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Old 05-09-2004, 06:01 AM   #1
Big Dave
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Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

I have read several posts recently, including the one on Bushido as well as one from two years ago asking about the connection between Samurai and Aikido. I am a historian by training and profession, but my area of specilaization is not Japan. As I read these posts, I was struck by several thoughts. First, many things that I have read in my growing interest about Japanese history are described here as "myths." Second, that people discounted or dismissed the connection between Aikido and the Samurai.
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.
2. That these warriors were extremely skilled in swordfighting and hand to hand combat.
3. That they also functioned as local "law and order."
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.
5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.
6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.
7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

To be sure, the image here in the West has romanticized the Samurai, much like the knights of the Middle Ages. King Aurthur? Would I like to have embrace Bushido as a life style? Honor, discipline, Integrity, loyalty, why wouldn't I? It's an ideal afterall - something we try to live up to, just as the Samurai did. Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

Is Aikido related to the arts of the Samurai? It seems to me that there is no question about it.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan. From the refusal of Japanese to surrender during WWII to contemorary Baseball in Japan, there is still much emphasis placed on the values on Bushido. Which of course begs another question....Is Bushido simply an expression of broader Japanese culture or does it in turn help to create those expectations? I would love to here ffrom some who currently live in Japan about this.

Maybe I have not been reading the right things, and if so, could you please point me in the direction of good historical sources that could clarify which of the above are myths?

Thanks,
Dave
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Old 05-09-2004, 12:58 PM   #2
Jordan Steele
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

I am definitely not a qaualified expert to credit or discredit Japanese history, but I do know for a fact that Aikido and the Samurai are not directly related. Aikido was created after feudal Japan. It is a realtively new martial art. I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.
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Old 05-09-2004, 01:30 PM   #3
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
Big Dave wrote:
...Maybe I have not been reading the right things, and if so, could you please point me in the direction of good historical sources that could clarify which of the above are myths?

Thanks,
Dave
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.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 05-09-2004, 02:14 PM   #4
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

I think, Dave, that you have to make a distinction between what bushido was, and what it was made into in the 1920's and 1930's by the militarists. From some of the reading I have done, the "no surrender" business seems to have been unduly emphasized during that period. If you haven't read any of Dave Lowry's books, I think they are worthwhile from a 'mindset' standpoint versus actual history. You probably know much better than I what the good historical sources are, but IMO, the late Donn Draeger wrote a lot of worthwhile stuff about the development of martial arts in general. Also, if you haven't seen the Koryu Books website, they have some nicely researched stuff.

My cent-and-a-half,
-Noel
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Old 05-09-2004, 02:21 PM   #5
Big Dave
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
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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Old 05-09-2004, 04:37 PM   #6
Doka
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

I think the way of the Samurai is not my way of Aikido!

I am hetrosexual and peaceful!

The Samurai were bisexual and violent!

Do you need anymore evidence?

Also, the name Aikido was used before O'Sensei did!!!
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Old 05-09-2004, 04:58 PM   #7
Big Dave
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
Doka wrote:
I think the way of the Samurai is not my way of Aikido!

I am hetrosexual and peaceful!

The Samurai were bisexual and violent!

Do you need anymore evidence?

Also, the name Aikido was used before O'Sensei did!!!
Hi....
Well, yes. The mere fact that you have said so does not in way make something a fact. It also does make it incorrect either. Your assertions that the Samurai were Bisexual and that Aikido existed prior to O'Sensei are both not "conventional wisdom" as far I can tell. What is your evidence? Can you at least suggest a source that I might have a look at?
Thanks!
Dave
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Old 05-09-2004, 05:59 PM   #8
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Yes, I agree. Mr. Dobro has a lot more to offer before his opinion can be registered as fact. After all, it is not factual that the samurai as a class were bisexual; nor is it factual that "bushido" contained within it a doctrine of bisexuality. It is also a huge over-simplification, especially concerning the issue raised (i.e. Should we, or can we, seek to uphold some of the more relevant virtues of the samurai class?), to merely say "The samurai were violent." and then to end all discussion there.

I would like to note that Mr. Peling is raising some good points and inspiring some good questions. A little time dedicated to one's reply seems to be in order -- in my opinion.

Thank you,
dmv
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Old 05-09-2004, 06:14 PM   #9
JohnnyBA
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
...I doubt any true Samurai learned Aikido. And besides, Samurai fought for their lives, not spiritual enlightenment.
I'm sorry, maybe I misread your statement, but are you actually implying that O'Sensei did not fight to defend himself and save his life, but simply trained solely for spiritual enlightenment?
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Old 05-09-2004, 06:30 PM   #10
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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.
QUOTE]

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

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Old 05-09-2004, 06:37 PM   #11
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

DJM: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

DJM: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache...nlan%22+&hl=en). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more intersted in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.


