Nanbudo: the origins of martial arts

In only 30 years, Nanbudo has been able to get a place into the world of martial arts. Yoshinao Nanbu has created a discipline which breaks with the competitive characteristic of modern societies and goes back to the origins of martial arts.

Master Yoshinao Nanbu, a respected karateka known all over the world, gave up Karate 35 years ago in order to develop a martial art that would become his great creation: Nanbudo. Almost four years after that, more than 20,000 people have practiced it in 25 different countries.

Mariano Carrasco, master of Nanbudo and one of the seven nanbudokas worldwide, has the black belt 7th-degree DAN of Nanbudo (Rehi).  ”It is a martial art that has not died. Nanbudo continues developing because its master and founder, Nanbu, is still alive. It has a big relation with medicine, and Nanbudo advances as medicine. It is not dead,” says Carrasco.

Going back to origins

Over time and due its introduction in the west, martial arts have become a usual and modern sport, but Nanbudo has gone back to origins. Although competition is an important part of this sport, it respects the philosophy of martial arts. As Carrasco explains, “Martial arts were created to be used as defence from other people or from ourselves, but never to attack. However, in some other martial arts, the one who hits most, wins. This is illogical and doesn’t respect the philosophy of martial art. In Nambudo he who defends,.” Javier Benito, karateka and yoga instructor, also agrees with this concept of westernization. As he says, “in the original karate there is no competition. Martial arts are a life philosophy. Our western nature is competitive. I think that this can we can have a combination of both.”

Nanbudo might be thought as an innovation or as an improvement of Karate. Carrasco explains that Karate has lost almost all its philosophy because it is very sporty. “We don’t want to go against the philosophy of martial arts. It is an evolution of martial arts, a going back to its origins. That is what people really want to do: practice a martial art to enjoy it and being healthy, not for anymore,” Carrasco says.

Also, this philosophy has made other martial arts imitate Nanbudo and look for innovations. Mariano Carrasco thinks that “we can consider Nanbudo as a complete sport. Every sport, and also in martial arts, gives something to people. Nanbudo gives the opportunity to practise a physical, mental and healthy sport.»

Written by Alba Escobar

Universidad San Jorge