learn by observing and feeling than by words alone. It is clear that a question was out of place, and that the only ones who could afford them were journalists who had the chance to ‘understand’ without practicing.

You should know that Japanese etymology of the words « question » and « doubt » is the same. Thus, one can imagine that his master would ask to doubt him, which would not have been welcome. There is a Japanese phrase that says « Shin wa banji nasu no moto »: that is to say, « In the universe, everything begins with belief. »

However, as my calligraphy master Tamizo Tsuji told me, one must still check everything thereafter, otherwise we run the risk of making many mistakes or being « silly ».

In Japan, the system of learning traditional arts expresses it all. « SHU HA RI » is the process by which knowledge is integrated, assimilating with the content of each level. SHU is protecting teaching and the practice as we learn it. We do not ask questions, we apply the techniques and principles. This is the moment of belief and of general application. Then, a few years later, we pass by HA which means « break » in the sense of analysis. Then it is time to analyze the content learned. Then RI means separation. At this stage, the moment comes when one finds his way but that does not mean that we will be separated from his or her teacher because there is always something to learn from them. His students benefit from this growth.

4. University of Martial Arts

Over the course of a decade, I attended the annual courses put on at the University of Martial Arts. These take place every year in March at te university campus in Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture. They made an extraordinary impression on me. At these couses, about 120 foreigners meet to learn the culture and history of budo, its scientific aspects, and have the opportunity to discover other budo disciplines.

So I tried Sumo, Kyudo, Kendo. I noticed that, even if the technical practices are different, the essence of each way is similar. This is especially clear when you encoutner each new discipline as a beginner. I was comforted in the idea of keeping the heart of a beginer throughout one’s life. As they say in Japanese, « Shoshin wasureru be karazu », « Do not forget the feeling of the beginning. »

Through trying several disciplines, I felt the importance of specializing in one of them. But most importantly, every year I practiced Judo with a teacher, Master Kashiwazaki, who was a former world champion of Judo and Sambo, and specialist Newaza (ground techniques). Today I can say that it is thanks to him that I became fascinated by the work on the ground. He taught me his favorite phrase, « MUGA MUCHU », that is to say, working so hard that we forget our own pain.

5. The first French person to teach karate in Japan

In 1991, I moved to Northern Tokyo and shortly after began teaching in a park every Saturday morning. Very quickly, I was offered a public place to teach a group of children. Gradually, the group became larger and adults began to come.

So I was the first European to study Karate and Kobudo in Okinawa over the long- term and the first French to teach Karate in Japan. This period lasted ten years, and I ended up with nearly 100 students.
In 2003, I returned to Europe – to London, where I taught for almost five years.

6. My current master Minoru Higa 10th Dan

It is in 2000 that I met Master Minoru Higa. He greeted me with kindness and simplicity at his home, and I asked him to accept me as a student. The Kata of his Kyudokan school are close to those of Enbukan, so changing dojo was done without difficulty. Both have almost the same source.

I discovered Master Minoru Higa is a man of great calm. He directs his course by example, even today, although he is more than 70. He does between one and two thousand tsuki each class, with the students. I’ve never seen him on the side, teaching only. It is an example that we should follow. I’ve never seen angry, he speaks little but when he says something that has an enormous weight. This made me think of another expression: « fugen jikko »: action speaks louder than a thousand words.

Master Minoru Higa emphasizes the basics … One day he told me, « All people are my teachers, I learn from everyone. » These words, I believe, display his great modesty in both thought and action. So, for me, one who practices karatedo and is not modest is not a karateka, who is no longer a practicing Karateka can not be called so either.

By meeting Master Minoru Higa, I really realized the importance of choosing ones teacher because we will necessarily be influenced by this at all levels.

At Kyudokan dojo with the Higa family !


I was pushed to look further into the Japanese culture as a result of a discussion with the father of one of my students. At the end of a course, he said: « Sensei I must tell you that you are very good at karate but you teach Japanese students who may know the Japanese culture better than you. You must respond to problems, but without a deep knowledge of our culture how can you do this ? »

These words gave me a cold sweat! It made me realize my lack of culture.

1. Calligraphy with Master Tsuji Tamizo

Shortly after I was introduced to Master Tsuji Tamizo. This former instructor of the famous Kamikaze pilots hated the war, but as he told me later, « we had no choice ». I did not take long to understand that this man was out of the ordinary. From the first class, he made me write the kanji WA, which means harmony, peace. My karate, my attitude would be greatly influenced by this master of wisdom! I felt impregnated with the words I wrote. For example, when I wrote harmony, WA, I came into a state of harmony and peace.

