LAWS of Bushido

The Code of Bushido comes from the Japanese Samurai. However, it was brought to AIK by Mr. Lee A. W. Sprague! Mr. Sprague wasthe consumate Warrior and he taught us with such great passion and heart that the lessons became a part of us. These art prints are visual reminders to keep those lessons burning brightly within our hearts and minds!


Symbolism in the Whatever It Takes Art Print:


Bushido - Truth

Symbolism in the Truth Art Print:

In the Truth Art print, you will see two main components. The first is the Tiger. Tigers are a huge symbol in Kenpo, and in the Martial Arts, and are often used to represent strength and determination. However, I believe the Tiger can also represent Truth. This is because the Tiger must be attentive to its surroundings if it hopes to survive, as it searches for both safety and its prey. In this way, the Tiger can serve as an example to us, reminding us to constantly hunt out Truths from Falsehoods.

To contrast the focused face of the Tiger is its muddled reflection in the water beneath it. This water acts as the second component in the Art print. It is in the water that the Tiger can see the reflection of itself, as well as the world around it. However, this reflection is broken by the various ripples the water creates. Therefore, the water represents how easily truth can be distorted by our filters and life experiences. In searching for truth, we must be aware of how things reflect back at us through our experiences, so that we can separate what is true from the ripples and distortions. Only then may we continue to diligently seek out the truth.


Bushido - Bravery

Symbolism in the Bravery Art Print:

In the Bravery Art print, you will see a comparison of opposites.The sun and moon represent the light (Good) that can be found day or night, while the earth enshrouded in darkness (Evil) acknowledges that our world is not perfect, often times presenting situations that require bravery. True bravery can be found on the brightest day and during the darkest night. It does not hide in the face of necessary conflict nor does it compromise its value structure to avoid an uncomfortable moment. Bravery it is a necessary part of every person that pursues an honorable and respectable life.

The swords represent the violence and conflict a warrior faces when engaging in the noble defense of those they care for, those that deserve defending but are unable to defend themselves, or their personal value structure. In a world where evil can and does initiate brutality, it falls to venerable warriors to bravely meet that violence and destroy it. Thus, the sheaths beneath the swords represent an end to violence. It is just as important for the warrior to know when to cease violence so that peace can flourish. This should be the end goal of their courageous actions.


Bushido - Courtesy

Symbolism in the Courtesy Art Print:

In the Courtesy Art Print, you will see a teapot and a cup with cherry blossoms in it.

The teapot and cup are in reference to the Japanese tea ceremony, called Chanoyu, or Sadou in Japanese. The tea ceremony is a choreographic ritual, both in preparation and in serving. Preparing tea in this ceremony takes all one's concentration and patience. During the ceremony, the host considers the guests with every movement and gesture. From my perspective, the refining efforts given to the ceremonial motions capture the very essence of courtesy. The whole process is not about mechanically drinking tea; rather, it is about an artistic and tasteful preparation of a bowl of tea from one's heart. It was for this reason that I wanted to use a teapot to represent courtesy in the Bushido art prints.

The cup in the art print has a deeper meaning. The cherry blossom in the cup represents the fragility and the beauty of life. When interacting with others, especially those you care about, doing so in a courteous way will foster a good life.


Bushido - Compassion (Mercy)

Symbolism in the Compassion Art Print:

In the Compassion Art Print, you will see three cherry blossoms attached to a branch. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. Therefore, I used these three cherry blossoms, each at a different stage of development, to represent the duration of life from birth to death. Thus, just as in the Japanese culture, the cherry blossoms are a reminder that life can be overwhelmingly beautiful, yet also tragically short. The branch represents the companionship that binds us together in this life. By being compassionate both to ourselves and to each other, we can only hope to support our connections to and our companionship with one another in ways that will elevate and better us all.

Bushido - Sincerity


Symbolism in the Sincerity Art Print:

In the Sincerity Art Print, you will see a pen, a sword, and a red Gladiolus. When I was creating this piece, the classic saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” came to my mind. It is my belief that we should sincerely apply ourselves to any task we choose to take on. To do otherwise, to engage with any level of deceit, pretense, or hypocrisy, will only diminish the outcome and the person. For me, the pen represents those tasks that are inherently peaceful and productive, the scholar’s way. The way of the scholar should be mightier than the sword and reflected in how we live our lives. The sword, the way of the warrior, represents those times that we must set peace aside and engage in violence, lest all we care for and value perish. This is needed in rare, short term situations to prolong one’s life or the lives of those we care about. However, we should immerse ourselves in as little violence as is possible throughout our lives.

The Gladiolus flowers represent sincerity itself in the art print. I used a red Gladiolus because the color red represents many things: energy, strength, power, determination, passion, desire, willpower, and courage. All of these things should exist in any action being performed with sincerity. Should we be actively engaged in the way of the scholar or the way of the warrior, we should do so with sincerity in our hearts and our minds, so that our actions may leave an impact on those around us.

Bushido - Discernment


Symbolism in the Discernment Art Print:

In the Discernment Art Print, you will see a Samurai mask and a helmet. The masks that the Samurai used are known as Menpo. These were designed both to frighten enemies and to protect the warrior’s face. Special artisans would craft each mask to suit the personality and preferences of each Samurai.

The mask represents our need for discernment when dealing with people. As with the artisan, many people craft figurative masks to hide behind or to deceive those with whom they are interacting. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as forming a sense of self-protection from both perceived and real threats from others. Considering this, it takes time, effort, and oftentimes failed discernment before one gains any aptitude at being able to effectively judge another person and see past their masks. The helmet in the art print has both the ‘AIK’ and the ‘Friends and Family’ logo on it. The helmet represents our need for discernment when we find ourselves in situations that can be harmful to ourselves, or when we are aware of something negatively affecting those we care for. The helmet reminds us that we must always carry discernment in our minds to the best of our abilities, in order to make effective decisions that will result in the best possible outcome for everyone.

Bushido - Loyalty


Symbolism in the Loyalty Art Print:

In the Loyalty Art Print, you will see two Chinese Guardian Lions, often referred to as Foo Dogs by Western civilizations. These Lions are always presented in pairs, with the female representing yin and the male yang. Traditionally, they serve as a symbol of protection for those who keep them outside of their homes. I decided to use these Lions as a symbol for loyalty because I believe that we should not only protect and appreciate those we care about, but also our ethics. Values, such as those found in Bushido, form the framework of who we are. Furthermore, we should always remain loyal to these morals, tending to and maintaining them throughout our lives.

You will notice that the male and female lions are situated in different ways. The female lion is in the background, because symbolically, she loyally protects those inside the pride. She has her front paw resting on a playful cub, restraining him on his back. This represents the cycle of life from being a spunky child, to becoming a responsible adult who must look after the spunky child.

The male lion has his front paw on a type of ball, made from cloth and resembling a figure called, “The Flower of Life.” Symbolically, the male lion guards the external structure of the pride, providing protection and support from the outside. In accordance with this, I positioned the male lion as the focal point of the picture, as he represents the first line of defense. He is prepared to loyally fight for any dangers or threats an outside force may pose to his morals, and to those he treasures, as we should also be. Like the female lion, we should also seek to remain loyal to those closest to us within our own circle of friends and family.


Symbolism in the Until The Last Day Art Print:

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