Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Mussar of the Samurai (#1: Sincerity)

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Makoto - Sincerity

The theme of the 47th Annual AJJF Danzan Ryu Jujitsu Convention (1995) was makoto, which translates to "sincerity." Our AJJF Professors have shared their personal thoughts about the subject of makoto. Enjoy . . . . . .

Makoto is the Japanese word for "sincerity" or a "true (single) heart." The word consists of a composite Chinese pictograph that means "to become your word, to speak from your heart with your word fully in accord with your action, saying and doing the right thing at the right time regardless of living or dying." In the Kodenkan system of Judo this is a fundamental teaching that is taught in practically every facet of training from the time the student begins. Through years of Judo training, the mind and the body become one with each other and the clouds of doubt and fear are dispelled from the mind so that the individual can move freely with no restraints and become Makoto. It is a life-long journey down the path of the Way of Gentleness for one to be in accord with his or her true self.

Prof. Tom Jenkins

Sincerity speaks to motive. The root of sincerity is honesty. When we are honest with ourselves, we are honest with others, and we are able to speak and act truthfully. All too often, in misguided attempts to avoid embarrassment, or confrontation, we conceal or ignore the truth of a situation. While this may temporarily "save face" for someone, it only complicates our lives and leads to larger problems later on. We should heed Polonius' advice to his son:
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, line 78.

Sincerity uncomplicates our live, increases our reputation for integrity, and enhances our ability to deal effectively with others.

Prof. Pat Browne

While Polonius probably was not thinking about Jujitsu, his words still valuable. Sincerity, being true to oneself, is a key piece of being a successful martial artist. Any one can go through the motions; virtually anyone can master the physical components of the art. But there is a deeper aspect to the arts that goes beyond technique. Each art must be done fully and completely, with all your heart and spirit behind it: in short, the art must be "sincere." You must make each art your own; it is not enough to do an art just because your sensei tells you to. That may be sufficient for a beginner, but as you progress, you need to understand each art, accept it, make it part of yourself. Then, when you do an art, it is truly you doing it, not just a series of motions you do to please someone else. It is when an art becomes a part of you that it will feel natural. Only then can your arts be sincere; only then can heart and action be as one.

Prof. J.R. Musselman

Sincerity is but one character trait all Martial Artists must possess. Demonstrate sincerity in and out of the Dojo. Be sincere with your compliments. Mount people can tell the difference between sugar and saccharine. A blush is one thing that cannot be counterfeited.

Prof. Rory Rebmann

Webster defines sincerity as: "The state or quality of being sincere; honesty of purpose or character; freedom from hypocrisy, deceit or simulation." As martial artists, we often hear that we must be sincere in our approach to practice; we must be sincere in our dealings with others; we must be sincere in the way we interact with our training partners. It was one of the main points in the code of Bushido and in the European code of Chivalry; our sensei expect no less of us today.

There are times when being sincere also requires us to be courageous, another point in the "code of a warrior." Ultimately, one cannot discuss or act simply with sincerity without involving other points in our "code" such as loyalty, courage, and righteousness; noble virtues for all to adhere to much more so a warrior.

All those who practice martial arts are not warriors, and all warriors do not practice martial arts. Being a warrior comes from within, from the heart. Being a warrior requires one to travel a narrow rugged path which is not always easy and requires one to have strength of spirit, which supports each of the points in the "code." The way we meet the challenges in our various walks of life can be seen as the fire in which we temper our spirit. Without strength of spirit, the other martial virtues will only be shadows, to be dispelled by the slightest light.

In the Confucian classic The Doctrine of the Mean we find the following, "Sincerity is the Way of Heaven; making oneself sincere is the Way of man. Sincerity hits what is right without effort, and obtains (understanding) without thinking."

Taking the above into consideration, we can see that the practice of being a warrior, alluded to in Okazaki's Esoteric Principles is one method of reaching the state spoken of in the ancient classics as the "superior man," the shinjin.

Prof. Tom Ball

Beauty is as beauty does. There is nothing so appreciated as the beautiful personified qualities of honesty and sincerity given without restraint. Makoto is giving your word with honor, truth and purpose. Strive for these qualities without conceit and you will harmonize with nature, family and self.

Prof. Jane Carr

Being sincere in your pursuit of perfection in Jujitsu and in particular in the AJJF and its schools is a great virtue. This virtue, in martial arts, allows one to develop the need to focus, concentrate or have Shin to accomplish the arts we perform with safety and control. Your sincerity toward Jujitsu also allows you to understand some of the Esoteric Principles laid forth by Prof. Okazaki.

Sincerity of truthfulness is an attitude towards martial arts and Jujitsu in particular is a result of your attempt to achieve the perfection in character from our system. As you progress from the first course to the higher courses, you should be sincere in your attempt to learn and to understand the arts and their application. From the physical practice of the arts, one develops better control of oneself as is conveyed in the Esoteric Principles. As you gain better self-control, in the long run, you will be better able to control others and life situations.

Prof. John Congistre

True sincerity derives from self-knowledge and courage. If I truly know who I am and what I value, and stand firmly for what I believe, and have the courage to act on it, I can't help but be sincere. It is fear that produces insincerity: fear of confrontation, fear of rejection, fear of failure. As martial artists we strive to overcome our fears, to ignore the temptations to take the easy way out, to face challenges with pride, dignity, and confidence. Sincerity, then, is a goal worthy of determined pursuit and a quality to be greatly admired.

Prof. Don Cross

We have no way of knowing how anyone looks at this - I do. It is unfortunate that most people look at life as normal existence. We have a goal to make our system honorable to all people. And we shall carry Master Okazaki's' wish to everyone. Master Okazaki made note that honesty was one of the most important parts of the Esoteric Principles. I would like to expound upon that history; that he had given us a most complete system of Jujitsu. He gave us a look at ourselves to see if we are worthy. Then we should decide.

Senior Prof. Lamar Fisher

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American Judo & Jujitsu Federation

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