Finding Time for Budo

By Muromoto, Wayne
This article first appeared in the “SMAA Journal” Volume 23, Issue 1.
Finding Time for Budo

Struggling to make time for martial arts?

Wondering how master martial artists balance their art with their daily lives?

A friend recently asked me to comment on how one finds the time to train. We live in a day and age, he noted, that puts a stress on how many waking hours we have to devote to training in budo. How did the great masters of the past manage to train so much? How can we devote all the time we really need when we have jobs, families, and other responsibilities? 

It’s not a minor question. Surveys show that we Americans, at least, are working more hours and getting paid overall less (figuring in inflation) than a decade or two ago, and stereotypes notwithstanding, we work more productive hours than almost any other country, including the vaunted Japanese worker. All that work and then having to deal with daily family life will, indeed, put a crimp on training time. Surely, if you’re an adult with a job and a family of any sorts, you can’t be going to the dojo five nights a week to train for five or six hours. It just ain’t gonna work.

First comment: an SMAA Senior Advisor and author I admire and respect (plus, he’s my bud), Dave Lowry, addressed this issue in, I think, a past column in Black Belt magazine. So what I say is nothing new, and much of it is cribbed from his article, since I pretty much agree with his observations. 

Second comment: We’re not alone in our predicament. Every generation has had to struggle with figuring out how to balance training with living a realistic life. When the earliest martial systems were founded in Japan and China, they still provided a modicum of practical application for life-and-death situations. Learning to handle a spear or sword, or grapple to the death (or subdue criminals) were skills a hereditary warrior had to know to better survive if called upon to serve in a war or police action. So it wasn’t much of a choice between pastime and work. Learning the bugei (“martial arts”) WAS part of one’s occupation. There was no conflict between pastime and work.

Go down a bit more in time and, in Japan at least, there was an extended period of relative peace of the Tokugawa hegemony. But early in that period, civil war was still a relative possibility and so martial artists, who were skilled at their craft, could parlay their prowess into being hired by a feudal lord as part of his retinue or as an instructor. The martial arts were still practical skills that could, in fact, be utilized to save your life during the execution of your duties as a warrior.

However, if you study the records and proclamations, much of the martial ardor and pugnacity of the Sengoku bushi (Warring States samurai) faded as two centuries of peace ensued. Several Tokugawa shogun had to write public admonitions to the samurai class to continue to practice martial arts and study strategy because as bushi, that is what their station in life was supposed to be about, never mind that the wars were over. So as the samurai became bureaucrats, administrators, teachers and lawmakers, they, too, struggled with balancing work, family and budo training. The problem of finding the time to train is nothing new. The issues are the same.

Find Time for Budo at an International Martial Arts Association

SMAA can help you make time for budo! We are an international martial arts association with five divisions of martial arts to pick from. To get started, call (734) 720-0330 or submit a contact form here.


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