Japanese schools are to institute compulsory training in the honourable way of the warrior; middle schoolers will from next year have to take up one of a variety of martial arts, and so instil in themselves the noble heart of a samurai, or at least enjoy beating each other with a variety of weapons.
The current system allows middle schoolers the choice of dance or martial arts in their first year, and in their second and third years they must select two of dance, martial arts and a ball game.
This will change to compulsory budou (martial arts) and dance; the sports permissible are judo, kendo and sumo (!). Depending on the region and school, other martial skills such as kyudo (archery) and the naginata (halberd) will also be laid on. Strangely there is no mention of karate, and lamentably ninjutsu seems entirely out of consideration, so we will be spared a generation of ninja…
The changes will be rolled out over thousands of schools in 2009, and a generous budget of no less than six billion yen to ensure that in future years Japan will not lack for skilled swordfighters in case one of the quiescent daimyo once again rebels against the emperor’s majestic reign.
A variety of parties are rubbing their hands with glee over this move, with calls for proper tatami floored spaces, to say nothing of instructors, all adding to the pork, as many schools are not equipped with these facilities.
Politicians like this sort of move too, as it is all very Japanese and gives a good opportunity to talk about instilling discipline. Even many children enjoy beating each other with sticks, though whether it being compulsory will be well received is another matter. It may at least equip some of them to beat off the teachers.