Budo Theory: Exploring Martial Arts Principles

Thanks to great interest around the globe, Budo Theory has been shipped to a wide range of countries. In fact, we are running out of stock.

To clear out remaining copies, we are offering a reduced price ($25.00/copy) on all copies of Budo Theory: Exploring Martial Arts Principles with flat rate shipping for orders of one to four copies ($15.00) and free shipping for five or more copies.

“Get together with everyone in the dojo and order your copies before they are gone.”

I’m not planning to re-publish. Working on other projects for now.


We ship through Canada Post. All packages shipped via surface and some international shipments have been taking up to six weeks to arrive. e-mail me first (customerservice@budotheory.ca) if you need to have it faster and I will calculate other options for you.

About The Book

  • You have paid your dues sweating in the dojo and know the effort needed to achieve technical excellence.
  • You know deeper concepts, principles, and philosophies exist in your martial journey but they are hard to find, understand because you don’t speak Japanese, or only contain bits and pieces here and there.
  • You are a disciplined student (Shugyosha) interested in a resource that pulls martial arts principles together.

Why a Book on Budo Theory (Budo Riron)?

After over forty years studying martial arts (Karate and Iaido), like any serious student, I still struggle to put all the pieces together into some unified whole. After dedicated study, discussions with many instructors, attending countless clinics, and putting many buckets of sweat on the dojo floor, I still am unsatisfied with my understanding of many topics that I know have deeper meaning. Fortunately, I had excellent teachers that encouraged and challenged my research.

All martial arts have similar underlying principles. They might use different ways to describe them, or use different methods to teach them, but at their core they are the same. I began to form an outline of martial arts concepts that grew to become the first edition of Budo Theory published in 1993.

I wasn’t the only one searching for deeper meaning.

Since then I have continued my martial journey. After numerous requests to reprint, I updated, revised, and expanded the entire book to the current second edition. While researching the second edition, I discovered Budo Theory is still one of the very few books to attempt to pull together martial arts principles into a coherent structure.

What It Means To You

The journey, as we all know, is where all the fun is. Budo Theory: Exploring Martial Arts Principles points you to lucrative areas of study and ties together many concepts that will definitely help your technique and understanding of your martial art.

Explore Foundational Principles

  • How Martial Ways (Budo) have evolved and matured into what they are today.
  • The significance of the Dojo, and how Courtesy (Reigisaho) can enhance your training.
  • Understand the learning stages you travel through on your martial arts journey. 
  • Principles (Ri) underlying Practical Application (Ji) and when technique Lacks Principle (Muri).
  • Concepts of Energy (Ki), how it is coordinated (Kiai), and Expressed (Aiki) to your opponent.
  • See how Duality (Kyo-Jitsu) shapes combat.

Investigate Technical Principles

  • Using the Eyes (Metsuke, Chakugan, Ken, Kan) in combat to perceive Gaps (Suki) in your opponent’s movement and mental state—before he moves.
  • How breathing (Kokyu Ho) affects stability, technique, and mental status, and its relation to the Abdominal Convergence (Tanden).
  • Using the Voice (Kake Goe) to coordinate movement, and affect your opponent.
  • Stance (Tachi), Footwork (Ashi Sabaki), and engagement postures (Kamae).

Discover Tactical Principles

  • Create (Tsukuri) and exploit Gaps (Suki) in your opponent’s stance, movement, technique, and mental status.
  • Understand Initiative (Sen) and how to retake it using timing concepts.
  • Utilize Engagement Distance (Ma-ai) and Body Shifting (Tai Sabaki) to dislocate your opponent’s strength while sustaining yours.
  • Collapse (Kuzushi) your opponent’s structure and strategy both physically and mentally.

Uncover Unifying Principles

  • Using Variation (Henka) and Reverse Techniques (Gyaku Waza) to broaden your technique.
  • Learn tools to enable deeper Analysis (Bunkai) of technique to peel back the outer layers of Traditional Forms (Kata).
  • Journey inward to explore mental states (Mushin, Fudoshin, Heijoshin, and Zanshin) that point toward higher orders of strategic thinking.
  • Find concepts that tie together mind, body, and technique.

Budo Theory is all about synthesis. It’s about taking seemingly disparate technical details and considering the conceptual principles behind them. These principles help you understand a larger context that you can apply to your martial art with more flexibility and decisiveness.

Budo Theory is Unique

There are countless books, videos, and articles describing the “how-to” of martial arts technique. Budo theory is unique because it discusses the principles behind the techniques and tactics—the why.

For example, we all learn to shout in the Dojo (commonly called Kiai, but better termed Kake Goe), but have you ever considered how sound affects you and your opponent? How is the shout coordinated with breathing and the application of force? How different sounds can create different effects? In short, what are the principles behind using Kake Goe?

Budo Theory gives you tools to explore and apply principles to your own martial discipline with more flexibility and deeper meaning.

“Budo Theory Takes Your Martial Journey Well Beyond Just Punching and Kicking.”

The Bottom Line

Budo Theory: Exploring Martial Arts Principles will help you improve your martial art. You will not find another book that pulls this kind of information together. Budo theory is information dense, covering over 30 major topics, and over 180 concepts. The book includes over 200 illustrations and photographs to help you understand the origin of the terms used and to illustrate the concepts discussed.

“You Invest a Great Deal of Time and Effort in Your Martial Journey. Give Yourself Some New Tools and Perspectives to Make Your Journey Richer”

Thanks for Considering This

  • Author: Richard Rowell
  • Format: Softcover – sewn binding
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0969795926
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • No. Pages: 212

Price: $25.00

Shipping: 1-4 copies – $10.00

                     > 4 copies – Free Shipping

All Funds Canadian Dollars

Terms of Sale

1) All prices are in Canadian dollars. Normally payment in full must be received before an item will be shipped. Academic institutions, or libraries, may be billed upon receipt of a purchase order. If sending a cheque, money order, or purchase order, contact us first to request that the book be reserved for you pending receipt of payment.
2) Payment to Ottenbreit-Rowell Inc. may be made by credit card, international money order, bank draft, or by PayPal.
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4) RETURNS: Any item purchased through Budotheory.ca from Ottenbreit-Rowell Inc. is returnable (postpaid) to us within 20 days of receipt. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, you may return the item. Please notify us, by email customerservice@budotheory.ca . All we ask is that you return the book in the same condition as you received it.
5) Non-claimed orders that are returned will be refunded less actual costs for shipping and transaction fees. Reorders will not be shipped to the same address.