THE SAMURAI TRADITION OF BUSHIDO AND KARATE-DO
 
The Warrior and the Way
Shortly after the Meiji Restoration (1868) the samurai class in Japan was dissolved because there was no longer any need for them since all of Japan was now unified under the Emperor. However, the values of the samurai were not lost, but instead they were handed down to the lower classes as the inheritance from the warriors.
 
In 1882, the "Imperial Decree to Soldiers and Sailors" was issued to the military. What this did was to codify the values of bushi-do (Way of the Warrior) and apply this samurai code of honor and strict social behavior to the modern military training. This document advised all soldiers and sailors to practice loyalty, obedience and bravery; it stressed that the modern warrior was in essence the same as the samurai of former times and so the the tradition of the samurai class were thus given to the modern Japanese army.
 
The first article held
Loyalty was the essential duty of the soldier.
This reflected the long tradition of a samurai relationship with his Lord which held that in truth a samurai's life indeed belonged to his lord. In the modern army this meant that the soldiers life belonged to the Emperor and his country.
 
The second article held
Courage was essential since the trait of a fighting man is his spirit to win.
Without courage there is nothing, especially on the battlefield during hand to hand combat.
 
The third article held
Valor as a trait to be admired and encouraged in the modern warrior.
Reckless behavior in the face of the enemy was not desirable; the soldier should be able to control his emotions and act discriminantly and correctly in battle. The article further advised that performance of duty was one of the more valorous acts.
 
The fourth article stated
Faithfulness in keeping one's word.
Always bearing in mind that righteousness in fulfilling one's duty was to be honored.
 
The fifth article held
Simplicity was a samurai value.
Luxury and extravagance were considered effeminate and would not add to the performance of a warriors duty, rather, they would turn the soldier into someone who might seek material things at the expense of his duty.
 
In addition to these basic articles, there was concern over sincerity, a sincere effort by the soldier would allow great achievement and satisfaction. Another element the soldier-samurai realized that was necessary to follow the precepts was perfection in everything he undertook and of course there was always the strict teaching and enforcement of courtesy and respect to higher ranks in the military which was part of the Japanese culture.
 
It is clear that bushido with it's code of honor and social behavior followed by the samurai class almost a thousand years ago is the same as our dojo kun practiced in karate-do today.
 
I. Samurai era (1100- 1600) - unwritten code taught only through training.
 
2. Sobo Yamaga (1622 -1685) - wrote code of ethics for Bushido.
 
3. Karate Sakugawa (1733 -1815) - wrote Dojo Kun.
 
4. Samurai Class dissolved (1868).
 
5. Imperial Decree issued to military (1882).
 
6. Gichin Funakoshi (1868 -1957) - made the Dojo Kun popular through Shotokan.
 
7. Kenneth Funakoshi (1938 - ) continuing Master Gichin Funakoshi's principles to this day.
 
Part the clouds - see the way.
 
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay