The Samurai were a warrior class whose ethos was built on the warriors that came before them. Confusion law helped define the code of ethics of the warrior class but the overriding characteristic of the “Warrior” was that of someone who, through discipline and self-sacrifice, rises to become a man beyond reproach.
China’s Lao Tsu, in this timeless statement, points directly to what it means to us, and the world, to be such a “warrior.”
“If you want to awaken all of humanity then awaken yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is your own self-transformation.”
While we can no longer don armor and raise our swords, we can seek perfection and inspire others in our running. Let me explain how to be a “Samurai Runner”.
Bushido “The Way of the Warrior” teachers its followers to behave with a moral standard that is absolute. The Samurai would not waiver from doing “the right thing” and a lot of that resolve came from a rock solid knowledge of what “the right thing” was.
Morality, in one of its highest forms, means consideration for those around us. This can manifest itself in our day-to-day politeness. The Japanese people even now value courtesy and good manners and know as chivalry taught the Europeans that being a gentleman is defined by how you much emphasis you put on the comfort of others.
Being a “gentleman” means not ignoring those around us and, I believe, it extends to acknowledging those yet to come, this includes our future selves. It wouldn’t be polite or considerate to feed our guests something that was “bad for them”, yet individually we often eat junk and over indulge without any consideration for our future selves. It is hard to see the direct link between today’s actions and connect them to our future selves but if we are honest and truly virtuous we can’t pretend that this link isn’t real.
The first rule of being a "Samurai Runner" is to be as kind to ourselves (present and future), as nice as we are to those around us. The discipline and sacrifice it takes to be a “great” runner are not “difficult” when we do it for ourselves knowing this also the benefits others. The "Samurai Runner" works on themselves for the obtainment of self, to the the benefit of others. For them, it is a simple matter of being nice to themselves, as nice as they are on a daily basis to those that they live with and love.
It is not the Samurai way to tell anybody to do anything. They lead quietly by example. We too as "good" runners are modeling our behavior for others to follow when we get up at 5:00AM for our morning run or we refuse that second offer of a “night out”. And we, like the Samurai, do it for “the right” reasons. The Samurai does nothing to garner praise or acknowledge from others and neither should we. Those needy and reliant on the praise and attention of others will never stay with running, a sport that demands much more of us. Besides, “Virtue Signaling” is the antithesis of what it means to be a Samurai.
In the Samurai’s heyday they compromised about 10% of the total Japanese population, but always punched above their weight. They did this by tirelessly focusing on making themselves “civilized.” Working on themselves in regards to education and physical fitness throughout their lives. Bruce Lee knew of this and lived it. He famously stated: “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
Following “The Way of the Warrior” does not mean being perfect but striving for perfection. And knowing that in doing this, half the battle is already won.
I’ll continue with this in our next blog post.