Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Virtues of Bushido

As an instructor whom trains with the Japanese katana I have often been asked my thoughts on the code of bushido. Whilst I have great interest in all things Japanese especially feudal fighting techniques I make no claim to fully understand the spiritual development of the fighting men of Japan. After all I am not Japanese and I am certainly not a samurai.
Like most western martial art enthusiast that study the history and origins of their art and how they were developed through the ages the knowledge has been gained from long hours with one’s head stuck in books or searching the hundreds of internet sites on these subjects. I have received a great deal of help on these subjects from friends and fellow instructors on internet forum sites. Although the discussions can sometimes be heated about techniques and the dates of historical events that took place in Japan the general feeling is one of friendship and the pursuit of correct knowledge.
Depending on which author you agree with the virtues were either a set of values on how to live one’s life as a samurai in Japanese society or a way to prepare one’s self for death as a samurai. My own personal view is that modern society would find it very difficult if not impossible to live our lives using the virtues of bushido.
Below I have written a general description of what is considered by many scholars to be the most widely accepted version of bushido. Please enjoy them and make of them what you will: 
Bushido refers to the strict moral code principals that developed among the samurai (military/war) class of Japan, on a basis of national tradition influenced by Zen and Confucianism. The first use of the term apparently occurred during the civil war period of the 16th century; its precise content varied historically as samurai standards evolved. Its one unchanging ideal was martial spirit, including athletic and military skills as well as fearless attitude towards the enemy in battle. Frugal living, kindness and honesty were held in high esteem. Like Confucianism, Bushido required filial piety but originating in the feudal system, it also held that supreme honour was to serve one's lord.
"There were many forces acting on a Samurai since they were at the top of Japanese society, they were required to live, breath and enforce all the laws of the country - written and unwritten. Their own lives were ones of complete service and they were subject to a very strict code of Bushido. Until theTokugawa Shogunate ruling period, most of the Code was not written down but whether written or unwritten, it was followed - to the death.”
 Be acutely honest
throughout your dealings
with all people. Believe
in justice, not from other
people, but from yourself.
To the true warrior,
all points of view are deeply considered regarding
honesty, justice
and integrity.
Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.

 Heroic Courage
 Hiding like a turtle in a
shell is not living at all.
A true warrior must have
heroic courage. It is
absolutely risky. It is living life
completely, fully,
and wonderfully.
Heroic courage is not
blind. It is intelligent
and strong.
 Warriors have only
one judge of honour and
character, and this is
themselves. Decisions you
make and how these
decisions are carried out
are a reflection of
who you truly are.
You cannot hide
from yourself. 
Through intense training
and hard work the true
warriors become quick
and strong. They are not as
most people. They develop
a power that must be
used for good. They have
compassion. They help
their fellow man at
every opportunity. 
If an opportunity does not
arise, they go out of their
way to find one.
Honesty and Sincerity 
When warriors say that they will perform
an action, it is as good
as done. Nothing will
stop them from completing
what they say they
will do. They do not
have to "give their word."
They do not have
to "promise."
Speaking and doing are
the same action.
Duty and Loyalty
 Warriors are
responsible for everything
that they have done
and everything that they
have said, and all of the
consequences that follow.
They are immensely loyal to
all of those in their care. To everyone that they
are responsible for,
they remain
fiercely true.

To find out more about Evasive Self-Defence Combat System visit http://www.esdcs.org or e-mail John Barrass at: john@kurinami.wanadoo.co.uk