7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

DJM: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

DJM: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

DJM: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DJM: Interested to hear what you have to say about the sources I listed. Hope this helps.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 05-09-2004, 06:40 PM   #12
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Sorry for the spastic posts above. The software kept telling me that my post was too short! I found a work around but, as you see, it was ugly.

I'd cut some links that I'll try to post here:

See Karl Friday's The Historical Foundations of Bushido (http://koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html). Also, read his Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition(http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_friday_0301.htm)

Don J. Modesto
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Old 05-09-2004, 06:45 PM   #13
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Smile Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Did i Read that Right?...
All books that i have read about this subject matter relate O'Sensei's desire to find the true meaning of Bushido (code of the Samurai). He trained under Sokaku Takeda (samurai about 17 years of age around the begining of the meiji restoration), the Grand Master of The Aizu Clan's DaitoRyu Aikijujitsu, The direct Guardians of the last Shogun ( all Samurai). Yaguryu (SP) Kenjitsu was directly a Samurai art. The fact that Aikijuitsu was around before the advent of aikido does not mean Aikido exhisted (per say), but the relationship is one of dependant causality. IE no Christ= no christians/ same/ no brutal samurai art taught to O'Sensei= no Aikido evolution of the Budo (samurai arts). well ...we still wear A Hakama ( traditionally worn by Samurai) we carry Bokken that the Samurai trained with, we use a cast system founded within the ranks of the Samurai, not because we think we are actors but because this was passed down to us by our teachers and their teachers and so on and so on...
walks like a duck , quacks like a duck... must be a...

in Aiki
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Old 05-09-2004, 08:56 PM   #14
Big Dave
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
Don_Modesto wrote:
5. Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

DJM: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

6. Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

DJM: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache...nlan%22+&hl=en). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more intersted in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.


7. That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

DJM: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

DJM: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

DJM: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DJM: Interested to hear what you have to say about the sources I listed. Hope this helps.

Thanks Don. I will get back to you as soon as I can have a look at these.... these are exactly the kinds of things I was interested in reading. I am really interested in the contention that Bushido is an invention of the 20th century.
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:23 PM   #15
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Dave;

A couple of points to consider.

Rules of behavior and advice on ruling were written down and codified way back but they were basically priests telling people to be good and fathers giving sons advice. As you know neither are listened to all that much. There are also a number of house rules laid down which were sometimes followed, sometimes not. The idea of an all pervasive code of conduct for the samurai class evolved in the Edo period where the level of control exercised on society was pretty extreme - rules for everything. The concept of Bushido that we see today is very late Edo and distorted somewhat by events leading up to WWII.

That little tidbit aside several groups in Japan see themselves as vestiges of samurai culture. Yakuza (even though historically they came from elsewhere), police (were often though not always samurai), certain bureaucrats (well that's what most samurai did after all) and many Budo dojos.

Looking at the latter you have certain formalities, hierarchies and ways of behavior but I must say a listing of traits sound more of what you would here in a boy scout hall than a working dojo. Basically if you follow the ways of the dojo and don't embarrass your seniors outside of it - that's enough. I am sure that Budo training develops some admirable traits within people but that in itself may be due to self selection (thugs don't often have the discipline required) but no one has told me how to behave outside the dojo. That is up to me.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:46 PM   #16
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Let's see if I can make this a bit more accurate -- and hopefully not just a bit more confusing:


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

DMV: The 1000 years sited by Mr. Peling does have to be qualified a bit but so too does some of the information Mr. Modesto is offering. Of importance is: a. The scholarship containing the position referenced here has been in academic circles for over 20 years now -- it's not "the current thing" that has just now shed light on a darkness long held; b. The idea of a unified Japan is plaguing the conclusions offered. Each segment of Japanese culture, and even segments of competing cultures, had pockets of power all over the area we today know as "Japan". Thus, while it is not wholly accurate to suggest that the warrior class (i.e. samurai) ruled Japan up to 1000 years before the Meiji Restoration, it is also not accurate to say that courtiers and clerics ruled Japan in their stead and/or held more power. I think a benchmark of power accumulation and transference, if one is pressed by the actual formation of "Japan", could be the Korean political mission that in the Tokugawa period by-passed the Imperial palace in Kyoto and went straight to the Bakufu in Edo. Before that, I think one is going to have to be very careful about how the words "power" and "Japan" are defined.

2. [Big Dave] 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.)

DMV: Again, I think we have to be cautious about using general terms like the term "samurai" -- using them as if we could ever capture the multiplicity of human action and/or behavior by nomenclature alone. Plain and simple -- we can't. Some members of the samurai class became bureaucrats, some didn't. Some were always and/or became inept with weaponry during the Edo period and some didn't ever -- some stayed highly skilled and/or became more skilled. When warriors became politicians, they were not the only class to work in politics for the Bakufu, nor did another class fulfill all of the ranks of their military.

