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Old 05-09-2004, 02:21 PM   #5
Big Dave
Dojo: Shobu Aikido Connecticut
Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 38
Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

tedehara wrote:
Imagine you have a group of thugs who push people around. These guys are well known for persecuting the following dangerous groups:
  • Rice farmers who continually revolted against oppressive taxes.
  • Christians who followed a different way of thinking.
  • The neighboring gang of thugs living in the next castle.
They would try and justify their oppressive military state through Confucian theory. These thugs are self-described as samurai.

Because the people of the Japanese islands got along so well, there were large groups of thugs (many clans of samurai). It's been written that 20% of the population was at one time of the samurai class. Because of this, the concept of bushido was more pervasive than the concept of chilvalry in Europe.

It is the concept of bushido which was beaten into the Japanese soldier which ended up with the brutal insanity that was Japanese occupation during WWII. Something that the Japanese people still need to apologize and come to terms with.

Today bushido is generally mis-interpeted and misunderstood. An innocent expression of bushido is a cool gesture by a manga character. At it's worst, it is a code that is as dangerous as the Christian Book of Revelation. It is something to die for.

Aikido techniques developed from Aiki-jitsu. Aiki-jitsu is one of the many styles of techniques that developed from the battlefield situation of "I've just lost/broke my sword/spear and there is this guy trying to kill me! What do I do???"

Like many of the Japanese martial arts, its followers practice many of the traditional Japanese values. Many people play at being samurai and following bushido. But if you really look at bushido and think for yourself, you might find at the core (kokoro) something worth having.
I agree with you. Clearly the Samurai were instruments of oppression for the masses of people in Japan. That is the nature of any Feudal system. But I do not agree that our history teaches us anything different. Hollywood tends to Romanticize the Samurai I think....last year's movie comes to mind. Yet is it not possible to admire the Samurai's skill and philosophy while rejecting the aspect of feudalism?
Yet I find something very appealing in aspects of Bushido - perhaps the idea of honor, of accepting one's responsibility. This idea is virtually non-existent in our own culture today. I am a history teacher, and you would not believe the excuses that I am subjected to on a daily basis. We have become a society of non-responsibilty. No ownership at all of anything we do.

I understand also that no Samurai did Aikido. Yet they are related. It's like the American legal system is related to that of ancient Rome....which influenced British legal thought, which in turn, with modifications, became the basis of our own.
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