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Old 04-28-2004, 11:16 PM   #1
Amassus
 
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Bushido - do you embrace it?

I am deeply aware of my own interest in the high morals my dojo tries to put across. Time and time again I hear about this ideal or that and how we should try and live up to it.
Aikido books speak of bushido (or is it budo) - codes of conduct, honor if you will.

This side of aikido, above all else is what keeps me coming back for more. The physical side is fun and I enjoy it immensely but the techniques do not drive me, it is the great atmosphere, the feeling of trust and the politeness that brings me back time and time again.

Tell me, is this what you are all feeling as well? I have never felt this in any other sport or martial art.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 04-29-2004, 07:53 AM   #2
aikidocapecod
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Dean,

I think it is a large part of what binds all in the Aikido world together.

Think for a moment, if each trip to the dojo was an effort, knowing that you may learn something, but the over-riding thought, as you drive to the dojo was, "Will today be the day I get hurt or abused"? I think that many, though they may love the art of Aikido, would soon drop out if that was their state of mind on the way to class.

So, to me, the friendship and spirit of unity and kindness that I have found in every dojo I have had the pleasure to visit, is what keeps us all going back and striving to learn more. We know that when we go to class, we will finds others on the same Path. Others whose thought is to learn and become better people. The martial side of AIkido is very demanding. It requires great attention to detail. It, more importantly IMHO, requires great self control and care. Care not to hurt others.

But I have found, again to me personally, that the spirit that one finds in any Aikido dojo is the primary reason for continuing to study.

Gleason Sensei at Shobu Boston has just such a group of people. Each person in his dojo seems to be as concerned about helping others as we are in our own learning. Obviously, that attitude begins with Sensei.

Your observation is correct, the spirit of trust and honor and respect is a very large part of Aikido

Larry
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Old 04-29-2004, 08:27 AM   #3
jxa127
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Amassus wrote:
Aikido books speak of bushido (or is it budo) - codes of conduct, honor if you will.
Hi Dean,

There's a difference between budo and bushido, at least as I understand the terms. Budo refers to the Japanese fighting arts. Some people even make a distinction between budo and bujutsu, with budo being the modern fighting arts (more focused on self-development) and bujutsu being the classical fighting arts (more focused on winning battles or duels). Others state that that distinction is too narrow.

Bushido is, as Webster puts it, "a feudal-military Japanese code of behavior valuing honor above life ." Or something like that, anyway. Budo and bushido were at one time in history closely linked. After all, a warrior would both study how to fight (budo) and adhere to a warrior's code (bushido). Bushido's primary focus (again, as I understand it) was how the warrior fit into society, and the rules and obligations that went with that position. It was a social/moral code of behavior. A particularly narrow and nationalistic view of bushido guided many of Japan's decisions prior to, and during, World War II.

It is important to realize that one can study martial arts without following an ancient Japanese feudal, military code. I live in a capitalist, democratic society, so it would be exceptionally difficult to follow the code of bushido. For a good movie on the subject, check out "Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai."

So, no, I don't embrace bushido.

Having said all of that, I agree that the study of budo can become a way of life, that aikido has a strong moral center that is very beneficial, and that both aspects of the art make it something that I cherish.

The "budo way of life," as I see it is like an oval with two centers. The first is the dedication, discipline, to continue to practice as much as possible -- to work through the pain, frustration, occasional injuries, and setbacks. The second is the set of obligations and etiquette that help establish order in the dojo and keep me from being too inwardly focused. These things are nearly universal regardless of the martial art one studies.

The moral center of aikido is, as Ellis Amdur puts it: a clean line through conflict with other people. It's offering neither fight, nor flight, when confronted with an attack, but something different. It's acknowledging and embracing my connection with another human being, even one who is trying to kill me. I'm not entirely sure that aikido principles work against passive-aggressive attacks. And I am certain that there are other successful was of responding to attacks than what is presented in aikido. But I feel that there is something very unique and valuable in aikido's approach to conflict.

Quote:
This side of aikido, above all else is what keeps me coming back for more. The physical side is fun and I enjoy it immensely but the techniques do not drive me, it is the great atmosphere, the feeling of trust and the politeness that brings me back time and time again.
Exactly.

