Martial arts series 1 - kendo

Posted on May 29, 2017 | genkijacs

Today marks the beginning of GenkiJACS' own martial arts series. Here we will be introducing some of the more famous martial arts that originated in Japan or, at least, the ones that have been practiced here for long enough to become a staple in this country. We will also look into some of the lesser-known ones as they may also be of interest to some of you.

※Disclaimer: we do not claim to be experts at any of the martial arts we will be exploring on this blog. This information is to be taken as a guide only.

We have decided to start with one of the more popular and quintessentially Japanese martial arts (known as "武道" - ぶどう) - Kendo (剣道) which roughly translates into The Way (道) of the Sword (剣).

History

Kendo originated from an older form of sword fighting that was collectively called Kenjutsu (剣術), which means the Art of the Blade. Now, one thing needs to be said: There was no one particular school of fencing in Japan. Rather, there were many schools that taught their own particular way of wielding a sword. Most of the schools were established during the Muromachi Era (室町時代) (1333-1573) as it was one of the more violent periods in Japanese history, and the refinement of fighting styles happened mostly on the actual battlefield. The more effective the style, the more likely it was to be passed, much like the idea of the survival of the fittest.

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Further, during the Edo Period (江戸時代) (1603-1867) the idea of the warrior being more than just a skilled fighter was being developed. That is where the idea of Bushido (武士道) or the Way of the Warrior was born. It is a philosophy that considers the warrior to lead their life in pursuit of service to their master, perfecting of the art of fighting, and most importantly, the art of dying.

As the time moved on, protective practice armor and a bamboo sword were developed, which resulted in a less dangerous way of training. Throughout the years more developments and improvements were made to make practice a little safer.

After Meiji Revolution or Restoration (明治維新) (1968), depending on which side of history you choose to see the world from, the Samurai class was banned and the Bushi's signature long- and short swords (Katana, 刀 and Wakizashi 脇差) were also prohibited, but unsurprisingly the philosophy and practice of 剣術 and 武士道 survived the change.

Ah, the tumultuous 20th century. Here the standardization of the different techniques started happening and we can see a more codified and formal version of Kendo being born. Even with the temporary ban after WWII, Kendo is still practiced by millions of people. Maybe you are one of them?

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How to Kendo

There are a few general striking points:

Top or sides of the head → Men (面)
Wrists/Forearms → Kote (篭手)
Sides of the body → Do(胴)
Thrust to the Throat → Tsuki(突き)
Thrust to the Chest → MuneTsuki(胸突き) Not really used in competitions.

During the competition, two Kendo Practitioners or Kendoka (剣道家) enter the Shiai Jo (試合場) and fence until one of them scores either two points, or wins by Hansoku (反則) or foul play.

That is pretty much it, for more information, please check out numerous resources around the world wide web, but we hope that this little introduction gave you a little taste of what Kendo is like today.

Vocabulary used:
剣道 → Kendo, Way of the Sword
武道 → Budo, Martial Arts
武士道 → Bushido, Way of the Warrior
剣道家 → Kendoka, Person Practicing Kendo
試合場 → Shiajo, Place where competitions take place.
剣術 → Kenjutsu, Art of the Sword
室町時代 → Muromachi Jidai, Muromachi Era
江戸時代 → Edo Jidai, Edo Period
明治維新 → Meiji Ishin, Meiji Restoration/Revolution
刀 → Katana (Need we translate?)
脇差 → Wakizashi, Short sword
面 → Men, Mask
篭手 → Kore, Wrists, Gauntlets
胴 → Do, Body armour
突き → Tsuki, Throat Thrust
胸突き → Mune Tsuki, Thurst to the chest

Please stay tuned for more information about martial arts from this side of the world. We hope that it sparked your interest in Japan and it's many art forms.

大和言葉 (やまとことば) – Let’s Go Back to the Roots

Posted on May 22, 2017 | genkijacs

Every language has its own history. Languages adapt to the changing situations of their countries of origin. It might be that new words are needed to describe something that had not been discovered before or that the language is being influenced by other languages. That is why, when reading ancient texts, we often have problems understanding them, even if we are a native speaker. Japanese is no exception to that.

