Wednesday, April 3, 2013
"Do" vs. "Jutsu": A Martial Musing on Following Jesus
There is difference in Japanese martial arts between what are called "Do" arts and "Jutsu" arts. Do arts literally mean "Way of", where Jutsu arts more mean "Technique of". This may sound subtle, but the difference is quite pronounced. A Do art (JuDo, Karate-Do, AikiDo, KenDo, Tae Kwon-Do — though the latter is Korean) focuses not only the application of a system of thought in a martial setting, but the reason for it in the first place. A Do art focuses on developing a worldview and a "way of thinking" about everything in one's life rather than purely from a combat point of view. A Jutsu art (Jujutsu, Aikijutsu, Kenjutsu), by contrast, focuses purely on combat application in given set of scenarios. It doesn't care as much about the "why" as the "how", and stresses action more than thought or reason. You might say that Jutsu would be embodied in the phrase "flap your arms really hard", while Do would be embodied in the phrase "think like a bird".
A Lesson from Aiki-Do
A few years back, i met a young woman in Chicago who was helping my wife and i build my daughter's "Samurai Day" (i.e. 7th Birthday Rite of Passage). She is a sweet girl and was at the time recently divorced. She said that she started studying Aikido as a stress reliever as she and her ex-husband fought and neared the end of their relationship, but was shocked at the implications of the Aikido techniques not only martial combat, but to basic conflict resolution as well. She said that by the time she and her husband were finally divorced, she felt less anger than he did, less hurt than he did, and experienced a significantly higher degree of peace when they argued. Why? Because Aikido teaches "the circle" as the foundation to all of its techniques. Aikido is about energy redirection rather than absorption. It is about taking energy from your opponent and moving it in circles so that it spins around you and back to themselves without impacting you in the process. She said that she found herself naturally simply doing the same thing when she and her husband would argue. She wouldn't fight back, seek to harm him, etc. and she wouldn't "absorb" his insults either. Aikido gave her more than just pure techniques for defending against an armed attacker; it gave her a way of thinking that taught her that energy "has to go somewhere" and that you "don't have to absorb it to use it". She merely learned to redirect his energy until it wore him out and he left in a huff, all the while leaving her little the worse for wear. She actually told me that had she started studying Aikido earlier in her marriage, she probably could have saved it.
"The Way" As I See It…
Most Christians that i know treat their faith as a "Jutsu" art. It is a series of learned techniques that focus on pragmatic values, but are not necessarily an encompassing worldview. We have labored to reduce our faith to a series of techniques to apply in a series of scenarios, but often fail to understand (or care about) the undercurrent of belief and theology that prompted such techniques to begin with, and thus end up with a radically truncated view of its full body. Our people may know that if they have trouble with their marriage, they know how to pray or seek godly counsel (jutsu). If they are struggling with disappointment or doubt, they know what Scriptures to read (jutsu). If they want or need something, they know which systems to engage, which Christian books to read and perhaps even which Scriptures to quote (jutsu). But it is not their way of life. They can live any way that they like, actually, and only employ such "jutsu" techniques when they need to or are confronted with life's difficulties.
But that's not how "The Way" is meant to be lived. Like other Do arts, the life we live in Christ is meant to be an "all encompassing worldview". It is meant to change not only "what" we think and think about, but the very fulcrum of "how" we think, how we evaluate what's going on around us, and how we respond to it. Rather than looking merely for a few techniques to employ when we're having a down day, a fight with our spouse or kids, or just need some encouragement that we're doing what God wants us to do, following Jesus is meant to be the lens through which we view all of Reality around us. It is a Way (do), not a Technique (jutsu). If we truly believe that everyone is precious to God and that He is worthy of their praise as a precious son or daughter in the approaching Kingdom of God, then The Way that we respond to them should follow accordingly.