updated 21 November 2016
Ryu Logo: Small, fast, and utterly fearless, the wolverine mates for life and is loyal without question. Pound-for-pound the fiercest fighting machine on the face of the planet, this small mammal will continue to fight back until either it, or its attacker, is dead or unable to continue. Although violence is always the path of last resort, Soke selected the new mascot based on our ethos that: "It's not the biggest or strongest who survive. It is the one with the strongest will". All students are authorized to wear the new golf shirts as follows: white (kyu/kub ranks), black (dan ranks), and red (trainers). Uniform regulations call for such wear at all semi-formal academy functions such as testing or luncheons.
We are open at our NEW location in Killdeer, North Dakota! Classes will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9 PM MT. Of course, you are welcome to attend any one or more of these available class slots. Existing students: for snow days and other closings, always check Mr. Merriman's facebook page for up-to-the-minute updates!
Dojo at the Killdeer Masonic Lodge! Classes are being held on Mondays & Wednesday evenings: Beginner's Class- 6-7 PM MT & Advanced Class 7-8 PM. Hope to see you there!
[L: The kids play Battle Tag while Shelbie Schmidt holds her own; R: Group Photo]
As you can see, the ranks continue to grow, albeit, with children between the ages of 4-9 making up the lion's share of the group. Regardless, everyone is working hard and standing tall as the original Missouri tree takes root and continues to grow in North Dakota. Please stop by and say, "Hi".
Well, it's been over a year and, Soke has been busy! Tending to the States Attorney's duties is definitely a FULL TIME job. Three more jury trial wins, protestors, Marsy's Law, legalized marijuana and a new presidential election, as well as writing his weekly editorial for the Dunn County Herald and doing the books for his wife's daycare center, takes a LOT of time. No rest for the wicked as they say! We have three new black belt candidates coming up for testing in February--the Schleppenbachs (Owen, Ivy and Coy) as well as battening down the hatches for the upcoming winter. We will try to do a better job of updating this page and keeping you up to speed. Happy Holidays, a great Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!
Soke is Dunn County States Attorney!
[Soke, New States Attorney ]
On January 1, 2015, Soke was sworn-in as the first new States Attorney for Dunn County in 22 years. First order of business, the first 6 jury trials in recent memory with the first felony assault conviction that locals could remember. The Breakfast Posse at Nana Lil's continues to be a valuable source of information for Soke and keeps him humble in his new job as the area continues to grow and crime soars. Good luck Soke and Congratulations!
[Soke's granddaughter Madalyn aka the Great Hamboni]
Soke's oldest grandchild Madalyn Nicole aka the "Great Hammboni" was not only the handbo's youngest (ever) yellow belt in Hap Ki Do (age 4) in 2014. Now, as she just turned 6, she is now the current cheerleader in the family having taken over the reins (or pom poms) from Aunt Samantha, Cousin Rachel, Great Aunts Linda & Lisa, Grandma Selena and, with her Mom April's guidance is a "flyer" on her competitive cheerleading team. For the uninitiated, the "flyer" is the girl who flies up to 30' in the air when she gets tossed by her spotters and base. In the photos listed above, she cranks out a routine for Mom, cheers with her team, poses with the current Missouri Teen USA (former Miss Sedalia) Christina Stratton and sits with Officer (Kanazuchi Kai Nidan) Weldon Young's K-9 partner in Crocker, Mo. Traveling in tall cotton, Maddie is the best and her doting grandparents look forward to her summer visit to North Dakota coming up in just a few weeks!
Mama Bear's Child Care, LLC. Mrs. Merriman' child care facility Mama Bear's is heading into its 4th year! If you are in need of child care (including drop-in on short notice) call (701) 764-7120, e-mail Mrs. Merriman [click here] or, come by the facility which is located at 700 Hilltop Dr., in Killdeer. She has raised virtually every Hap Ki Do and Ju Jitsu student that has ever darkened her husband's doorstep and, it is only fitting that the city of Killdeer and Dunn County recognized her devotion to children and unique skill set. Keep her (and her staff) in your prayers and wish her luck!
