Whilst it is hard to equal the feel of a book, Kindle has many features that add to the convenience of modern life. It’s open 24/7 and if you don’t know what you want to read, a cunning algorithm will make suggestions based on the stuff you bought last. In this way I was told that I would like to read a book titled “Modern Bushido” by Dr Bohdi Sanders, an alternative therapist and student of Shotokan karate. In this book Dr Sanders attempts to parallel Inazo Nitobe’s Bushido, by explaining how the modern warrior can live the life of a “superior man” by adopting the principles of the martial arts. He quotes the virtues of rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honour and loyalty. Not far from the Confucian values “jin, gi, rei, chi, shin – makoto” (benevolence, justice, courtesy, wisdom, faith and sincerity), expressed by the pleats of the kendo hakama. He goes on to say that there are some 30 principles that the modern bushi should live by. The emphasis of this book is that we should lead a consciously considered life based on analysis of what we do compared to the values of the samurai. I commend the writer for drawing peoples’ attention to the values of the martial arts, but wonder if this level of introspection serves a purpose. In my own simplistic view, which is based on absolutely no scientific evidence, we take our core values from our parents and education and the rest of our character is forged by experience in and outside of the dojo. It is hard to learn courage by thinking about it, on the other hand regularly forcing yourself to go past the pain barrier in kakarigeiko adds to your store of fortitude. In the same way we learn to relate honestly with people through our keiko without having to consciously think about it. In our kendo practise we strive to achieve munen muso, the state of no intention, no thought. This condition is also referred to as the “unfettered mind” where worries and attachments are banished so that you can respond instantly and instinctively to changing situations. Some of the nicest people that I have met in kendo are the least philosophical; they take pleasure in their keiko and in helping others, but seldom get involved in discussing character, reinforcing the saying that “it is not what you say, it’s what you do that counts”. So rather than add to my library I will stick to the idea of doing my best in the dojo and try to follow the examples of these very positive role models.
Buy “Kendo” on Amazon
“Inherited Wisdom” on Amazon
SANTIAGO TEJADA on Martial Aids Helton on Martial Aids Geoff on Martial Aids Jacek Hajduk on Martial Aids Jacek Hajduk on Martial Aids
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Art of Kendo (flickr)