With calligraphy I could feel immense inner emotions. I discovered the importance of the vacuum in the art, where this vacuum, the invisible, is made tangible. My Karate master also told me that Karate was in the part that you do not see – the invisible aspects of the kata, for example. Calligraphy, with time, teaches balance between tension and relaxation.

I found many common elements between Karate and Shodo. My master of Karate said that Kata that should be done with « Mouchimi », an Okinawan word which means the balance between movement and the release of tension – the harmonious relationship between them, which characterizes the kata of Okinawan Karate.

2. The hidden agenda of calligraphy

There is much calligraphy on the wall of the typical Japanese dojos. I think that for most marial arts practitioners, this belends into the background, and they pay it little or no mind.

I think, however, that despite this, the calligraphy exerts a subliminal effect on the mind of those who see them, and they consequently exhert an influence. In this, it’s like a work of art that you carry within you, allowing you to draw on its beauty. Calligraphy is very attractive and has a very deep meaning. It wins on all levels!

My impression is that students are not forced to understand the deeper meaning of calligraphy in martial arts dojos, but by seeing it repeatedly, the deeper meaning of calligraphy are absorbed naturally in the mind and eherted through our actions.

Japanese calligraphy is both an expression of beauty which causes a certain aesthetic pleasure but also contains an ancient wisdom. The kanji used are loaded with positive enegy, with a happiness that will influence your life. The Shodo, the art of calligraphy, is a parallel to Budo, which leads to the understanding of the meaning of life and eternal truths. Many masters have practiced calligraphy as a support in the way. Moreover, the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi practiced Shodo.

3. Study calligraphy

Calligraphy presented here are examples of the ones I use most frequently as teaching tools.

a. Bunbu no Mitchi

 » Bunbu no Mitchi  » This calligraphy is in the lobby of Naha Budokan, where the World Championships of Okinawan karate is held. It is therefore understandable that such a demonstration of calligraphy gives a hope that it « touches » all those who will enter this place. And, as I said earlier, even if visitors do not look carefully, maybe they will be influenced without even realizing it.

b. Bu
Bu, the first character in the word Budo, means stopping the violence.

I used it as a teaching tool during the course I headed in Israel in 2011, for Orthodox Jewish children and Arab Bedouin in the desert. These courses were designed to show that karate is a way of peace and harmony between these targeted people.

I would also remind the Budo means the art of fighting, not ‘to fight’.

Calligraphy offered during my seminars for peace, Israel 2011.

Kokoro or Shin

Wa = harmony, by extension Eiwa Peace

The clased hand enveloped in the open hand means that the hand that is trained every day should never be used for violence.

c. Mitchi or Do
To understand « dō », which also reads « michi », keep in mind three inseparable

The first is given by the study of the writing of this character. It is composed of two

parts. One, the upper part is a character in itself, which reads « shu » or « kubi ». Today, it means « neck », but once he was meaning « head » or « chief » shuryo, « one who leads. » The second, consisting of the rest of the character is what is known as a « key » and it has the direction of travel.

Thus, it is moving in the direction you are facing, or towards what we are taught. To understand the second element, we must look at the history of the use of this character in Japan. At the time (the seventh to twelfth centuries), « dō » or « michi » referred to the first traffic routes to distant provinces. It is not the concrete path that connects one point to another, but the ability to move forward, within a geographical area defined by the road, and is also a measure of measure its progression. Quickly, by extension, the term refers to the geographical area itself and, by abstraction, a particular area of human activities, a specialty such as letters or calculation. The semantic evolution continues, « dō » and « michi » come to designate the method to access a particular skill and the principles behind it.

Thus, it is necessary to remember is that the way (Mitchi) is everywhere where people are disciplined by training. The path is not found in books. It is through direct experience with our own body and not only our intelligence that we can reach this state.

d. Rei
The Reigi-Saho is defined as behavior expressing politeness and courtesy, not only in the Dojo but in any activity of daily life. It is an attitude of respect for others, and immutably prescribed in the traditional Japanese martial arts.