Guys, Come Train! The Centers for Disease Control's 2013 findings tell a sad story:
has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of death/injury in the
of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress.
than 50% of the “millennials” (aged 18 to 33) report staying awake at
night from stress, depression and anxiety disorders.
of American children have been medically diagnosed with either ADHD,
anxiety, depression or bipolar disease and are being medicated.
are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23% of all American
women in their 40s and 50s now taking antidepressants.
28% of our adults have a drinking problem.
more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal controlled
substances (marihuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and heroin).
Folks, this has to stop! And, it starts with the self confidence and security which martial arts discipline instills. Come Join Us!
Take a Look at Our New What's Up in Islam this Month Feature
FREE Tactical Shooting Class with 32 Hours of North Dakota POST Credits Completed!-- Please recall that 24-hours after applying for the North Dakota Peace Officers & Standards Training Certificates, Soke Merriman and his Rensheis got the good news--4 year certifications to teach the course that Renshei Simmons suggested last Winter. In short, Soke had noticed a large number of concealed-carry permits being issued in the Dunn County area. And, again, please remember that the basic concealed-carry course you take to obtain your permit is only the beginning. Combat shooting is a perishable skill requiring regular practice so that one is not a threat to themselves or innocent non-combatants. Accordingly, an introductory Tac I class was held in Dunn County, North Dakota, on June 11-15, 2013. Although attendance was light this go-around because the rains kept civilians from attending so they could plant their crops and law enforcement had several conflicts arise at the last minute; Rensheis Tony Casella and Daryl Simmons fascinated the attendees with their long gun and sidearm exploits.
[Top, L-R: Soke & the group, Renshei Simmons & SLR, Sidearm & SLR transition Drills;
Center: The Gene Sickler Ranch and part of the group after lunch during the SLR course;
Bottom: Soke & Renshei Simmons, Renshei Casella with Sgt. Jamie Huschka (Top Gun), SLR Course]
Soke Merriman started the course on June 11th at the dojo with classroom instruction on all 3 weapons platforms. On Day 2, Soke, Renshei Simmons, Renshei Casella and Shodan Marshall Kesseler set-up the 300 yard range at the Sickler ranch and the shooting began, in earnest, on June 12th with the gunfighting pistol course. Highway Patrol Sgt. Jamie Huschka "split the card" with his sidearm. a feat encouraged by Renshei Casella and duplicated by Soke. "Aim small, miss small" and "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" was graphically demonstrated as these shooters placed a piece of card perpendicular to the target backing (.011" thick) and split the card in half at over 8' away. The purpose of the drill is not to, necessarily, cut the card in two, but, rather, stay on the front sight of the weapon and aim at a minute target which, of course, then results in a grouping so tight that the tip of the little finger can cover it. Regardless, Soke and Sgt. Huschka will certainly be keeping their card as a trophy of the event. Congratulations!
But, on Friday, June 14th, North Dakota REALLY made it tough at the precision rifle course with winds that averaged 15 mph (gusting to over 22 mph) at 100% full effect as it blew directly across the range. Regardless, Sgt. Hushcka, Soke, Renshei Simmons and Renshei Casella each put their rounds into the cold bore and hostage targets at 100, 200 and 300 yards. Getting into the bubble, working natural point of aim and trigger press were amply demonstrated by the shooters and, any day shooting beats the heck out of a day doing anything else. The consensus was that the course would be broken back into its component parts and each weapon become a 3-5 day course of instruction. For any interested parties, the cost (in the future) will be $1,500 per day (for 3 of our instructors) + airfare + food/lodging. As Soke said, the "free" course was an introduction. In the future, the warrior earns his pay. And, don't forget Renshei Simmons' ammunition, gear and weapons.
