Backgrounds, biographies, pictures and insights of Shimabuku's Isshin-Ryu

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Karate, is a compound word meaning 'empty hand.' Kara, (empty) can mean. 'as nothing in the hand' or can be related to the concept of 'mu shin.' Te means hand. There are three types of karate in a system. There is budo, or kumiai justsu which is directed at the study of karate for self defense and combat, kyogi which is karate practiced as sport, and buyo which is the use of karate as exercise or performance.

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Isshin-Ryu Practitioner (Karate-ka)

A person who studies Isshin-Ryu Karate. This document is the result of a collective effort of Isshin-Ryu practitioners who have collaborated to help write the following descriptions. It is dedicated and belongs to the many who have contributed in correspondence, conversation, training, and personal interviews with Tom Saunders in collaboration with Carol Womack, Jeff Perkins, A.J. Advincula, Sherman Harrill, Harry Smith, Victor Smith, Joe Jennings, Marilyn Fierro, Toby Cooling, Kichiro Shimabuku, Angi Uezu, Milledge Murphy, Bob Dockery and many more than can be listed here.

Those listed here are all experts who have dedicated their lives to the art and science of Isshin-Ryu Karate, and helped with this Glossary.

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Basic Moves

Karate encompasses many aspects of martial arts including those skills within of Tegumi, an ancient Okinawan grappling art. Beside the basic strikes, kicks and blocks are: Tuidi (Grabbing), Nage-Waza (Throws & Takedowns), Kansetsu-Waza (Joint-Locks), Shime-waza (Chokes & Strangles), Ne-Waza (Ground-Fighting), Gyakyu-waza (Counters) etc."

A set of basic strikes, kicks and blocks are an integrated part of karate called 'Kihon."  The exact number and types of techniques can vary from dojo to dojo, and from practice to practice. A solid understanding and proficiency of the basics are necessary for the practice of kata.

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Basic Kicks (Geri-waza)

Front snap kick, forty-five degree angle kick, crossover kick, side knife -foot kick, cat stance kick, back kick, side angle squat kick, front thrust kick, and knee kick.

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Punches (Uchi-waza)

Straight forward punches (right and left), upper punches. shuto or open hand strikes, hammer fist, and knuckle or finger punches, (nukite).

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Blocks (Uke-waza)

Upper, middle, and lower blocks with closed fists, or shuto hand blocks. Blocks are often practiced in conjunction with strikes.

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Kata refers to the forms or set sequencing of moves practiced in karate. Katas are "virtual libraries" handed down in karate systems. They contain patterns of techniques and individual techniques composed of the basic moves and patterns of execution for the 'basis' of a karate system.

Katas serve as models for the application of karate techniques in set patterns or models for the use of blocks, punches, grabs, joint locks, kicks, throws, and other basic fundamentals of karate application. Kata has many aspects related to the 'uru' or hidden parts of karate study.

Isshin-Ryu kata comes from various sources and other karate systems, except for the kata Sunsu which was developed by Tatsuo Shimabuku expressly as a representation of Isshin-Ryu Karate. The two primary karate systems from which Isshin-Ryu is derived are Shorin-Ryu, and GoJu-Ryu. Others are (many).


The term 'bunkai' refers to the taking apart or analysis of the techniques learned in a karate kata, as an application for self-defense. Bunkai is sometimes a set form of interpreting moves, usually governed by particular application of karate contained within kata. Techniques in a kata can have various interpretations applications, and levels of understanding, as can the bunkai which is to correspond to particular moves within a karate form.

The practice of bunkai, using applications for kata movement, may have been introduced to Okinawan Karate as early as the 1700's, and evolved in different ways. Techniques learned in the practice of bunkai include blocks, punches, grabs, kicks, throws, locks and others.

Practices in karate called 'kumai jutsu' or 'ippon kumite' (one point fighting) are used in learning bunkai and oyo. This seems to have a long tradition in Okinawan karate, thought to have been handed down from Ku Shanku, a Chinese Master. Bunkai has different levels of understanding. Various advanced, and complex techniques are practiced from interpretations of different kata, including weapons. Bunkai can be practiced with a partner, or alone.


Oyo is a term meaning application or putting to a particular use (Kodansha's Furigana Japanese Dictionary, 1999) Oyo, like bunkai is another term used to qualify moves garnered from kata, but this refers to another level of interpretation which does not always correlate with specific or generally known applications of a kata technique. Oyo can be techniques implicated according to a given condition.

