HOME >  Feature Articles >  【Series of Budo Essay vol.8】Confidence and arrogance

Those two are somehow similar but are definitely different in the way how the result should be, as confidence is essentially required to win, on the contrary arrogance leads to loose. In the other words, confidence is used to inspire oneself to ensure the victory only after all the necessary preparation have done and it is called as arrogance to became confident to win without making all the necessary preparation. Or in the other way, because of this arrogance, one ignore to make all the necessary preparation to win.

This is the difference between the two.

For the case of War between countries or fight between individuals, no matter how big the scale is, above two make the result clearly different. Referring to the war, the best examples are Japan-Russia War and the World War Second. During Japan-Russia War, Japan used confidence and Japan used arrogance for the later which caused a miserable result.

For the former case, Japan had to face the critical phase that such a small country right after started modernizing its nation had to fight against one of the most powerful big country in the world as Russia. It was like a fight of a small boy against a professional wrestler, indeed. The leaders of Japan at that time, they all knew and understood the situation quite well, made almost all the possible effort including gathering the fond in U.K., purchasing the equipment from bullets to ships from abroad, made diplomatic activity to get sympathy from the world etc.

What they aimed was not to be defeated too miserably because they never expected any small chance that Japan might win that war. And as the last thing they should have done, they used “confidence” to try to inspire the soldiers and people. During the war and till the end of the war, those leaders kept doing all tries not to be defeated even after they started winning the battles, because they properly could estimate the fundamental potential difference between Japan and Russia. They kept having a nightmare that Japan should be defeated by the end.

It was the World War Second that the leaders of Japan behaved completely differently. Considering the scale of economy which is the most important key factor to carry on the war, Japan at that time is just so big as to fight against China only. Even it was too much and there was no clear prospect to win that war. In spite of this fact, those leaders believed that they could win against U.S.A. and U.K. with a strong “confidence”, they called their arrogance so as “confidence”.

Because they believed that Japan could surely win with their supreme fighting spirits, they did not make even basically necessary efforts to win the war especially in ground force. They did not make precise logistics plan which normal people think essential to carry on the war. They put divisions unit of their army so easily onto the stupidly planned projects and lost several ten thousands soldiers for nothing in once. They never learned from their loss and had repeated their stupid mistakes from the beginning till the end in an exactly same way. They thought they can get soldiers for 10 cents per person so easily.  This ten cents means a post card which demands a person to join the military. So, they did not think about consumption of the power force. Such leaders started that hopeless war and killed several millions people all over in Asia till it ended miserably for Japan.

At the end of the stage of the war, they asked Soviet Union which already had decided to start fight against Japan according to the YARUTA POTSUDAM agreement, which is a breach of the peace agreement between Japan and Soviet Union bounded before World War Second and still valid at that time, to arrange the ending war settlement to U.S.A. What stupid people we had as leaders of Japan at that period. They could not or even did not try to see and guess what is happening around.

We still have this same situation even now. The leaders of Japan after the war, they repeatedly carried out the huge financial support to Soviet Union, now Russia, to develop Siberia with expectation they would return Japan’s northern islands which were occupied by Soviet Union after the war. Every time when Soviet Union needs big investment they promised Japan to return those islands someday but it never came true and surely will not come true in the future.

All the European politics or even normal citizens, they know what Soviet Union or Russia is. They expanded their territory by invading the other nations’ land by force and it is their fundamental nation’s policy to expand their territory by force and never return such treasure which they gained by paying their blood. Except leaders in Japan, there exist no such stupid leaders in the world who believe that Russia will return their occupied territory in peaceful way.

Coming back to the original topic, considering those two war cases, the point is how correctly the leaders of Japan could estimate oneself and the others strength and potential.

For Bujutsu in old day but not in the later days when people do not have to worry about death which occurs as the result of losing fight/match, it was really essential point to estimate one’s own strength at each moment to survive from the battle. It was also quite important to survive to estimate the other’s strength correctly and as quickly as possible considering the case one has to be involved the fight immediately to meet the unfamiliar guy.