A sample of Mr. Simmons' wares that he brought up from Oklahoma
to the North Dakota shooting class on June 11-15, 2013. The weapon
pictured is the new AR-10 built for Soke's future son-in-law.
Renshei Simmons specializes in custom-built weapons at his business
Deadstop in Skiatook, Oklahoma, but can deliver same to just about
anywhere. For more information, feel free to contact Mr. Simmons
at the Oklahoma dojo [click here].
Renshei Casella's Tactical Shooting Courses are now available! For more information on how to attend or to make arrangements to host a course of instruction, e-mail Mr. Merriman at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
The age-old question has been answered
At a time when a public school student can recite the definition of "sexual harassment" straight from his Student Handbook, we would like the opportunity to post pages 90-104 of our Student Notebook:
FOUNDATIONS OF HONOR
from Living the
By Forrest E. Morgan
Mine honour is my life; both grow in one;
Take honour from me, and my life is done.
The morning air was cool and damp as the two men eyed each other from across a meadow. The sun had risen barely an hour before, and the dawn mist hadn't yet burned off the glade. Thomas Mackay watched his adversary through reddened eyes. Beside him his second, Richard Carlton, drove a ramrod down the barrel of his pistol, seating the ball snugly against its powder charge. Thomas' cheeks burned again as he remembered the humiliation he'd been dealt the evening before--humiliation at the hands of Geoffrey Harrington, who now watched him from across the glade.
For a moment, he experienced again the satisfaction he had felt when he slapped the bastard with his gloves, but it was different now. After a sobering, sleepless night, his yearning for revenge had dulled. Thomas now struggled to contain his fear. "Ready! " Thomas jerked back to the present as Richard called to the men across the meadow. "We're ready," came the reply.
As the two groups began walking towards one another, the air was electrified. Horses snorted and shifted nervously. There was no other sound but that of the grass rustling beneath the boots. Thomas fought back a wave of nausea. The men came to about thirty paces of each other and stopped. The seconds met in the center, and each examined the other's pistol. Satisfied, they returned to their groups. Next, the mediator, a portly, well-dressed man, stepped forward and called out the rules in a loud, officious voice.
There was nothing complicated about this game of death. Each man was to stand still in the open and, on command, fire while the other fired on him. They would take one shot, and it would be done. That is, unless neither was seriously wounded nor felt his honor restored. In that case, the seconds would reload the weapons and they would start again.
Richard offered Thomas his pistol and, with his back to Geoffery and his friends, spoke softly. "Don't worry, lad. I saw his face. He's so scared, he couldn't hit you if you were standing on his boots. Just aim for the center of his body and squeeze the trigger.” Thomas tried to keep his hand from shaking as he reached for the gun. Richard winked reassuringly and walked away. Thomas saw now that all the officials, friends, and witnesses had moved safe-clear of the rivals, and a fresh wave of fear washed over him.
"Gentlemen," said the mediator, "this is the last chance either of you have to settle this dispute without violence. Can't we come to some amiable solution?" Thomas felt the gawkers begin to fidget, afraid of being cheated out of the promised spectacle of bloodshed. The mediator turned to Geoffrey, "Mr. Harrington!” Geoffrey, now pale and perspiring, hesitated. Thomas held his breath and prayed, but Geoffrey finally said, "Let's be on with it!"
"Mr. Mackay?," Thomas couldn't force any words from his throat. He felt total despair. With effort, he jutted out his chin and gave one decisive nod. "Very well, then. Gentlemen, cock your pistols!" Thomas struggled with the large iron hammer. It clicked. "Raise and aim!" He raised the pistol and tried desperately to steady the barrel, pointing at Geoffrey’s chest. His gut knotted in terror.