Oyo, is best practiced with partners. There are levels of oyo like there are levels of bunkai. Oyo can range from the simple execution of karate application, to applying complex theories of kata, not necessarily related to particular moves within kata. Oyo stresses utility, while bunkai stresses analysis.

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Chinkuchi is a basic learned physical element used in the execution of karate moves and applied in kata, kumite, and generally applied in the execution of all karate techniques. Chinkuchi is an aspect of the 'uru' or hidden parts of karate.

Chinkuchi is a physical conditioning process and focus of mind and body, which employs the skeletal muscle system, sinew, connective tissue, and balance to hasten and strengthen the striking velocity or absorption of a karate blow. The physical act of employing chinkuchi in karate moves is to help enable the practitioner to brace himself for the impact of a blow, protect his joints from hyperextension, and add strength and speed to the technique.

Chinkuchi is both an offensive and defensive focus of the mind and body which adds physical strength to the economy of human motion. In Isshinryu karate the joints of the arms legs and hips are tightened and locked without totally extending the joints, which protects them from injury.

Chinkuchi can be applied to the entire body as with the practice of dynamic tension kata such as Sanchin, or learned to be applied into individual parts of the body. It is a mental and physical process which is learned in stages and degrees and can be applied with weapons.

The learning and application of chinkuchi in karate technique is viewed to be a vital asset in the application of karate for self defense. It adds power, and supplies added strength, and speed which is not seen in all karate systems. The application of chinkuchi in the execution of a karate technique is visible to those who practice this application. It is characterized by the audible snapping from kicks and punches in the execution of techniques by advanced practitioners. Techniques can be seen as being executed from a soft to hard form of delivery which prevents the joints from locking, but adds velocity to the blow in aggressive moves.

Chinkuchi is learned as an applied theory of karate directly related to many hard-soft theories of martial arts. It is meant to be applied as an integrated part of a technique. Many instructors use the aid of analogies and visualization to help apply chinkuchi to various applications. The process is best learned from instructors, and is learned mostly from example.

Chinkuchi is taught as part of the overall development of techniques in classical karate systems of Okinawa, such as Isshinryu, Go-ju, and others. Like applications in other martial arts may exist in whole or part and may be known by other names. Many practices in the application of classical karate may contribute to the development of chinkuchi in the karate-ka.

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Ki, also known as 'chi,' is the life force or vital energy engaged in the process of executing both mental and physical execution of karate techniques.  Ki is associated with the 'chakras' and most closely in karate with the 'tanden' (From Dantian in the Chinese) or lower solar plexus, which is the center of focus in karate technique. There are also 36 vital points listed from the ancient text the Bubishi. These points are considered as preferred targets, and correspond in line with the concept of meridians as they exist in acupuncture.

The flow of chi in the meridian system is focused along the neural, skeletal and vascular pathways. In the simplest terms, 36 vital points exist as vulnerable targets. These 36 vital points exit at the junctures of the skeletal system, everywhere there is a joint. This system includes vital organs of the body, were meridian lines also exist which are not aligned to the skeletal system.

It is not clear how the meridian system and the chakra system combine, but chi should be thought of as a connecting factor or force in the body.  The 36 vital points (kyusho) as listed in the Bubishi are:

1. Coronal Suture, 2. Frontal Fontanel, 3. Temples, 4. Eyes, 5. Ears, 6. Mastoid process, 7. Philtrum, 8. Chin (indentation), 9. Neck, both sides, 10. Throat /larnyx, 11. Supprasteranl fossa, 12. Supraclavicular fossa, 13. Posterior midline, 14. Seventh cervical vertebra, 15. Breast bone, 16. Xiphoid process, 17. Axilla (armpit), 18. Fourth Thoracic Vertebra, 19. First Lumbar Vertebra, 20. Tip of coccyx, 21. Below the umbilicus, 22. Testicles, and prostate nerve, 23. Seventh intercostal space, 24. Tip of eleventh rib, 25. Inginal region, 26. Biceps, lateral side, 27. Forearm, 28. Wrist crease, interior, 29. Wrist crease, anterior, 30. Hand between thumb and forefinger, 31. Hand, web between ring, and small finger, 32. Lower thigh, 33. Back of knees, 34. Ankle, inside, 35. Ankle, outside, 36. Foot, crese (Crease) between second and third metatarsophlengeal (metatarsophalangeal) joint.

