Yamato-damashii(大和魂?, or "Japanese spirit", "Japanese soul", "Yamato spirit", and "The soul of Old Japan".) is a historically and culturally loaded word in the Japanese language. The phrase was apparently coined in the Heian period to describe the indigenous Japanese 'spirit'. During theEdo period writers andSamurai used it to gloss the Bushido concept of valor, honor, discipline, and respect. The term was later given to Enson Inoue by the media and press and became what is now known as the"Samurai spirit". He lives it.
For those of you who don’t follow Mixed Martial Arts, Enson Inoue is an American born Japanese jiu jitsu blackbelt and former Shooto Japan Champ known for never tapping and never quitting in the ring. During his career he’s never turned down a fight taking on top notch killers like Igor Vovchanchyn, Frank Shamrock, Mark Kerr, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture.
The purpose of my visit with Enson was not to inquire about his training routine nor was I there to ask him what he eats for breakfast everyday (although I’m quite curious to know how he stays so big and strong). I wanted to meet Enson to talk with him about him. It’s “Yamato Damashii” or the “Samurai spirit” that intrigues me and I think a lot of people would appreciate a guy like Enson who has always been true to himself and the people around him.
Enson was at his gym lastnight to meet some fighters who, according to them, had ‘lost their spirit’. They asked Enson to help them ‘get their spirit back’ before their upcoming competition. Enson was happy to help them with that.
He said, “99% of the time people quit, not because their body breaks. They quit because their mind quits on their body. In order for these guys to get their spirit back, I’m going to break them. Once they see that they can live through the pain and the fear…they will get their spirit back.”
I sat and watched as they were indeed physically and mentally worn down, beaten and finally broken. I’m sure glad it wasn’t me who had a lost spirit! The two fighters managed to walk out of the gym on their own and alive. They were very thankful that Enson took the time to help them understand a little bit about “Yamato Damashii”. Although they might be sore today, I’m certain that they’re in high spirits knowing that they survived through the pain and fear and that they weren’t broken after all. -Tune-in-Tokyo.com