"Fire!" A crack echoed off both sides of the meadow. Thomas lost sight of Geoffrey as the gun's retort jerked his arm upward. But before he could pull it down, he felt a vicious kick. His body spun, and his face plunged into the wet grass. Instinctively, he doubled up and grasped his knee. Someone cried out; maybe it was Geoffrey. No, it was him. Pain raged up his leg. Soon, there were feet all around him. Hands were on him, trying to straighten his leg; he heard someone say something about him losing it. Thomas was in agony. Then, a pair of strong hands took his face and turned it upward. He opened his eyes and saw Richard's face close to his. "You did it, lad!" Richard said, beaming. "You killed Geoffrey Harrington. You may have lost your leg, but you have your honor."
This story is fictitious, but it typifies hundreds of cases that occurred
Honor is central to warriorship. It's a concept common to all warrior groups, regardless of the cultures in which they formed Whether you call it Bushido, The Code of Chivalry, or something different, all fighting men and women aspire to ethical code guiding the manner in which they practice the profession of arms and how they live their lives. Given the moral nature of these codes, they are compatible with most religions and are often mistaken for doctrines of religious origin. However, warrior honor is not based on religion.
Warriors aren't honorable because they fear a wrathful God, Warriors are honorable because it's a practical requirement of their profession. They are honorable because it's the most powerful way to live. Most of all, warriors are honorable because to be otherwise is cowardly!
Honor is essential among professional warriors. When hundreds or thousands of lives are at stake, superiors must know their subordinates are absolutely reliable. They must be able to trust those under their command to report information accurately, no matter how bad the news is. They must have their unfailing loyalty. Leaders must know their warriors will march into battle or command and die if necessary to defend their comrades, their groups, their societies, and their ideals.
The non-warrior elements of society also must rely on the honor of warriors, for warriors can be the most dangerous people in the world. As a group, they are the fittest and the best trainee fighters in any society, and they wield most of the weapons including those most sophisticated and destructive. Warriors without honor quickly become tyrants, as some third-world countries today demonstrate. Loyalty works from the bottom up. Although leaders and followers often espouse lofty ideals, in the heat of battle, warriors will always fight hardest to defend their comrades and most immediate organizational elements. The most effective leaders recognize this fact.
Whether you are a military member or not, personal honor is just as important. Studying the martial arts makes you stronger than your non-warrior peers, and you're much more capable of injuring those around you. Without the moral compass that honor provides, citizen-warriors can be dangerous indeed. Only honor separates the warriors from the thugs. Studying martial arts won't make you an honorable person; only you can do that. But once you understand the foundations of honor, you'll easily see the most honorable course of action in any situation. The rest is up to YOU!
In the West, men have dueled in the name of honor. Dueling was common among feudal Asian warriors as well, but they rarely attempted to rationalize it with honor.
BASIC TENETS OF HONOR
For Bushido, the three casualties of loyalty, Right Conduct, and Bravery are essential. We speak of the loyal warrior, the righteous warrior, and the valiant warrior, and it is he who is endowed with all three of these virtues who is a warrior of the highest class. From Budo Shoshinshu, by Daidoji Yuzan (17th Century) (Sadler, 1988, p. 33)
Honor is a term many people use but few understand. For most the word still conjures up scenes of duels or military exploits, but people are hard pressed to explain exactly what role honor plays in these adventures. In other words, they can usually describe situations in which someone did or didn't act honorably, but they can quite say why what that person did was or wasn't honorable.
Many people equate honor to honesty; if you tell the truth and pay your debts you're honorable. Others link honor to the reputations. If they are respected in their communities or peer groups, they feel their honor is intact. Mar that image, and they believe their honor has been damaged. Sometimes these folks wear honor on their sleeves as a badge of courage. "I am a man of honor. Cross me and I'll make you pay for it!" is a common theme among them.