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Forms of Ki/Chi are:

Primal or Original Chi. The location of this point is commonly associated as being located between the anus and sex glands. Call this organic chi which refers to the digestion with emphasis on the kidneys and other intake and outage systems of the body (2 chakras here:  Mudlahara chakra (1-base of spine) and swadishthana (2-genitals).

Gu-Chi- Is the energy derived from food that we absorb into our bodies. This refers to the energy inside the food itself. The location of the associated chakra is just below the navel. This is the most important of the areas for martial artists referred to as the 'tanden.' In karate it is at this point that focus is stressed for production of strength (3-Mani Pura Chakra).

Vital Energy Chi This is the Chi which is in regard to the energies of the respiratory system and breathing. This should be thought of as in reference to both stamina and the way breathing is used in meditations, hard and soft. The general location of this chakra is solar plexus around the diaphragm (According to Hinduism, the 3-Mani pura chakra is responsible for both the gu-chi and the vital energy chi).

Circulatory Chi This is the Chi you relate to the circulatory energy through the body. The place associated to this point is the heart (4-anahata chakra).

Jing Chi is associated with the bioelectrical systems of the body and is closely related to circulatory chi. This is the energy within Blood Chi This refers to the balance of the blood and digestion, and best thought of as the kind of energy that balances your metabolisms. Chakra: Thyroid or neck region but connected to all the systems (5-vishuda chakra).

Electromagnetic Chi This is the Chi associated with the aura, and the electromagnetic forces outside but related to the body. This chakra is associated as being between the eyes. (the third eye) (6-Adjna chakra) 

Wei-chi is thought to generate protective energy. These energies integrate with the other energies both in and outside the body. The general location of this chakra (7-Suhas re re chakra) is at the top of the head. It is at this point that the soul, mind. spirit and body are connected and associated to the prana or universal energy which interacts with our internal chi(s).

Wu chi is the source or void of emptiness from which all creation springs, or the essence of vital or primal energy.  Wu chi (Wu Ji) means limitless power.

Seika-no-itten refers to the vital point or ki center. Kokyu refers to the ability one has to use ki. Advanced practitioners can have well developed abilities in this area. Ki ,(chi) is the essence or source of psychic, andextra-physical powers associated with karate.

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Kumite is the practice of fighting or sparring. There are several types of kumite designed to enhance different fighting skills. Various types of rules, equipment and practices are used. Kumite is a basis for tournament competition in karate, as well as a tool for the development of self defense skills. Ippon kumite is one point sparring, Yakusoku is pre-arranged sparring. Ju Kumite is the use of other martial arts with karate. Many variations exist.  (Jiu kumite?)

The following is a copy of Master Kyan's advice, (A teacher of Tatsuo Shimabuku), on using karate as self defense.....

If the opponent is not powerful, he will be on the defensive and he will multiply his movements by retreating often. In this case you must only throw definite attacks. Then you must use punches and kicks both to make him retreat and to make your attack. When I take the initiative of the attack, I must watch out for unexpected counter-attacks.

I must not overestimate my force and my speed when I attack. An agile person will be able to counter-attack fast before I move by guessing the movements of my hands and feet.

Thus when attacking forcefully, always be wary of the counter-attack.

You must hide the technique that you are going to use from your opponent by concealing your own intent. Whatever the capability of your opponent you must neither go forward or back more than three steps.

By keeping your offensive or defensive technique hidden, and waiting until you can execute it within several steps, you will make it vastly more difficult for your opponent to stop it, or to draw you out for a counter.

At the moment of combat, you must take care to defend your center line from the eyes to the groin. You must take care to avoid punches between the eyes, kicks in the testicles and do not let yourself be grabbed. As a general rule it is better not to use too much force for defense. If you use too much force for blocks, every gesture will be slowed down, which runs the risk of losing an opportunity.

When you grasp an opponent's arm you must do it strongly and loosely at the same time, but the spirit must be strong, so that you can react adequately to your opponent's reaction."

Any punch must be above all fast. When it is blocked and deflected from its target it must continue on its path and strike anywhere. And, even if the attack did not have a strong impact, it will trouble your opponent. Then you must continue to do all possible punches and kicks without stopping at all, spontaneously and gradually.

It is not necessary to block your opponent's kicks with your hand. You can block them with your leg and throw a punch the same time. Even if your opponent falls, do not attack him to carelessly, as you may receive an unexpected attack.

When your opponent seizes your leg there is no danger if you put your foot on the ground very strongly. But you must take care not to fall when the ground is bad uneven.

