The way of the warrior

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Bushidō 武士道

Bushido literally "the way of the warrior”, is a Japanese word for the way of the samurai life, loosely similar to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code stressing frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. Bushido was also influenced by Shinto and Zen Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the samurai to be tempered by wisdom and serenity.

The Bushidō code is typified by seven virtues:

  • Rectitude 義, gi

  • Courage 勇氣, yūki

  • Benevolence 仁, jin

  • Respect 禮, rei

  • Honesty 誠, makoto

  • Honor 名誉, meiyo

  • Loyalty 忠義, chūgi

Rectitude 義, Gi

Gi is to do the right thing.

Rectitude, also known as righteousness and/or justice is an attribute that implies that a person's actions are justified. Basically, everyone knows the different between right and wrong. Rectitude is the right. Rectitude is choosing good over evil.

Some decisions are pretty simple. Lying, cheating, stealing, back-stabbing…there is very little gray in those issues. They’re black and white. But what about things that are not so clear? With these decisions, you need to take your time, think it through, consider the consequences of your actions, to help you make the right decision.

The samurai use what’s known as 7 breaths. In Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, it says, “One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths…With an intense, fresh and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgments within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side.”

Living with rectitude means making decisions that may be more difficult, or may be short-term less satisfying, or may not be as popular, but these will all be decisions that you know in your heart are the right ones.

Choosing to live with moral rectitude is a path towards self-respect. And while it might feel like it is restraining some behavior, it’s actually freeing. It’s a path towards living a guilt-free life. Any stress and guilt that you are putting on yourself with whatever immoral behavior you are participating in, will all be eliminated. It will be like a weight off of your shoulders.

Rectitude 義, Gi

  1. Write what rectitude means in your own words.


  1. Give an example of how you have made a good or right decision.




  1. Explain what using “7 breaths” means, how it is used and a situation it can be used for.






Advanced: Read these two quotes and on your own paper tell what each of them mean to you.

‘Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to die when to die is right, to strike when to strike is right.’

‘Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and stature. Without bones the head cannot rest on top of the spine, nor hands move nor feet stand. So without Rectitude neither talent nor learning can make the human frame into a samurai.’

Courage 勇氣, yūki

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