Bushido, the Code of the Samurai

Bushido, the Code of the Samurai

  A study of the most fearsome warriors throughout the history of the world reveals many parallels, despite hundreds and even thousands of years of separation between cultures, religion, time and geographical region. Many of the most elite warriors throughout time adhered to a standard of conduct, morals and ethics. It may be said, they were men of honor, integrity, discipline and much more. 

 The foremost concern of every Samurai warrior was not if they would die in battle, but how they would die. Samurai were judged by how they had behaved at the moment of their death.  If the most composed, educated, intelligent, eloquent warrior were to lose his composure on the brink of death, and die in a manner not upholding the highest traditions of the Samurai, then that warrior would have disgraced the Samurai. As such, his life held no purpose and shall not be remembered as Samurai. 

 The Samurai were first class citizens, civilized, educated, moral, ethical, disciplined, spiritual, and of course, skilled in art of war.  The word samurai originally meant “one who serves,” and referred to men of noble birth assigned to guard members of the Imperial Court. This service ethic spawned the roots of samurai nobility, both social and spiritual. Over time, the nobility had trouble maintaining centralized control of the nation, and began “outsourcing” military, administrative, and tax collecting duties to former rivals who acted like regional governors. As the Imperial Court grew weaker, local governors grew more powerful. Eventually some evolved into daimyo, or feudal lords who ruled specific territories independently of the central government.

  Of course, everyone knows the Samurai were renowned for their swordsmanship, but they were also skilled in the use of bows, spears and even guns. Samurai warriors believed in keeping the spirit of combat in mind every day, and throughout the day. What is certain is that a person can put on the persona that they are a warrior, like they are putting on a different shirt. But, the one with the true warrior spirit does not grow tired of physical fitness, discipline, or maintaining combat related skills because it is who they truly are.  Some who have the true spirit of the warrior may have never served in the military, just as not everyone who has served in the military has the spirit of the warrior.

  The time of the Samurai was a time of carnage and darkness: the Age of Wars, when the land was torn by bloodshed and the only law was the law of the sword.   During this time of bloodshed and lawlessness a peasant wandered the countryside alone, seeking his fortune, without a coin in his pocket. He longed to become the epitome of refined manhood — a samurai— but nothing in the demeanor of this five-foot-tall, one-hundred-ten-pound boy could possibly have foretold the astounding destiny awaiting him.

  “So, boy. You wish to serve me?” Silhouetted against the blue-black sky, the horse-mounted samurai with the horned helmet towered over me like a demon as I knelt in the dirt before him. I could not see his face but there was no mistaking the authority in his growling tone, nor the hint of mockery in his question. I tried to speak and managed only a faint croak. My mouth had gone dry, as parched as a man dying of thirst. But I had to respond. My fate-and though I didn’t know it then, the fate of all of Japan-rested on my answer. Raising my head just enough to brave a glance at the demonic figure, I saw him staring at me, like a hawk poised to seize a mouse in its talons. When I managed to speak, my voice was clear and steady, and I drew courage with each syllable. “That’s correct, Lord Nobunaga,” I said. “I do.”

  His name was Hideyoshi, and on that fateful spring evening in the year 1553, the brash young warlord Nobunaga hired him as a sandal-bearer. Driven by a relentless desire to transcend his peasant roots, Hideyoshi went on to become Nobunaga’s loyal protégé and right-hand man. Ultimately, he became the supreme ruler of all Japan — the first peasant ever to rise to the absolute height of power — and unified a nation torn apart by more than a hundred years of civil strife.

  Just a few decades after Japan’s warrior class was abolished, author Nitobe Inazo interpreted the Samurai code of behavior: how chivalrous men should act in their personal and professional lives. The title of the book Bushido: The Soul of Japan,  became an international best seller, largely due to U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt raving about the book. He was known to have bought five dozen copies for family and friends.

   Bushido, was passed down orally by the Samurai, from one generation to the next. It's much more than a code of conduct, it was a way of life filled with tradition, discipline and honor. Bushido roughly translates into English as "Military, Knight, Ways". Bushido was a way of life that continues to impact Japanese society to this day.


 Bushido’s Eight Virtues as explicated by Nitobe:

       1. Rectitude or Justice

        Rectitude refers to being morally correct in ones behavior and thinking. Bushido refers not only to martial rectitude, but to personal rectitude: Rectitude or Justice, is the strongest virtue of Bushido. A well-known samurai defines it this way: ‘Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to die when to die is right, to strike when to strike is right.’ Another speaks of it in the following terms: ‘Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and stature. Without bones the head cannot rest on top of the spine, nor hands move nor feet stand. So without Rectitude neither talent nor learning can make the human frame into a samurai.’