For such purpose, Bujutsu-ka always tries to estimate the other’s skill level even from a small attitude which he shows unconsciously, like simple stepping and turning or just from the way he speaks. They spent huge effort to brush up this ability same as fighting technique training.

In case they found the opponent is stronger than him, they tried to avoid the fight with all means. If they can’t escape from the battle, they still tried every means not to loose, whatever methods including not fairy one. At that period they did not have the fairness in their mind. The concept of fairness started after when they did not have to worry about death which occurs as result of losing match. They never fight without confidence and that is the difference between Bujutsu and sports.

If a person thinks

“I will fight with all my power and I will leave the result to God’s hand.”

He is no more a Bujutsu-ka but just a sport man. For Bujutsu-ka, to win the fight is only one thing he should consider and he should try all the means before and till the end of the battle. That is Bujutsu. They never give away the result to the others including God. The famous Samurai called MIYAMOTO Musashi said “ I respect God but I never rely upon him.”

There are some interesting examples to explain how important this attitude is to estimate others level as not only as a Bujutsu-ka but also in a normal daily life. One example, which I encountered 5 years ago.

I happened to know one Karate teacher via internet with age of middle of forty and quite active to teach his students by his own developed unique method. I watched his website and was quite impressed in his teaching way. I can say it is an innovation. Many of his teaching are totally different than ordinal and traditional way from gripping and hitting/kicking. I had been also busy for several years to develop my own Aiki Jutsu teaching way to aim more people can realize Aiki Jutsu, and I thought we have the same intention. So, I wrote my impression frankly to him and sent my big compliment to his sincere teaching way.

So we started our corresponding. After 1-2 months, when I wrote an article to introduce my teaching way to HIDEN journal, he wrote to me his impression which surprised me a lot. By publishing that article I expected to receive some strong criticism from existing Aiki Jutsu teachers who do not seriously teach their students on purpose or simple they do not have enough Know-How. But that criticism I received from this Karate teacher first. He never had seen my performance nor even did not watch my website and he wrote I am too arrogant to claim that I discovered innovational teaching way. If he saw my performance and made such criticism, I surely took it seriously. But even not knowing what Aiki Jutsu is and criticized that to put spirits into technique he himself normally does, so it is nothing new what I wrote, he wrote so. He did not try to consider what Aiki Jutsu is and how the spirits is used. It should be total new world for him and how he can criticize against what he does not know at all. I could not find the modesty with him which he shows a lot in his writing, which I found very strange. He surely does not have the important intention as Bujutsu-ka to try to estimate the others level with all the possible evidence and material. His behavior was exactly same as the leaders of Japan during World War Second. In spite the way he writes, he was an arrogant guy who considers he is the only one person who developed innovational teaching method. So, I wrote him to thank his comments and stopped further correspondence.

On the contrary I have another experience. It happened when I started working for JVC as a development engineer in TV research institute. I was assigned to work in a special project team where they were developing next generation VCR. My boss was managing mechanics group as a chief engineer. At that time I was too much confident with my level as an engineer who finished PHD course and had worked for Mitsubishi Motors Inc. as a development engineer. And accordingly I could not think how I should and could contribute the group but I intended how I could use my knowledge effectively in the group which was totally wrong. The boss had very sharp brain and had a lot of experience so he surely had noticed my not enough level as an engineer but had too high pride. Because he did not graduate university and he was so careful to scold me because he was suspicious how really high my level was as a person who finished PHD. He had checked me for whole 2 months and after he finally convinced that my level was not such high, he scolded me so hardly with full confident.

It has past 37 years since it happened and now he is the only man whom I can call my boss and we keep close contact.

I can introduce the other examples which I experienced in the Netherlands.

