In 1988 my late karate teacher Brian Docherty encouraged me to set up my own karate club and asked me to take on the name of Ronin as the clubs name , well coming from Glasgow and at that time had never visited Japan or new anything about the Japanese culture or even a great deal about the history of karate I thought this was a cool name .Brian at the time went on to explain the history of the name Ronin ( a samuri with no master ) was his explanation and as he was my teacher his explanation was readily acceptable.
It was much later that a film called 47 Ronin in black and white and in Japanese came on the scene which gave me a bigger insight into the meaning of Ronin .
On visiting Japan in July 2014 and purely on a walk about in the suburbs of Tokyo low and behold round the corner in a quit suburb the burial site shrine and temple to the 47 Ronin called Sengaku-ji Temple. Since then when I am in Tokyo I always find myself sitting in this very peaceful Temple with the scent of antiquity hanging over the Sengaku-ji Temple as well as the odour of the incense burning before the graves in the middle of this very busy city were all the bodies of the 47 Ronin with their master Lord Asano from Edo ( now called Tokyo ) and the chief retainer Oishi from the Asano Clan are buried and Lady Asano tomb is also there , facing the markers of the loyal followers graves . The Shrine also has on display their armour worn at the time.
Today in Japan their acts are the source for Japans most celebrated story of bravery, cunning,and loyalty .It has been told and retold in plays , in books ,in print ,in movies and on television ever since the news first swept through feudal Japan
The 47 Ronin Story is the unforgettable saga of a band of samuri who defied the Emperors laws and faced certain destruction to avenge the disgrace and death of their master Lord Asano in the year of 1701. The men from Ako had defiantly disregarded the Shoguns law but by dying for their lord showed their devotion to what they considered the higher morality .
The Shogun was troubled that he would have to execute such brave men for living up to the feudal code as they saw it but was bound by the law and nothing anyone could do about it except for making an alteration in the sentence . This was within his authority and would better serve his own sense of justice .Although lordless men and hence not legally entitled to such treatment they were to be allowed to disembowel themselves in the noble ceremony of seppuku .