There are two major divisions of martial arts, and they can be described in several different ways. A very simple yet effective way of looking at the arts is to say one is a “sport” and the other is “self defense”. Of course this is a very simplistic way of making a differentiation of the arts. You could differentiate the two major groupings as “Do” or “Jutsu”. Or, in a more simplistic way we can describe the arts with a primary interest in “sport” or “self-defense”. Of course these are not hard and fast, a martial art system that promotes the sport or physical fitness aspect can be used in a self-defense situation. Likewise, an art that promotes self-defense as a primary concern can have aspects of sport and physical fitness. There are as many variations on these two broad categories as there are instructors. I do not want to place any value judgment on the value or worth of any one system, or orientation. Each is valuable and serves the purpose of the individuals. This is of course the way it should be.
Drager (1974) notes “traditionalists and to those who regard classical bujutsu from the viewpoint of actual combat, the modern disciplines are nothing but an ass in a tiger’s skin.” (p.55) It is quite clear there is a distinction made between arts such as Kenjutsu and Kendo or Ju-Jutsu from Judo. Prior to the Meiji restoration there was a need to have the martial arts to be combat effective. However, once the modernization of Japan and her military forces began they were trained in the most modern methods of the time. Japan based its navy on that of Great Britain and their army on the German model, each was dominant powers at that time. Japan recognized it’s need to create a modern army and navy and the infrastructure to support the modernization of a nation. They were able to recognize feudal warfare techniques, which relied on the samurai, were not practical. Living in this time seems unimaginable to me. I find it hard to even imagine what the time must have been like. When all you have known is turned upside down. Try to think what it would be like if our whole country found out they were 50 to a 100 years behind the rest of the world in technology? Just think what we would do to try to catch up. Think of what we would have to discard the old and how quick we would have to grab on to the new.