Articles

The Samurai and the Soldier

"The Five Articles".

Shortly after the Meiji Restoration (1868) the samurai class in Japan was dissolved, it was decided that there was no longer any need for the samurai since all of Japan was now unified under the Emperor. However, the values of the samurai were not lost. In 1882 the "Imperial Decree to Soldiers and Sailors" was issued to the military. What this did was to codify the values of Bushido (Way of the Warrior) and apply this samurai code of honor and strict social behavior to 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 traditions of the samurai class were thus given to the modern Japanese army.

The first article held that loyalty was the essential duty of the soldier.

This reflected the long tradition of a samurai's relationship with his Lord which held that in truth that 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 that 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 that 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 discriminantely and correctly in battle. The article further advised that performance of duty was one of the more valorous acts.

The fourth article stated that faithfulness is keeping one's word.

Always bearing in mind that righteousness in fulfilling one's duty was to be honored.

The fifth article held that simplicity was a samurai value.

Luxury and extravagance were considered effeminate and would not add to the performance of a warrior's 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 precept the soldier needed to follow was perfection in everything he undertook. And as always there was the strict teaching and enforcement of courtesy and respect to higher ranks in the military which was fundamental part of the Japanese culture.

Bushido with its code of honor and social behavior that was followed by the samurai class almost a thousand years ago, is still the underlying foundation of the words found in the dojo kun practiced in karate-do today.

1.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.