Regards,

Last edited by jxa127 : 04-29-2004 at 08:32 AM.

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Old 04-29-2004, 08:31 AM   #4
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Bushido is the way of the warrior.

IMHO, you either live as one, protected by one, fighting against one, or running from one. The choice is ours.

In the military, we are "in the service". Samurai means "in service". Humanity, humility, and spirituality is to be "of service".

Embrace it? As much and as often as I possibly can.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-29-2004, 09:11 AM   #5
Randal Gore
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

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.

"You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."-Super Chicken
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Old 04-29-2004, 11:54 AM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

On Nitobe:

http://ejmas.com/tin/tinart_buchner2_0200.htm

and from one of numerous posts on e-budo:
Quote:
An interesting article about bushido, Nitobe and the Hagakure is "Death, honor, and loyalty: the bushido ideal" by G. Cameron Hurst III in the journal "Philosophy East & West, vol 40, no 4(Oct 1990) pp-511-527.

Apparently Nitobe knew more about western history and values than he did Japanese and was" the least qualified Japanese of his age to have been informing anyone of Japan's history and culture."
Nitobe's bushido, as Joseph Svinth has pointed out, was largely based on western religious values, not on any universal samurai "code".
The term "bushido" itself is rarely used in historical texts, the Hagakure and the Budo shoshinshu are a part of the handful that do.

This is not to deny that there were no samurai ideals or codes of behaviour, but that they were not at all uniform and universal in the way idealised by Nitobe and by many today. The Hagakure is an example of an extreme ideal not approved of in its time by mainstream samurai.

link to the entire thread:http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/sho...=Nitobe+bushido

Just for a little perspective...

And no, I don't particularly embrace it, as I don't find it all that accurate a depiction of the traditions I practice.

I would like to think that my keiko is leading me to at least begin to understand 'Budo'...and that is tough enough as it is. Without adding in too much 'made up' stuff, whenever possible.

RT

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 04-29-2004 at 11:57 AM.

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Old 04-29-2004, 12:28 PM   #7
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Thanks Ron, you beat me to it...

If anyone could go back in time and see what the bushi life was really like, I think they wouldn't be so quick to follow the life of a "samurai" or the modern construct that some have made popular as bushido. The nationalistic groups in Japan that favored war and the development of Yamato Daimashi pushed the idea of bushido to further their own aims for spreading Japanese control throughout the Pacific.

The concepts of the "Gojo" or the five conditions of: Nin (benevolence), Gi (justice), Rei (etiquette), Chi (knowledge), and Shin (trust) that many people associate with bushido are really Confucian in origin. When practicing budo in a traditional ryu or tradition, these qualities are held to be very important. An even practice of all these qualities is important because even though they're independent, they also support each other.

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Old 04-29-2004, 12:35 PM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

You're welcome Clark Sensei...any time I might be of service...

One of the interesting things in the Yoshinkan (the sensushei course for example) is the stress on developing 'yamato damashii' (I'm not sure of the spelling). I'm still trying to figure that out in a contemporary context...the previous context kind of leaves me cold.

RT

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Old 04-29-2004, 04:19 PM   #9
Doka
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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.
The turn of the century is only just over 4 years ago!!!

You mean "turn of the last century"!!!

As for Bushido - you mean violent brutality, murder, no value of life (your own or anyone else's), and homosexuality?

Well, I am friendly, gentle, value life (my own and everyone else's), and happily married AND straight!!!

I am quite happy with my own values and study my Budo.

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Old 04-30-2004, 08:02 AM   #10
jxa127
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Ron,

Thanks for posting the additional information on bushido.

Mark,

That was one of the funniest posts I've read in a while -- especially the "happily married AND straight" part. As opposed to unhappily married and straight, happily married but gay, unhappily married and gay, etc. It's funny that in this day and age, "happily married" needs to be clarified. []

Anyway, I can understand how some people would find value in the principles expressed in bushido -- especially people in the military. However, we should not confuse bushido with the principles expressed in aikido or the etiquette and rituals practiced in the dojo, even though all have a common root in Japanese culture.

Regards,

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Old 05-01-2004, 07:07 AM   #11
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

An old collegue when asked whether he was happily married said, "Well I'm happy and I'm married!"

