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CORE PRINCIPLES:

A warrior maintains a certain state of mind. One element of this state of mind is awareness. Another is preparedness. To be prepared for battle at all times requires a commitment to overall fitness. Maintaining a life long overall fitness would be a trait of the samurai. One must be ready to do battle at any time and place. "keeping the sword sharp" didn't just refer to the katana.


THE WARRIOR MIND:

 

Maintaining a "Warrior's mind" may seem anachronistic in our modern world. Yet such a mind set may have tremendous value even in the absence of daily combat as experienced by a Samurai. There is plenty of conflict to deal with daily, whether it be heavy traffic, competitive business situations, or simply family disagreements. The warrior mind can be helpful in any situation.

 

THERE ARE FIVE KEY ELEMENTS TO FITNESS:

 

1.      STRENGTH

2.      FLEXIBILITY

3.      CARDIO-VASCULAR ENDURANCE

4.      COORDINATION (EYE-HAND, SOME TYPE OF SKILL)

5.      DIET

 

SOME IDEAS COME TO MIND:

 

         First is that belief is powerful. If our belief system is negative, our outcomes will tend to be negative. Henry ford said, "whether you believe you can, or can't, you're probably right."

 

         Our individual belief system, however it was developed (family, culture, peers) forms our paradigm, or mental map of reality. If our map is inaccurate, our belief system will be inaccurate. If our belief system is inaccurate, our outcomes will be poor.

 

         The most important element of our belief system is what we believe about ourselves. If we believe we aren't smart, we cannot act intelligently. If we believe we are weak, we can't act with strength. If we believe ourselves to be unlovable, we will live without love. If we believe there is no hope, we will not try to change. What we believe about ourselves can either be a source of tremendous power, or a crippling disease.

 

         What did a great samurai believe? (based on our lessons from the dojo, and the available literature from the era of the samurai.)

 

      Samurai believed that long, hard training would make them better fighters. Why train otherwise? Lesson: our actions can change our outcomes.

      Samurai believed, because they were taught, that whatever they perceived their limitations to be, the perception was wrong. They could perform, and achieve at a much higher level. Lesson: never give up too early or too easily - perceived limitations are not real.

      Closely related, samurai believed in absolute persistence. Samurai would have understood completely Churchills "never give in" speech. Lesson: apply a steadfast persistence in pursuit of worthwhile goals.

      Samurai trained in a culture that respected humility. There is the old Japanese saying "if a nail sticks out of the floor, get a hammer and pound it back down." samurai believed that being overly prideful is harmful to one's training. When we become proud, we no longer have a reason to train hard. Why train like a beginner when we're atop the mountain? Lesson: stay humble. Approach each training session with "beginner's mind," and an appropriate humility. "people with humility don't think less of themselves.. They just think of themselves less."

      Samurai believed that the highest form of self defense is a close relative of humility.. Deep courtesy. Lesson: be courteous to all.

      Samurai believed that they were 100% personally responsible for their actions, and the results that followed. Lesson: we are not victims - we are in charge of what happens to us, for good or ill.

      Samurai believed in courage. The samurai put the fear of death behind them, accepting its inevitability. Lesson: stop fearing death - then you are free to live. Stop fearing failure - then you are free to succeed.

      Samurai believed in service to others. I believe that the word "samurai" actually means "to serve." lesson: serving others gives life meaning it might not otherwise have.

      Samurai believed in the concept of "be here now." a conscious awareness of their surroundings was essential to survival. A samurai would never be caught day-dreaming by an enemy. Lesson: be authentic to, and aware of, each moment of life.

      Samurai believed that our being consisted of body, mind and spirit. Being a fully developed warrior meant investing time and training for each. Lesson: have, and utilize, a plan for growth in each of these areas.

      Samurai believed in controlling their emotions. Emotional control or lack thereof is paramount to succees and failure, life and death sometimes, and was an extremely important survival factor. Too many people are controlled by their feelings. Feelings aren't facts. A samurai had to assess the facts of every situation - what were the threats? Was there danger at hand? What tactics/strategies would work best given what was real? Lesson: Keep emotions in check. Act rationally. The origin and essence of the concept of "cool" was the ability to maintain a level head, an aura of calmness, and an ability to take quick and effective action when everyone around was befuddled and baffled by their emotional reactions to a situation.