           2. Courage

            Bushido distinguishes between bravery and courage: Courage is worthy of being counted among virtues only if it’s exercised in the cause of Righteousness and Rectitude. In his Analects, Confucius says: ‘Perceiving what is right and doing it not reveals a lack of Courage.’ In short, ‘Courage is doing what is right.’

            3. Benevolence or Mercy

            A man invested with the power to command and the power to kill was expected to demonstrate equally extraordinary powers of benevolence and mercy: Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, are traits of Benevolence, the highest attribute of the human soul. Both Confucius and Mencius often said the highest requirement of a ruler of men is Benevolence.

               4. Politeness

                Discerning the difference between obsequiousness and politeness can be difficult for casual visitors to Japan, but for a true man, courtesy is rooted in benevolence: Courtesy and good manners have been noticed by every foreign tourist as distinctive Japanese traits. But Politeness should be the expression of a benevolent regard for the feelings of others; it’s a poor virtue if it’s motivated only by a fear of offending good taste. In its highest form Politeness approaches love.

                   5. Honesty and Sincerity

                    True Samurai, according to author Nitobe, disdained money, believing that “men must grudge money, for riches hinder wisdom.” Thus children of high-ranking Samurai were raised to believe that talking about money showed poor taste, and that ignorance of the value of different coins showed good breeding: Bushido encouraged thrift, not for economical reasons so much as for the exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood, and severe simplicity was required of the warrior class … the counting machine and abacus were abhorred.

                       6. Honor

                        Though Bushido deals with the profession of soldiering, it is equally concerned with non-martial behavior: The sense of Honor, a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth, characterized the samurai. He was born and bred to value the duties and privileges of his profession. Fear of disgrace hung like a sword over the head of every samurai … To take offense at slight provocation was ridiculed as ‘short-tempered.’ As the popular adage put it: ‘True patience means bearing the unbearable.’

                      VII. Loyalty


                      In today's world loyalty to ones employer is virtually non-existent. Nonetheless, those with integrity remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted: Loyalty to a superior was the most distinctive virtue of the feudal era. Personal fidelity exists among all sorts of folks: a gang of pickpockets swears allegiance to its leader. But only in the code of Chivalrous Honor does Loyalty assume paramount importance.

                        8. Character and Self-Control

                        Bushido teaches that men should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification, and a man should know the difference. Finally, it is a man’s obligation to teach his children moral standards through the model of his own behavior: The first objective of samurai education was to build up Character. The subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence, and dialectics were less important. Intellectual superiority was esteemed, but a samurai was essentially a man of action. No historian would argue that Hideyoshi personified the Eight Virtues of Bushido throughout his life. Like many great men, deep faults paralleled his towering gifts. Yet by choosing compassion over confrontation, and benevolence over belligerence, he demonstrated that he was civilized and possessed the highest attributes of humanity. Today, the lessons of Hideyoshi could not be more timely.


                        In 1185 Minamoto no Yoritomo, a warlord of the eastern provinces who traced his lineage back to the imperial family, established the nation’s first military government and Japan entered its feudal period (1185-1867). The country was essentially under military rule for nearly 700 years. But the initial stability Minamoto achieved failed to bring lasting peace. Other regimes came and went, and in 1467 the national military government collapsed, plunging Japan into turmoil. Thus began the infamous Age of Wars, a bloody century of strife when local warlords fought to protect their domains and schemed to conquer rivals. By the time Japan plunged into the turbulent Age of Wars, the term samurai had come to signify armed government officials, peacekeeping officers, and professional soldiers: in short, almost anyone who carried a sword and was ready and able to exercise deadly force.

                       The worst of these medieval Japanese warriors were little better than street thugs; the best were fiercely loyal to their masters and true to the unwritten code of chivalrous behavior known today as Bushido (usually translated as “Precepts of Knighthood” or “Way of the Warrior”). Virtuous or villainous, the samurai emerged as the colorful central figures of Japanese history: a romantic archetype akin to Europe’s medieval knights or the American cowboy of the Wild West. But the samurai changed dramatically after Hideyoshi pacified Japan. With civil society at peace, their role as professional fighters disappeared, and they became less preoccupied with martial training and more concerned with spiritual development, teaching, and the arts. By 1867, when the public wearing of swords was outlawed and the warrior class was abolished, they had evolved into what Hideyoshi had envisioned nearly three centuries earlier: swordless Samurai

                         Eventually, there was no longer any need for the Samurai, warriors brought peace upon the land and balance had been restored. The Samurai integrated back into society, as they were no longer needed to maintain law and order, a lesson we contemporary warriors should take note of. I anticipate a coming age of the contemporary warrior, a time when we will no longer learn the art of war and we will beat our swords into plowshares.

