Modern vs Traditional

During the Edo period (1603 to 1868) also known as the Tokugawa period, the samurai were prevelent as see portrait in series and movies these days. Samurai were mostly in political positions in government and army. At the end of the Edo period, the Samurai status was ebolished when the emperior power was restored. At that time, the Meji (1868 to 1912) period started, and samurai were no longer allowed to practice their martial arts as combat-related skills or to carry two swords (katana and kodachi or wakizachi).

During the Meji period, many martial arts transformed from battle-field related to sports-type activities for use in high schools. Furthermore, coloured belt systems were introduced to indicate short-term progress to keep students motivated.

With these changes, terminology also changed, and often not for the good. Many of the terms used in the West these days seem incorrect. Below are two examples, as outlined by Osano-sensei recently, using his words.

The term “dogi” is a new word created after the Second World War. Until then it was called “keikogi”. In the martial arts traditionally there is no word “dogi”. Also, the word “gi” does not exist in Japan. Many shihans in Japan do not know such basic things.

belt systems


The name of “dojo” in martial arts is a new way of calling it since the Meiji Period. In the Edo era, it was called a “keikoba” (=rehearsal place). We try and call it so. The photo is a keikoba of Nen Ryu. The name Dojo is originally the way to call out the place of Buddhist training. It is not an appropriate name for a martial arts study hall.


Almost nobody this word in Japan. The most general name, coming from the olden days is “Bokutō”. Or it’s better to call it “Kidachi”.

Japanese swords
From the private collection of Osano-Sensei.