View Full Version : Urban Samurai

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11-05-2003, 09:36 PM
Like many others, i am trying to adapt my knowledge of the Samurai principles and philosophies to modern day life. Of course prcticing and learning about Aikido makes the most sense.

i am striving to be what i call the Urban Samurai. Since i dont know to many people who i can have these sorts of conversations with (ie. sometimes people dont take me seriously, or maybe its the topic, they dont take seriously)
i decided to try and get feed back from like minded people on this site.

The question i most recently have is....

What does a warrior (samurai) do, if he must accomplish a task in which he knows that his very best will not be enough?

i grew up with caring parents friends, and teachers, that told me that "all you can give, is your very best dear!"

Yeah, well im all grown up and i've learned, that often, you're best just isn't enough.

Please give me some inpit, i would greatly appreciate it!


:circle: :square: :triangle:

11-06-2003, 03:31 AM
Are you already familiar with the 7 pillars of Budo?

That's where one should start.

11-06-2003, 07:25 AM

and thank you for your suggestion, i tried to look up the 7 pillars of budo. (i suppose my path of integrating Samurai spirit, is at a very basic level right now)

i am thinking that it may be possible that ihave heard of these 7 pillars of budo, but inder a different name? When i searched i found references to the 3 pillars of... or the 9 pillars of... etc. etc. could you direct me to where i can get more info on this?

i really need it!


Nick Simpson
11-06-2003, 04:22 PM
Hagakure is another good book, it says something like the way of the samurai is one of immediacy. Basically if your faced with a task do it at once, rush in even if you know you cannot do it, it seems to me that it is the trying that counts. If you try and succeed, excellent, if you try and fail then it was a noble attempt. Of course these days you dont have to commit seppuku if you fail at something really important...

11-06-2003, 06:28 PM
Thank you!

i have read Hagakare, and so far, i think that seems to be the what feels like the right answer. The hagakare, obviously needs some heavy adaptation to modernlife though, some ideas and philosophies just dont seem too functional nowadays.

A friend of mine, (perhaps not fully understanding the direction of my question)


"I think the warrior should wait until he gets better, until he's knows he's able to accomplish the task with success before doing it. That's my philosophy! If you try something and you don't have the necessary skills to accomplish it, you will probably fail."

So what im gettin at is what if you are sent to do something which you KNOW you are not fast enough, strong enough?

(ex.you're being set up to fail?)

What would be a warrior's responsibilities to maintain his honor his, dignity in this situation.

So far the hagkare seems to make the most sense for a Warrior.

Regarding Seppeku, i do believe that there are situations that exist even today, where Seppeku may be the only way to keep your dignity.


Kevin Leavitt
11-07-2003, 02:07 PM
Seppuku is suicide. It is a cop out. This is not feudal Japan. It is not romantic, it is painful and leaves much pain behind of the love ones you care.

The way to keep your dignity is to live by your warrior code and not do anything that is dishonorable in the first place.

It is one thing to sacrifice your life for love ones through acts of selflessness such as defending them or rescuing them. Quite another one to take your own life.

While I am fascinated with feudal japan, I do find some of it's customs and practices to be cultish and just not right, but it is not fair to judge another place and time without understanding it.

I would recommend studying the era and thinking about it and the ritual of seppuku, but to say that it is warranted to today is not correct in my opinion. It is an act of cowardess and a cry for help, just like any other form of suicide.

Get professional help if you feel this is a solution... seriously!

11-07-2003, 04:54 PM

By Seppekku i am refering to suicide, yes( not the literal methodology).

It is my belief that the issue of suicide in context with my point, is one of choice and control.

In life, the reality is that there are only a few things that we have complete control over. One's life being the case and point.

Suicide can very well be a cop out, it can also be cowardly, but that is NOT the sort of suicide i am talking about.

i am talking SPECIFICALLY about one's right to make a choice, that would symbolize ultimate responsability, as well as redemption of dishonor. It is a human being's natural instinct to fear death, for a person to overide that fear in this ultimate expression of responsability, is a courageous thing.These days we cant even get people to admit their own wrong doings let alone take responsibility for it.

i can appreciate that this is not a simple concept for many people to grasp. i realize that many people will disagree with these ideas, and they have every right.

i believe that Seppekku is an action which defines the warrior. (like many other actions) Seppekku speaks strongly of a warrior's character and spirit.

It might help to think of this as being an extreme form of swearing to god, or swearing on you mother's grave.

Swearing on your life, that you will honour you're commitmment. That if you fail to do so, you are not worth anything.

