I just watched a documentary on the creation of the Scouting Movement by Lord Baden-Powell. Having never been a boy scout, I was intrigued to learn that much of the purpose for and motivation behind this organisation shares a great deal of common ground with kendo. The impetus behind the publication of “Scouting for Boys” and the subsequent creation of the Boy Scouts, was to spread a moral code that had been the prerogative of a privileged few, amongst members of society at all levels. Selflessness, respect for others, team spirit, kindness, self reliance and love of country where all values that were espoused by B-P and his followers.
The methodology behind this was taken from the traditional approach to fair-play developed through rigorous sport and applied to daily life, and ultimately to love of Empire and bravery and sacrifice on the battlefield. When you consider the following official explanation of Kendo’s purpose, there is a great deal of common ground:
The purpose of practicing Kendo is:
- To mold the mind and body,
- To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
- And through correct and rigid training, To strive for Improvement in the art of Kendo;
- To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,
- To associate with others with sincerity,
- And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
- Thus will one be able to contribute to the development of culture,
- And to promote peace and prosperity among all people
Both approaches were developed in island countries with imperial traditions, at a time when society was changing. Of course it is easy to make comparisons of this kind and I imagine that many forms of budo and other sports can claim a similar credo, but nevertheless we have two very dissimilar pursuits with very similar aims.