Loyalty: The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Bushido
September 23, 2006 · 9:10pm EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
Loyalty or chuusei in Japanese is the quality of sticking with someone or something when there is pressure to leave.

It means standing by a friend when he or she is having problems, and intervening to help when necessary, which is not the same as doing what your friend wants. Sometimes it means doing what they don't want. It means stopping a friend from doing something wrong or harmful. It means being grateful when the one being helped is you. Loyalty is also being a supporter or encourager. It means that if you are a part of a group, then you will be willing to stand up and be counted among the people who are a part of that group. Different forms of this kind of loyalty are patriotism, school spirit, religious faith, even some team sports.

For a budoka it is especially important, because the strength of our loyalty or the lack of it is how we are judged by those who do not know Budo. Just like all the other virtues, it takes great courage to practice Loyalty. If we waver in our commitment to training, or allow someone to talk negatively about our art or about Budo, especially someone who doesn't know what they are talking about, if we listen to insults to our teacher without sticking up for them, or allow mocking, taunting or derision from the uneducated, then by our silence we give agreement to what is said. That does not mean that you should get into an argument over it, but with polite firmness, you let the facts be known. You stand up for your ryu as you would stand up for yourself.

This is why it is important to ask yourself, to whom do I owe my loyalty? Beware of offering your loyalty to the wrong person, group or cause. You are judged by the company you keep.

You owe a debt of loyalty to many people already - to your family, certainly to your parents, to your friends, if you are faithful; to your country, of course and also to your teacher, your dojo, your ryu, and to Budo. These things have shaped your character, and continue to help to build you into honorable young men and women, and for that you owe your gratitude, your appreciation and your loyalty. It is what sets you apart, and makes you different, stronger and nobler than those around you. But it must be acknowledged, at least to yourself, for it to be real, because loyalty often begins with gratitude.

Budo is not about what you can get out of it, but what you can offer. The striving for excellence that is inherent in the ongoing development of a Budoka is what forges the character of each practitioner, which is then given back to Budo for the good of the art.

When you practice loyalty, courage, honor, any of the virtues, you return to Budo what it has first given you. In this way, you are practicing loyalty not only to your ryu, but to yourself.

"This above all, to thine own self be true."


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