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Old 05-10-2004, 10:41 AM   #26
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I accidentally posted this under the Samuari discussion but it really beloings here:

Perhaps, if you are a military or law enforcement professional, the code of Bushido might be relevant. When you talk about Bushido you talk about how an hereditary class of professional warriors thought about he ideals that would define their lives. These are people who were born to this life, had little or no choice about much of what went on in it. They lived their lives according to the expectations and demands of their seniors.

Saying the code isn't relevant because the majority of samurai didn't really live according to its ideals is like saying that Christianity isn't relevant for the same reasons. These are the ideals that people strive for, that form their notions of what is good, whether or not they reach them in their own lives.

But it is a code for professionals. For nice middle class, civilian Americans to think that they can aspire to follow the code of Bushido is silly. Unless you want to enlist and even then you would have a term of enlistment, a choice about whether you stayed in. The Bushi were born in to this life and died as members of their class. Duty informed every aspect of what they were expected to do. We get our notions of this life from the writings of higher status, wealthier samurai. The average samurai didn't have even that much room for self expression.

For a civilian, saying one aspires to live according to the code of Bushido in modern America would be just as much of an anachronism as saying to want to live by the "Code of the West." People would just look at you as some sort of deranged cowboy wannna be.

Now, Budo is another issue. If you train in the martial arts seriously there are certain values that inform that world. When those values begin to form the basis for your values system, when training is at the heart of how you structure your life, then you could be said to be following the path of Budo. I think Budo assumes that you have decided to live your life as a warrior even though you might not be a professional military person.

In traditional Asian social hierarchy, the warriors are recognized as being up on the social scale. Not the highest, but up there. What all systems uniformly agree on is that the merchants are at the bottom. We are the first society in history to consciously place our merchants, those who do business for a living, at the top of the social scale. We can see this in every aspect of society. Everything has become a commodity. Value is strictly a monetary issue.

I think that there is a certain group of people in our society who instinctively react against this notion of the way to live. They cast about for alternatives which seem to have something deeper and not surprisingly usually come up with something more traditional which contains more of the wisdom of the past. For a number of these people serious pursuit of the martial arts fills this need to find something beyond generating income and acquiring possessions as the highest aspirations one could have in ones life.

In a society which glorifies ease and comfort, which strives in every way possible to dull the pain of people's existence both emotional and physical, which virtually exists by striving for unconsciousness, there are some who purposely choose a path which is difficult, which is often frustrating and certainly painful, in which there are no shortcuts, no "one minute" solutions. Martial arts as a way of life, not just some hobby you do for a couple years twice a week, is our attempt at getting to something deeper in a world which seems to be striving to be shallow. If this is what one is doing in his pursuit of Aikido or some other martial art then I would say that you are following the path of Budo. Bushido is a code for professional military people but Budo is a way of life available to anyone who wishes to make the effort to reshape his or her life by choosing to seriously train in the martial arts.

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George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 05-10-2004, 12:33 PM   #27
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I agree with you George. It is nice to romanticize about bushido, and certainly many, many can identify with it and strive to live by the ideals of a warrior, but unless you have taken an oath that allows someone else to order you into harms way I don't really think you are living the code of bushido. It certainly makes for an interesting discussion.

That said, there are certainly members of the military that do not live by the code, nor would I consider them warriors. On the flip side, there are civilians that I think live more by the code and that I have much respect for.

I think the real delinating factor has to do with an oath of allegiance such as what you take in the military. It has nothing do to with how good a person you are, or anything to do with your character.
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:46 PM   #28
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I came across this passage as I was reading Budo Training in Aikido translated by Larry Bieri.
Quote:
Note: * The Way of the Warrior: "Monoonfu no Michi' literally 'the Way of the Warrior or Fighting Man'. The more familiar term "Bushi" as in "Bushido" actually is a term of class or caste, indicating the hereditary position as a member of a warrior family, the way of the Bushi caste in the feudal social structure.
When I use the term Budo it does not have this identification with a specific group but is more of a Path that can be followed by anyone who chooses to train in the martial arts.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:38 PM   #29
Largo
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I think bushido is a fascinating thing. However, I don't embrace it. If I were to go to war or to do battle, I think I would have to have my own reasons for it. I like logical explanations, reason, and having a voice.

This obviously makes it clear that I'm not really cut out to be a soldier. It is also in direct opposition to how most asian societies work. For example, in Japan, in almost every company or institution, level and pay are decided by years spent working, not on performance. Many newspapers and business guides actively blast merit based systems for creating divisiveness, greed, and lack of respect for one's superiors.
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Old 04-03-2005, 11:37 PM   #30
Reg Robinson
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Hi George Sensei,
You have stated that people will sometimes do things which they would'nt normally do when place in unusual situations with an unusualy amount of power over others, I agree, but I don't have a great understanding of Bushido so could you possibly help me decide if under the following situation was I practicing Bushido or was it something else ?. Back in the late 60 's, I was in a Canadian Highland Regiment, while traveling in uniform on leave I witnessed an assault on a main Vancouver St. Four men where beating the stuffing out of the fifth. Along with myself this was witnessed by 4 senior citizens at a bus stop.

