The Iaido Journal  Apr 2002EJMAS Tips Jar


Copyright © Michael (Gennan) Alexanian 2002. All rights reserved.
As codified by Yamagei Yoko (cir.1685) Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Michigan Dojo

The Seven Principles of Bushido (paraphrased from Yamagei Yoko)

1. GI (Justice, Right Decision): Making correct decisions from the heart rather than from the mind.  To die when one must without thought or regret. 1. Right Decision : "I will always make correct decisions from the heart, rather than from the mind."
2. YUU (Bravery):  Rushing onto the point of a sword without hesitation if it would accomplish the greatest good.  2. Bravery : I will never hesitate to put my needs last, especially if it is best for the group."
3. JIN (Compassion, Benevolence):  Universal love toward mankind. The ability to exhibit compassion. 3. Compassion : "I will always show Universal Love to all mankind."
4. REI (Right Action):  Etiquette and the preservation of courtesy.  The Samurai believed that it was better to lose his life than to be impolite. 4. Right Action : "I will always be polite and courteous at all times."
5. MAKOTO (Truth, Sincerity):  Truthfulness 5. Truth : "I will always be truthful and sincere in everything I do."
6. MEIYO (Honor):  Glory without ego. 6. Honor : "I will always be honorable in thought, word and deed."
7. CHUUGI (Devotion):  Loyalty to one's Lord 7. Devotion : "I will always be loyal to my superiors and the members of my group."


 When I was formally commissioned by Tsumaki Seirin Motonobu.Soke (the current and 14th Headmaster of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu) and his son Tsumaki Kazuo Genwa.Sensei (my Sensei) to introduce this 405 year-old Koryu Bujutsu to North America for the first time in its history, I was suddenly faced with numerous challenges.  One of the most important ones, though, was to
create a set of conduct guidelines for the Dojo that would enable both Instructor and Deshi alike to represent Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu honorably both inside the Dojo and outside the Dojo.  As Miyamoto Musashi once said: "You must make your everyday stance your Dojo stance, and you must make your Dojo stance your everyday stance."

Further influencing the development of these guidelines was the fact that Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu has been designated by the government of Japan as "Mukei Bunkazai" (An Intangible Cultural Asset) and our Soke has been named "Ningen Kouhoku" (A Living National Treasure) by the Emperor.

Looking back at the "7 Principles of Bushido" (The Way of the Warrior) as codified by Yamagei Yoko in 1685, I saw the basic framework for what I was seeking to implement for our new organization.  In order to bring these "7 Principles" into a more understandable form for modern times, I chose to paraphrase the original precepts of Yamagei Yoko into a form which could be easily memorized by our Deshi and recited as a component of our "Hajimari Reishiki" (Opening Etiquette).  For example, the original principle of "Bravery" reads: "Rushing onto the point of a sword without hesitation if it would accomplish the greatest good".  I paraphrased this concept of 'self-sacrifice' to: "I will never hesitate to put my needs last, especially if it is best for the group".

What is important to remember at this juncture is that I am NOT claiming to be a 'paragon of virtue' or some sort of 'moral icon'...far from it.  I am just as human as the next person, with as many flaws and faults, to be sure.  If my Deshi and I are to faithfully, respectfully and sincerely represent Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu in all walks of life, there must be, perforce, a 'code', which governs the lives of Deshi and Instructor alike...simply and succinctly stated.

By providing this simple, seven principle conduct guide to the members of our Dojo, and by impressing upon them the great responsibility that comes with adhering to it, not only IN the Dojo, but in ALL aspects of their lives, it is our sincere hope that the Deshi of the Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Michigan Dojo will use it to become solid examples to others and, perhaps, make some small difference in the world as a whole.

Michael (Gennan) Alexanian is Branch Manager and Principal Instructor of the United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu, Michigan Dojo
TIJ Apr 2002