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Saturn
04-11-2006, 02:16 PM
Apparently after having read Hagakure the Samurai used to stab themselves with a Spear in the hip to ppear manly because of battle wounds. Aikidoists as we are what is your opinion on this ancient practice of self-mutilation for title. evileyes

Ron Tisdale
04-11-2006, 02:38 PM
Hmmm, you need to improve your library....

http://koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html

Hagakure was compiled sometime in the mid 1700s, based on the recollections of Tashiro Tsuramoto of informal conversations and rants by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. But you're quite right that Hagakure is a rather anachronistic, and somewhat romaticized text.

Tsunemoto was kind of an odd character--sort of the Mishima Yukio of his age, but without the literary talent. He was a middle-ranked retainer of Nabeshima Motoshige who had been born into an age of peace but dreamed of glorious days that he really knew nothing about. He was a bureaucrat who fantasized about being a warrior, and turned himself into a self-proclaimed expert on proper warrior behavior. G. Cameron Hurst summed him up very well when he called him "the G-12 who would be more."

When Motoshige died in 1700, Tsunetomo wanted to follow him in death--commit junshi--but this action had been forbidden by both shogunate and Nabeshima domain law. So he settled instead for retirement to a hut in the mountains--a kind of social death, symbolic of the real thing. After a time, some of the young retainers of the Nabeshima domain began to visit him, to hear him pontificate on what was wrong with samurai today and what things were like--or, more accurately, what he imagined things OUGHT to have been like--in the good ol' days. After Tsunemoto's death, Tsuramoto put together what he could remember of the old man's lectures in the text he called Hagakure (literally, "Hidden among the leaves"). One important point to keep in mind about this text, BTW, is that it hardly circulated at all outside the Nabeshima domain--that is, it was virtually unknown--until modern times, when it became VERY popular with the new Imperial Military.

By Dr. Karl Friday

Kevin Leavitt
04-11-2006, 05:12 PM
I'd compare this to getting dirt on my football uniform when I was a kid after sitting the bench so everyone would think i actually played.

Being a miitary man, i find this type of mentality dangerous. People that need this type of self stroking of the ego will get people killed in combat.

So I think it is very stupid.

Also sort of like scuffing up your black belt so it wears out fast. Yeah, right you've trained five years and your belt looks like you have been doing it daily for 30!

Dirk Hanss
04-12-2006, 03:51 AM
So you want to tell me, I should not have stone-washed my hakama to tell everybody how experienced I am really? And I should not have cut notches in my jo to prove, that I know, how to use it?

Well,I have to think about it. :eek: :o ;)


Dirk

Saturn
04-12-2006, 10:13 AM
There's even more freaky stuff to do with the Samurai too from what I've read. For one thing they tended to deprive themselves of anything that would give them a desire to live, which of course meant death would be a release.

They even used to grow mustaches out of respect for their enemies, this is because after a battle warriors would take trophies from the dead to show their skill. The mustaches served as trophies because they would cut the upper lip and nose off of their enemies faces to show to their leader, the facial hair then served as proof that the dead were not female. Heck they even practiced decapitating live criminals in their spare time.

Strange now that a martial art like Aikido is a decendant of their creation. Aikido could be pretty brutal, but it seems more kinder in a way then one might think in contrast to its roots. They really didn't seem to be very peacful at all. evileyes

James Davis
04-12-2006, 10:25 AM
Apparently after having read Hagakure the Samurai used to stab themselves with a Spear in the hip to ppear manly because of battle wounds. Aikidoists as we are what is your opinion on this ancient practice of self-mutilation for title. evileyes
Why not just challenge somebody holding a spear? It would have saved them the energy of having to stab themselves. :rolleyes:

I once asked my sensei what he thought of tattoos. He said that they were a means of marking certain points in your life. We can look at them and describe past events in our lives, times that changed us.

Kind of like battle scars. ;)

Lorien Lowe
04-12-2006, 10:40 AM
They even used to grow mustaches out of respect for their enemies, this is because after a battle warriors would take trophies from the dead to show their skill.
supposedly this was the reason members of the Iriquois nations (forgive me if I've misspelled that) wore mohawks.