When facing an opponent, take care not to play into his strategy. Some use their feet while punching, or pretend to grab a hand. Others use fists while pretending to throw a foot attack. React according to voice and noise. Never relax.

When you are facing several opponents you must never fight close in; above all, keep your distance. If one attacks my right, I move to the left. As soon as I have attacked the one facing me I attack the opponent behind me. It is the only good way.

Master Kyan advises, "These instructions are basic for combat, but they are only a fragment of them."

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Muchimi is described as a sticky heavy movement, like a willow. The analogy of the willow is to explain the extraordinary resilience of the Karate-ka to adversity. The willow tree survives against its natural adversity of wind, water, and freezing, with both grace and agility, as well as a strong foundation and roots.

The development of muchimi is much like the development of chinkuchi. In advanced Karate-ka the quality of muchimi is obvious to initiates. Essential to this quality are the skills of kakei, ma, and maai.

 Muchimi is directly related to balance and the role the muscle and skeletal system plays in strength and balance, in movement.

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Atifa is the skill to send the shock of a kick or punch all the way through the opponent's body. On the surface this may sound simple. In fact the skill of atifa can be very complex in understanding. Sending a shock wave through an opponent can be done in regard to the body's ki and vital striking points. This can involve the development of striking weapons which are meticulously developed by the Karate-ka.

Atifa can also be basic and simple for the karate practitioner. Strength, speed, and focus of striking techniques, especially the weapon can achieve atifa. It should be considered a skill basic to the practice of karate. Focus of ki on the weapon is vital to this application. This is to say the mental and physical skills become one. The flow of ki is mechanized in this process.

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Fesa refers to the speed of the techniques. One aspect of karate training is to develop techniques that attain speed by being delivered in a manner which creates the least resistance for the technique. This is a common goal of soft styles of martial arts such as Gigong (qigong?) and Tai Chi. It is also vital to the hard systems, but may be less obvious.

However in the hard systems of Okinawa the skill of chinkuchi enables fesa to be applied with a devastating result from kicks and punches without injury to the striker. This is why some physical parts of the body must be trained for impact. Otherwise fesa applied to a technique without the development of the other mentioned skills would probably result in injury for the attacker as bad or worse than that of the opponent.

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Kakie is the ability to touch and feel out an opponent. Sight distancing, Maai is a primary tool in kumite or combat but Kakie is used to determine hard/soft, mass, and strength aspects of an opponent in order to determine ways for defeating him. Usually, the first physical contact with another person can give the practitioner of kakie technique, the desired understanding of an opponent's power. This in turn can help a karate fighter employ the best strategy to combat the opponent.

Vital to this understanding is being able to change your technique to what is needed to defend from and defeat an opponent.  This skill is thought to have been developed from those Chinese boxing systems that employed 'sticky hands' types of applications.

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Maai and Ma

Maai describes the space that exists between you and your opponent. Ma refers to the movement within that distance to strike. "Ma involves advancing and retreating, meeting and departing." It is a way to use visualization to virtually employ an offensive and defensive targeting system as you fight. One such theory comes from the practice of Sanchin, where the circular motions of the kata represent imaginary cones for estimating ma and maai.

Learning to use the cones starts with imagining a three dimensional cone, with the round end about the areas of your own defensive targets, (chest mostly) and the point, at your opponent. The point of the cone is your aiming system for your targets. The round end of the cone, which is basically about your chest, lets you see defensively as strikes come into the zone of the defensive part of your cone. You learn to spot a technique just as it starts.

This makes blocking less difficult because you learn to mentally gauge your opponent's strikes and this helps your blocking, as well as timing. Learn to imagine your opponent's cone tip as the point where his strike will make contact. This gives you a realistic tool to gage the space between you and your opponent. It really improves your timing with practice.

You learn when the tips of the cones cross you are in the strike zone offensively and defensively. You learn to anticipate where the tip of the cone will strike. Using the cone as a defense can also help your offense. "It does not matter who strikes first in karate...."

"To strike is when the opportunity presents itself." This axiom is certainly one that applies to the theory of the cones, ma, and maai. Using the cones gives you a tool to virtually take what your opponent gives you as far as targets. You simply aim the tip of your cone at the first available target that comes in range, an appropriate strike should become self evident with practice. It works for multiple strikes, all kinds. It is very easy to gage targets this way. You just let your opponent give them to you. (This does not negate techniques that use other tools to penetrate into the strike zone.)

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Bogu is protective equipment used in kumite. Original bogu were borrowed from kendo, and were like a hard turtle shell covering the chest.