When it was finally decided that I could move to the Netherlands from Japan, I went to the big book shops in Tokyo and bought all the books related to the Netherlands. It was the first thing I did right after to make myself well prepared to move in the different culture. But after all I found it was far much not enough to prepare the unexpected happenings which occurred one after another. Those unexpected happenings bothered and worried me a lot and I had become totally exhausted. But if I had not read those books in fore hand my experience had become much more miserable, I am sure.

At that time, end of 1980s, almost all the Japanese who seconded to the Netherlands were same. We often talked each other to share the experiences which we thought necessary to avoid unexpected risks and we heard we all had read the same books. But recently, say for these 15 years, I can’t find such serious guy among the Japanese who seconded to the Netherlands. It does not matter how high their status are, manager or presidents, they are all so confident not to make any mistake and can succeed in that foreign country without any problem. They do not expect any problem at all and they are even so stupid to tell the others that they have not make any preparation at all very proudly. It must be that they all are so confident with their ability nor they simply lack of the mind to prepare. But one thing is sure that once they encounter their unexpected difficulty, they all collapse in once.   

 Once I heard about one company which was established by such Japanese in the Netherlands. Without knowing anything about Dutch labor laws and customs they started hiring people by unlimited period contract, which never happens in the Netherlands. They always hire a person with limited period contract to watch carefully what the person is. Besides they often hire people even two-three times continuously by limited period to make sure if the person is correct or not. Once they have bound unlimited period contract, it becomes so difficult to terminate the employment. So it is basically necessary and important to hire a person by limited period contract at first. So, this company, they soon found that the most of their employees whom they hired by non-limited period contact are not suitable to the job nor to the company at all and that it took huge effort, i.e. time and money to terminate them. Such case was surely could have been avoided if they had read Dutch related books as a preparation.   

If I was a responsible person in their company in Japan, I fire such idle and stupid guys immediately. But if I think over what happened in such famous top ranking Japanese company as Olympus, Kobe Steel and Toshiba such stupid persons could be also managing a company as the top management. It is what happening in Japan now.

When I was working as a top of a company in the Netherlands where I was seconded from Japan, I received the guests from one of the biggest heavy industry company in Japan. They planned to establish their manufacturing base in the Netherlands and wanted hear from me as a pioneer. The company which I was working at that time, had institute, plant and sales company. Although it was not big in scale but had complete functions in the Netherlands.

The person who was assigned as a top of that new establishment did not know anything about the Netherland nor looked like he had no intention to know or to study. He did not make any questions to me. Instead of him, a labour union leader who was accompanied with him made several important questions. At the end when everybody relaxed that person started talking what he “prepared”.  He knew there are several nice golf courses in the Netherlands with which it is rather difficult to become a member. So he already made a connection to one famous golf club and had made an application to become a member so that he can immediately start golfing right after his dispatch.

Just in my mind I shouted to him “this stupid idiot!”

Because they are rather big organization and many of the staffs were sent to the project, he would be supported by them and could spend nice time without doing any work. The similar case I saw here in the Netherlands so many around me. If people like him becomes a top management, the end of that company’s life is not so far future. I do worry about Japan in the future because politicians, high ranked officers and top managements in companies, there are so many similar idiots. I have to say with all my regret we do not have bright future in Japan if this continues.

At the end of this article, I would like to express my thanks to Mr. Sean Leather, my Jujutsu student comes from U.S.A., for his big effort to have corrected my Japanese English to formal English.


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Text by Kurabe Makoto Shiseido
Born in 1950. When he was in his 30s, he began learning Gyakute-do Jujutsu, which was derived from Hakkoryu Jujutsu in the 1970s. Just before reaching the age of 40, he moved from Japan to The Netherlands and continued to master and develop Gyakute-do. In October of 2013, after adding the system of Aiki-Jutsu that he developed himself, he transformed Gyakute-do into Aiki-Jujutsu Gyakute-do, and became 2nd Soushi, grand master, of Gyakute-do. After retirement, he left The Netherlands and began promoting Aiki-Jujutsu Gyakute-do both in Japan and in Poland  as his main pursuit. He is also teaching his Gyakute-do to Budo fan in the world via corresponding course.






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