As an employer employing the services of a retainer, i couldnt possibly have any more confidence in an individual's commitment, when he places his own life on his word.

It is an extreme concept, from an intense culture.While we dont live in those times, but we can strive for those ideals.


its not about a cop out, but the total opposite. Is this an east vs. west thing?

11-07-2003, 05:00 PM
Hey Kevin!

Regarding seeking help, and studying the era and thinking about it.

consider that...

Seppekku is suicide (and so much more),

Suicide is not nessesarily seppekku.

i have looked into the matter greatly, that is what i have found.


11-07-2003, 07:14 PM
I also recommend a translation of Taira Shigesuke's "Bushido Shoshinshu".

Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinsu by Yuzan Daidoji, Oscar Ratti (Illustrator), Thomas Cleary

Which basically is a "warrior's beginner guide".
I think I've misplaced my copy of this... it's a small book. Where did I put it? Did I lend it to someone?
7 pillars of budo:

gi = justice and morality

rei = polite courtesy

yuu = heroic courage

meiyo = honor

jin = compassion

makoto = complete sincerity

chuugi = duty and loyalty

The upcoming movie "The Last Samurai" (starring Tom Cruise) was quite well researched and actually brought up the above principles.

boni tongson
11-07-2003, 08:34 PM
sir, let me share our motto to you because i think this it what it inculcated our mind during our study this might help you awaken the samurai spirit in you. :D

Our Aim:

To Make Every Finger A Dagger,

Every fist A Mace,

Every Arm A Spear,

And Every Open Hand A Sword,

In The Protection Of Our Most Precious Right To Live And That Is With Human Dignity!

Club 43 Karate-jutsu

Nick Simpson
11-08-2003, 05:45 AM
Id say that yes a warriors response should be to wait and improve oneslef until they have the neccesary level of skill or resources to successfully accomplish a task, however there is a massive difference between a warrior (bushi) and a samurai.

But it wasnt the same for samurai, for instance the 47 ronin who planned and plotted the assassination of their lords rival (who ultimately had their lord killed) for over a year. They managed to succeed and were lauded for their devotion to bushido and their lord but they were also questioned as to why they had waited so long and planned it out.

Samurai history is full of samurai being sent on impossible tasks, in the most part they went and died as their lord bade them. The best example I can think of is the imperial loyalist Kusonoki Masahige who was the emperors general in the 13th century. He was a guerilla fighter and had many brilliant victories against the shoguns supportors, he risked his life time and again for the emperors cause. However for reasons I cannot remember the final battle came to be on a flat plain where the shoguns superior numbers would overwhelm the imperial forces. Masahige knew this but the emperor was adamant that they fight it out on the flat plain. So he prepared himself for death, said goodbye to his family and went to battle. The imperial forces were soundly trashed and masahige and his brother committed suicide together, stabbing each other in the heart if I remember correctly. The emperor lost the war because of his foolishness, but Masahige who was loyal unto death followed him anyway.

Samurai basically means "one who serves" and while I really love the history and the culture and the ideals, I cant help but feel that samurai were slaves to their materilastic, warmongering, power hungry lords. But thats just me.

Kevin Leavitt
11-08-2003, 01:34 PM

I have to respectfully disagree. (sorry).

I have had experience with seppuku. I had a sensei commit it several years ago over a perceived issue to spare his honor. I can tell you the people that looked up to him and respected him as a teacher, a warrior, and a person, did not see it as an act of honor.

While we understood why he did it...no one felt it necessary and felt it was right and it did nothing to resolve his issue. We would have preferred that he seek professional help and guidance as with any suicide.

As defining a warrior...it is not necessary. I feel somewhat qualified in this area with 20 years of living as a warrior both inside and outside of the military.

Run through jungles, almost frozen to death by hypothermia, killed by heat stroke, and have had broken bones training myself to be an elite soldier in the military. I have sworn to a code and standard that is even higher than most military members do. I can tell you that no one of the modern day samurai (if you consider those who get paid to bear arms samurai) believe in putting their lives on the line and their careers for some greater purpose than themselves, but none that I know of think that Seppuku or committing suicide is remotely warrior like!

It is simply not within the context of our society today to consider this an viable option for warriorhood!

Nick Simpson
11-08-2003, 02:32 PM
" It is simply not within the context of our society today to consider this an viable option for warriorhood! "

Not wishing to turn this into a political thread, but what about extreme fundamentalist terrorists, they would consider themselves warriors and will often die for their cause e.g. suicide bombers, thats perfectly in context with many societies in the world.