Unfortunately, while some of these issues do relate to honor, others have nothing to do with it at all. Indeed, truth, self-restraint, loyalty, and the other virtues all are honorable. But practicing one or more of these ideals doesn't necessarily ensure one is a man or woman of honor--at least not in the warrior model. To recognize and practice warrior honor, or must understand it. Warrior honor is founded on three basic tenets:
It is forbidden that one should, acting disrespectful of The
It is forbidden that one should, acting disrespectful of TheWay of Heaven, attach little importance to the duties of his master and be overly attentive to his own business. From The Regulations of Imagawa Ryoshun, by Imagawa Sadayo (1325-1420) (Wilson, 1982, p. 60)
Obligation is the root of all warrior honor, and meeting one's obligations is the principle part of what makes a warrior honorable. I'm not talking about financial obligations alone. Nor am I referring specifically to obligations to perform duties assigned by one's boss or superiors, although both of these examples certainly apply. I'm talking about all the obligations inherent to human society. As John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
Life is a social contract. We all rely on others, no matter how independent we would like to think we are. And when someone helps us, provides a service, or does us a favor, we acquire a social and moral obligation to repay that person. That is duty. Most people are reasonably mindful about repaying favors, but warriors are particularly circumspect about recognizing and fulfilling their obligations. And among warrior societies, none are more diligent than the Japanese.
In Japanese, a word closely associated with honor is giri. Giri translates literally as "right reason." Generally speaking, it means duty, but it really means much more. Giri can best be defined as a moral obligation to fulfill one's duty. Its role in society involves a basic social system of debt and repayment.
Giri works like this: whenever someone does something for you, you assume an obligation to repay him. You carry this obligation as a burden until you relieve yourself of it by repaying the individual in a manner commensurate with what he did for you. The Japanese would say you carry his on. Fulfilling that obligation has different names in different cultures, but giri plays a crucial role in every warrior society. Capable leaders train, support, and look after their subordinates. In return, dutiful followers are obligated to obey, protect, and sacrifice for their superior. Honorable warriors look out for one another. Each covers his comrade's back and, in return, knows his back is covered if his compatriot is honorable. All are honor-bound to defend their lords, chieftains, generals, or nations that provide them shelter, employment, and stability.
Giri is the glue that binds warrior societies together. But, obligation without justice is hollow and meaningless. In fact, without justice, giri can be twisted into something ugly and dishonorable.
Here we discern the most cogent precept in the code of the
Here we discern the most cogent precept in the code of thesamurai. Nothing is more loathsome to him than underhanded dealings and crooked undertakings. From Bushido: The Soul of
Justice lies at the heart of honor, for no obligation fulfilled is honorable if the act of fulfilling it creates an injustice. I could wax philosophical here and ask what justice is or how one recognizes it but that would belabor this very basic principle and reduce its impact. Justice is simply knowing the difference between right and wrong and doing right.
In Budo Shoshinshu, Yuzan defines three degrees of doing right. He illustrates his point with a parable about a man who dies during a journey. Before leaving, the dead man had trusted one hundred ryo gold with his neighbor for safe keeping. No one else knew of this transaction, so the neighbor is left with the dilemma of whether or not to act honorably. Of course, taking the money is the dishonorable option, but Yuzan proposes there are varying levels of honor, depending on why the friend returns it.
The first and most honorable course of action is to return the gold to the dead man's family without ever considering theft. A second alternative would be to covet the money briefly, but then be overtaken with shame and return it. The third possibility is to consider keeping the money but decide against it for fear of being discovered by family, friends, or servants. All three situations result in the same outcome: fulfillment of giri and remaining honorable. However, each case reflects a different degree of moral conscience and, therefore, a different level of honor the individual has attained.
Actually, this example illustrates very well the three levels of character growth everyone passes through as his sense of honor develops. Early in life, we begin learning the difference between right and wrong by enjoying the positive results of doing right and experiencing the negative consequences of doing wrong. Parents, teachers, and even peers are quick to reward or punish us for our actions, based on their sense of justice. We come to weigh our prospective actions against the possible outcomes and choose those in which the results are positive or at least not so negative as to be unacceptable. As we grow and come to understand the difference between right and wrong, we develop a conscience or sense of shame. This leads us to weigh alternatives and avoid wrong actions even when they could go undiscovered; we choose to do right even when we see no outward negative consequence of doing wrong.
