“This is Japan” is a weekly blog post where I talk a little about my life here.
It’s a place where I can share some of the strange, funny, or thought-provoking stories from my week. You can learn a little about what it is like to live in Japan and some of the weird and wonderful things here.
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The other day, my husband mentioned that Japan was currently being condemned for introducing a particular martial art into the junior high school curriculum. The martial art in question is jukendo, “the way of the bayonet.”
I was not aware that bayonet was considered a martial art. Nor that is was currently sparking controversy.
Naturally, I did some quick googling.
On one side of the argument, people argue that children should have better access to “traditional” Japanese culture. Others argue that jukendo is inappropriate, since it is essentially “a killing art” and could reignite Japanese militarism.
Whenever my husband and I discuss something like this about Japan, I am usually the one who is more critical. I’m the one who is more likely to side with the view that is condemning Japan. In this instance, I find it a bit tasteless to bring back war-time training practices. My husband doesn’t think it’s a big deal.
Since, I practice Taekwondo, this led us to a discussion of other martial arts.
Sure, it might be possible to kill someone using Taekwondo, but I don’t consider it a killing art. We don’t learn killing techniques. We learn discipline, respect, yes some attacks, defence, courage, etc. etc.
I don’t think karate is essentially a killing art (although it uses nunchucks and sais). And judo and aikido are types of wrestling, I guess. I’m undecided on kendo and kyudo at this point. Kendo is based on samurai sword fighting, and kyudo is archery. Kyudo is probably the most dangerous because it uses actual arrows. It might just be the case that these are already normalized in Japan.
I also don’t think introducing jukendo is a good idea because (please excuse me, I am going to generalize and possibly offend) Japanese people are already trained to be soldiers. From childhood they are taught to unquestionably obey orders. To respect and worship authority even to the point of death, take commands, and turn off their own critical thinking abilities.
What they are missing is the skill to kill.
Currently, Japan officially “doesn’t have an army.” (Although they actually do, it’s just called the Self-Defence Force.) Thus, teaching children how to use a bayonet would add the killing skill to an already soldier-like mindset.
Understandably, neighbouring countries may see this is as a step backward toward Imperial Japan’s frightening military past. In that sense, I can understand the reason for criticism.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this issue?
Do you think Japanese children deserve to learn “the way of the bayonet,” or do you think it is inappropriate? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.