The Linxx creed, “Linking practical defense and personal development” was authored in 1996 to reflect the underpinning philosophy of Linxx Academy. One designed to integrate the development of mind, body and spirit. To date, the Linxx creed has helped define who we are, but it has been more of an unspoken code defined by our culture, historical experience and training.
Recently, it’s become clear that our students would benefit from a more comprehensive philosophy that was not subject to interpretation and erosion over time. A set of principles by which every student can aspire to live by, on and off the mat. A code that defines who we are and who we aspire to become as martial artists.
The instituting of such core principles is especially important in today’s modern world where the environment from which our students are drawn is constantly changing. Values reinforced by society influence the expectations and attitudes of students toward their educational experiences. Consumer oriented students tend to view martial arts training as a commodity, which can have an adverse effect on our ability to instill the desired mindset and character of a true martial artist… or as George Washington was referred to as a “gentleman warrior”.
Such codes have existed among warriors for thousands of years. They have served to hold warriors to a higher ethical standard than was required by ordinary citizens. The code not only defined how warriors should interact with their own comrades, but also how warriors should treat other members of society. The code is designed to restrain the warrior and set boundaries on behavior. It distinguishes honorable acts from shameful acts and protects the warrior from regretful conduct.
Ethical codes are not limited to the sphere of conflict. We all fight battles--in our work, within our families, and abroad in the wider world. Each of us struggles every day to define and defend our sense of purpose and integrity, to justify our existence on the planet and to understand, if only within our own hearts, who we are and what we believe in. General George C. Marshall once said, “I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment…the soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his command and his country in the end.”
Furthermore, through their day-to-day actions, our students communicate symbolically to others about who they are as individuals and what Linxx Academy represents in terms of its values and purpose. Students of good character establish a climate where moral and ethical behavior is expected, encouraged, and rewarded. This positive climate creates a culture committed to living in a moral and ethical manner, thereby establishing the conditions for character development throughout our school.
As practitioners of the ancient art of Jiu-Jitsu, the Samurai left behind a philosophical roadmap for us to follow. A warrior code of chivalrous behavior know today as Bushido (usually translated as “Precepts of Knighthood” or “Way of the Warrior”). What today’s students may find most enlightening about Bushido is the emphasis on compassion, benevolence, and the other non-martial qualities of good character. Going forward, we will incorporate this timeless philosophy and implement the eight virtues of Bushido as pillars of our overarching philosophy, which is focused on developing the whole person. The eight virtues of Bushido include:
I. Rectitude or Justice
Bushido refers not only to martial rectitude, but to personal rectitude: Rectitude or Justice, is the strongest virtue of Bushido. A well-known samurai defines it this way: ‘Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering.’ Another speaks of it in the following terms: ‘Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and stature. Without bones the head cannot rest on top of the spine, nor hands move nor do feet stand. So without Rectitude neither talent nor learning can make the human frame into a samurai.’
Bushido distinguishes between bravery and courage: Courage is worthy of being counted among virtues only if it’s exercised in the cause of Righteousness and Rectitude. In his Analects, Confucius says: ‘Perceiving what is right and doing it not reveals a lack of Courage.’ In short, ‘Courage is doing what is right.’
III. Benevolence or Mercy
A man vested with the power to command and/or the power to kill was expected to demonstrate equally extraordinary powers of benevolence and mercy: Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, are traits of Benevolence, the highest attribute of the human soul.
Discerning the difference between submissiveness and politeness can be difficult for casual visitors to Japan, but for the warrior, courtesy is rooted in benevolence: Courtesy and good manners have been noticed by every foreign tourist as distinctive Japanese traits. However, politeness should be the expression of a benevolent regard for the feelings of others. It’s a poor virtue if it’s motivated only by a fear of offending good taste. In its highest form Politeness approaches love.
V. Honesty and Sincerity
True samurai, according to some historians, disdained money, believing that “men must grudge money, for riches hinder wisdom.” Thus children of high-ranking samurai were raised to believe that talking about money showed poor taste. Bushido encouraged frugality, not for economic reasons so much as for the exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood, and simplicity was a value of the warrior class.
Though Bushido deals with the profession of soldiering, it is equally concerned with non-martial behavior. The sense of Honor, a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth, characterized the samurai. He was born and bred to value the duties and privileges of his profession. Fear of disgrace hung like a sword over the head of every samurai. To take offense at slight provocation was ridiculed as ‘short-tempered.’ As the popular adage put it: ‘True patience means bearing the unbearable.’
Economic reality has dealt a blow to organizational loyalty around the world. Nonetheless, true men remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted: Loyalty to a superior was the most distinctive virtue of the feudal era. Personal fidelity exists among all sorts of men. A gang of pickpockets swears allegiance to its leader. But only in the code of chivalrous Honor does Loyalty assume paramount importance.
VIII. Character and Self-Control
Bushido teaches that we should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification. Finally, it is an obligation to teach our children moral standards through the model of our own behavior. The first objective of samurai education was to build Character. The subtler faculties of practicality, intelligence, and dialectics were less important.