Monday, September 13, 2010

Modern day Samurai

The idea of the Samurai, and the code of Bushido have always fascinated me.  I'm sure I'm not alone in the martial arts world on this.  I will agree that some parts are romanticized and the idea of absolute blind loyalty to a master doesn't sit well with me, but I still think we can learn from the code and modify some of the tenants to more accurately reflect modern times.

For example, I am loyal to my Sensei, but I am not blind in my loyalty.  It is because of my respect for him as a person that I am loyal, not because of the belt he holds.

There are 6 other virtues of Bushido and I think we can take away valuable lessons from each of them.

Moving beyond the virtues themselves is the Samurai mindset.  This is something deeper than the words can suggest.

A concept discussed over and over again as to why the Samurai were such effective warriors is because they embraced or accepted death every day and before any encounter.  Having accepted death, the fear of it no longer caused hesitation, mental or physical.  This made the warrior far more deadly and singular in purpose.

This concept or mindset is tough for some to accept.  No one wants to accept death.  Why would anyone take martial arts if they felt this way?  Why learn to defend yourself in the first place if you're preparing to lose?

Searching deeper, the concept is not as foreign or absurd as it might first appear.

I think of the example of a parent defending a child.  If a person's child was being hurt or attacked, that parent would defend him or her to the death.  Do you think it would matter if the person attacking was a big burly biker?  A knife wielding gang member?  A bear?

Nope.  Not one bit.

That parent would do whatever they could to save their child.  And they would fight with a singular purpose, devoid of any fear or hesitation.  And they would be fearsome and nearly unstoppable.

In this example, it's not really that the parent accepted death by a rational thought pattern.  They didn't say to themselves "It's cool if I don't make it".  They did however, have such singularity of purpose that nothing clouded the task at hand.  And that makes them one of the most dangerous opponents I can think of.

It is for this reason that I believe that everyone should do absolutely everything they can to avoid a violent encounter.  Know that there was nothing else you could do to avoid it.  Then, if it comes, fight with a mind free of doubt or fear, singular in purpose and without the fear of defeat.

Modern day Samurai indeed.


  1. I think in the Samurai days being mentally prepared to die was the best way to ensure you lived. Those that were in fear of losing their lives generally did. I think the same mental attitude would be necessary today if you wanted to survive a very serious fight, particularly if there were multiple attackers i.e if you want to live you must fight as if you were prepared to die!

  2. “Let an opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let an opponent smash into your flesh and you fracture his bone; let an opponent fracture your bone and you take his life! Do not be concerned with your escaping safely; lay your life before him!”
    Bruce Lee

  3. Thanks for the quote and for stopping by.