Have you ever heard of the 大和言葉 (Yamato Kotoba)? Some may consider it a language in itself; others would describe it as “Ancient Japanese”. It refers to the language spoken in Japan during the Yamato period between the years 250-710 AD. Around that time, Japan only consisted of a variety of tribes. However, for the first time, one tribe became exceptionally powerful and soon ruled the country. This was the Yamato tribe. In order to differentiate between the predominant ethnic group from minorities, the word 大和民族 (“Yamato Minzoku”, Yamato People) was used often, though today it is considered racist. Their language was the 大和言葉 or 和語 (Wago) , which still is part of the modern language in Japan.

Just like many European languages are widely influenced by Latin, the 大和言葉 was subject to many changes due to the Chinese influence of that time. When the Yamato period ended, the Chinese culture became very popular. In order to emulate them, Japan even adapted its writing system using their Kanji characters. Due to that fact, Japanese became more and more Chinese. Nevertheless, 大和言葉still represents an important part in today’s language, e. g. in terms of grammar.

Despite that, the English influence in Japanese (like probably everywhere in the world) is getting wider and wider. Maybe, in a few hundred years, there might be just as many English words in Japanese vocabulary as there are ancient Chinese ones nowadays.

To cut this long story short: Today’s Japanese a mixture of 和語 or 大和言葉, 漢語 (Kango), meaning words derived from ancient Chinese and even Western languages, 外来語 (Gairaigo).

Even though this new insight might not necessarily cheer you up when studying all those many different Kanji readings or getting confused over the various counting systems, at least now you know the reason for it.

Fathers on Wheels

Posted on May 15, 2017 | genkijacs

Ever heard someone mention a "papa-chari" (often followed by a mildly-derisive giggle?)

The term パパチャリ is derived from the combo-word ママチャリ (mama-chari). This particular term refers to the bicycles ridden by primarily mothers with their children sitting in a special child-friendly seat at the back of the bike. These modes of transport tend to be tailored to traditional feminine tastes. They are so widespread that there are bike dealerships that sell exclusively these types of bicycles.

パパチャリ or papa-chari is nothing really mysterious at all, but rather something of a trend that has recently started gaining popularity. To understand what it actually relates to, we first need to see where the word actually comes from.

パパ (Papa) Is pretty self-explanatory. (But just to make sure, it means father.)
チャリ (Chari) Is slightly less clear in its origins. There are a bunch of related words that may have given us this word. It could have derived from the word Chariot (チャリオット) and our further research online produced another interesting result: some evidence suggests it might originated from the word "チャリンコ" (charinko), which is another word for bicycle that originated around the sound of a bicycle bell ("charin"). (In ye olden times, "charinko" was also what you would call a child pick-pocket (a la Oliver Twist), but we don't think this would go over too well with modern mamas).

Now that is the true origin of パパチャリ - basically a ママチャリ converted to appeal to traditionally masculine tastes. (Because of course, no パパ would be caught dead riding a traditional ママチャリ. Gotta look out for that frail masculinity!)

There are also other types of so-called "チャリ":
ババチャリ ("babachari") – Granny Bike.
ジジチャリ ("jijichari") - Grandad Bike.

With this trend, we wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing other types of チャリ in the near future.

How about a 寿司チャリ (sushi chari)?

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Or maybe an 愛犬チャリ (aiken chari/puppy bike)?

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猫好き 

Posted on May 08, 2017 | genkijacs

Here at GenkiJacs we are Cat People or 猫好き(ねこずき). (That being said, please let us know if they open a dog café any time soon....)

Our Pop Culture course includes a variety of exciting activities, including visits to various themed cafes. So off to the Cat Café we went. Surely you have heard of places where you get to drink your tea or coffee and pet one of these:
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Fukuoka has a number of such places and going there is always very adorably relaxing experience.

Cat Cafes or 猫カフェ are great for a quiet afternoon in the middle of the city. These cats are always very well taken care of by the friendly staff members that work very hard to keep these cafes clean and the cats happy.

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(He looks a bit nervous, but we can promise this student enjoyed himself immensely.)

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SO if you like cats or just would love to do something different, please join us next time!

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Any questions?

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