»Warrior Ethos: Religion, Economics and Politics of Budo

Examining the traits of Gendai Budō in modern society

The main proposed project “World Survey on Budo and Society”, a biannual survey on Japanese Martial Arts to be administered using the Amazon Mechanical Turk survey platform initially in Japan, the US and Italy (following waves can be administered in France, Russia, Australia, Egypt, and Brazil), aims to examine the traits of Gendai Budō (roughly translated as modern Japanese Martial Arts) in modern society and its social, economic, and political implications. While social sciences, particularly history, acknowledge that Gendai is a reinvented tradition we will investigate its goals focusing on its emerging effects from Japan to a global scale.

To offer some initial insights we aim to look at the debate in the field of Gendai Budō studies that suggests it as distinguishable from older forms of combat training and modern self-defense for the very reason that it is focused at the level of sociological effect by means of applications to combat principles outside the hand-to-hand fighting context. The latest English translation of the 1st article from the Budokan Charter clarify this point stating the goals of Gendai Budō: “Through physical and mental training in the Japanese martial ways, exponents seek to build their character, enhance their sense of judgment, and become disciplined individuals capable of making contributions to society at large.”

Concepts and comparisons to explore

Here we have some very interesting ‘concepts’ we would like to define and measure such as: “character”; “sense of judgment”; “disciplined individuals”; “making contributions to society.” A starting point would be to define these concepts and came up with an operative definition to see how such effects if any can be measured.

Then a quantitative comparison between Japan and other geographical context will be performed over the ideas of competition, ‘combative pedagogics’ to develop ethics and moral values through ritualized combat, sacralization, and marketization as how these factors would impact the political discourse along the lines of national and global identities, and the conflict/cooperation dilemma.

There are numerous individual projects underway which will connect to the main project. International partnerships are also in place. A Japanese partner has already been identified in Alexander Bennett, PhD, Associate Professor at Kansai University in Osaka.

We expect a number of articles, at least one book project to be produced, and a conference to be organized.

  • Members
  • Research projects
  • Grants/funding
  • Student research
  • Andrea Molle (Political Science)

    Alexander Bay (History)

    Christopher Bader (Sociology)

    Alexander Bennett (Associate Professor in Japanese Studies at Kansai University in Osaka)

  • Research topics will include:
    • Cultural and social implications, and internationalization processes of Japanese martial arts
    • Spirituality, moral, and political values
    • Conflict and simulated warfare
    • Wellbeing
    • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Japanese Government Grant-in-Aid;
    • Japan Foundation
    • NSF; Economic and Social Research Council.

    The estimated funds request is of $100,000 over 4 years.

    More specialized sources of funding will be identified by the group.

  • Students will be brought in as research assistants or interns. They will be given methodology training, and in some cases, they will co-author articles and book chapters.

    Andrea Molle and Alexander Bay are currently involved in joint internship with the Budokan of Los Angeles. Our students are responsible for creating and managing an archive of martial arts halls (dojos) in Southern California for the Budokan project.