I have been a practitioner of the martial arts for twenty+ years. My very first exposure to what would later become a lifelong passion was the pilot episode of the short-live program called The Master starring Lee Van Cleef and the famous Sho Kosugi. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the central plot was that of a war veteran named John Peter McAllister who stayed in Japan at the end of the war and became the first westerner initiated into the ways of the ninja. He later learns that he has a daughter in the United States and leaves the ninja clan to find her. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over to well with the clan so they send Okasa (Sho Kosugi) after him. Along the way, McAllister meets up with Max Keller, a young man with a strong sense of justice and a good heart but leaps before he thinks. McAllister takes on the young Max as an apprentice and together they search for the Master’s daughter while solving a new problem each week. Think Knight Rider, only with ninja instead of a talking car.
After that first episode, I was hooked. At first I was just enthralled with the physical abilities of what they could do. The leaping, the fighting, the weapons, and the invisibility skills rocked my 6-7 year-old mind. As I got older, I tried to find more and more information on the martial arts. There weren’t any dojo or teachers near me, and if there were we were too poor to afford the tuition. The best I could do was try to find books at the school library and watch movies. Mr. Miyagi, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Master Splinter became my sensei as I pressed rewind and slo-mo trying to copy and learn the moves they displayed on film.
As I learned the physical moves, I began to listen to and understand the ethics and principles that guided the martial arts. When I was younger, I was focused on the fighting. But now, as I reached a more developed state of mind, I began to understand the philosophy, moral principles, and idea of honor that a student of the martial arts should strive to perfect. Being a martial artist wasn’t so much about beating the guy next to you—it was about trying to conquer the demons within, which is the hardest battle anyone ever has to face. The arts are certainly meant to be used to defend yourself against an outside opponent. But those battles are very few and far between compared to the daily battles we fight against our own anger, fear, and selfishness.
Of this, there can be no dispute. Almost every martial arts school has a code of conduct or oath that is repeated before and sometimes after the class. Martial warriors such as the ninja and the samurai each had a list of precepts that guided their practice and daily life. Karate has such a list, consisting of twenty precepts. Now is where this article becomes political. It is for these reasons that I, nor can ANY martial artist, in good conscience and in adhering to the code of the martial arts can support Donald Trump as president, or even as a human being. He is the antithesis of all that a martial artist should strive for. He lacks almost every single quality that the arts demand of its practitioners and of what instructors what expect from their students. To support him is to turn your back on the precepts and principles that are part of the martial arts journey to self-improvement. It’s easy for me to just throw these things out there and “point my finger,” so I will break it down. Let’s look at the codes of conduct and moral behavior that we as martial artists strive to follow and see if Trump can be seen as an example of what we claim to honor.
We will start with the code of Bushi-Do, the way of the warrior, also known as the code of the Samurai. It consists of eight principles that the samurai were supposed to adhere to truly be considered samurai. Let’s see how well Trump lives up to the code.
1.) Righteousness (義 gi)
“Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice and integrity. Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.”
Trump can be said to be committed to his decision making. But his decisions are made from an ego driven personality that believes that he has all the answers and know more than the actual experts. He knows more than the generals about ISIS, he is a very stable genius, etc. He has been accused on numerous occasions of fraud. He is a serial adulterer with each wife having been “the other woman” during the previous marriage. He may be committed to his decisions, but his decisions are selfish and dishonest in many facets of his life.
2.) Heroic Courage (勇 yū)
“Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully and wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.”
If making risky decisions in business can be considered courage, than I will say that Trump has much courage in the business world. He has failed repeatedly, yet continues to push forward trying new things. But is this “heroic” courage? Does he possess the fearlessness of a warrior? In the Vietnam era, he repeatedly sought medical deferments to keep from fighting. He almost always avoids confrontation when he is face to face with his opponent. He instead resorts to Twitter to issue his challenges, scathing remarks, and complaints. And he frequently whines about how things are “unfair.”
3.) Benevolence, Compassion (仁 jin)
“Through intense training and hard work, the true warrior becomes quick and strong. They are not as most people. They develop a power that must be used for good. They have compassion. They help their fellow men at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.”
Trump does not have a record of going out of his way to help other people. The new tax code may be a small example of supposedly helping the little guy, but the code also provides huge cuts to the super-wealthy. So can this really be considered compassion? He used his charities resources to purchase artwork of himself instead of sending the money to a cause that needed it. During the terror attacks on London, instead of offering words of encouragement, he attacked the leadership of the mayor of London. He boasted that during the financial crisis of 2008 that he wanted it to happen because he made a lot of money. What does that say about an individual who wants people to lose their homes so that he can further line his overflowing pockets? His track record shows that in his mind it is Donald first and last with no one in between.
4.) Respect (礼 rei)
“True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but also by their dealings with others. The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.”
Trump has insulted his opponents on numerous occasions. He said that women accusing him of sexual harassment weren’t attractive enough for him to harass. He said that John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he doesn’t like guys who were captured. He told a woman on his reality show that her being on her knees was a nice picture. He insulted another man by trying to fuck his wife, moving on her like she was a bitch. The list goes on, but I need room for the other tenets he has violated.
5.) Integrity (誠 makoto)
“When warriors say that they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they will do. They do not have to 'give their word.' They do not have to 'promise.' Speaking and doing are the same action.”
In this, I concede that Trump is actually trying to fulfill campaign promises that he made to his constituents. Except for his remarks that the LGBTQ community that he would be their friend and that they couldn’t have a better friend than Donald Trump. He has also lied to the black community that he was their friend when said that there were very fine people in the white supremacist community. In his personal life and business dealings, he has lied and cheated on multiple occasions.
6.) Honour (名誉 meiyo)
“Warriors have only one judge of honor and character, and this is themselves. Decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom they truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.”
Trump certainly doesn’t answer to anyone but himself—his vulgarity and vanity have made that very apparent. The decisions he has made and how he has carried them out have already been discussed. And they do show who he truly is. Only the willfully blind, or those that share his lack of values, still continue to ignore his lack of character.
7.) Duty and Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)
“Warriors are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said, and all of the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all of those in their care. To everyone that they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.”
Donald does not take responsibility for anything he does. He has not honored his business dealings. He has not honored his vows to any of his wives. There is no commitment to his family. If he cannot honor them, how can he honor anybody?
8.) Self-Control (自制 jisei)
Trump tweets every thought that comes into his head. He impulsively insults his political opponents with derisive “nicknames.” He can’t keep exercise self-control to even respect his wife. I could go on, but it would simply be a rehashing of things already discussed in the previous tenets.
Bushi-Do isn’t the only code of the martial arts that Trump stands in violation of. In the next chapter of this blog, I will breakdown the twenty precepts of karate set forth by Funakoshi Gichin and demonstrate how Donald violates the way of the karateka. Thanks for reading. Osu!