Budoshin – Spirit of the Warrior

The Spirit of a Martial Artist is as important as physical prowess, fighting ability, and martial skills.  It is the Spirit that propels the Martial Artist to greater heights when the physical body tires and is seemingly incapable of pushing forward. 

In addition to the inner strength to help push past physical limits, the character of the Martial Artist is of paramount importance. A Martial Artist that possesses near perfect character is one that is enlightened through their Martial Arts training and experience.  This person is one that is reliable, honest and embodies the true nature of a Martial Artist.

Budoshin describes the Spirit and character of a warrior.  It describes the Warrior’s heart.  In my experience, effective and correct Martial Arts training is targeted towards the mind, body, and Spirit of the practitioner. This creates harmony and balance for a person who is capable of great harm to apply their best judgement to control the outcome of a given conflict. 


The Principles of Budoshin


You must endure through hardships.  Nothing must be able to break your Spirit.  How do you endure? You endure through small battles at first.  Endure through your training and your excuses not to train.  Slowly and progressively your battles and your struggles become larger and more intense.  Endure through them all until your Spirit becomes steadfast and unwavering.  Endure in the seiza or horse stance until it is physically intolerable and then endure some more.


You must persevere during difficult pursuits.  Do not give up when the task becomes tough, boring, or laborious.  Enjoy the process, stick with it, embrace the hardship, and thrive despite it.  This will give you an iron will and make you unstoppable.  It will help you grow and outlast your demons and opponents.


Righteous Ethics

Always be early or on-time. Treat the task at hand with utmost importance.  No matter how trivial the task, value it and give it the respect that it deserves. The task can stem from your profession, your duty to your family or your household chores.  It doesn’t matter.  Maintain a laser-like focus that is free of distractions.  Be completely present in the moment and immerse yourself in it.  Strive to complete your task perfectly and constantly look for improvements in how you carry them out.  More important than improving your methods, is improving yourself.  Build your character and your skills.  Understand your weaknesses and limitations and work on these during every conscious moment.


How does a Martial Artist develop Budoshin?

As a Martial Artist, you must embrace Budoshin in all elements of yourself. It must infiltrate and permeate through every aspect of your being.  You must live it and strive to be present in every moment with perfect focus and attention.  No matter the task that is set for you, you must pursue it with ferocity and strive to complete it to the best of your ability.  The same approach must be applied to your Martial Arts training.

Be in the “here” and “now”

Budoshin commands perfect attention.  You must develop the ability to be completely present in every moment.  Our minds are either fixated on the past, lamenting on all the regrets of our life or fixed on the future where we live in fear of what may or may not happen.  Very rarely, do we live in the present moment and experience it for all that it has to offer.  This requires us to stop our incessant thinking and rather feel and experience our present moment with all our senses.  This mindfulness must also extend inwards thereby allowing ourselves to gain a deeper understanding of our emotions and connection with our current situation or circumstance.  This in-turn brings about a more fundamental understanding of who we are and unlocks new avenues of self-development and Spirituality.


Body Intelligence

Our bodies are not just muscle, bone, and blood.  Everything is interconnected through a complex network of nerves that make up our nervous system.  These neural pathways can adapt and grow to allow us to hone and develop new skills. This connection is powered through electrical currents and energy systems that seemingly extend beyond the physical. 

As warriors, we train our bodies for combat.  This requires skill, strength, speed, and stamina.  We have a good understanding of how our muscles are recruited to accomplish the task at hand and intuitively respond and flow to the demands of combat.  A warrior who is aware of Budoshin also trains his will. This warrior hones this energy of intention and will to take this physical body past its physical limits.  As physical limits are surpassed, the warrior develops new understanding of how the body and Spirit can act as one.  By bringing these aspects into unison, the warrior becomes exceedingly more complete and formidable.

Wisdom over Knowledge

As a Martial Artist, you may have come across this quote by Bruce Lee:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do.”

This quote encapsulates the essence of wisdom over knowledge. If we explore our minds, we may be able to recall millions of facts, some of which are useful and some which are not.  We have spent our entire lives acquiring a variety of codified knowledge.  This even includes our Martial Arts.  What good is this knowledge if we cannot apply it to benefit ourselves and others.  The mere acquisition of knowledge is useless until we find a suitable problem or challenge to apply it to.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge.  It is knowing when and how to use this knowledge to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle.  An example of this is the use of techniques that are learned in the dojo to the application of sparring.  We gain experience from sparring, learning which techniques work in which situations.  We apply our wisdom to actual combat which will be the determining factor as to whether we survive or not.  Without sparring, the techniques we have learned have little to no value for actual combat.

wisdom over knowledge

Live with Purpose

Strive to understand the purpose behind your every action.  Think, move, and act with intention to achieve the outcome that you envision.  This is achieved by reigning in the thoughts and emotions that bubble into your consciousness causing you internal strife.  By stopping this internal cognitive fidgeting and allowing your thoughts and emotions to travel freely without changing your internal state, you stop your knee-jerk reaction to them. With an unburdened mind, you become the master of your own path.  You are no longer swayed by regrets of the past and fear of the future. You live in harmony with yourself.

Constantly Evolve and Adapt

The only constant is change and the successful warrior is able to weather the tides of change by constantly adapting and reinventing themselves.  Just as a snake sheds its skin, free yourself of what is no longer useful and acquire new skills and wisdom, thereby emerging renewed.  To consistently evolve you must respond to change and be a perpetual learner.  This requires a degree of humility where you acknowledge that your existing skills and knowledge is no longer relevant nor sufficient.  By embracing this mindset, you are consistent in your preparation and remain ready for all of life’s challenges.


Final Thoughts

Budoshin is the Spirit of the Warrior.  It allows the warrior to remain steadfast, unrelenting, and formidable.  By embracing Budoshin, you transcend the common understanding of a warrior beyond the physical and strive for a higher purpose.  That purpose is to be useful.  Useful to yourself, your family, and your community.


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