I've heard a story that when my sensei and his future wife were training in Shingu, a rumor went around that she had eaten O'Sensei's beard, which (according to the story) was kept in a box in the shomen.
:blush:

Personally, I like life and have no interest in making myself miserable on purpose. It seems like the waste of an infinitely precious gift, not honorable or noble. I come from a catholic family, and I've seen too much of the 'suffering is noble' stuff to appreciate it anywhere.

Josh Reyer
04-12-2006, 02:56 PM
They really didn't seem to be very peacful at all. evileyes

Well, they were professional warriors. War and death were their vocation.

Saturn
04-12-2006, 07:36 PM
I've heard a bit about Samurai and their sypathetic peaceful nature they are said to have had, but then I saw old paintings of them slaughtering and burning Buddhist monks alive. They decided that since the monks seemed to take life and death as no big deal that it was worth learning why.

The Samurai then took up their meditation so as to achieve that, through a peaceful practice. I guess it's ironic that they took that practice of peace and enlightment and ended up using it to make themselves more efficient killers. I gotta say though, out of all history I've learned ancient Japanese history and folklore is the most interesting. By the way, since alot of people on this Aikiweb have a tendency to take the whole Aiki peace no fighting thing soooo seriously I figured I'd bring this up, partly to hear more cool stories though, but I wanted to see what some of you think of the whole (bloody) history of martial arts.evileyes

Mark Freeman
04-13-2006, 12:06 PM
I like Kevin's short but perceptive point


So I think it is very stupid.


regards,
Mark

Kevin Leavitt
04-13-2006, 01:08 PM
Trevor Wolfe wrote:

The Samurai then took up their meditation so as to achieve that, through a peaceful practice. I guess it's ironic that they took that practice of peace and enlightment and ended up using it to make themselves more efficient killers.

Actually I believe it is the other way around. They were warriors first, but found that they needed to be prepared for death and to have a calm mind. I don't think they used these techniques to make themselves more efficient killers, but to make themselves better people, which cleared their minds supposedly to make themselves more efficient. So, I guess it is somewhat circular.

You find this type of thing prevelant today in most professional soldiers to be honest. it is just not as romanticized as it has become about the samurai. Soldiers today have talisman, crosses, luck charms, weapons they hold dear, the think, meditate, pray, and go to church etc. They also practice their skills so they can use them without hesitation and thinking.

History also says, I believe that after the Samurai class was disbanded, they figured out that all the things they did as warriors actually made them better people, so they melded the spiritual and martial aspects together and created the DO arts.

I am one of those aiki guys that tend to take peace pretty seriously. However, I also realize that it is not as easy to separate war and hatred from peace.

All that said, it is difficult to discern fact from romanticized fiction when talking about the samurai, much like the american indians. Beautiful stories and cultures, and much to be learned...but you never really know what the truth is...it lay somewhere in the middle.

Cool stories are nice for entertainment, but you must look deeply into things dealing with core values and how to apply them in everyday life in order to understand the true nature and meaning in order to master something.

To me you can't do better than The Book of Five Rings, if you want to see how to apply the "lessson learned" from a samurai class warrior. No really cool stories, but plenty of deep material that cuts to the core of what is important.

Adam Alexander
04-13-2006, 06:49 PM
Apparently after having read Hagakure the Samurai used to stab themselves with a Spear in the hip to ppear manly because of battle wounds. Aikidoists as we are what is your opinion on this ancient practice of self-mutilation for title. evileyes


I flog myself daily.

eyrie
04-13-2006, 07:09 PM
Self-flaggelation !== self-mutilation ;) :D

Branding, scarification, and various bodily piercings and other "modifications" OTOH.... :freaky: :crazy:

Chuck.Gordon
04-14-2006, 02:14 AM
... after having read Hagakure ...

Well. There's part of the problem. Hagakure is a poor source for any 'samurai' behavior.

It's rambling compilation of an old, disgruntled mid-level bureaucrat's ruminations about how the good old days OUGHT to have been. The author and compiler never swung sword in battle, and were little more than glorified clerks.

For better views of the samurai class, look to Karl Friday's scholarly works, Diane Skoss' Koryu Budo trilogy or Ellis Amdur's Old School.

Hagakure (as I've said many a time on these forums) is on a par with Westbrook and Ratti's Secrets of the Samurai (viewed as a history book, I'd have to say that it's got lots of pretty pictures) as a historical or realistic source of info on samurai.

cg