Bushido Karate Dojo


By Nigel Kersh

What is bushido?  Wikidpedia informs us that it was the code of honour established by the ancient Japanese samurai, or noble knights who ruled Japan from the Middle Ages until as recently as 150 years ago.  The samurai were hired mercenaries who were retained by wealthy lords or shogun to keep them in power and subdue the peasant population.  They were possibly some of the fiercest fighters known throughout the history of human warfare.

The bushido code developed from a set of survival techniques into a codex of deep philosophical principles that determined how the samurai would act in relation to their lords, their fellow samurai, and ultimately how they would behave in relation to each other.  This set of rules, according to which the samurai would live their lives, was intrinsically tied up with the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, which was the religion followed majority of the warrior samurai.

Many samurai did become bloodthirsty bandits who terrorized the local populations where they lived. However, the samurai were a much more diverse group who generally backed those feudal lords who could maintain them in the most lavish way.  Despite that, over the hundreds of years of their existence, they did develop a special code of behaviour not dissimilar to that of the legendary Arthurian knights of European history during the Middle Ages.

With the demise of feudal times, the samurai disbanded, but their skills and arts were maintained by samurai families who kept their traditions alive.  Those families maintained the martial skills of their ancestors along with the samurai honour code, or bushido, that bound the groups of samurai warriors in a single goal.  Bushido, literally "way of the warrior", included an awareness and practice of the following seven virtues:

  • Justice
  • Bravery
  • Benevolence
  • Politeness
  • Veracity
  • Honor
  • Loyalty

Ra’anana’s Bushido karate dojo or karate training school, adopted the name Bushido for two reasons.  First, it was the name of sensei Nigel Kersh's first karate school where he began training in karate in Scotland in the mid-1970s.  His instructor, sensei, or teacher, Donald MacInnes, is the Chairman of the Scottish Karate Association and he agreed to head the Israeli school as mentor.  Second, the bushido principles are as valid today as they were in the times of the ancient samurai.  We no longer need pay homage to feudal warlords, but in their stead we pledge our ultimate respect to our families, our country, and our fellow human beings.  As citizens of the Israeli state, we often see a lack of many of these basic principles of human dignity and we therefore coach our students to examine these virtues and make them part of their daily lives.

The Bushido Karate Dojo is a karate school unlike others in our area.  Many martial arts clubs in Israel are focused on competition – with members and teachers only interested in seeing who can win the most medals and trophies.  Our focus is not on competing with others to see who can be the best for some fleeting moment in time.  We train our students that their ultimate opponents are themselves.   We teach them that true growth and development is best nurtured through self actualization.  This philosophy is quite typically Eastern in its outlook, but its objectives, like those of the ancient samurai, are quite pertinent and useful for survival and success in our Western society.

One other aspect of our dojo is an encouragement to offer classes to adults in their middle years.  We believe that the benefits of karate training can provide dramatic returns to men and women in the 30 to 60 year age group, and beyond.  We also encourage parents to attend classes with their children.  However, a minimum age of 10 years is set for those children who train with their parents as we believe that younger children may not fully appreciate the bushido message and its philosophy.