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Kotekitai, is a training and conditioning technique used to harden muscles for the absorption of blows in blocking techniques. Especially the forearms, the lower leg muscles, and other parts of the body are conditioned by repeated striking to harden muscular surfaces and desensitize the pain of absorbing or blocking strikes. This practice also helps develop a resistance to bruises, and swelling.

Various exercises are used to develop blocking and muscular hardness, in the development of conditioning. The practice of kotekitai tiki tai also aids in the development of chinkuchi. These exercises are usually done with partners but some conditioning can be done individually. Makiwara training is used to condition parts of the body, usually the knuckles, in addition to kotekitai.

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Mu Shin

Mushin means "no-mindedness" or "empty mind." Mushin enables the body to react without the distraction of thinking. Mu Shin does not dull the mind from empty-headedness, it is more a conscious removal process or focus of distracting thought as a prelude to action. The use of Mu shin should not interfere with any other applied theory in the practice of karate.

Shuchu-ryoku  means to concentrate or focus one's power at a given instant, at a given point  (target ). Kagami, or "mirror" means: to take warning or learn a lesson from.  These principles are integrated into the process of karate over time and practice. 

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Kamai (kamae)

Kamai refers to becoming composed or becoming ready for action.  Stances in karate like the Dragon's Tongue' stance is used as a kamai or composure stance. It represents the 'calm before the storm' and is symbolic of becoming ready for action.

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Zazen is a state contemplation or meditation to empty the mind of all thoughts and achieve a pure or total concentration. Zazen is often practiced as contemplation in karate before and after workout practices and before or after specific karate acts such as doing kata.

The practice of zazen helps develop other aspects of karate related to breathing, ki, chinkuchi, and mushin. The practice of zazen as a synergy with other aspects of karate enables practitioners to achieve many other skills which can be learned in the practice of the art. Zazen also has levels.

Zazen as meditation is, the practice akin to self-hypnosis, or deep relaxation therapy. The object in both levels of zazen practice is to clear the mind, and reach a state of deep physical and mental relaxation. Karate-ka use meditation in the same way as others outside martial arts, but reach very high levels of ability to apply this skill almost anywhere under many conditions.

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Katsu (Kappo)

Katsu or Kappo in regard to karate refers to healing arts.  Katsu also means victory.  Synonymous with the term katsu is kappo.  Modern healing arts in the dojo tend to be modern forms of First Aid and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (pulmonary resuscitation).  Individual skills and knowledge of healing arts varies from dojo to dojo. 

Related to healing arts known in martial arts are Shiatsu-te or Acupressure, Acupuncture (Acupressure, Acupuncture), various kinds of massage therapy, chiropractic, and Reiki, (laying on of hands). 

No Katsu means care to the head, Se Katsu is care to the back, Hon Katsu is care to the chest, Hanaji Tome is care for nose bleeding.  Many techniques of olden times have been forgotten since modern medicine replaced old method.

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Kiai simply means shout, or to shout. There are many audible variations in karate of how this is done.

There are multiple reasons to apply kiai to a karate technique. It can be used as an offensive tactic to distract or alarm an opponent. Kiai helps to tighten the muscles and area of the tanden and can help overcome a fighter's fear, as well as add strength to techniques. It can also alert others of trouble.

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Breathing and Breathing Techniques

Breath control is a major factor in every aspect of the synergy of karate practice. Katas contain breathing techniques as common parts of each move.. The kata Sanchin is commonly called a breathing kata (Ibuki breathing (or is it nogare breathing?)). Breath control is a relevant part of each karate move, for both offense and defensive tactics. Breath control is centered at the tanden, which is below the navel.

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Hara simply means the center or to center. The hara of the oriental compass is the fifth point in the center of north, south east, and west, which is in the middle. Hara can also refer to spatial orientation or gauging the balance in equating relationships to things and people. Hara can refer to behavior and can be used as a metaphoric or symbolic reference.  Hara also refers to balance in using karate and is related to the concept of centering between the states of yin and yang.

Relative to hara or balance is the tanden or point just below the navel which is thought to be the centering point for balance, and the center for ki.  However the center of physical balance may be thought of as a virtual foundation between the points of the shoulders and hips, thus forming a square, or foundation. the center of this foundation is at the point of the diaphragm.

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Grappling techniques have been developed by combining other martial arts with karate in modern times, and this is called ju-kumite. Karate kata contains many kinds of martial techniques.  It is believed that karate in part originated from a grappling art in Okinawa called Tegumi. 

