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1407 W. Front Street, Roanoke, IL 61561
Photo of a zen garden and bridge from the St Louis Botanical Garden. Used for decorative purposes.

It’s one thing to train in a fighting art, but we want our students, kids and adults alike, to understand they are also training to be better people. As such, bunbu ryodo, loosely translated as “the twin paths of culture and war,” is an important principle in our dojo. After all, if one is going to fight, one needs something to fight for. Anything less is savagery.

This is partly embodied in one of Sensei’s favorite quotes: “It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” We truly hope our students aren’t forced into physical conflict, but there may come a time where they are not given an option, and we want them to have the tools to be prepared. For our younger students, bullying is an ever-present problem in their schools, and some of our graduates may move on to military service or law enforcement. For our adults, crime and violence can’t always be predicted. Further, as both schools and offices are engaging in preparatory drills for shooters and mass casualty events, we hope our students will feel more prepared to protect themselves.

We also want our students to be training their minds while they train their bodies. The arts we teach have Okinawan, Japanese, and Chinese roots, and we discuss these cultures frequently. Students learn native terminology from each of the arts we teach, and how arts such as karate, kobudo, and jodo developed and evolved. We have a reading program to encourage students to learn beyond their schooling, and our black belt candidates write essays and take a written test as part of their grading.

Finally, just as every army needs a civil government to guide it, a strong body needs a fit mind to steer it. The warrior class in every culture studies philosophy, art, culture, and other scholarly pursuits, and we don’t feel it should be any different for our students.

We want fitness to be a life-long activity for health and wellness, and education is no different. The twin paths of culture and war are there for all of us.

Post Author: Sensei Oliveri

Sensei Mike Oliveri is currently a sandan, or 3rd-degree black belt, in Shuri-ryu Karate-do, a shodan in Shinto Muso-ryu Jodo, and holds the title of Gakusha (shodan level) in Okinawan Kobudo under the International Shuri-ryu Association standards.