Karate-do is a Japanese martial art, where teaching is influenced by the rules of politeness. The practice of these rules allows one to discover the root causes of harmony with others. The rules of politeness need to be strengthened in the dojo.
Thus, this calligraphy recalls this principle. Indeed, at the beginning of each course we salute the sacred place that is the dojo and promised to do his best. «Dojo wa shinsei na basho de ari». This sentence means: « The dojo is a sacred place ». Politeness rules that apply there must lead to the respect of this place, of ourselves and others. Thus, the first form of respect is the way we express ourselves and proper attire associated with wearing clean clothes.

Both calligraphy presented below show respect. It is « Kei o wasurezu » which means « do not forget the respect, » then « Soshi » mutual respect.

Kei o wasurezu: Do not forget the respect. !

Soshi: Mutual Respect

f. Hoho kore dojo / e Itchi go itchi
« Hoho kore dojo » means « Walk and walk again, the dojo. » The explanation for this is to keep the same attitude in the dojo and outside the dojo. « Itchi go itchi é » means: « Once a chance! One meeting ». This means that you should always give the best of yourself.

My notebook ( picture to add )

g. Shu Ha Ri

I have previously discussed this principle (cf.I.3.b). You should know that besides budo, all

Japanese arts, including calligraphy, use this method of progression. Generally, practitioners of these arts are attached to the tradition and it is for this reason that the first part, shu, which means « Protect », is the most important.

Here, the calligraphy Shu (protect) Ha (break, analyze) Ri (separate) should be read vertically, namely:

Shu Ha Ri !

h. Onore ni katsu
This expression means « Winning against yourself. » It should be understood by this that the real enemy is within us.

i. Shugyo
This expression, « Shugyo » comes from the Tokugawa era (1650 – 1850). At that time, the samurai had to train very hard physically and spiritually. We also find this expression in the practice of Zen and all Japanese martial arts. We can explain the behavior of the highly focused yet humble Japanese by understanding the word « Shugyo. » In Japan, when a person who practices a martial art displays weakness, selfishness, bad attitude, we say: « Shugyo tarinai » which means it was not severe enough to himself. Moreover, master Miyamoto Musashi had thought that the effectiveness of physical and spiritual training was linked to how harsh one was on oneself.

The thought of this leads me, before concluding, to explain a fundamental principle that reveals the unity of body, heart and mind. This is the principle Shin Gi Tai.


j. Shin Gi Tai
Shin Gi Tai and correspond to three elements united in practice but the concepts are

different. Shin

The character Shin (心), which can be read « kokoro », means the body and heart.

Physiologically, this body takes new blood to the smallest element of the organism. The underlying concept is the center: the center of emotion, movement, motivation, intention.

By extension, Shin represents spiritual strength. Gi

Character Gi (技) means « the hand capable of painstaking work. » This character can also be

read as « waza », found especially in Tokui-waza, that is to say « technique of which one has the most intimate knowledge.  »
It is therefore the technique, but in the sense of its conditioning through practice. The concept is the internalization of technical skill through practice.

Character Tai (体) means « bones properly organized, » and that to say the physical body. This can be conceptualised as the engine of the movement, the way shin through gi is


This level of expression, namely the ability of the body to adapt to a situation, depends on the level of practice. To develop and maintain « karada no oboe » – body memory – it is necessary to consider, over long years of practice, the precise repetition of movements,

basic technical skills.


Karatedo is, like life, an art of encounters. Encounters with others, but also meeting with oneself.

The Budoka’s ability for sudden violence can be tempered by a more serene and contemplative one; one that is in harmony with nature. Practicing a traditional « soft » art can allow this temperance. Thus, as stated above, in calligraphy, the kanji ‘bu’ in Budo means stopping the fight, peace. It is the purpose of Shodo to teach us on this journey.

Many practitioners are aware of this subtlety, know that they practice a path of peace, that years of practice must be devoted to peace and in the service of the society in which they live. « Bunburyodo » offers support, brings sensitivity, and the wisdom that is a necessity for warriors.

Finally, I would add this sentence: « Onko chi shin ». This translates as: « Study the old to discover the new. » This means that everything is in us and around us. To find out what « all » you need is patience and curiosity to search. But don’t look very far, because the truth is often already in what has preceded us. There is no need to try at all costs to seek novelty, which often attracts us.

As with our the eyelashes, the truth is so close to us that we do not see it. Yet this is the watch and Bunburyodo we will ask that look.

All my gratitude to grand master Minoru Higa ! Patrick Rault