3. [Big Dave] That they also functioned as local "law and order."

DJM: And as pirates and brigands.

DMV: I think what Mr. Modesto is wishing to suggest here is that the samurai made up all kinds of social segments of a given time and place -- some being admirable. This is undoubtedly true. But I'm not so sure that Mr. Peling is saying that all samurai were "noble nights". As a historian himself, he knows better. I think he makes this point quite clearly in his suggestion that we can look beyond the ailments of Feudalism -- look to the skill and the philosophy of the samurai, etc. If members of the samurai class, in the face of the ailments of Feudalism, turned antithetical to certain philosophical positions that came to be associated with bushido, this does not mean that the underlying philosophy does not exists. In fact, it proves that philosophy existed more than it did not -- by way of the antithesis. In other words, while some samurai did become brigands, pirates, smugglers, mercenaries, rapists, and terrorists, etc., robbing, pillaging, piracy, smuggling, raping, and terrorizing were never held up as a social ideal for the samurai class. There ideals were other -- and it is that other that Mr. Peling is wishing to talk about here.

4. [Big Dave] 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.

DMV: In Mr. Peling's post, the words "they" and "governed" are problematic. So too is the word "code". It is very easy to answer "yes" and "no" to questions using such words, but that would be no answer at all -- which means this is no question at all. Dates, regions, contexts, etc., all are needed here to determine anything relative to whether or not we should ourselves idealize the ideals of bushido. It is most difficult to refer to the samurai as a unified group, singular in action and thought. They were not. Also, "governed" and "code" is by far too concrete a term to use for how the ideals of bushido affected members of the samurai class. For Mr. Modesto's post, I have to say, Bushido is NOT a 20th century phenomenon. Nor does Friday suggest this in the works cited. Most obviously: Friday himself is citing Nitobe's book as being instrumental in the modern development of the term and concept of Bushido and that book is from the 19th century. Also Friday, knowing he would be hard-pressed to prove otherwise, does not suggest that Nitobe, and/or others like him, was not referencing things older and/or much older than themselves. Friday's works in question have to do with the gap that exists between medieval samurai practices and political ideals held by the Imperial military of Japan at the beginning of the Modern era. While that gap undoubtedly has to do with the revisionist practices of that (or any) fascist government, they also have to do with the gap that exists between any concrete action and it's accompanying ideal. Since we are dealing here with various samurai ideals, it is hard to say how relative these articles (Friday's) truly are, but I would propose, not very. It is also not accurate to say that bushido was codified in the 20's and 30's. Bushido has never been codified.

5. [Big Dave] Ideally, Samurai were expected to be more than warriors.

[DJM]: "Samurai" is one class of BUSHI. Some were expected to be more than others. A general charms politicians; a private scrubs toilets.

DMV: Again, I think the context is way too general here to do anyone any good. But if Mr. Peling is suggesting that the various ideals of bushido had to do with a particular technology of self that would have warrior "learn" more than simply how to fight and/or kill -- the answer is undeniable "yes".

6. [Big Dave] Those who failed or otherwise disgraced themselves were expected to commit suicide.

[DJM}: Tokugawa Ieyasu failed AND was captured. He didn't kill himself, he rose to become SHOGUN. See Thomas Conlan, The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare ( http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cach...onlan%22+&hl=en ). Also, Harold Bolitho, "The Myth of the Samurai," in Alan Rix & Ross Mouer (eds.), Japan's Impact on the World, pp. 2-9. He claims that the samurai were far more interested in the acquisition of land than in the service of their lord.

DMV: I think Mr. Peling's suggestion here takes us back to what I said earlier on using the word "governed" to understand the relationship between the ideal of bushido and the agents that invested in it. Undoubtedly, but only generally speaking, there is an underlying shame culture to the samurai class, but this is something not always akin to the idea of "expecting suicide" for matters of disgrace. From one historian to another -- this is Hollywood and not History.


7. [Big Dave] That while O'Sensei was not of course a Samurai, he studied sword fighting and aiki-ju-jitsu and then modified them to create aikido, a less lethal form of the former arts.

[DJM]: Many would take issue with the lethality part, starting with the founder.

DMV: Yes, personally I would take issue with the words "less lethal", same thing with "modified" and "create", but maybe that is another thread.

8. [Big Dave] Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on their ideals, as these ideals are important.

[DJM]: As well as their transgressions. Remember Fuerbach's contention that we invest our higher values (God) with precisely the virtues we...lack.

DMV: Well, Mr. Modesto, how about some of that "as well" now? Seems like your whole post is dedicated to just the transgressions. ;-) True, they are important, but they are not the whole picture, and maybe not all the relevant to what Mr. Peling is suggesting.