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Old 05-02-2004, 04:09 AM   #12
Charles Hill
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
One of the interesting things in the Yoshinkan (the sensushei course for example) is the stress on developing 'yamato damashii'
I think that these two words, bushido and yamato damashii, are important for us from the US and its allies in WWII to clearly think about and understand. While I realize that both words are much older than the war, both were used to motivate people to fight and for others to support military action. I also think that it is important to remember that our Japanese teachers were either directly or indirectly influenced by the propaganda relating to these words. If a Japanese person uses these words to me, I think about whether he/she has really thought about their meanings and what do the words personally mean to him/her. If it seems that he/she has not thought deeply about it, it starts to concern me.

An example is the swastika. It is a very old symbol and is still used in Japan on maps to mark the locations of temples. However, I would have to wonder if I knew a German person hanging it on the wall. That person could very well be deeply involved in eastern spiritual disciplines and have a pure intention. But I still would want to know exactly how he/she felt about it before accepting it.

John Stevens wrote that Rinjiro Shirata said, "During the war we were told that Bushido means to learn how to die. I learned that this is not the real budo; real budo is to learn how to live, how to live together with others in harmony and peace."

Charles Hill
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Old 05-02-2004, 04:11 AM   #13
Charles Hill
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
One of the interesting things in the Yoshinkan (the sensushei course for example) is the stress on developing 'yamato damashii'
I think that these two words, bushido and yamato damashii, are important for us from the US and its allies in WWII to clearly think about and understand. While I realize that both words are much older than the war, both were used to motivate people to fight and for others to support military action. I also think that it is important to remember that our Japanese teachers were either directly or indirectly influenced by the propaganda relating to these words. If a Japanese person uses these words to me, I think about whether he/she has really thought about their meanings and what do the words personally mean to him/her. If it seems that he/she has not thought deeply about it, it starts to concern me.

An example is the swastika. It is a very old symbol and is still used in Japan on maps to mark the locations of temples. However, I would have to wonder if I knew a German person hanging it on the wall. That person could very well be deeply involved in eastern spiritual disciplines and have a pure intention. But I still would want to know exactly how he/she felt about it before accepting it.

John Stevens wrote that Rinjiro Shirata said, "During the war we were told that Bushido means to learn how to die. I learned that this is not the real budo; real budo is to learn how to live, how to live together with others in harmony and peace."

Charles Hill
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Old 05-02-2004, 07:51 AM   #14
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

In my understanding, budo and what most people think of as Bushido are two different things. I have heard Tsuneo Nishioka and Risuke Otake say similar things to your quote from Shirata above. What is more important to me is that these feelings come from their heart. It is not idle talk.

Chuck Clark
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:13 AM   #15
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
John Stevens wrote that Rinjiro Shirata said, "During the war we were told that Bushido means to learn how to die. I learned that this is not the real budo; real budo is to learn how to live, how to live together with others in harmony and peace."

Charles Hill
A student of Larry Bieri Sensei quoted him as saying (and I am paraphrasing here) "Real Budo isn't about dying. We are all going to die. It's about what you do, how you live in the time you have before you die." I liked that very much.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-03-2004, 07:07 AM   #16
DGLinden
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

I've always thought that the code of a warrior - any nation's warrior - was summed up nicely in the boy scout code. A boy scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. I can't see that 'budo' has done anything to improve on that. Hi George.

Daniel G. Linden
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Old 05-03-2004, 01:20 PM   #17
Chad Sloman
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Linden Sensei: I'll never forget the 12 Scout Laws. Once an eagle scout, always an eagle scout. Thanks for the reminder.

IMHO, I thought Bushido was represented by the seven virtues of bushido: right decision, valor, respect, benevolence, honor, honesty, and loyalty. I don't see anything wrong with any of these. I try to live my life to these ideals. I thought that the seven pleats of our hakama represented these seven virtues. I hope that I am not wrong as these seven pleats are a constant reminder to me of these seven ideals.

