The Iaido Journal  Mar 2005
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The True Kendoka Disciplines Body and Soul Together

copyright © 2005 Hossein Karamyar, all rights reserved

The All Japan Kendo Federation defines the concept of kendo and the purpose of practicing kendo without going into details as to how a kendoka can reach these aims as far as cultivation of a vigorous spirit is concerned. I believe that man has a soul and a body, each of which is subject to its own pleasures and diseases. The Kendo way should attempt to develop both soul and body. Body is developed in the dojo by rigorous practice of the techniques. We usually content ourselves with development of the body and disregard self-development. However, if the two developments are not accomplished, the kendoka will not be perfect. For self-development or discipline, a kendoka should purge and purify him/herself of all evil traits and characters and adorn his soul with all forms of ethical and moral virtues.

At the time of its creation, the soul of man is like a clean tablet, devoid of all faculties or traits, whether good or evil. As one progresses through life, he develops faculties which are directly related to the way he lives, thinks and acts.

The most important faculties of the soul are:

The power of intelligence- angelic.
The power of anger- ferocious.
The power of desire-animalistic.
The power of imagination-demonic.

A body can be said to be healthy only when all its limbs and organs are healthy. Therefore, the kendoka who seeks to attain ultimate and perfect happiness, one must free himself/herself from the clutches of demonic and animal forces and tendencies and step on the ladder of ascension to the higher realms.

Every one of the four ethical virtues is to be practiced to a certain degree and within definite limits, transgression of which would transform a virtue into a vice. Deviation from moderation and the mean causes vice. This deviation towards either of the two extremes on each side of the mean has infinite degrees. Here we will mention only the two extremes for every moral virtue.                           

Deficiency: Moderation: Excess:
Stupidity wisdom slyness
Cowardice courage foolhardiness
Lethargy chastity rapaciousness
Submissiveness justice tyranny

Vices are divided according to the powers they are related to, namely, intellect, anger and passion.

A- Vice of intellect:
1- simple ignorance,
2- compound ignorance,
3- perplexity and doubt,
4- polytheism,
5- satanic or carnal temptation,
6- deceit and trickery.

B- Vice of anger:
1- fear,
2- lack of endurance and self-depreciation,
3- diffidence,
4- lack of sense of dignity,
5- hastiness,
6- ill-feeling towards Creator and His Creation,
7- anger,
8- violence,
9- ill-temper,
10- rancor,
11- self-conceit and vanity,
12- arrogance,
13- rebelliousness,
14- blindness to one’s faults,
15- fanaticism,
16- concealing the Truth,
17- callousness and cruelty.

C- Vice of passion:
1- love of the world,
2- love of wealth and riches,
3- affluence and opulence,
4- greed,
5- avarice,
6- miserliness,
7- illegitimate earning,
8- treachery,
9- licentiousness and profligacy,
10- delving in what is unlawful and absence matters.

D- Vice of intellect:
1- jealousy,
2- harassing and insulting others,
3- frightening and bothering others,
4- indifference to affairs of kendoka,
5- negligence in enjoining to good deeds and forbidding the evil acts,
6- unsociableness,
7- breaking ties with family and kinship,
8- undutiful to parents,
9- finding others’ faults and exposing their shortcomings and sins,
10- revealing others’ secrets,
11- rejoicing at another’s misfortune,
12- taunting and dispute,
13- making fun of others and ridiculing them,
14- joking,
15- backbiting,
16- lying,
17- simulation,
18- hypocrisy,
19- pride,
20- having elaborate and far-flung hopes and desires,
21- rebelliousness,
22- shamelessness,
23- persistence in sin,
24- aversion,
26- violence,
27- grief,
28- absence of trust in God.

Justice is of three kinds:
1- justice between the human being and God,
2- justice amongst human beings and
3- justice between the living and the dead.

Here, we will treat the second type of justice which a kendoka should observe in dealing with his kendo friend. Every kendoka has 30 obligations over his kendo friend and these obligations are to:

1- Forgive his mistakes.
2- Be merciful and kind when he is in a strange land.
3- Guard his secrets.
4- Give him hand when about to fall.
5- Accept his apology.
6- Discourage back-biting about him.
7- Persist in giving him good advice.
8- Treasure his friendship.
9- Fulfill his trust.
10- Visit him when he is ill.
11- Be with him at his death.
12- Accept his invitation and presents.
13- Return his favors in the same manner.
14- Thank him for his favor.
15- Be grateful for his assistance.
16- Protect his honor and property.
17- Help him meet his needs.
18- Make an effort to solve his problems.
19- Say to him: God bless you, when he sneezes.
20- Guide him to the thing he has lost.
21- Answer his greeting.
22- Take him at his word.
23- Accept his bestowals.
24- Confirm him if he swears to something.
25- Be kind and friendly towards him.
26- Not be unsympathetic and hostile.
27- Help him whenever he is unjust, or is a victim of unjustice.
28- Refrain from feeling bored or fed up of him.
29- Not forsake him in the midst of troubles.
30- Whatever good thing you like, you should also like it for your kendo friend, and whatever you dislike for yourself, also dislike for him/her.

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TIN Mar 2005