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The Bushido Code


The Bushido Code was a set of ideals followed by the Samurai of ancient Japan. Although there was never a written book of the Bushido, Nitobe Inazo wrote a book entitled Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Pesident Teddy Rosevelt was so impressed with it that he bought many copies of it for his family and friends. In the book Inanzo cites 8 codes or virtues of Bushido.

I. Rectitude or Justice

II. Courage

III. Benevolence or Mercy

IV. Politeness

V. Honesty and Sincerity

VI. Honor

VII. Loyalty

VIII. Character and Self-Control

Although this code was designed and followed by the Samurai it is still pertinant for the martial artist.

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  1. July 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Sensei, I read something like the samurais were farmers by day, and warriors by night. I guess I have to do some reading. The concept of being a samurai is so fascinating. And I think it has somethign to do with HONOR , a virtue that is imbedded in Japanese culture.

  2. July 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Hi Ren

    More than likely what you read pertained more to the Ninja than the Samurai. The Samurai were warriors 24/7. They were the elite of the elite. And, yes, they lived for honor.

    That is not to say they didn’t know about farming. The Samurai were well versed in many things including poetry, writing, music, and even science. Many times when they occupied a village they did not merely protect the village but contributed much to the people in the way of education and agriculture.

    Most people were born into the Samurai or warrior caste just as most people of ancient Japan were born into the merchant or farmer class. Seldom did anyone change their caste..

    Honor is imbedded into the Japanese culture. In ancient Japan it was so much that it could actually become ridiculous at times. There were instances of a Samurai killing someone simply because of some minor infraction or what they took as an insult. For example there is a story of a man who saw a flea on a Samurai. He pointed it out to the warrior and the Samurai cut him down right there with his sword. The reason the Samurai gave was that fleas were parasites that crawled on dogs and other beasts. The man, in saying that he had a flea crawling on him, was comparing him to a lowlly beast and that was an insult to his honor.

    I guess there are bad apples in every batch.

    Please forgive the typos and such. I replied in a hurry with no spell check.

    • July 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Well, there’s harakiri and kamikaze. They kill themselves for honot and country. I assume you’re well versed in Japanese culture, sensei. I think they are such contradictory people. World War 2 anyone? How they could be so violent and at the same time, so peaceful and calm in their ways ( tea ceremony and their art )

  3. July 18, 2011 at 6:58 am

    I think every culture has the same traits in some way or another. Just as human beings do. We all have the potential for great and beautiful things. Yet we also have the potential to be warlike and cruel. It is the human condition.

    In WWII The Japanese believed themselves to be “right”. They believed themselves to be on the right side. I’m not saying that they were. They believed themselves to be right to the extreme that they would kill themselves in combat simply to hurt the enemy. The story of the name “kamikazi” is very interesting in itself. Just as it is today, most of these soldiers did what they did because it was their job to do it. Although their leaders or their country was wrong, they did what they had to do because they were loyal to their country.

    I think everyone, not just every country, has traits that it can take to the extreme.

    Also remember that I am refering to the ancient Japanese Samurai. Just like warriors today they lived with a great deal of violence in their lives. They were trained to kill and make war. They were trained to win. I hinted to it in a reply to the post but didn’t go fully into it. They also attempted to learn and educate themselves. Many were poets, wrters, musicians. They learned these finer arts to create balance in their lives. A yin – yang thing, if you will. This is how they were so violent, yet so peaceful. Trust me from experience, a person who lives a violent life and has no way to balance that will become unbalanced themselves. I have walked in a violent world for almost 23 years working in prisons. I have seen things and even done things that will forever be tattooed into my being.. I have learned that instead of turning to drinking, drugs, or other things that would be even more negative, to instead balance my life with being peaceful. Being a teacher. Working for the community when I can. Writing. Playing music. Attempting to make a difference in other’s lives.

    To a degree i think we could all benefit with the Samurai’s philosophy in this area. How many times have we done things, although not violent, in our lives or in or jobs that personally we weren’t sure of or downright disagreed with? How many times have we gotten home at night stressed out and perhaps even angry or dissapointed with ourselves over events of the day? I think many people find positive ways to balance these things. Some go to the gym. Others do other things. At any rate, this is why the Samurai often became artist or masters of the finer arts. They found the balance that our modern society sadly lacks in many ways.

  4. July 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    The samurais did need a lot of positive action to counter balance their way of life as samurai… that meant violence. I too have great admiration for the Japanese. Their determination and discipline are something that I admire most. I’ve
    seen a documentary about these traits of the Japanese. But more often than not, WW2 comes swirling in my mind. Perhaps, I’ve been watching too much of Military Channel.

  5. Kristina Scala
    August 10, 2011 at 7:30 am

    All martial artists seem to live the way of the Samurai. We take the philosophies we learn in martial arts and apply them to everyday life. Great post!

    I have a few more posts for you to check out – http://www.masterbasicsnj.wordpress.com

  6. August 10, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I will. thank you for the comment Kristina. Long time no see.

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