Extracts from 'Kyu Book' essays (unpublished ) by Sensei Ray Wood, edited by Gary
That which enriches human character and the essence of all
that distinguishes us from other animals, is not merely our
superior intelligence, or the power it gives us, but the special
ability we all posses to cultivate moral action.
Moral understanding cannot be enforced or achieved by training,
and discipline can do no more than bring about a very superficial
appearance of 'right' moral behaviour. In order to cultivate
morality, it is necessary to educate the individual. With
this achieved right behaviour evolves knowingly and freely
from the self, rather than being imposed by external rule
Morality, is simply the ability to distinguish between that
which is right and that that is wrong and the ability and/or
will to act accordingly. To determine that which is right
is one thing, but to be able to act in such a way is quite
another matter. Confucius wrote that a "lack of courage"
was simply the failure to act when a course of action was
seen to be right. The Japanese word "Bu", which
we translate and understand to mean "martial" originally
meant courage. Thus Budo does not mean "martial arts"
but actually means "the way of courage".
The thing that causes confusion between right and wrong is
rarely the inability to distinguish the difference, but rather
the calculation that is made with regard to profit and loss.
Hesitation arises directly out of the consideration you give
to self-interest. A moral person has perfect freedom to act
without restraints. Although aware of such factors, they are
nevertheless able to dismiss them and follow what is seen
to be right, regardless of the consequences. This is the fundamental
teaching of Japanese Budo - a simply matter of courage, not
A famous Japanese Samurai maxim was "to know and to
act as one". In other words, there is no separation between
the moment of knowing and the action taken, because no profit
and loss intervenes.
The saying "money is the root of all evil" attempts
to say the same thing, but misses the mark. What causes evil
is not the grasping of money itself, nor even power or some
other goal, but simply is the fundamental fact of calculation
over profit and loss. This does not mean that profit should
not come to you, but simply that this idea should not be allowed
to influence your actions and decisions. A scripture from
the bible reads - "let thine eye be single". This
means not to complicate your actions with the double confusion
of what is good or bad for you. A simple right or and wrong
is always clearly apparent when removed from context of what
is likely to bring the most favourable result for you.
By removing the shackles that restrict your course of action
you will gain a greater freedom as an individual. This gain
will behold a deeper clarity of perception that strives toward
the highest of human endeavour. All mechanical techniques,
theory, philosophy and teachings within Kyushindo Budo have
this single object in mind. Right thought brings right action,
and right action brings about right spiritual progress, evolving
to a complete inward change in the self. The path of the "Way"
reveals itself only to those who have the courage to walk
The virtue of martial discipline therefore lies in the fact
that it is an excellent means of awakening courage. But unless
such courage is directed by means of some form of philosophy
and correct moral doctrine, the whole process is a complete
waste of time. Physical courage is easy to develop and this
should only form the basis and starting point for asking further
questions on the subjects of general morality and social behaviour.
An important feature of any martial discipline is the very
fact that it attracts people of a violent and aggressive nature.
These people, who might otherwise never have come under the
influence and a deep moral teaching, discover their personality
changing as they continue training in a martial discipline.
Training leads to education. Teachers of Kyushindo Budo should
never forget this principle.
The first and most fundamental principle of Japanese martial
philosophy is that force and violence are always immoral.
This does not mean that force and violence are only justified
in certain circumstances, but they are never justified no
matter what the circumstances may be. The only permissible
(although still morally unjustifiable) conditions under which
an act of force or violence should occur are:
A. As fulfilment of duty. This was the condition under
which the majority of Japanese Samurai fought.
B. In protecting the weak. In which case such action,
although morally wrong, is undertaken in a non-selfish context.
C. In self-defence. In which case the skilled practitioner
has the moral responsibility to protect attackers from the
consequences of their own actions.
To fight simply for a sense of personal honour, from hatred,
from anger, to enforce your own will, or even to prove superiority
over others are all entirely outside the moral principles
of Budo. Contests fought under controlled conditions as part
of martial training have the objective of educating the loser,
and leading them toward a more correct way of study.
If you confront a violent attack with the idea of defeating
it with a violent action of your own, you descend to the same
low-level of morals as the attacker.