Bushido, the way of the Samurai

Gi – Integrity

“Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.” – C.S. Lewis.

Having good strong morals and being honest with everyone, including yourself. Nothing will honestly matter if you can’t do right by yourself, and not only when you’re being watched. You need integrity and discipline when you’re alone. If you are not doing right by you first, and by yourself, how can you even think of doing right by other and truly have the sincerity of the integrity you are trying to enforce.

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Rei – Respect

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” – Lao Tzu

Respect is one of the most important parts of life. The first question is, do you respect yourself? If not, why? If so, why? What do you do that makes you respectful? I have respect because of things I’m accomplished and done for myself. I push myself hard every single day to become better. When I go, I’m gone. I have big dreams, and the only person I compete with is myself, to challenge myself to become great. I don’t compare myself to the hardworking person working at a low-paid job, nor do I compare myself to a CEO of a multi-billion dollar organization, not even Mr. Olympia. I don’t compete with them because their goals are different from mine. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 20, 40, or 80 years old, as long as you push yourself to become the best you. People will see that and say, wow, I respect what they’re doing.

Yu – Heroic Courage

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” – Aristotle

Heroic Courage is standing up for what you believe and letting nothing stand in your way to accomplish your dreams. Do you always follow through with what you want, and what you believe? Or do you do what you’re told out of fear? I love what I do. I believe in what I do, and that’s why nothing will stop me in becoming what I desire most. You’re never too old to chase a dream. You’re only limited by your mind. Do you think some of the greatest people in the world became who they were because they simply did what they were told? No, they took a chance and did something that would be considered crazy, but they had a dream — and it takes courage to accomplish it, to take a leap of faith and pursue it endlessly like a freight train moving forward.

Meiyo – Honour

“I would prefer to fail with honor than win by cheating.” – Sophocles

“About Bushido” (see more videos)

Honour is so very important, it coincides with respect in a lot of ways: to honour yourself is also to respect yourself. Honour focuses on the internal aspect more than the external. If a samurai felt shamed, it was because they failed themselves first, and then those around. Honor is the same as self-respect, for self-respect is an honorable trait. You can move forward without dwelling on the past. Mastery of yourself, never breaking your personal code, pushing through the hard times, is how one becomes a true warrior. While you could cheat yourself, is it really worth it? You are dishonoring yourself by doing so. Lying is the most dis-respectful and dis-honorable trait any human can have. Honor brings together the aspects of integrity, fairness, and honesty. You must be honest; lying and cheating only hurt yourself.

Jin – Compassion

“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” – Confucius

Some think of compassion as “sympathetic pity”, but sympathy is feeling sorry for someone as opposed to just being empathetic, which is the understanding of someone’s pain, and pity is feeling sorry for the pain of another. To be a compassionate being, you have to have understanding. It takes a strong person to take on the suffering of another person, to be a wall standing while the other person is weak. That shows compassion! When people come to me and tell me their issues I am compassionate, and what is said never leaves that room. Compassion also ties to respect; understanding someone else is a respectful quality. It also takes courage to have compassion. Everyone can ignore someone in need, but to take a stand for those that are weak takes courage. That’s what really defines a hero. It also takes a wise man to lead a person shrouded in darkness back to the light. These are all respectable qualities which separate the average person from the true warrior of this world.

Makoto – Honesty and Sincerity

“Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.” – Lao Tzu

This is also an inner quality, for being honest is less about being honest with others and more about how honest you are with yourself. You need to be completely sincere within — you need to mean it, not just say it. Honesty needs to be universal, you can’t pick and choose what you want to be honest about. I am always honest with everyone. There are times where I may not say anything, because I feel it isn’t right to be honest at that moment not all things need to be said, but I won’t lie. If someone were to ask my opinion about something I don’t like, I may respond honestly, or I may not respond then, giving me time to think about it and respond later. If you want to get anywhere in life with your own goals you need to be honest with yourself. To change your lifestyle you have to always be honest and consistent with your honesty, because it shows integrity.

Chu – Duty and Loyalty

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Marcus Aurelius

Your duty is to make yourself the best you there possibly can be. This really brings the seven virtues together; it’s kind of the middle virtue (in Japanese the translation for middle is “Chukan.”) Without honesty you cannot be loyal, and without honesty you cannot have integrity. For example, if you say something to a friend but you are not honest, then your friend finds out and confronts you about it you aren’t honest again, that breaks the bond of trust and your friend will see you as dis-loyal. This not only shows a lack of integrity, but also a lack of honesty, sincerity, and respect, as well as a lack of honour. To accomplish goals in life chu is so important because it’s a backbone for courage, and the other virtues.

So, what do the seven virtues of Bushido have to do with fitness? Being a warrior, I see fitness as a lifestyle just as Martial Arts is a lifestyle, and just as living honestly is a lifestyle.