Investigating Budō with Jason Bender

Students in Who Am I? took a virtual introductory jiu-jitsu class with Jason Bender of Bender Fitness. While the study of martial arts might seem miles away from our course on philosophy and psychology, we have already noticed some interesting points of overlap, not least in the fact that martial arts such as jiu-jitsu are founded upon centuries of social and physical philosophies. We might say, with the British empiricist David Hume for example, that we have never experienced safety — just a long sequence of impressions from which we have (miraculously?) emerged unscathed. Jiu-jitsu asks us to inhabit our bodies and our places in society more intentionally, so what we did was a kind of philosophy-with-the-body.

Jason introduced the concept of budō (a Japanese word that literally translates to the “martial way” and can be thought of as “the way of war”) to draw a clear connection between the physical and philosophical practice of jiu-jitsu. After the Field Experience, the students spent some time reflecting on budō.

Although my movements are quite stiff, I think the reasoning behind each move is very powerful. You don’t necessarily have to risk broken bones to pursue your opponent and live a “budo life.” Based on what Jason demonstrated, and what I found on my own time, budo takes a philosophical approach to “proposition,” and it illustrates a concept of your own ego being the only true, internal enemy. The techniques change depending on your opponents moves, much like other martial arts. The placements of your hands, legs, as well as your stance are all interconnected, just as the path of a budo life requires more of a spiritual kind of development. 

Not just in Jiu-Jitsu but in many martial arts, using the art of your enemy’s attack against them is a very intriguing concept to me. I think of it like a wind turbine powering a fan. Also, Mr. Bender’s concept of budo was very interesting to me. The idea of practicing what you preach and passing it down to the next generation was similar to what I was taught when I practiced karate and Taekwondo. I appreciate Mr. Bender’s time to teach us about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his philosophy of budo. 

Learn more about this course.

Who Am I is a Freshman class in the Global Context Series

Brent Mix

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