                       The time to do this will be when we as a society of have rid ourselves of the likes of the cabal and the small number of extremely powerful people who have manipulated and controlled humanity for thousands of years. The cabal and all those like them will not exist any longer. Humanity is currently undergoing a spiritual transformation, the masses are awakening. It begins with awakening to the information war that is being waged upon us, propaganda. But, there is so much more, the real mission statement of the CIA is manipulating human behavior. MK Ultra, LSD experimentation and most recently CIA operatives at all the social media platforms, financial institutions and even Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC). Awakening begins with questioning everything and understanding how we have been programmed and controlled through fear mongering and information. Eventually, instead of teaching fear and division we will teach unity and the true of pursuit of the one true God. 

                        This system is collapsing. Unfortunately, before we get to the point of beating our swords into plowshares we must expect a time of chaos and bloodshed. Good people do not have to become the victims of those who love to victimize others, the zombies of this present age.  Martial arts are the military arts. If you recognize you are of the warrior class now is a good time to b begin preparing yourself in all ways, spiritually, physically and thinking of your tactical training as a martial art.


                      Apply ancient martial arts concepts to contemporary tactical training.

                       ka·ta| ˈkädə 


                       a system of individual training exercises for practitioners of karate and other martial arts. (plural same or katas) an individual training exercise in karate and other martial arts.

                        Kata's are a primary example of a training technique that has proven itself over the centuries. If you know anything about Kata's you also understand they are practiced over and over again. Most shooters like to go to an indoor range, put up a simple target and shoot a little. In my opinion, that describes marksmanship training, at best. Shooting groups on a target 10 or 15 yards away that look like a shotgun blast is doing very little to prepare one for actual combat; Combat being a fight in which someone is likely to meet their end.

                        Lets quickly define combat. Combat does not strictly apply towards troops in contact, but towards everyone who might find themselves in a fight for their life or the life of someone else.

                        Contemporary tactical training is a martial art, whether that be while running a primary weapon system, such as a carbine rifle and a secondary weapon system in the holster or wielding a samurai sword. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, I'm simply applying proven training techniques that have existed for thousands of years and directing them towards modern tactical training. The targets I make and the shooting drills I design are derived from nearly 30 years of operational experience and formal training. However, it seems the training being conducted on ranges and in special operations units today is reminiscent of the training I did 30 years ago. This tells me that fundamentally, shooting has changed very little. Sure, we change mags faster, acquire multiple targets faster and press the trigger faster, but what fundamental changes have occurred in the way we train for combat? It's easy enough to regurgitate what I've been taught previously, maybe put a little pizazz on it and give it my own spin, but its still the same old shit I was taught years ago. In my opinion, that is what just about everybody is doing in the tactical training world. Taking our training to the next level requires reassessing everything we do in combat including weapon positions, shooting drills and the method by which we train ourselves. In my opinion we must look at elite athletes and how they train, sports psychology and even neuroscience.

                       One technique for improving our training includes the use of Kata's and modern neuroscience provides us with the scientific understanding of why this ancient training method is so effective. Here's a hint, it's related to repetition. All this nonsense about "fine motor skills" is rubbish, it all goes out the window when we begin training ourselves correctly.


                         Shown above, the practice of Wing Chun is fundamental to Kung Fu and consists of a sequence of movements and strikes to the post. Kata's such as this are performed with only the hands. However, kata's can employ a variety of weapons, including firearms. The movements change according to the weapon being wielded. Working repetitively from different shooting positions is important. Repetitive training creates the neural pathways in the brain which are consistently reinforced and improved. Like filling in the potholes on a bumpy road, the signals travel through the brain faster and more reliably, which translates to increased speed and reaction times. Speed and accuracy are the two components to winning a gunfight.


                       In summary, adopting the path of the warrior is a way of life. It is physical conditioning, training to fight with weapons and without. It is also a spiritual path, the path of self-improvement, becoming a better human being and feeling connected to all that is of God.

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