Kevin Leavitt
11-09-2003, 12:46 AM
good point Nick.

I was speaking on behalf of most civilized the world. Even with in the context of their own societies, they represent a sub faction.

But, you do bring up a good point.

I think the motivations for suicide bombers/terrorist and seppuku in japan are completely opposite, but then again, the kamakazi pilots did same thing.

Will have to think about this one for a few days.

It doesn't change my disagreement, but does shed new light on the issue!

Nick Simpson
11-09-2003, 06:29 AM
Yeah, I suppose the motivations for thoes two groups are entirely different.

Interesting point though, the kamikaze bombers from world war 2 were trying to emulate japanese history. Twice before in the 12th century the mongol fleet had sailed to japan to invade it, but both times it was destroyed by a storm, the japanese thought this a heavenly intervention by their gods and named the storm kamikaze (divine wind). However in ww2 no storm wiped out the allied fleets so they took it upon themselves to create their own divine wind, interesting eh?

11-14-2003, 07:23 PM

this thread is gettin heavy.

i really have to think carefully before i respond. But i do appreciate the posts. Its all helping me a lot ( all the input i mean)

Kevin, about your sensei , i am very sorry for your loss. Of course, my arguments come from the perspective of a civilian. i can only imagine what real soldiers go though.

i think what im realizing, as i read these posts, is that maybe Seppeku is outdated, but the concept that it represents, is not.

People need to have more integrity and stand behind their words and actions.

i suppose that Seppeku may be considered the ultimate form of standing behind your words and actions.(ie. to bet your life on it, literally)

Maybe for some, honour, and the actions that define oneself are more important than anything else, including friends and family. And if one loses his honor, or identity it becomes paramount to regain those things before giving considerations to anything or anyone else.


Adrian Smith
11-17-2003, 07:10 PM

I have had experience with seppuku. I had a sensei commit it several years ago over a perceived issue to spare his honor. I can tell you the people that looked up to him and respected him as a teacher, a warrior, and a person, did not see it as an act of honor.
Hi Kevin. I'm sorry for your loss, and I don't mean to disparage you, but the last recorded incident of seppuku was in 1970. Here's a relevant quote:

"The last recorded ritual suicide was committed at the Tokyo headquarters of the Japanese Self-Defence Force on November 25, 1970, by the famous Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, in protest of Japan's new Constitution"

More information on Mishima-san can be found here: http://www.vill.yamanakako.yamanashi.jp/bungaku/mishima/index-e.html

Was your sensei's seppuku just not reported as such? Mishima-san's seppuku was noted because it is considered to have marked the end of an era in Japan. If further seppuku have been committed I believe they would have gained more public notoriety.

No disrespect meant in my post - I'm just trying to see the record set straight.


Alan Lomax
11-23-2003, 05:52 AM
i suppose that Seppeku may be considered the ultimate form of standing behind your words and actions.(ie. to bet your life on it, literally)

Maybe for some, honour, and the actions that define oneself are more important than anything else, including friends and family. And if one loses his honor, or identity it becomes paramount to regain those things before giving considerations to anything or anyone else.

No Otto!!!

It is in no way a reasonable option and in fact belies under-laying problems that you are obviously in denial of.

Actually, only fanatics and people with mental problems see such a thing as a reasonable solution to anything.

The ONLY ultimate responsibility can be demonstrated by facing life and dealing with your failures as well as your successes.

Really, in all seriousness, seek help. You donít even realize you need to. This and the direction of your thread are two very strong indicators.

Kevin Leavitt
11-24-2003, 11:09 AM
Nope none taken. My sensei was an american. He did this in america a few years ago. It is not reported because it was simply a sucide and was reported as such. The means is not very important to our society.

Incidently, he did grow up in japan and regarded himself as a renaissance warrior of that ethos.

I won't go into details of why he did it. But he felt (as do all suicide victims) that it was the only way out.

Those who know him understand why he did it and respect it. But we also know that he should have gotten professional help. The signs were there, we just didn't see them.

To change the subject slightly.

I do think conceptually that the idea of "sacrifice" is indeed alive and necessary for soldiers, warriors, and professionals. Warriors live by a creed that they are sworn to uphold. Failure to do so, or to bring disgrace or dishonor to your code can result it "career suicide", or loss of licensure, or to be banished from a dojo.

I have seen many warriors figuratively "fall on their swords" for a greater good. This is what soldiers/warriors are supposed to do if it is the only option.

So the idea and concept has always been alive. But the actual practice that grew out of the Japanese culture...is long outdated, and dead!