A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.
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Old 05-03-2004, 01:32 PM   #18
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Hi Chad,

I remember what you refer to...even in the Yoshinkan we refer to the virtues represented by the hakama. From www.shindai.com, a quote from Saotome Shihan:

Quote:
I vividly remember the day that I forgot my hakama. I was preparing to step on the mat for practice, wearing only my dogi, when O Sensei stopped me. "Where is your hakama?" he demanded sternly. "What makes you think you can receive your teacher's instruction wearing nothing but your underwear? Have you no sense of propriety? You are obviously lacking the attitude and the etiquette necessary in one who pursues budo training. Go sit on the side and watch class!"

This was only the first of many scoldings I was to receive from O Sensei. However, my ignorance on this occasion prompted O Sensei to lecture his uchi deshi after class on the meaning of the hakama. He told us that the hakama was traditional garb for kobudo students and asked if any of us knew the reason for the seven pleats in the hakama.

"They symbolize the seven virtues of budo," O Sensei said. "These are jin (benevolence), gi (honor or justice), rei (courtesy and etiquette), chi (wisdom, intelligence), shin (sincerity), chu (loyalty), and koh (piety). We find these qualities in the distinguished samurai of the past. The hakama prompts us to reflect on the nature of true bushido. Wearing it symbolizes traditions that have been passed down to us from generation to generation. Aikido is born of the bushido spirit of Japan, and in our practice we must strive to polish the seven traditional virtues."
Emphasis added by me...

I would like to hear Saotome Sensei's explanation of the exact words in japanese that Ueshiba Sensei used, and if he could provide more context. I especially note that Budo and Bushido seem to be used interchangably by Ueshiba Sensei.

From the same site (Dennis Hooker's I believe):
Quote:
Yuki = courage, valor, bravery
Jin = humanity, charity, benevolence
Gi = justice, righteousness, integrity
Rei = etiquette, courtesy, civility (also means bow/obeisance)
Makoto = sincerity, honesty, reality
Chugi = loyalty, fidelity, devotion
Meiyo = honor, credit, glory; also reputation, dignity, prestige

Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 05-03-2004 at 01:35 PM.

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Old 05-03-2004, 05:17 PM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Hello Ron,

I cannot speak for Mr Saotome, but I know that Morihei Ueshiba often refers to 'Yamato damashii'. Tamashii, or damashii means soul and Yamato is the name for the military clan that eventually seized control over the entire archipelago. However, the phrase took on a very powerful symbolism after the Meiji restoration and this is probably why Nitobe's book has the subtitle, "The Soul of Japan".

Nitobe was a Christian and wrote his book in English for American readers. He aimed to christianize bushido, but his book was an example of what linguists call the washback effect. Translated into Japanese it became a major bestseller, but the Japanese readers quietly disconnected Nitobe's account from its Christian underpinnings.

People have tried to give a sanitized 'postwar' translation of yamato-damashii (for example, John Stevens in a footnote somewhere in his translation of Budo). The laudable aim is to make O Sensei accessible to the modern reader, but Stanley Pranin has recently marshalled an impressive amount of evidence over at Aikido Journal, to the effect that the Founder was also a man of his time and that yamato-damashii meant to him exactly what it would mean to any other Japanese living in the early Showa period, with somewhat rightist leanings.

Does this matter? Except for my dislike of anachromism in history, no, not really. One of my students in a recent comparative culture class tackled the question whether contemporary Japanese believe in the values of the samurai. He analyzed the concept of budo and bushido as it is understood today and came up with a list of virtues similar to that which O Sensei gave to Mr Saotome. The subsequent discussion in the class was very interesting. Students who were bureaucrats, especially public officials, really believed themselves to be inheritors of the samurai (many of whom did become officials after the class was abolished) and said they strived to behave in the traditional spirit; students who worked for companies generally pooh-poohed this way of thinking as yet more official BS and denied that there was much evidence that real samurai actually thought in this way.

Thus, half my class (and these are Japanese, by the way) would dismiss O Sensei as a romantic visionary, harking back to a golden age which never existed. Though I was never a scout, I myself was brought up as a boy on Homer, Beowulf, and the Arthurian legends, but I have learned enough history to know that actual warfare at the time was quite different.

Cultures that place emphasis on military activites like fighting battles also tend to have ethical systems that emphasize 'military' virtues and Japan is no exception.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-03-2004 at 05:23 PM.

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Old 05-04-2004, 07:10 AM   #20
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your interesting response. You are slowly reminding me of the intellectual clarity I used to subscribe to way back when in grad school.

