Top 10 Rules of the True Samurai

Rule 1: Education

Since samurai are above the other three classes of society (landowners, craftsmen and merchants) and are called upon to govern, it is imperative that they be well educated and have a broad knowledge of the causality of all things. To the present warrior illiteracy is inexcusable.


Rule 2. Sonship reverence

The samurai must understand that his parents gave him life and that he is part of their flesh and blood. No matter how capable, clever, eloquent and kind he is, none of this is worthwhile unless he treats his parents with reverence. The ancients said, "Seek a loyal subordinate among the respectful. For he who is unable to fulfill his filial duty to his parents is hardly likely to serve his master faithfully.

Rule 3: Morale

Most importantly, the samurai must never neglect martial spirit, at any time or under any circumstances. An old proverb says, "When you leave your home, behave as if you see the enemy."


Rule 4. Right and wrong

If a samurai knows how to do right and avoid wrong, he has gained Bushido. The code of right conduct states: first the samurai must feel shame because of the scorn of his family, servants and friends, then because of the scorn of acquaintances and others, and therefore do right and avoid wrong. Then it will become a habit.


Rule 5. Courage

Three qualities are very important in Bushido: loyalty, right behavior, and courage. Fearlessness is not only shown when the samurai puts on his armor and sets out into battle. Whether or not he possesses it can be seen even when he lives his daily life. For he who is born brave will be loyal to his lord and respectful to his parents. He will use his free time to study and perfect his martial arts. He will be wary of idleness and carefully spend every coin. The brave samurai keeps himself safe in the hope of performing an outstanding deed, and therefore he will moderate himself in food, wine, and infatuation with women in order to keep his body healthy and strong.


Rule 6: Etiquette and Manners

If a samurai does not observe proper etiquette and lacks manners that express respect for his lord or parent, he cannot be called living in accordance with Bushido. When he lies down, his feet should never be turned toward the lord for a moment. When he lays his spear on the ground, its point must also not be directed toward the lord. And if he hears talk of his lord, or himself speaks of him, he must immediately stand up if he is lying down, and straighten up if he is sitting, for this is the Way of the Samurai.


Rule 7. Managing the House

A samurai who finds that his relationship with his wife does not suit him convinces her with reasonable arguments. If her behavior does not change, in an emergency he may divorce her. If he keeps her as his wife but humiliates her in every way, such behavior is unworthy of a samurai.

Rule 8: Thriftiness

A serving samurai should always be thrifty so that he does not have to economize on household expenses. If he finds himself living beyond his means, he must change his spending quickly. But he must not be stingy. The ancients said that in China, stinginess is considered equal to cowardice.


Rule 9. Attitude towards the underlings

A samurai must never commit criminal and unjust acts against his charges. In other words, he must not demand more tribute than is customary from peasants or exhaust them by forced labor. He should not order artisans to do things and then refuse to pay for them. These people should always be treated with care.


Rule 10. Choice of friends

The samurai should choose among fellow servants distinguished by valor, sense of duty, wisdom and influence, one on whom he can really rely in case of need. It is undesirable to make close friends to whom he will be particularly attached and with whom he will prefer to eat, drink and travel. For if he finds in someone a kindred spirit, they will both easily begin to behave in a way that is unbecoming of their circle, addressing each other without ceremony. Such lack of dignity is unworthy of a samurai.


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