Precepts of Life From the Samurai

The precepts of life of the samurai were inherited by a good part of the martial artists. They illustrate principles that are valid to face enemies or difficult situations. It is worth knowing them.


The samurai were warriors who were trained not only in combat skills, but also gave great importance to their mental and spiritual education. They developed a series of life precepts, some of which are in the Bushido.

In addition, others have been adopted by some martial arts, adapting them to the philosophy of each of them. This is how today several of these martial arts contain guides to live, whose origin goes back to the samurai.

Karate, in particular, adopted a series of those precepts of life. Today it is contained in the Dojo Kun, a text that condenses these orientations. Although they are designed for martial arts, they are perfectly applicable in anyone’s life. Such precepts are the following.

“Learning with practice is like pushing a car uphill: if you loosen up, it will slide backwards”.

-Japanese proverb-

Respect and the first attack

The first of the precepts of life in this philosophy says that everything begins and ends in respect. This is the maximum value and should be lavished on others as well as oneself. If respect is not the guiding principle, chaos sets in.

The second precept says that “the first attack does not exist”. It refers to the fact that in the face of an aggression, the reaction must be to give time to the other so that he becomes aware of his bad deed and repents. All confrontation must be avoided, until it reaches the point of being essential by legitimate defense.

Justice and knowledge

Justice is born of a serene reflection in which each one must ask himself if what he does is correct. When the answer is affirmative, it is advisable to persist in the behavior or take it as an example.

Another of the precepts of life says: “Know yourself first and then others.” If you do not know yourself, you are always in danger. If you do not know others, it will be difficult to act in tune with them.

The spirit, one of the precepts of life

One of the essential life precepts points out that spiritual values ​​are above many others. There is no skill, no worthy technique, if it is not inspired by solid values ​​of the heart.

Complementing the above, there is a precept that says: “We must leave the mind in freedom.” This means letting it flow, learning to know it and interpreting it. Avoid the desire to control it, as it is useless, and cultivate it so that it freely goes where it belongs.

Neglect and cultivation

The continuous examination of our actions and prudence are fundamental to avoid calamities. On the other hand, it is important to cultivate with equal care all aspects that are part of our life: mind, body, spirit, technique, etc. The skills reinforce each other.

Another of the precepts of life of the samurai says that the commitments of growth and own culture are pacts that are made with oneself for life. For this reason, habits must be consolidated little by little, with the firm intention of maintaining them.

Diligence and the desire not to lose

It is not enough to apply the precepts of life in a random way and eventually. To lead a meaningful and peaceful existence it is necessary to print perseverance and diligence to that purpose. Lack of commitment never leads to success.

Samurai and martial artists also insist on the idea that rather than pretending to defeat others, what should be sought is not to lose. In any confrontation this is enough. It is enough to be out of reach of enemies.

Adaptation and confidence

Another of the precepts of life of the samurai says that before an enemy, or a difficulty, the most important quality is the adaptation. To what? To the way of being of that difficulty or that enemy. Not all obstacles are faced in the same way.

Likewise, they point out that not having overcome great problems in the past, there is a guarantee that they can be overcome in the present or the future. While experience is important, trust can be treacherous.

Prudence and being on guard

The samurai warriors point out, metaphorically, that when a person leaves their home they are exposed to many dangers. Thus, particularly when we move in unknown terrain, it is best to maintain a certain point of caution.

They also talk about being on guard. They recommend that this apply to the mind, but not to the body. The mind must star in attitude of constant attention. The body, on the other hand, must be relaxed, or else it will create wrong ideas in others.

Focus, move and be aware

To face the difficulties or the enemies it is necessary to maintain the balance, constantly updating the point of support. Go back to that physical and mental center to avoid remaining in a weak position. It is also important to know how to move: move forward, back or stay still. All this depends on each situation; It is an intelligence exercise.

Finally, the last of the samurai life precepts talks about the importance of consciousness. This is the one that directs all our acts and gives meaning to them. Not being conscious is like not living.

These precepts of life were designed basically for combat. But, as you see, they apply to any situation, especially if they represent a difficulty or a problem.