Sunday, July 13, 2008

More About the SMAA

The Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA, Shudokan Budo-Kai) was founded in January 1994 by a group of martial artists who were concerned with promoting and safeguarding Nihon budo and bujutsu--the traditional martial arts and ways of Japan. The original members of the SMAA were Karl Scott Sensei (karate-do seventh dan, aikido sixth dan), Nicklaus Suino Sensei (judo sixth dan, iaido seventh dan), H. E. Davey Sensei (jujutsu seventh dan), and the late Walter Todd Sensei (judo eighth dan, aikido sixth dan). From the original core group, the association has grown to include many of the preeminent practitioners of martial arts outside of Japan such as Stephen Fabian Sensei (Hontai Yoshin Ryu jujutsu), Hunter Armstrong Sensei (Owari Kan Ryu sojutsu, Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu), Guy Power Sensei (Nakamura Ryu iaido and battodo), Herb Wong Sensei (Shorin Ryu karate-do), Mr. Dave Lowry (Shindo Muso Ryu jojutsu, Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu), Mr. Wayne Muromoto (Takeuchi Ryu jujutsu), and others.

The SMAA is a small, fraternal organization with a decidedly noncommercial outlook on budo and bujutsu. It includes separate divisions for karate-do, aikido, judo, traditional jujutsu, iaido, and goshin-jutsu (modern self-defense systems stemming from budo or bujutsu). Both associate membership (without rank) and regular membership (with rank) are available to individuals sincerely interested in researching and training in the classical martial systems of Japan. Regular newsletters, access to this website, and examinations for dan/kyu ranking are benefits of membership. All members are bound by the
SMAA Code of Ethics.

The leaders of the SMAA all have close ties to the martial community in Japan. Although they are reimbursed for their expenses, they receive no salaries. Their rewards lie in the friendships that are born within the SMAA and the exchange of knowledge that takes place as the result of SMAA membership.

What's in a Name?

Shudokan means "an Institution for Cultivating the Way." (In this instance, do, or "the way," refers in a philosophical manner to discovering the right and natural way for human beings to live. It is the same character found in the terms budo--the martial way; sado--the way of tea, i.e. the tea ceremony; shodo--the way of Japanese calligraphy; as well as the names of various Japanese fine arts.)

It is important to note that no martial connotation can be found in the appellation Shudokan, no reference to karate-do or any specific martial arts is contained in the name, and the name has even been used on occasion by schools of Japanese cultural arts that have no connection to budo. Actually, any do form, ranging from judo to karate-do to iaido, or even fine arts such as shodo, could be considered a "vehicle for cultivating the way."