Politeness REISETSU

Politeness (礼節:REISETSU) 

: as one of the most important factor which should be attained by BUDO training


1.     What is REISETSU

So far as BUDO aims to be utilized as a mean for human beings to establish a complete harmony of physical strength, stability of mind and nobleness of spirits, REISETSU is strictly regarded as one of the most important factor which should be attained by BUDO training.

For the most of other fighting systems in the world, it is exclusively most important over all to attain physically high skill level (strength) to defeat one’s enemies, all the other factors are ignored as not useful or even harmful factors to achieve their goal.

Accordingly this fact distinguishes BUDO from all the other fighting system of out ofJapan.


However, in most of the cases it is wrongly understood or not properly understood how one should perform this REISETSU among non-Japanese BUDO training people.

People consider they should pay enough attention, in some cases, even over performed way to their teachers and they think it is REISETSU. But it is not proper way to show up REISETSU.

REISETSU should be performed for both sides, from DESHI to SENSEI and SENSEI to DESHI vice versa, also one to the other third persons whom one might get contact.  So, REISETSU should be performed for everybody and every occasion.

There are some teachers, even in Japan, who are used only to receive REISESTU from his students but he never performs REISETSU to his students.  Such person could not be respected as a good BUDO teacher at all.  He is just an arrogant and physically strong guy but not a real BUDO-KA.


2.  How REISETSU is understood and performed out of Japan

Out of Japan, mostly in Asian countries, this REISETSU concept is accepted without friction and understood rather correctly.  But in western world like U.S.A. and Europe, it seems like people have difficulty to understand and perform REISETSU correctly and properly.

First of all they can not accept this concept easily.  They claim why they have to bow their teachers like servant.  This bowing (御辞儀:OJIGI) is done to show up students’ respect and thanks to their teacher.  At the same moment students bow to their teacher, a teacher also bow his head to his students to show his thanks for coming to his lesson.  In this way, REISETSU is showed up from both sides.

Next, even they accept to perform this REISETSU to their teacher, they do no think they should perform REISETSU to the other people, like elder people, teachers in the other schools etc. who have enough reasons to be respected.

This is the exact point that most of European BUDO training people miss.  They pay a keen respect to their own teacher and perform REISETSU correctly but they never pay any respect and accordingly perform no REISETSU to the same level teachers as their own teacher in the other schools (RYU) or other field.


Here I show some examples.

Since Jan 2009 I have been writing my series of article titled as “BUDO report from Europe” to Japanese BUDO Journal HIDEN.  And I have been looking for BUDO-KA whom I can/want to introduce in my article.

Last year I got a contact with one young BUDO-KA, aged 30, who teaches Japanese KORYU JUJUTSU in his country.  I made several correspondences with him and I decided not to introduce him because of his arrogant attitude which can not be a correct attitude as real BUDO-KA.  He respects only his own teacher and be ploite only to him, which I could see immediately.  I called him as XX-sensei, because so far as I introduce him as BUDO-KA who teaches BUDO and raise his students, I should pay a respect and should show my REISETSU towards him.  But he did not show any his REISETSU to me from the beginning till the end and continued calling me as KURABE-san.  I am now 62 years old and I was already busy with training BUDO when he was born. I have been training longer years than his age. So, it was quite natural that he shows his respect towards me.  But for this person it is only one person he wants to call sensei and any other BUDO-KA are same level as him.

And he was so much convinced with his “high level” in BUDO.  I can never expect such strong self confidence for such young person with only around 10 years short BUDO training experience. Such being the case, I totally lost my intention to introduce him in my article.

The similar cases often happen around me.  Once, a person who teaches AIKIJUTSU in his country got contact with me. He called me as sensei at the beginning, but when I named his sensei in Japan as YY-sensei, he started calling me as Kurabe-san.  It is my politeness, REISETSU, to call his teacher as sensei considering the length of his BUDO carrier, whom he calls as ROSHI (old teacher) who is actually younger than me, but from it he understood that I was in the same level as he because we both call the same person, i.e. his teacher as sensei.

So, I lost my intention to continue my correspondence with him any longer.

There is an example which shows reversal case.

Since last year I got an acquaintance with one JUJUTSU/KARATE master who practices KENSO-RYU Jujutsu from which my GYAKUTE-DO derived around 50 years ago.  He was so kind and offered me if I want to learn KENSO-RYU techniques from him.  Because he knows very well that our GYAKUTE-DO came from his KENSO-RYU and I should have a strong interest to learn the original techniques.  His teacher, the 4th SOUKE of KENSO-RYU, MAEHARA sensei is still active with age 80 in teaching KOBUDO.  These two persons, HAYASAKA-sensei and MAEHARA-souke are very famous in Japanese BUDO society and their levels are far much beyond of mine. But they kindly call me as Kurabe-sensei with REISESTU, even I asked them not to call me as sensei because of my big hesitation.

Now after reading till here, it is becoming clearer how REISESTU should be performed for which case for whom.

I hope every European BUDO-KA shall notice the correct and proper way to perform REISETSU by reading this essay.

23 May 2012

Makoto Kurabe

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