Finally, honor becomes a habit and we find ourselves not even considering wrong alternatives. On the other hand, some people never develop a sense of honor. I won't go into sociological causes, but whatever the reasons, they just don't develop a moral conscience. They go through life constrained only by the negative results they perceive for their actions; if they think they can get away with an evil deed, they do it with no remorse. These people are all the more dangerous if their judgment is faulty and they can't connect the inevitably self-destructive consequences with their heinous deeds. Fortunately for us all, people of this ilk are relatively few.
Actually, most of us are neither pillars of virtue nor mere derelicts; we're someplace in between. We struggle through every day, moving from situation to situation, weighing our alternatives, and trying to do right. Unfortunately, many problems don't have clear-cut right or wrong solutions. Too often, obligations conflict, and we find ourselves forced to default on one to meet another.
The famous Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, faced one of the greatest
moral dilemmas of his life just before the outbreak of the American Civil War.
Already recognized as one of the most talented officers in the U.S. Army, the
War Department asked him to take command of the U.S. Army of the
Now, more than a hundred years later, it's easy for us to say Lee made
the wrong choice. But it was a gut-wrenching decision for him, and he decided on
the basis of honor. No one has ever questioned that--not today, not in 1865.
Robert E. Lee was so respected by friend and foe alike, that when he surrendered
to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at
Although most of us will never have to decide which side to fight on during a war, conflicts of obligation are common for warriors. So it's imperative that we hone our sense of justice to guide us through life honorably. In each situation, we must weigh the alternatives on the scales of honor and choose which is most right. Above all, we should avoid becoming obligated to dishonorable people.
Obligation without justice can be dangerous and destructive. It’s a
common plight in the yakuza,
The yakuza is centuries old. They enforce an archaic code of conduct patterned after that of the samurai. Members are considered soldiers, and the code is fashioned around a rigid adherence to giri. Rank-and-file members are obligated to obey, support, and protect their leaders who, in turn, take care of them much as military leaders look after their troops. All of this sounds fine and honorable until you remember the very purpose of the organization--to raise money through crime.
Notice I was careful not to call the yakuza system a code of honor. There is no justice in crime, and compelling people to incriminate themselves through their own sense of obligation is manipulation at its worst. Therefore, before you step into a situation that may obligate you to someone, consider whether or not that individual is honorable. If he isn't, avoid accepting his help. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing the moral dilemma of being asked to dishonor yourself to meet your debt.
Remember, to be honorable you must always examine your obligations for justice. But simply recognizing your just obligations isn't enough; you must also have the courage to carry them out.
To see what is right and not to do it is to want of courage.--Confucius
Courage is the virtue most often associated with warriorship. But the profession of arms and a calling to The Martial Way demand it. Courage is an honorable quality; warriors are justly obligated to risk their lives fighting at their leaders' command. But the courage needed to live a life of honor is often different from the daring expected of warriors in battle.
Moral courage is the fortitude it takes to do what is right, no matter what the personal cost. While not as dramatic as physical bravery, it's the kind of courage most often called upon in every warrior's life.
We all face situations in which we see the right course of action, but taking it puts us in jeopardy. Perhaps when you were a child, you had to own up to having broken your neighbor’s window, or maybe you had to face your father after your high school prank ran amiss and damaged someone's property.
As adults we face similar situations, and our personal honor depends on whether we have the courage to face them responsibly. Have you ever had to explain to your boss why your sales quota, production schedule, or some other measure of performance was substandard? Did you face the challenge with truth and valor? How about that car you backed into in the parking lot? Did you find the owner and offer to make restitution? You may feel these issues are insignificant, but how you handle the small conflicts in life says a lot about your sense of honor.
