The Samurai Code in our lives


“Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe … More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten … It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career. In order to become a samurai this code has to be mastered.”  Nitobe Inazō’s Bushido: The Soul of Japan. 1899

The Bushido, translated as “the way of warriors” is comprised of a moral code that paved the way of life for a samurai.  The code is made up of the following eight virtues: Righteousness , Courage, Benevolence or Mercy, Politeness, Honesty and Sincerity, Honor, Loyalty, Character & Self Control.  According to the Bushido if a samurai failed to uphold these ideals he could only regain it by performing seppuku (ritual suicide).  This was quite literally the moral compass of the samurai.

Let focus on one tenet of this code:  Honor.  The Greek word for honor means “to revere, prize, and value.” You “honor your mother and father”… you honor your husband or wife.  To honor is to hold in high regard.  It transcends beyond respect and takes it to a higher level of consciousness.  If I asked you, do you honor your mother the same as a stranger?  You might respond with no… I don’t know them and this is my mother.  But that may be someone else’s mother… do they not deserve the same level of respect?  We all deserve love, respect and kindness.  It isn’t even something that has to be earned… it’s what makes us human.  You cannot honor others if you do not first honor yourself.

The samurai used the Bushido code as a moral compass.  What does a compass do? It points us in the right direction…It is an accurate indicator of our physical direction.  You can point to the north star… but you can’t actually touch it.  Your moral compass works in the same way.  It gives you higher standard to work towards, even though you may feel like you may never actually reach it.  It’s a tool to help us move to a higher, happier level of existence.  Remember, it’s a daily practice.  This is how we take our martial arts into our daily lives.  This is true mental Jiu-Jitsu.

How do we practice honor is our daily lives?

Start by honoring yourself!  Make time every day to take care of your inner and outer being.  What is the most important thing you do on a daily basis?  Breathing of course.  Breath is literally life giving and life receiving.  Without breath you cannot live very long (Jiu-Jitsu is a great reminder of this).  Make time daily to meditate.  It can be 5 minutes in the morning or something more complex.  Or start by keeping it simple:  just taking one minute in your day to stop, close your eyes and breathe!

Tips for practicing Honor in our lives:

  1. Eat, think and consume a healthy diet.  Drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Replace sugary drinks with water.  Consume a healthy, plant based diet.
  2. Take time to meditate daily.  Start with a no-pressure meditation of just one minute every day at the same time.
  3. Be kind to yourself.  Don’t plant mental weeds in your garden by being your “own worst enemy.”  Speak kindly of yourself.  Spend, uninterrupted time in contemplation and meditation just getting to know yourself.
  4. Honor Creation.  Spend time reading, writing, drawing, building, photography, hiking, exploring…  You’re a conscious create!
  5. Practice honoring others.  Leave every interaction better than you found it.

Now get to class and train!  See you on the mats.  -Professor Mike


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