Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - Connections of go with the art of war and Martial Arts of the Far East

Apart from quite evident genetical connections of the game go with martial art, the authors attempt to present its connections with martial arts of the Far East. In order to achieve this, they use systematic analysis of problem considering: 1) connections of go and present-day martial arts with the art of war; 2) connections with the cultural tradition of the Far East; 3) institution of master degrees and titles; 4) educational influence on the players; 5) sphere of organization and popularization.
Connections with cultural tradition mean mainly influence of philosophical and religious systems of a given place and time, and also symbolism and customs of a given cultural circle. Confucianism and Taoism have played an important role in life of the Chinese. Confucian philosophy was interested in individual life in the society and Taoism was close to the harmony of a person and the nature.
We can find principles of Taoism in the ancient work The Art of War, representative for the School of Strategy (Bing Jia). Sun Tzu (Sun Wu), Chinese general, commander and theoretician of military science was the author of this work. He lived about 500 years B.C. Theories and wisdom of Sun Tzu were used in China in different fields of life. Many of them we can find in a board game in China called weiqi, in Korea – baduk, and in Japan called go.
The general, as an expert of theory of waging war, said that success can be achieved with minimum costs and risks, and the enemies could be defeated at the same time remaining the winners. Comparing rules of go with the Sun Tzu theory we can say that the game of go is a simulation of war. Players of go can win using the right strategy and right estimation of the position. Skillful placement of stones, isolation of enemy stones is the key for winning the game (the same situation is on the real battlefield). Players (as well as commanders) can have a big influence on the struggle. They can command to reach the goal sometimes without any force or direct confrontation. The same as during the war players of go can have different skills. Inexperienced players can make many mistakes, they are not in a position to make a right assessment of the position and they often lose. Expert players reach their goals, thinking the matter over in order to win the game.
Lessons of Sun Tzu have had a strong influence on people in the East. They have used them in many fields of life. Perhaps such lessons could be helpful for us, people in the West, in our public and personal life.
In Japan, China and Korea the game of go is an obligatory subject in many military and economic academies and universities. It helps students to think in a strategic way. It helps them to develop such features as: moderation, psychical balance and patience. We people from the West are often devoid of those features. Hurry, impatience and constant pursuit of material goods and changes are not conducive to self-improvement, meditation and creation of inner harmony. The game of go allows to achieve that peculiar inner state letting you to better contact with yourself. Thus, you can achieve the special state of soul which enables you to defeat all possible difficulties.