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The Way of the Warrior
All of our students are familiar with our Shaolin Rules: Self Control, Respect, Honesty, Patience and Discipline. We often talk about these rules and challenge ourselves (both as instructors and students) to work harder at them.
The Japanese roots of our shared martial arts heritage also have a series of principles called Bushido or the “Way of the Warrior.” These principles, or key virtues, were first described in medieval Japan (between the 12th and 17th centuries) as the code of the Samurai. They include:
• Honesty and Justice (Gi) - This rule focuses on doing the right thing. It is considered the most important virtue. When justice is not equal for all, one must adopt a clear position of honor.
• Loyalty (Ghugi) - One should always be loyal to their family and their teacher, if they also demonstrate the virtues of Bushido.
• Compassion (Jin) – Compassion is the opportunity which one must see or create to help others. One’s training forms strength and power, which is useful only when helping others.
• Honor (Meyo) - A life without honor is not a life. One must own their mistakes and learn from them.
• Respect and Courtesy (Rei) – A person’s strength relies on the fact that they do not need to brag or give in to vulgar demonstrations to impress others.
• Honesty (Sei) - Deception cannot exist as part of the warrior’s mentality.
• Courage (Yu) - A true warrior fights for what they believe in. The warrior acts, and spreads courage among others through those actions. Their action is not blind, however, but instead thoughtful: the true warrior knows how to measure danger and transform fear into caution.
• Consistency (Makoto) – There is no difference between saying and doing. This final rule is interwoven with all the others, making the entire Bushido a strong knot of absolute sincerity.
Two beautiful proverbs describe the Bushido code:
“A Samurai never changes the path. Like a dragonfly, movement must only be forward, never backwards.”
“When a Samurai says they will do something, it is as if it were already done.”
When we think about our Journey as martial artists, these principles and our Shaolin Rules form a powerful foundation throughout our lives, regardless of age. What does this mean on the dojo floor? Be humble. Demonstrate courtesy. Don’t try to impress others. Focus inward. Learn from mistakes.
HONOR MAY NOT WIN POWER, BUT IT WINS RESPECT.