9. [Big Dave] It also seems that the mentality of the samurai is very much alive in Modern Japan.

[DJM]: And Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Colombia...

DMV: Actually, here is where I say Friday's articles become very relevant. Respectfully, I would disagree; the mentality of the samurai is not very much alive in Modern Japan. Can't see it in the other countries listed either. What one does see are indeed remnants of that revisionist effort that Japan's fascist government put into motion at the time Friday is referring to in his articles.

I think Mr. Peling's post is strongest here, and perhaps it is here that we could discuss the issue at hand. I suggest this because references to history, if we desire for those references to be accurate, are just going to make this thread way too complicated. Japanese history will not offer us here the "proof" we need here to reject or accept the ideals of bushido. Here is what I think is best in Mr. Peling's post -- what I think readers should make room for but are apparently not:

[Big Dave]

"Would I like to have embrace Bushido as a life style? Honor, discipline, Integrity, loyalty, why wouldn't I? It's an ideal after all - something we try to live up to, just as the Samurai did. Certainly many Samurai abused their power and authority, just as those who have great authority today often do. But I think it's important to keep our eye on […] these ideals -- [they] are important.

Is Aikido related to the arts of the Samurai? It seems to me that there is no question about it.

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-responsibility. No ownership at all of anything we do. "

Thank you,
dmv
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:47 PM   #17
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Nice post Don!

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Old 05-10-2004, 01:59 AM   #18
Charles Hill
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Just a couple points.

1. If one defines samurai as a social class, Morihei Ueshiba was a samurai, from both sides of his family. His personality and tendencies also seem to reflect this; his ineptitude/unconcern with money, a strong interest for learning, and a love for the martial arts.

2. According to several shihan, the Founder did focus on nonlethal techniques post-war and modified them as well.

3. In any discussion on the samurai, I think it is important to clearly separate what was the ideal and what actually happened.

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Old 05-10-2004, 02:32 AM   #19
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
1. If one defines samurai as a social class, Morihei Ueshiba was a samurai, from both sides of his family. His personality and tendencies also seem to reflect this; his ineptitude/unconcern with money, a strong interest for learning, and a love for the martial arts.
Charles are you sure about this - I remember reading somewhere that it was unusual for Takeda S. to take on Ueshiba M. because of the latters lack of samurai background. <--not sure about this at all.
Quote:
3. In any discussion on the samurai, I think it is important to clearly separate what was the ideal and what actually happened.
Very much so.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-10-2004, 03:51 AM   #20
Mark Jewkes
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Hi everybody

Interesting discussion. I think that budo is an evolution of bushido. While bushido focused on how to die budo is about how to live. Hence - bushido is about death whereas budo is about life.


regards
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Old 05-10-2004, 09:20 AM   #21
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Perhaps, if you are a military or law enforcement professional, the code 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.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-10-2004 at 09:25 AM.

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Old 05-10-2004, 10:38 AM   #22
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Great post. May I forward that to some friends off the forums?

Maybe we can get Jun to put it permanently in the articles section.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-10-2004, 11:50 AM   #23
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

I agree with Bronson. A good post George.

Maybe you could expand on this for your next column on Aikiweb?
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Old 05-10-2004, 11:53 AM   #24
Doka
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Controversial

My post relating to the bi-sexuality of the Samurai was a bit bullet point, so here is more detail.

The Japanese (Edo period) did not distinguish between different types of sexuality like hetrosexual, bisexual and homosexual. These Western origin terms have no meaning to the Japanese of those era. But this is the Western definition of what was practiced. People had relationships of love and sexuality with others of the same sex. The term I have seen to describ it (I don't speak Japanese so I am quoting with faith in the source) is "nanshoku", which apparently does not translate well in to English, but is like 'manly love', 'comrade love', or 'male colours'.

A source for you is:

Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950 - Gregory M. Pflugfelder

And a link to details:

http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/inters...ta_review.html

1 quick quote from the page:

Quote:
The former explores the intersections between increasing commercialisation of sex through (male and female) prostitution in the 'pleasure quarters' of urban centres, and pre-existing nodes of male-male sexual intimacy within the Buddhist monkhood and samurai. Discussion of the latter examines contemporary official strictures and regulations on sexuality (including, but not exclusively, male-male sexuality),
On other things, I did not say that Aikido (as in Uyeshiba Aikido) existed before Uyeshiba Sensei, but the word did and was used for some jutsu. There have been other threads where this has been discussed.

Other things have been stated better than I could elsewhere on this thread.


Last edited by Doka : 05-10-2004 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 05-10-2004, 12:46 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido and Samurai: a few questions

Quote:
NagaBaba wrote:
Nice post Don!
Thanks.

"Nagababa"?

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