Moral courage is a crucial requirement of warrior honor. When things go wrong in war, it's vital that leaders at all levels admit their mistakes and report circumstances to their superiors accurately. Given the correct information, leaders can alter strategies and change plans to salvage the situation, but handed information altered to whitewash incompetence, then more mistakes are made and lives lost. The Vietnam War provided classic examples of how misinformation within the chain of command results in combat ineffectiveness.
There's one more point to understand about courage: having it doesn't mean you don't feel fear. Fear is a natural human emotion, and honorable people experience it just as dishonorable people do. What determines your level of courage is how you handle fear. Warriors face it, get control of themselves, and do what must be done; cowards run.
As you see, honor means recognizing your obligations, then having the courage to do what is right. So where does reputation fit in, and how do you go about defending your honor? To consider these questions, let's look again at the story that was recited above. In summary, Thomas Mackay and Geoffery Harrington in a public confrontation in which Harrington did something to embarrass Makay. Publicly humiliated, Mackay felt his honor was damaged, and the only way he could restore it was by forcing Harrington to apologize or by defeating him in a duel. So, according to custom, Mackay challenged Harrington and killed him.
As was usually the case, neither of these men really wanted fight. They were compelled--compelled by convention and their peers. Had the confrontation occurred in private, they probably wouldn't have considered risking their lives over it. But since their egos had collided in public, each felt honor-bound to get satisfaction. To withdraw would have implied cowardice and resulted in the perception of dishonor.
But was this confrontation really an issue of honor? Well, let's examine it against the basic tenets. We'll start with courage: dueling as these men did, certainly took courage. Standing still, only yards from a man shooting at you, is a terrifying experience. Both men were scared, and rightfully so. Yet both kept their fear under control and did what they felt had to be done. However you feel about them, you can't deny they were courageous. What about justice? Well, Mackay believed his response to the humiliation Harrington had dealt him was just. After all, he was defending his honor, wasn't he?
I know what you're thinking--how can you determine whether Mackay's response served justice when I haven't told you what Harrington did to embarrass him? But does it really matter? Is there anything Harrington could have said or done that would have prevented Mackay from meeting a just obligation? Of course not. And since nothing Harrington could have done would have diminished Mackay's honor, how could there have been any justice in Mackay's killing him or putting his own life at risk? Regardless of what offense Harrington committed, neither man had justification for fighting to the death.
Finally, there's the question of obligation. As you recall, it's the very root of honor. So what obligation did Mackay have to fight? If you asked him, he'd probably tell you he was obligated to defend his reputation, his family name. No doubt, killing Harrington as he did enhanced his reputation in the community, given the social conventions of the day. But since his honor really wasn't at stake, the case for an obligation to kill is pretty weak. You see, like most duels over "honor," this really wasn't an issue of honor at all. It was an issue of face.
Fighting for honor was once a fairly common theme in many cultures, and it still is in some. But once examined, fights for honor almost always turn out to be fights to save face.
Face refers to one's reputation in the community or circle in which the individual must live or work. It is, in essence, prestige. In some cultures, face is very important. Citizens of certain Asian countries place great value in face when measuring a man's worth. Likewise, Middle Easterners and Latins consider face crucially important. Face is even more important in most warrior societies. Men and women of power tend to have great egos, and where ego is involved, pride in one's reputation is an inevitable by-product.
Face is closely tied to ego and often results in senseless fighting. Even so, face isn't necessarily bad, nor is it always wrong to fight for it. Leaders at all levels must command face. The moment a warrior loses the respect of his troops, effective command becomes impossible. Teachers must have face with students, parents with children, and police officers in the local community. In fact, all people in authority must have face with their subordinates to exert their leadership effectively.
With that in mind, you should always consider the role face plays in any conflict. When you find yourself in confrontation, there is usually more than one road to resolution. Of course, your goal is to get your way. You want to end the conflict as quickly as possible, getting the results you want. But too often, feeling the sting of being challenged, you decide you want more than what you originally set out for. You decide you want to teach your opponent a lesson. In essence, you want to take some face.
