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Old 05-09-2004, 06:30 PM   #10
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

[quote=Big Dave]In general, I have come to understand the following ideas as factual, meaning in history terms that there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that they are true.
1. That for nearly a thousand years Japan was ruled by warlords - Daimyo and Shoguns who were supported by a warrior class called Samurai. The Samuari protected the interests of the lords in a feudal society.

DJM: Yes and no. The BUSHI came into unprecedented power with the ascendancy of the Hojo in the 12th century, but current thought is crediting the courtiers and clerics with retaining far more power than had been allowed them in previous scholarship. See Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History by Jeffrey P. Mass.

DJM: Also, Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan by Karl F. Friday for the evolution of the class

2. That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.

DJM: Until Edo (1600-1877) when the BUSHI became administrators and bureaucrats infamously inept with their weaponry (as demonstrated in the story of the 47 Ronin , e.g.)

3. That they also functioned as local "law and order."

DJM: And as pirates and brigands. See Mass, ibid.

4. They were governed by a code of conduct called "Bushido."
This code called for absolute loyalty to their lord and that they were expected to be courageous in combat. Honor and disciple were also emphasized.

DJM: No. Bushido was a 20th century phenomenon. This is rather like a yoeman in Merry Olde England claiming the right to free speech: He could put the words together, but there was no legal concept supporting him. Similarly, Bushido was actually codified until the militarists of the 20's and 30's exploited it to unify the nation. See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido. Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.

Last edited by Don_Modesto : 05-09-2004 at 06:36 PM.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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