I suppose that my main question around these matters is how to combine these two apparently dissonant mindsets. There is the pre-war mindset where someone supposedly paraphrased Ueshiba Sensei as saying:

Quote:
... the true task of Japanese martial arts is to become the leader of all the martial arts on earth as part of the continuing process of realizing an Imperial Way for the whole world. Japan is the suzerain of the globe, the model for the earth and the will of the entire world is Greater Japan. Japan is the model form for the perfect world. It is only after this spirit is completely understood that one can really understand the true meaning of Japanese martial arts.
from Stanley Pranin's Kobukan Dojo Era: Part Two

and his post war phrases oriented toward 'reconciling the world' and fostering 'universal love', along with the apparent disregard here in the west of the founder's right wing connections.

It is sometimes difficult to know when we are being misled by translations/interpretations that show a particular bias (Nitobe would be a good example here), and when we are actually witnessing very real changes in the founder's viewpoints and perspectives. I believe Saotome Sensei's contact with the founder would have been postwar...is it reasonable to assume that the founder had had something of a change of heart?

Thanks again for the response, and I hope you are well,
Ron

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Old 05-08-2004, 02:09 PM   #21
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

The U.S. Army has seven core values that we are all supposed to abide by in the army. They are:
Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage

It is interesting to see the common theme running through various warrior codes.

On another note. Most of my peers in the Army are deeply embarrassed and feel some shame in the fact that some of our members have dishonored us and America with their actions in Iraq. To be quite honest with you I lost two close friends in the Pentagon. I am more upset by the actions of our soldiers in the prison then the fact that the hijackers did what they did.

It is a shame that the acts of a few people can destroy the work of many! This is an example of how important it is to live your life by such a code.

We try to instill values and reinforce them in all our soldiers, I for the life of me cannot figure out what happened or where it went wrong. Believe me, I know no body in my unit that would do such things!

Anyway thanks for the bandwidth!
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Old 05-08-2004, 04:50 PM   #22
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
We try to instill values and reinforce them in all our soldiers, I for the life of me cannot figure out what happened or where it went wrong. Believe me, I know no body in my unit that would do such things!

Anyway thanks for the bandwidth!
It is a mistake to think that these events are the actions of some kind of atypical few. All human beings have a dark side which in the normal scheme of things never comes out. The folks who did these things in Iraq would probably never have done anything like these atrocities in their home domestic environment.

But if you take people out of their normal social milieu, give them absolute power over other human beings who have been degraded into "other" status by the propaganda which is an integral part of war, you acn create this kind of monster out of almost anyone. My Lai, back in the Viet Nam days, wasn't done by a group of crazies or psychos. Those were regular every day American boys who didn't understand why they were there, felt surrounded by an enemy that they couldn't distinguish from the folks they were there ostensibly to help. When the folks around them became "gooks' instead of human beings, anything was possible and you had these guys gunning down defenseless women and children.

This is precisely why you don't want to get into this type of war in the first place. A counter insurgency whether its the Huk Rebellion in Malasia, Algreia, or Viet Nam, or now Iraq is the dirtiest type of war possible. The fighting of such a war damages everyone.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-09-2004, 05:56 AM   #23
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Funny you should mention Mai Lai. We were discussing this event at breakfast the other day and drew a parallel to that.
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Old 05-09-2004, 03:21 PM   #24
tedehara
 
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
...This is precisely why you don't want to get into this type of war in the first place. A counter insurgency whether its the Huk Rebellion in Malasia, Algreia, or Viet Nam, or now Iraq is the dirtiest type of war possible. The fighting of such a war damages everyone.
This is the new face of war. With the dominance of conventional forces and weapons, an insurgent cannot hope to win against a conventional army on the field of battle. Ambushes on streets and urban destruction (including many civilians) are the battlegrounds of today. Gorilla and unconventional warfare has long been predicted as the future warfare that relies more on political and psychological pressure than confrontational violence.

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Old 05-10-2004, 02:14 AM   #25
Charles Hill
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Re: Bushido - do you embrace it?

The Japanese Paired Synchonized Swimming team just beat China in the pre-Olympic trials. The official theme/title of their performance: Bushido!

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