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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Birds soaring in alarm should suggest an ambush


more characteristic is the quality called fudoshin, or immobility of heart. That this existed in practice from an early era cannot be doubted, but its cultivation by a recognized system of training dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the introspective tenet (kwanshin-ho) of the Zen sect of Buddhism taught believers to divest themselves wholly of passion and emotion and to educate a mind unmoved by its environment, so that, in the storm and stress of battle, the bushi remains as calm and as self-possessed as in the quietude of the council chamber or the sacred stillness of the cloister. The crown of all his qualities was self-respect. He rated himself too high to descend to petty quarrels, or to make the acquisition of rank his purpose, or to have any regard for money.


As for tactics, individual prowess was the beginning and the end of all contests, and strategy consisted mainly of deceptions, surprises, and ambushes. There were, indeed, certain recognized principles derived from treatises compiled by Sung and 'Ng,* two Chinese generals of the third century A.D. These laid down that troops for offensive operations in the field must be twice as numerous as the enemy; those for investing a fortress should be to the garrison as ten to one, and those for escalade as five to one. Outflanking methods were always to be pursued against an adversary holding high ground, and the aim

should be to sever the communications of an army having a mountain or a river on its rear. When the enemy selected a position involving victory or death, he was to be held, not attacked, and when it was possible to surround a foe, one avenue of escape should always be left to him, since desperate men fight fiercely. In crossing a river, much space should separate the van from the rear of the crossing army, and an enemy crossing was not to be attacked until his forces had become well engaged in the operation. Birds soaring in alarm should suggest an ambush, and beasts breaking cover, an approaching attack. There was much spying. A soldier who could win the trust of the enemy, sojourn in his midst, and create dissensions in his camp, was called a hero.

*See Captain Calthrop's The Book of War.

Judged by this code of precepts, the old-time soldier of the East has been denounced by some critics as representing the lowest type of military ethics. But such a criticism is romantic. The secret-intelligence department of a twentieth-century army employs and creates opportunities just as zealously as did the disciples of Sung and 'Ng. It is not here that the defects in the bushi's ethics must be sought. The most prominent of those defects was indifference to the rights of the individual. Bushido taught a vassal to sacrifice his own interest and his own life on the altar of loyalty, but it did not teach a ruler to recognize and respect the rights of the ruled. It taught a wife to efface herself for her husband's sake, but it did not teach a husband any corresponding obligation towards a wife. In a word, it expounded the relation of the whole to its parts, but left unexpounded the relation of the parts to one another.

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