Bushido

Samurai with sword Samurai with sword c. 1860

Summary

Bushido is the Japanese samurai’s approach not only to fighting, but also living. It can be loosely compared with the concept of chivalry. The term represents certain morals and values of the samurai including, but not limited to – meticulousness, devotion, martial arts proficiency and honor in both life and death. Bushido found its influences in Shinto and Zen Buddhism. These influences gave them a dualistic approach to life as being filled with both violent conflicts and tranquil serenity.

History / Origins

ETYMOLOGY

Bushido translated means “military knight-way.” Bu translates to military, shi translates to knight and do translates to way. The term “Bushido” is a contemporary label and is rarely used in older texts. The term originated from Japan in 1898.

BEGINNINGS

The earliest references to Bushido can be found as far back as the 11th century. Several passages from works in 721 AD refer to strict Japanese military values that are comparable to Bushido. Though the term “Bushido” isn’t used until much later, it is debated whether or not these early military values played a part in laying down the foundation for what would be known later as Bushido. Literary works between the 13th and 16th centuries contained an abundance of highly-skilled military warriors that, like the 11th century works, depicted soldiers who seemed to model the Bushido ethic. It wasn’t until the 17th century that Bushido became its own philosophy set apart from others. This occurred during the Tokugawa or “Edo” period. From 1600 to the mid-19th century, Japan was in a peaceful state that contrasted the previous periods of war it had known before. Due to such a peaceful environment, the samurais of this period were looking for a way to incorporate martial arts into a more general form that could be used daily. Utilizing Neo-Confucianism, they incorporated philosophical wisdom into their martial arts to create an ideal form of both fighting and living. Some of these values eventually became infused into Japanese feudal law.

PRESENT DAY

There are several distinct differences between Bushido in the Tokugawa period and Bushido in the present day. Bushido in the modern day became focused on the emperor and placed a greater emphasis on self-sacrifice. Bushido was taken from its original context and used by the Japanese government as a propaganda tool during war in the 20th century. Once the Meiji restoration eliminated the samurai’s roll and privileges in society, Bushido was thought to be dead. However, many former members of the warrior class still practiced the philosophy. In modern times, the philosophy isn’t practiced by major institutions, but it is still applied by individuals and groups dedicated to the samurai way of life. The biggest change is who the samurai pledges their loyalty to, whether it be the emperor, state or God.

FOLKLORE

Japanese literature from the 13th to 16th centuries is filled with descriptions of warriors who, today at least, would be considered Bushido warriors. Most of their fictional skills and talents are considered just as unattainable today as they were in the 17th century, but that didn’t stop samurais from aspiring to reach the same heights performed by the characters. Later works would also demonstrate extreme feats of combat that would prove unattainable for most. Nabeshima Naoshige, a Sengoku era warlord, was said to have killed hundreds of men per battle. The number of the literary exploits rooted in real-life events is up for debate, but the fact is that all the fictional works were based on real samurais. No matter what the characters were doing, they always exemplified the values of Bushido.

Philosophy

Bushido established the philosophy of the samurai based on meticulousness, devotion, martial arts proficiency and honor. If a samurai failed in attaining these virtues, he would have to reclaim his honor by performing ritual suicide. Many forms of Bushido emphasize compassion for those worse off or lower than the samurai. They also cared deeply about preserving their name. The earliest Bushido philosophy urged warriors to act with composure and fight for justice. Bushido highly encouraged its practitioners to learn all they could since learning and wisdom are interdependent. Bushido samurais believed in living a life that strictly follows its tenets. Living a good life served their idea that it was crucial to die with honor.

Rules/Rulesets

There are no established rules in Bushido since it is more of a philosophy than a form of fighting. However, due to the strict nature of the philosophy, any move or action taken during combat must adhere to the teachings of Bushido. Not doing so would result in the loss of honor. As such, it can be assumed that most moves considered “dirty” or “unfair” would not be permissible. Though there are no established rules, there are virtues of Bushido that all practicing samurais must follow:

  • Rectitude
  • Courage
  • Benevolence
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Honor
  • Loyalty

Aside from these seven virtues, there are three associated virtues:

  • Filial piety
  • Wisdom
  • Care for the elderly

Popular Culture

Bushido and samurai warriors have been major players in popular film and literature. 47 Ronin was a 2013 film that depicted the real story of 47 leaderless samurai avenging the death of their master in the 18th century. The 2003 film The Last Samurai depicts an American military advisor who embraces the samurai customs he was supposed to help destroy. Numerous novels and texts from the 11th century to today depict the life of samurais both real and fictionalized. In the book Legends of the Samurai, author Hiroaki Sato studies historical samurais and Bushido while differentiating between fact and fiction.

References

  1. http://www.columbia.edu/~hds2/chushinguranew/Bushido/reinvention.htm
  2. http://www.wanpela.com/holdouts/history.html
  3. http://www.theartofcalligraphy.com/seven-virtues-of-bushido
[nggallery id="48823" nggid="3"]
Philosophy
Discipline
flag
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
TIME OF ORIGIN: Origins as far back as c. 7th Century
PRACTISED:
FOUNDERS:

FOCUS: 

ALSO KNOWN AS: -
PARENTHOOD:

DESCENDANTS:

OLYMPIC SPORT:

NOTABLE FEMALE PRATITIONERS

NOTABLE MALE PRATITIONERS

Philosophy
Discipline
flag
NATIONALITY:
DATE OF BIRTH: June 19, 2014
AGE:
BORN:

RESIDENCE: -
ALSO KNOWN AS: -
OCCUPATION:

JOB TITLE:

RELATED FEMALE INDIVIDUALS

RELATED MALE INDIVIDUALS

Philosophy
Discipline
flag
COUNTRY: Japan
LOCATION: -
FOUNDED: Origins as far back as c. 7th Century
OPERATIONAL:
FOUNDERS:

ALSO KNOWN AS: -
SECTOR:

DESCRIPTION:

WEBSITE: -

ACOSSIATED INDIVIDUALS

ACOSSIATED ATHLETES

Practices

PHILOSOPHY

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

TECHNIQUES

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

TRAINING

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

RANKS & GRADING

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

WEIGHT CLASSES

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

Rules / Rulesets

RULES / RULESETS

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

Organisations & Historical Places

ORGANISATIONS

(If you are interested in having your organisation listed, please contact us at info@awakeningfighters.com)

HISTORICAL PLACES

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

Popular Culture

POPULAR CULTURE

This section needs collaborators. If you want to contribute, please email info@awakeningfighters.com

Useful Links

USEFUL LINKS

Links coming soon

References

REFERENCES

No References found

COLLABORATORS

No Collaborators found

Contact

CONTACT

Leave a Reply