Why do Japanese arts use the Japanese language?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. Gweilo

    Gweilo Black Belt

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    I can't remember who wrote it, but using Japanese or Chinese language in persuits that originate from these places is a form or standardisation. In my day job I am a Horticulturalist, and discussions about plants, we use a standardised latin name for the plant, that uses the genus and the founder, or the country of origin, Chinesis denotes of Chinese origin, Japonica japanese for example. Most gardeners will use the common name, but in the uk a Buddleja Davidii is a butterfly bush, in France the butterfly bush is a different plant, so we always use the Latin name, so everyone around the globe knows exactly what plant we are discussing, Imo same thing in MA
     
  2. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    but it wont be ' everyone around the globe' it will only be a very select few who have taken the trouble to learn the latin, generally those who can be considered to be scientific or professionals. or at least exceptionally keen amateurs

    i know a good deal of latin for legal concepts, but this is of no use at all for communicating with the vast majority of the population, including the police, who regard you as borderline insane if you quote latin at them
     
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  3. Gweilo

    Gweilo Black Belt

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    I was talking about everyone in Horticulture, but I now see what I wrote could be read for everyone around the globe, my apologies principle Jobo.
     
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  4. Randy Pio

    Randy Pio White Belt

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    I think it pays homage to your style's ancestry, also regardless of where you travel; you can communicate the style. One further point, it cleans up descriptions such as the "oblique kick" or "Axe Kick".
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't read the thread yet, so some of this might be repeating others' answers. I think a lot has to do with tight links back to Japanese associations. When a US group (for instance) has tight ties back to Japan, they'll tend to keep using Japanese terms, because it keeps everyone in the art on the same page. And once you know what a term means, the origin is irrelevant. I have to explain my English terms to folks just as often as folks in Aikido have to explain their Japanese terms. The only real advantage of native-language terms is they are probably easier to learn initially.

    A good example of that last point is how I refer to techniques. I call a shoulder throw "shoulder throw", because that's the name I learned for it in NGA. But I learned the throw that Captain Kirk used so often as "tomo e nage". I don't know a concise English term for it, so that's the name I use.

    NGA was an anomaly from the early days. Though Richard Bowe trained in Japan (and maintained ties there for many years, even after the art was no longer taught publicly there), he used mostly English terminology. In fact, that had been the practice when he was in Chitose. Bowe was an interpreter for the Army, and when he joined the NGA dojo, they (the instructor and students) were keen to learn some new English terms. They had him translate much of the terminology into English, and actually used those terms in the dojo. And we mostly use those same terms (or so the story goes) now.
     
  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    In some cases, they simply don't know another term to use. I sometimes use Japanese terms rather than English ones, because more people will recognize what "kote gaeshi" is than "front wrist throw", the latter being the NGA term, but one I've not heard elsewhere.
     
  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I see this with Japanese terms, as well. I've heard "kote gaeshi" pronounced at least 5 different ways, two of which I didn't recognize until I saw the technique.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Most folks who train in the US under 3rd-generation US teachers wouldn't be able to understand any of that, even if the terms are ostensibly the same.
     
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I can find no source to support your assertion that the word "Grammer" is correct in this usage. If you have one, I'd appreciate a link.

    To the second point, you've misstated this. It's not proper to use the proper-noun (grammatical term) capitalization for Mother simply when speaking of one's own mother. It's capitalized when used as a proper noun - as a form of address. So both of these are correct:

    "My mother went shopping."
    "Dear Mother, when are you going shopping?"
     
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  10. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    sigh
    When do you capitalize words like "mother," "father," "grandmother," and "grandfather" when writing about them? - Everything After Z by Dictionary.com

    so '' My mother went shopping ' is not, but '' Later that day Mother went shopping' is
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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  12. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Ever notice how some aspects of martial arts are like grammar? And some instructors obsess about trivial details of technique almost like MA versions of "grammar police". Other instructors are more concerned about functionality. In other words, can you get the job done?
     
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  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I have. I've had instructors who were more worried about students knowing exactly the right stance (and being able to get into it at exactly the right moment) than in teaching why. I find those who focus on "why" tend to be more function-oriented.

    Oddly, I sometimes enjoy the "grammar police" instructors. It can be fun to work on nits, even when it's not necessarily advancing specific skills (other than the ability to exactly replicate that movement).
     
  14. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    no that's what I said before you took the trouble of contradicting me, this is your usual mo, of changing your mind when faced with over whelming evidence, but pretending you said something else the n first place
     
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  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe go back and read your own post. You didn't say that. I can see now that's what you meant, but it's not what you said.

    And, of course, you've dropped the whole "Grammer" argument. I'm guessing you realized you were entirely incorrect.
     
  16. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    I can see one good reason. If you're counting money out to someone who only speaks Japanese, that'd be a good reason. There you go.
     
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  17. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Japanese: Tomenage -- English: Circle Throw

    ...still reading...
     
  18. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    After reading this entire thread, and there's some good thoughts and witticisms in it, I think I agree with Jobo on something. Not so unusual, really. No, I'm not talking about grammar.

    Saying "Bungalow" instead of "Single Story House" is where I'm coming from on this.

    I learned the names for the judo throws & techniques in Japanese, as just about anyone else does who learns Judo, probably because Judo is so widespread, but pretty well-managed via the national organizations who operate under the international governing bodies. I learned my aikido techniques' names in Japanese as well, as that's how it was taught to me and we were held responsible for knowing that for shodan, as the test would be called out (maybe sometimes) and those ommands would be in Japanese. If you didn't do the right thing, probably not going to pass (just like everyone else, I gather). So, in that sense, if you're a judo player taking to another judo player, barring the accents people speak with which reflect their region from whence they come, the words are generally the same.

    Can you translate from Japanese to English and get meaning that way? Sure you can. Tomoenage/Circle Throw... or Ippon Seoinage/1-arm shoulder throw... there you go. But, things get lost in translation, in my opinion.

    We could run around in circles talking about nomenclature and meaning, though. Tomoenage means much more to me than does Circle Throw, even though I know they are synonomous (or are supposed to be so, otherwise it's not a good translation... is it.). I think the neural imprinting that takes place during class/practice, when you're talking about a technique (using Japenese) and discussing how the technique is performed (using Japanese), considering the tactics involved in a technique (using Japanese), fine-tuning the technique (using Japanese), and calling out the technique when teaching (using Japanese) all increase the depth and level of "meaning" to the Japanese terms. This could be the situation in a TKD or HKD dojang as well, if (as was my experience down here in Houston) the instructor exclusively used all the Korean terms to teach class... counting, kicks, punches, blocks, movements, left-side/right-side and so on. But, since I'd already immersed myself in those same techniques' English names, that Korean didn't stick and I'd be doing a running Korean-English-Korean translation in my mind all class long.

    I find that, for me, the Japanese terms for the techniques have more meaning. I think it's because of the above. So, when I talk about it to someone, it automatically starts to come out in Japanese... but if their eyes go blank I've been teaching long enough to flip it into a simple enough English phrasing to get my point across. Mostly. It's like it's all about compressing time... conveying the largest amount of information in the shortest amount of time, or syllables.
     
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  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    To me "circle throw" sounds like kaiten nage (Wheel Throw). I'll try to remember that for the future.
     
  20. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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    When I learned tomoenage, the translation we used was stomach throw.
     

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