Perfection of character.
Seek perfection of character. This maxim is quoted by many practitioners; it is also widely misunderstood.
Seeking perfection of character implies an active, fluid, and lifelong pursuit of perfect character. Is perfection of character attainable? I’ve not met anyone with perfect character, but I’ve met many that strive daily to improve. We humans are fallible. we make mistakes. If we have the correct heart and mind, we learn from those mistakes and we move forward.
The Western interpretation of the Asian martial arts are sometimes skewed with fantasy. There are practitioners that cite the code/seven tenets of Bushido, yet they do not understand the meaning of that code. The Bushi or the Samurai do not exist any longer, and there are certainly not any non-Japanese Samurai in existence today. The tenets, however, are worthy goals to strive towards for all humankind, regardless of martial arts experience.
The seven commonly-accepted tenets or virtues of Bushido are: Benevolence 仁, Courage 勇, Honesty 誠, Honor 名誉, Loyalty 忠実, Respect 礼(禮), and Rectitude 義. These tenets were part of an oral history for generations, and were commonly accepted as the way of life and moral code for the warrior class of Japan.
So then, what happens when, in pursuit of following the code, we slip, or we fail to maintain one or more of the virtues? We wake up and start fresh. We SEEK perfection of character. We continue our pursuit of daily improvement. We forgive ourselves. We move forward. We do better.