Health, Spirituality and Masculinity

Bushido Code – The Samurai For Todays Men

Bushido Code, or The Warriors Way, was born in ancient Japan. It was the code the Samurai Warriors lived by and it has always fascinated western men, as shown vividly in the film ‘The Last Samurai’.

The Warrior’s Way is one of strength and rigour that amazes and frightens them at the same time. Men feel a desire to follow Bushido Code but the western world seems to work against it. The context, particularly of today’s world, does not seem to allow for its existence.

This is a unique and powerful book. It is a record of a series of conversations with Christopher Howard on masculinity, sex, addiction and relationships. In them both Chris and myself opened ourselves up in a very personal and revealing way. We held nothing back and explored what it is to be men.

I am fascinated by Bushido Code, in ‘Manhood Maleness Masculinity and the Bushido Code‘ I looked at the martial art of Aikido and the Samurai, about the film ‘The Last Samurai’ I said,

“It is an inspiring film that shows us a different way, a way to connect with ourselves and truly understand our connection with others. It shows the traditional masculinity of fighting, killing and aggression, but underneath it shows how to recover from a dead existence, how to find your determination and certainty and how to see your own power and strength.

To be fully honoured amongst their peers the Samurai needed to develop self-control and dignity. They showed no sign of pain or joy but had a calmness and composure that were never affected by passion. This was the warrior’s way.

The Samurai’s Bushido Code of behavior looks at how men should be in their personal and professional lives. It builds on thousand-year-old concepts of manhood. The most enlightening aspect is the emphasis on compassion, kindness, and other qualities not traditionally thought of as masculine.

The Bushido Code teaches that men should behave according to an absolute moral standard. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The differences between good and bad and between right and wrong are absolutes in the warrior’s way, and a man should know them.

The first aim of the Samurai was to develop character. Intellectual ability was respected, but a Samurai was always a man of action. By choosing compassion over aggression, he demonstrated qualities of character that are an essential part of masculinity.

Simon Graham, the British Consul, said in ‘The Last Samurai’,

They say Japan was made by a sword. They say the old gods dipped a coral blade into the ocean, and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea, and those drops became the islands of Japan. I say, Japan was made by a handful of brave men. Warriors, willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word, honour.

Algren, the western Samurai, the Tom Cruise character, said,

They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline. I am surprised to learn that the word Samurai means, ‘to serve’, and that Katsumoto believes his rebellion to be in the service of the Emperor.

What is the Bushido Code and what does The Warriors Way mean for a modern western man?

Bushido Code for The Samurai


JusticeGi means Justice, or Integrity

Right judgment when judgment is called for. To strike when it is right to strike. To do the right thing at the right time. The use of authority only to uphold what is right is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code means personal integrity as well as professional integrity. Integrity is the strongest principle of Bushido.

The power to decide upon a course of action using reason, without wavering.

This is a trait that we should expect in men, in particular those involved in politics or public service. This sense of justice is often superceded by the idea of doing what’s best for the greater good.


Yuu means Courage or Bravery


To admit your mistakes. To sacrifice yourself to save someone. To stand up for your decisions. The ability to face danger or hardship and keep your self esteem is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code sees courage only as part of action when doing the right thing. Courage only exists in integrity.

Courage is doing what is right.

Bravery is common amongst many men, but how many show courage? The ability to admit mistakes is an essential quality for men, who often prefer, instead, to cover their tracks and hope they don’t get found out.


BenevolenceJin means Kindness or Compassion

Love, affection for others, sympathy and a strength of mind and character towards other people. To do good, show compassion and be charitable is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code invests a man with the power to command only while showing compassion and mercy.

The highest requirement of a ruler of men is compassion

Today’s society sets great store by compassion and examples of it abound. Many men see this as weakness and not appropriate to masculinity, on the contrary it shows enormous power.


PolitenessRei means Politeness or Respect

Courtesy and excellent manners. A sympathy for the feelings of others. To show respect and treat with equality is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code sees that for a man courtesy and good manners are rooted in compassion. It must not be motivated by a fear of offending good taste.

In its highest form Politeness approaches love.

This form of politeness is not common in western society. It is seen as old fashioned and rather quaint. Men would benefit from a greater understanding of it.


VeracityMakoto means Honesty or Sincerity

Lying is cowardly and dishonourable. Your word should be taken as a sign of truthfulness. Honesty, accuracy and precision is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code says that honesty involves abstinence and simplicity. Riches get in the way of understanding so thrift was encouraged to encourage trust and sincerity.

Severe simplicity was required of the warrior class.

How rare is true honesty such as this. We all seem to think it’s OK to lie if it is for a greater good. We shouldn’t tell the truth if it will hurt someone, we are led to believe. What a shift in society there would if we all adhered to this concept of honesty.


HonourMeiyo means Honour or Nobility

An honourable person is a humble person. Without honour you have no respect and without respect no honour is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code deals with the profession of fighting but it is equally concerned with normal behaviour. A sense of honour, personal dignity and worth characterised the Samurai.

True patience means bearing the unbearable.

I’m not sure we truly understand what honour is today. Honour is supposed to be the most important code for soldiers and yet in today’s world of terrorism anything is thought to be OK. Surely this is wrong and betrays others and ourselves.


LoyaltyCh?gi means Loyalty or Devotion

To be loyal to your family, your masters, your peers and Bushido. Faithful to your family, friends, country, and ideals is the warriors way.

The Bushido Code requires men to remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted. Loyalty to a superior was the most distinctive virtue of the code. Personal fidelity should exist among all men.

Only in the code of Honour does Loyalty assume importance

Nowadays we feel we can be loyal if there is something in it for us. Loyalty can be bought at a price. Gone are the days when we were loyal to others no matter what. Gone are the days of adherence to a code such as the Bushido Code.

3 Responses to Bushido Code – The Samurai For Todays Men

  1. Interesting your article though I don’t quite think you interpreted Yuu correctly. What you have to understand is that Yuu is directly linked to Gi, in fact, one cannot have Yuu without Gi. In other words, courage in the face of moral recstitude is essential to the way of the warrior. Having courage is to always do what is right following a sense of justice/recstitude regardless of consequence. It’s somewhat Kanetian, in the sense that there is no room for interpretation or moral reasoning. Take it from a metaphor instead, there is no grey in a sea of black and white. One must die when dying is right. One must kill when killing is right. One must forgive when forgiving is right. One must show compassion when compassion is right. This is the way of the warrior. It is the warrior’s responsiblity to show courage and act according to Gi, and not to do so is to show a lack of Yuu.

    A parallell to the modern man, one might say that if your child is caught stealing the samuari/warriors way is to punish your child with absolute rectitude rather than make excuses for thier behaviour. In other words, to show courage in the face of a difficult decision one which might be painful to the family. However, it’s the right thing to do and so it must be done if one is to act in accordance with Yuu.

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