Kenpo Seniors

L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior


Kenpo Seniors Blog - July to October 2020: Bravery #1

The Bushido Value for this testing cycle in Bravery. Of all the Bushido Values, Bravery requires the least surface explanation because you’re already very familiar with it. You see images of physical courage in the movies you watch, in memes celebrating the bravery of our armed servicemen or police. Thoughts of physical bravery in the face of an attacker are among the main reasons you signed up for martial arts lessons here at Tucson’s Greatest Martial Arts academy (™). 

But that’s not the only kind of Bravery. Bravery is doing the hard things, even though you feel risk or fear. Here are six examples of people who were extremely brave, though outside of the traditional action and combat context most people associate with Bravery.


Malala Yousafzai (link to -- at the age of 17, Malala became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She received this reward for her advocating for women’s rights and girls’ education in Pakistan, despite warnings not to from and being shot by Taliban forces. She continues to speak out despite the death threats.

China’s Social Media Protesters -- social media and Internet access are closely monitored and strongly restricted in China. Despite this, social justice workers use coded language and mocking images to share information and call the government out on current and past excesses. Though this risks (and sometimes means) arrests, beatings and death, the protesters continue and have forced some progress towards a more just society. 

Scott Bonner (link to is in charge of the Ferguson, Missouri Public Library. During the riots, when the city offices closed, he kept the library open as a safe space for the community. When the schools closed for safety reasons, he invited children and educators to come to the library to continue their education. In areas where police and other city officials wouldn’t go, he kept the library open.

People in Recovery -- it can be easy to dismiss alcoholics and other types of addicts as somehow worse people than the rest of us. It’s true that while controlled by their addiction, addicts certainly do worse things than many other people. But to make the decision to accept the hard fact of what they have become, and then take on the extremely difficult work of fighting and overcoming that addiction -- that’s bravery at a level many soldiers and police never have to face. The same is true of people recovering from a major mental or physical trauma. The pain they know is coming, then face daily, is a terrifying prospect. And yet they meet that fear head-on. 

The Dalai Lama (link to -- they say you’re not truly awesome until somebody’s made a rule because of something you did. The Dalai Lama has annoyed the Chinese Government so much they passed a law making it illegal to be reincarnated without permission. (This is because the Dalai Lama is considered the reincarnated spirit of the same being, moving through a new body with each life). His Holiness lives in exile, away from the physical dangers he would face if he still lived in occupied Tibet. He doesn’t have to show physical bravery. But he does show the simple courage required to speak what he considers truth every day, despite the fact that it means living far from home and never being able to return. 

As you train in your kenpo during this training cycle, we want you to think about Bravery in the context of real life and the real world. Bravery in combat is expected of warriors, and again what probably brought you to AIK in the first place. But martial arts training is about personal evolution. Do you have the Bravery to identify and admit the things you don’t like about yourself, or even the things you do like but hold you back from being the person you want to be? Do you have the intestinal fortitude to make apologies to people you have wronged, and risk looking foolish as you learn new ways? Are you courageous enough to do the hard things that will make your life, and the lives of those you care about, better?

That’s what Bravery is about, and the code of modern Bushido. 

For a little extra Bushido Bravery, check out this video of Malala being interviewed by Jon Stewart. If you listen to her words, you’ll find out you’re even brave enough to cry a little. 

Whatever It Takes - Until The Last Day