Tegumi encompassed the skills of grabbing, throwing, takedowns, joint locks, groundwork, and counters. Moves in Okinawan karate kata that represent these kinds of techniques have their roots in Okinawan Tegumi. Tegumi practitioners incorporated (incorporated) from Chinese systems, kicks, blocks, and strikes to these other techniques. This would have been in the earliest times of karate development.  Use of the model above is a recent development.

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A Meijin is an advanced Karate-ka who has mastered karate as an art and science, exceeding the boundaries (Boundaries) of normal physical and mental capabilities.

The term "shingan" refers to a high state of attainment and development in the practice of Okinawa Karate. It is said to be the ability to see the heart, spirit, and mind work in conjunction as one. The transcendence and development of this state is the domain of the Meijin (1)

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Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang represent the symbolic 'Zen' theory of duality in the universe in regard to words when put together to attain a value in the thought of comparing or contrasting the two. Good/evil, male/female, hard/soft, etc. are all examples of duality, at rest. The theory of Yin and Yang 'in motion' means the duality becomes one and the same. This speaks to a concept of the nature of the universe. Many analogies are discussed with this model.

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Karate Code (Eight Precepts of Gokui)

Kambun is a term that refers to Chinese poetry written in a style to facilitate balance in life from the forces of yin and yang. For several centuries since the early development of Okinawan Karate the following phrases have served as applied axioms for the lives and karate applications of Okinawan Karate-Ka. The exact origins of these sayings is unknown but are in the Bubishi. ( The work resembles poetry of the ancient Chinese Philosopher, Lau, Zi, (Many others) and reflects the purpose of applying these axioms to life and action.)

 Gokui is known as 'the essential principles,' which refer to growth and understanding of the individual and the stages of development one transcends through in the practice of karate. The course of development in karate is an individual growth, we are as persons all different. Gokui does exist in all aspects of karate, and therefore the application of hara is always necessary.

There are two translations below, one widely used in Isshin-Ryu Karate, and another from "Karate-Do Kyohan" by Master Gichin Funakoshi.

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Isshin-Ryu Karate Code

1. A person's heart is the same as heaven and earth. 2. The blood circulating is the same as the Moon and sun. 3. The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft. 4. A person's unbalance is the same as a weight. 5. The body should be ale to change motion at any time. 6. The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself. 7. The eye must see every way. 8. The ear must hear in all directions.

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Funakoshi's version:

1. The mind is the same with heaven and earth. 2. The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the sun and moon. 3. The Law includes hardness and softness. 4. Act in accordance with time and change. 5. Techniques will occur when a void is found. 6. The 'Ma' requires advancing and retreating, separating and meeting. 7. The eyes do not miss even the slightest change. 8. The ears listen well in all directions.


This term refers to the moral code principals that developed among the samurai (military) class of Japan, on a basis of national tradition influenced by Zen and Confucianism. The first use of the term apparently occurred during the civil war period of the 16th century; its precise content varied historically as samurai standards evolved. Its one unchanging ideal was martial spirit, including athletic and military skills as well as fearless facing of the enemy in battle. Frugal living, kindness and honesty were also highly regarded. Like Confucianism, Bushido required filial piety; but, originating in the feudal system, it also held that supreme honour was to serve one's lord unto death. If these obligations conflicted, the samurai was bound by loyalty to his lord despite the suffering he might cause to his parents.

 The final rationalization of Bushido thought occurred during the Tokugawa period (17th century ff.), when Yamaga Soko (1622-85) equated the samurai with the Confucian "superior man" and taught that his essential function was to exemplify virtue to the lower classes. Without disregarding the basic Confucian virtue, benevolence, Soko emphasized the second virtue, righteousness, which he interpreted as "obligation" or "duty". This strict code of honour, affecting matters of life and death, demanded conscious choice and so fostered individual initiative while yet reasserting the obligations of loyalty and filial piety. Obedience to authority was stressed, but duty came first even if it entailed violation of statue law. In such an instance, the true samurai would prove his sincerity and expiate his crime against the government by subsequently taking his own life.

By mid-19th century, Bushido standards had become the general ideal, and the legal abolition of the samurai class in 1871 made Bushido even more the property of the entire nation. In the public educational system, with the emperor replacing the feudal lord as the object of loyalty and sacrifice, Bushido became the foundation of ethical training. As such, it contributed both to the rise of Japanese nationalism and to the strengthening of wartime civilian morale up to 1945.


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