I had no intention of crossing that street & getting the stuffing kicked out of me & possibly worst. When this older gentleman not saying a word walked around me, looked at my shoulder flashes & then looked me in the eye's. Being in uniform I represented authority of sorts, & these old folks were looking to me to do something.
As scared as I was of getting hurt I was more scared of letting my Regiment down, I then started walking across the street. One of the four saw me & yelled something at which time they all ran away including the victim.
I then returned to the bus stop where I received the nodding approval of those old folks, It is the truth when I say I did that out of fear. Those same situation that can make us do those things which we are ashamed of, can make us do things that make us proud. BUT, was it Bushido?.

Thanks Reg.
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Old 04-04-2005, 07:30 AM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

No, it wasn't bushido. It was human, and, whatever you or anyone else might think of the motivations for the action, it was a pretty cool thing to do. Why do we need a japanese word to descibe being a decent human being under duress?

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 04-12-2005, 04:46 AM   #32
Ketsan
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I've always found Bushido to be an adaptable thing. Every writer seems to have their own version of it that seems more of a guide than a set of rules. Like Hagakure for example which is largely anecdotes which would require a lot of thought to adapt to every day life. So I suppose you could say that after reading many texts I've formulated my own personal version which retains the same basic values but is adapted for the problems I have to deal with.
A good book to read on the subject is "Ideals of the Samurai by William Scot Wilson.

Last edited by Ketsan : 04-12-2005 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 05-07-2005, 04:29 PM   #33
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Bushido means you live as a warrior and die as a warrior. I live by it as much as is possible in the modern world. "Life in every breath, every cup of tea...every life you take. The way of the warrior. That...is bushido" I know it's from a movie (The Last Samurai), but what he says is in a highly romanticised way, exactly what bushido is all about. The most moving to me is either chu, gi, or jin. I think it's chu: Honor, and undying loyalty. Another of my personal favorites is probably jin, which If I remember right is complete sincerity.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:01 PM   #34
Paul Kerr
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Why do we need a japanese word to descibe being a decent human being under duress?
Well said Ron.

Paul Kerr
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Old 05-08-2005, 02:45 AM   #35
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Randal Gore wrote:
There is an excellent book titled "Bushido: The Soul of Japan" by Inazo Nitobe, 1st published in 1905. This is an excellent book that really defines bushido. Even though it was written near the turn of the century I found most aspects of the writings could still be applied today.

Nitobe's Bushido is less about the warrior class of Japan and their values or society than it was an apologia for his Christian values overlaid upon the cultural context of a romanticized 'old Japan.'

Nitobe spent most of his life outside Japan, and actually knew very little about budo.

It IS a very interesting book, but from the standpoint noted above and not as anything resembling an accurate reflection of 'bushido' or samurai values.

It ranks way down there with Hagakure as one of the most misinterpreted and overly valued books about Japanese martial mores and values.

Neither have aught to do with the reality of budo training, and both are quite guilty of promoting misconceptions, misinformation and simply bad information.

For a far better look at samurai life (written by westerners and accessible BY westerners) values and behavior, look at Ellis Amdur's Old School, the Koryu Books Koryu Budo trilogy or anything by Karl Friday.

Chuck

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Old 05-08-2005, 02:54 AM   #36
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

And besides, there was no BUSHIDO. Never was.

Families, clans, organizations, etc, may have had codes of conduct, but there was never a monolithic code of behavior or values that overarched ALL of the samurai and other bushi through all the years. They were a widely diverse lot, and some were saints, some were pretty monstrous.

And for that matter, the term samurai itself is quite misused. But that's a whole 'nother essay.

Chasing the values of bushido is chasing ephemera.

The key to making budo a valuable tool in YOUR human progression lies in the discipline, the self-exploration, the growth you experience by prusuing the training and participating i the gestalt that is your dojo, your organization, your style.

Bushido is a product of the imagination.Budo training is here and now. And it is what you make of it.

Being a better person is not attendant upon a false code of conduct or imaginary values, it is simply being aware that you CAN grow and improve and do the right thing.


Chuck

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Old 05-16-2005, 09:25 PM   #37
Amassus
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I have just sat down and looked through the replies of this thread. I am honoured and grateful to all those people that took the time to respond. I think I have grown in my thinking and understanding of this topic since I started the thread. It is good to look at it with a different perspective now.

Looking back I can see I was actually talking about Budo and not Bushido. So my apologies. Life as they say, is a work in progress.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 05-17-2005, 02:36 PM   #38
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Life as they say, is a work in progress.
Yep, mine too...

Best,
Ron (no need to appologize, asking questions is how you start to learn)

Ron Tisdale
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