HISTORY OF THE SAMURAI:
Warrior Class of Japan

Presented By:
Valerie S. Sestir
Black Belt Instructor
American Kang Duk Won Karate
This information was presented at classes taught at the AKDWK 1995 karate camp.

The samurai's life was like the cherry blossom's, beautiful and brief. For him, as for the flower, death followed naturally, gloriously.



The following is a brief outline of the times in Japanese history when the samurai reached the pinnacle of power and prestige. Included after each time period are several quotes from samurai of importance from that era. Therefore, the reader will be able to experience a first hand account of their attitudes and beliefs.


THE FIRST SHOGUNATE



It is truly regrettable that a person will treat a man who is valuable to him well, and a man who is worthless to him poorly.

One should have insight into this world of dreams that passes in the twinkling of an eye.




THE SECOND SHOGUNATE



Many men feel that they should act according to the time or the moment they are facing, and thus are in confusion when something goes beyond this and some difficulty arises.

The man whose profession is arms should calm his mind and look into the depths of others. Doing so is likely the best of the martial arts.


Without knowledge of Learning, one will ultimately have no military victories.

One should not be envious of someone who has prospered by unjust deeds. Nor should he disdain someone who has fallen while adhering to the path of righteousness.


Consider that which exists to exist and that which does not exist to not exist, and recognize things just as they are. With such a frame of mind, one will have divine protection even though he does not pray.

A man with deep far-sightedness will survey both the beginning and the end of a situation and continually consider its every facet as important.

Intelligence is the flower of discrimination. There are many examples of the flower blooming but not bearing fruit.

No matter whether a person belongs to the upper or lower ranks, if he has not put his life on the line at least once he has cause for shame.


The entire country will soon be in the hands of your master, Lord Ieyasu. If this is so, the men who served him will no doubt hope to become daimyo by his appointment. You should know that if such feelings arise, they are inevitably the beginning of the end of one's fortunes in the Way of the Warrior. Being affected by the avarice for office and rank, or wanting to become a daimyo and being eager for such things ... will not one then begin to value his life? And how can a man commit acts of martial valor if he values his life? A man who has been born into the house of a warrior and yet places no loyalty in his heart and thinks only of the fortune of his position will be flattering on the surface and construct schemes in his heart, will forsake righteousness and not reflect on his shame, and will stain the warrior's name of his household to later generations. This is truly regrettable.



THE THIRD SHOGUNATE



Strategy is the craft of the warrior. Commanders must enact the craft, and troopers should know this Way. There is no warrior in the world today who really understands the Way of strategy.... It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways.

Students of the Ichi school Way of strategy should train from the start with the sword and long sword in either hand. This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.

In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased.

If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains.

If we watch men of other schools discussing theory, and concentrating on techniques with the hands, even though they seem skillfull to watch, they have not the slightest true spirit.


Because of some business, Morooka Hikoemon was called upon to swear before the gods concerning the truth of a certain matter. But he said, "A samurai's word is harder that metal. Since I have impressed this fact upon myself, what more can the gods and Buddhas do?" and the swearing was cancelled.

It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way. Therefore, it is inconsistent to hear something of the Way of Confucius or the Way of the Buddha, and say that this is the Way of the Samurai. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own.

A person who is said to be proficient at the arts is like a fool. Because of his foolishness in concerning himself with just one thing, he thinks of nothing else and thus becomes proficient. He is a worthless person.



VOCABULARY TERMS**


bakufu

budo bushi bushido daimyo ken-jutsu kendo naginata ninja ronin samurai seppuku shogun so-jutsu
**Definitions have been taken from A Dictionary of the Martial Arts, in abbreviated form


Bibliography

References:


Samurai Illustrations:


Supplemental Sources for Further Information:




Return to the American Kang Duk Won Karate Homepage

Copyright 2000-2007 American Kang Duk Won Karate