That is a very dangerous move if you're confronting a warrior. True warriors value honor above all. Nonetheless, they are still among the most dangerous people in society, and they'll usually defend their face fiercely. If you want to end the conflict without escalation, it's usually wise to protect your opponent’s face. I'm not telling you to back down or sacrifice your own face. Get your way, but find some small compromise that will save face for your opponent. Perhaps you can admit some small error on your part. Maybe he'll want to claim he misunderstood the issue early on, even though you know he didn't. Give him ground. Unless you want a fight and know you can win, let him have face. After all, one day you may need this warrior as an ally.
Yes, face is an important facet of warriorship, and no doubt you'll tight for it from time to time. Perhaps you'll be justified, but even if you are, don't think you are defending your honor. You are not. Face can be taken from you, so it's something you can fight to keep. On the other hand, honor depends solely on your commitment to meet your just obligations. Since only you can do that, no one can take honor from you.
You can have all the face in the world and still lose your honor. Conversely, you can remain honorable no matter what the world thinks of you. Forced to choose between these two conditions, the superior warrior will pick the latter.
YOUR OWN SENSE OF HONOR
With the basic tenets in hand, you understand The Way of honor and can separate issues of honor from those of face. But just understanding what honor is all about isn't enough; you must learn to apply The Way in your life.
Don't be discouraged if you’ve been dishonorable in the past; we all have. No living warrior is a saint. We've all failed in our obligations or turned our faces from justice at one time or another. But the past is behind us, it's a memory, it no longer exists. All we can do now is live as honorably as we can today. Each of us must cultivate and nurture our own sense of honor. We must practice the principles of obligation, justice, and courage until they become second nature.
To develop you own sense of honor, consciously examine each of your social interactions for how the tenets of honor pertain. Use this 3-step process to make honor a way of life:
DETERMINE YOUR OBLIGATION.
Every time you interact with someone, take a moment to examine the situation for obligation. Is that person doing something for you? If so, are you paying for his service in some way? Perhaps he's your friend and doesn't expect anything from you in return. Well, that doesn't relieve you of the giri to return his kindness. You carry his on. The fact that he expects nothing in return binds you all the more!
WEIGH THE SITUATION FOR JUSTICE.
Look for the right and wrong in every situation. Whenever you feel you've obligated yourself to someone, examine that circumstance for justice. What is the right thing to do? Usually, you'll see the right action is to fulfill giri and pay your debt. However, blind obligation is self destructive. Watch how your associates conduct their affairs, and avoid obligating yourself to dishonorable people. If you always watch people with an eye for justice, you'll usually know who the dishonorable ones are. Treat them courteously and deal with them as your duties demand, but keep them at arm's length and never turn your back. Most of all, never accept anything from them that would bind you. Carrying the on of a dishonorable man is a dangerous burden.
You can almost always see the right and wrong in any situation, but sometimes just obligations conflict. All too often, warriors end up carrying more obligations than they can meet. Worse yet, they find themselves, as General Lee did, obligated to conflicting causes. Obligations to your job may interfere with commitments to your family. Obligations to your employer may conflict with obligations to your community or society at large. In these cases it's especially important to step back and weigh the situation for justice. What is the right thing to do ?
In any case, don't whine and don't procrastinate. Like Lee, choose the most just course of action and do it without looking back. That takes courage.
The final step in developing honor is the easiest to explain but the hardest to apply. Too often, people see where their obligation lies and know the right thing to do, but they are afraid to do it. That is not the warrior's Way.
Warriorship is a profession of courage, a calling to valor--not just on
the battlefield but in all of life's conflicts. So steel your nerve and march
forward. Far better to fail in an honorable endeavor than to succeed in a
cowardly one. That is the Way of honor. That is the Way of the
December 21, 2106: Testing & Promotion Board for all ranks.
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God Bless and We Look Forward to Meeting You Soon!---Shodai Soke Pat J. Merriman, PhD
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