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Bushidō "Way of the Warrior"
Bushidō (武士道, Bushidō), meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of life, loosely analogous to the European concept of chivalry and the Iranian concept of jawanmardi, among others. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery and honour unto death. Bushidō developed between the 9th to 12th centuries as set forth by numerous translated documents dating from the 12th to 16th centuries (as mentioned below). However, some dependable sources also state the document might have been formulated in the 17th century.
According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, "Bushidō is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period." Nitobe Inazō, in his book Bushidō: The Soul of Japan, described it in this way. "...Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe... More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten... It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career."
Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Bushidō became formalized into Japanese Feudal Law. Honor codes are still used today.
Bushido expanded and formalized the earlier code of the samurai, and stressed frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial arts, and honor to the death. Under the Bushido ideal, if a samurai failed to uphold his honor he could regain it by performing seppuku (ritual suicide).
In an excerpt from his book Samurai: The World of the Warrior, historian Stephen Turnbull describes the role of Seppuku in feudal Japan:
- In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced. The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony.
- Rectitude (義, gi)
- Courage (勇, yū)
- Benevolence (仁, jin)
- Respect (礼, rei)
- Honesty (誠, makoto or 信 shin)
- Honour, Glory (名誉, meiyo)
- Loyalty (忠義, chūgi)
Others that are sometimes added to these:
- Filial piety (孝, kō)
- Wisdom (智, chi)
- Care for the aged (悌, tei)
Some people in Japan as well as other countries follow the same virtues listed above under the philosophical term modern bushido. The idea was derived from the fact that the Japanese male should be able to adapt his beliefs and philosophies to a changing world.
In an excerpt of James Williams' article "Virtue of the sword", a fairly simple explanation of modern bushido can be found:
- The warrior protects and defends because he realizes the value of others. He knows that they are essential to society and, in his gift of service, recognizes and values theirs... take the extra moment in dark parking lots at night to make sure that a woman gets into her car safely before leaving yourself. Daily involvement in acts such as these are as much a part of training as time spent in the dojo, and indeed should be the reason for that time spent training... When faced with a woman or child in a situation in which they are vulnerable, there are two types of men: those who would offer succor and aid, and those who would prey upon them. And in modern society, there is another loathsome breed who would totally ignore their plight!
Apparently, several U.S. Army Soldiers have voluntarily accepted the "Bushido Warrior Code" along with the "Army Values" which are essentially similar in nature. In the mid- to late 1990s, the United States Army officially adopted what have come to be known as "The 7 Army Core Values." The United States Army began to teach these values as basic warrior traits.