Few martial artists are unfamiliar with the seven virtues of Bushido, the honor code of the feudal Samurai. Often equated with the European code of chivalry, Bushido has been been used as everything from a propaganda tool by the Japanese Imperial Military to the ethical conscious of modern corporations. The only problem is that Bushido as we know it has almost nothing to do with the Samurai (at least as we picture them), and even less with martial arts.
Because of our fascination with all things Eastern, and the fact that American school owners have figured out that character development brings in more students than intense training and bloody noses, many commercial schools have latched on to the image of the Samurai and their code of honor. The virtues of Bushido have become taglines on flyers, and soccer moms are rushing to drop off their kids for the parenting they failed to provide.
The problem is that martial arts training rarely builds character, it reveals it. If we truly believed that martial arts training built character and made people better human beings, we would suggest enrolling every convicted felon in the local dojo for rehabilitation. After all, if martial arts are the secret to becoming a compassionate, honorable person, there should be nothing to worry about, right? I shouldn't have to clarify that last statement as sarcasm, but this is the internet. No person in their right mind would take a violent criminal and give them the tools to make them more skilled at violence (though codified prison-based fighting systems do exist as it is).
Do you know what martial arts training does a really great job of building though? False humility. The kind of humility that makes people point out that their humility makes them better than you. This is the same trait that drives people to ostracize those they feel are arrogant and condemn them for their egotism. It's the same trait that leads people to become trolls, attacking others for not conforming to their beliefs. If you were truly humble, you would understand the actions of others have no bearing on you and would mind your own business, leaving people to their own devices. I would prefer someone who is loud and arrogant over someone who pretends not to be any day. At least one is genuine... So if martial arts training does not really build character, what about the Samurai? How did they exist as these semi-mystical beings devoted to a life of honor and a divine sense of virture and righteousness?