I Am Ronin

Jackie Summers on rogue Samurai and being single.

A thousand years of heritage. A lifetime spent honing mind and body. A code of honor demanding courage, loyalty, honor, and self-sacrifice. This was the way of the Samurai.

The warrior class of feudal Japan has been romanticized in film and literature for good reason. Sublime martial artists, the samurai warrior embodied a way of life that embraced dichotomy. Bushido, ‘the Way of the Warrior’, tempered the violence of their profession with the serenity of Zen mastery in their personal lives. From childhood onward, they made a daily practice of honing both physical and mental acumen to an edge comparable to the katanas they bore.

A samurai meditated on death daily, in both a specific and general sense. They would carefully consider not just the gruesome manner in which they might meet their end in battle, but existential concepts of mortality. They learned to cultivate the ‘no-mind,’ the state of being where you were so keenly focused on present that neither future nor past held sway over your thoughts. Literacy and culture were extolled, and they excelled in fine arts such as calligraphy, rock gardening, haiku, and of course, the elaborate tea ceremony.

Espousing these ideals didn’t just make them fearless in battle. Equally dangerous, righteous, and sophisticated, they were vibrant human beings. Every moment was a moment to be lived fully, as it might be your last. So it’s with great hubris that I associate my approach to love and sex with that of samurai culture.

Codes of ethics governing my behavior were inculcated in me from childhood on. Embracing the possibility of being hurt allows me to give and accept love freely, fearlessly. Being fully present with a lover, focusing completely on savoring each exquisite scent, sound, taste and sensation: this is my sexual motif. In my delusions of grandeur, I imagine myself a Samurai.

Being samurai however, came with a proviso.

Samurai were bound during their lifetimes to a daimyo, or Shogun. In their employ, a samurai was able to utilize the full range of his skills. With the title Samurai came social status, residence, occupation, and the possibility of wealth. Samurai who lost their master through death or dismissal were honor-bound to commit seppuku: ritualistic suicide. This was imposed by the Shogunate, as they rightly considered these highly trained, heavily armed, unemployed soldiers, a danger to the populace.

Those who chose not to observe this edict were considered ‘Ronin,’ or rogue samurai. The literal translation for Ronin is ‘wave man;’ a man driven aimlessly, like the windblown sea. Deprived of their livelihood and honorable purpose, Ronin became vagabonds, and mercenaries. The whimsical image of the wandering drifter, the lone swordsman seeking adventure and worthy adversaries, is not entirely inaccurate.

This is what being single in New York City feels like to me.

I was raised to be a partner; trained to be a lover. When involved, all of my art of seduction finds full expression. As someone who’s been ‘dismissed from service,’ I frequently find myself agitated, and restless. I have concern over my skills atrophying from lack of use. I’m rife with unused romance. There are days when I crave intimacy; stimulating conversation and cerebral exchange, over wine and a home cooked meal. There are nights I want to make slow love for hours using all manner of carnal artistry. And then there are times I just want to fuck someone so hard their eardrums pop.

None of which would matter were I not bound by a code of honor. It’s a fucked up code, but it’s mine, and I live by it. There’s little challenge or satisfaction in an endless string of one night stands; conquest for conquest sake, lacks luster. I’m also aware that every time I unsheathe my sword, I run the risk of hurting someone unnecessarily. I still seek adventure, but more than that, like all Ronin I seek a Daimyo, a singular individual upon whom I can bestow my love, my sex, my loyalty.

Because great hubris and delusions of grandeur aren’t keeping me warm at night.

© J Summers 2012

About Jackie Summers

Jackie Summers is an author and entrepreneur. His blog F*cking in Brooklyn chronicles his quest to become a person worthy of love. His company, Jack From Brooklyn, Inc. houses his creative and entrepreneurial enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @jackfrombkln and friend him on Facebook


  1. wellokaythen says:

    Kind of an awkward metaphor, seems to me. As you mentioned, a very strict interpretation of samurai honor would say that ronin are not supposed to exist. Some samurai would say that to be samurai by definition is to have a lord, so being a ronin is no to be samurai. Most daimyo ignored that issue when then needed to hire mercenaries to fight their rivals. In practice, the powerful samurai were glad that there were ronin around.

    If you’re looking for a woman to be your daimyo, you are looking for a woman to be your absolute boss, with the power to order you to kill yourself. Not quite egalitarian.

    (Technically, the daimyo were the upper-most aristocracy. You might be bound to a lord who was not a daimyo. The daimyo and Shogun were also samurai.)

    In this metaphor, who are the peasants? As a ronin you generally had more rights than peasants and could eviscerate them if they were too uppity. That sounds quite empowering.

    Good news, though: samurai were not supposed to work in menial jobs. They were financially supported by everyone else. They were not supposed to worry about a paycheck. If your “samurai skills” refers to your “lovemaking skills,” remember that samurai were duty bound to keep practicing their skills so they wouldn’t be rusty. So, I’m thinking one-night stands would be the equivalent of practicing with a wooden sword – the more you do, the better you will be!

  2. There are times in my life, in my marriage, when I feel the hunger pangs of sexual conquest to feed my ego. Where I wonder what it must be like to be free, sexually, romantically to pursue anyone on any given night, a woman in line at the market, at the bookstore or at work. I feel that I have chosen to be constricted by making my lifelong commitment to one woman only.
    And then I read something like this piece. I take a second look and realize I have and enjoy what you long to share with one woman only. It’s a funny thing that the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality pervades no matter how consciously we reiterate the sentiment within our own mind. I guess we can’t help ourselves wanting what we don’t have despite the fact that we’ve chosen someone already and have found satisfaction wth that choice. Maybe we really do just want it all.

  3. Dinomax says:

    Well put, dude! I never saw things that way, but it is an apt metaphor. The desire to be connected trumps any temporary thrill that the casual scene can give..

  4. Oh, Jackie, although I don’t identify myself as any sort of warrior, I feel the same way. And although Roseanne (above) is correct, there MUST be someone out there! – how do you find that person? We are all of us looking for love, some of us must certainly define it in the same way, so why do we not find each other? Unfortunately, those of us with a strong sex drive who are also looking for satisfaction in all other areas – soulful connections, time spent together laughing, cooking, playing, and YES those times in bed or other designated areas (sometimes best when NOT in the bed!)- we have the most difficulty being single. We are hungry, so hungry, for so much more than anonymous sex! It’s so unfair, we are sexy, successful, educated, fun, talneted, and single!!?? WTF? Let’s make a date to drink some sorel and commiserate….. – Alexa Maxwell

  5. Rosanne says:

    As usual – an amazing read.!! Thank you. The question is : what is holding you back ??? In NYC, there must be many many women who are so thirsty for the man you describe – Authentic, Present and ALL IN.

  6. HelixLuco says:

    it’s normal to feel lonely or that your potential is going to waste, i think just about everyone does to some degree, so what’s the point of trying to connect your feelings with some weird fetishised version of the past when you could be using them to build a sense of empathy with the people around you?

  7. Jameseq says:

    great piece, you lyrically laid out your thinking at this time.
    a wonderful read

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