Martin Doherty, Executive School Principal

Martin Doherty has over 20 years experience of managing schools in over 13 countries across five continents, including North America, Europe, Asia, the GCC/Middle East, and Africa. He helps schools broaden their student bodies, improve best practices, modernize the teaching and learning environment, and cultivate an overly “happy” school climate while also helping them obtain a global perspective. Also, he is a former Senior Project Manager / Business Process Manager, for over 10 years with Fortune 500 companies (head offices: IBM, Bell Mobility, Sprint PCS, TELUS Mobility, Canada Life, Minacs) in Toronto, CANADA, and the USA.



I’ve had the honor of serving as a school director for 20 years in over 13 nations & 5 continents, including North America, Europe, Asia, the GCC/Middle East, and Africa. I assist schools in gaining a global perspective while expanding their student body, enhancing best practices, upgrading the teaching and learning environment, and fostering an excessively “positive” school climate.

I have launched new schools and managed improvement projects on all varieties of international curriculum schools. I specialize in new school start-ups and school improvement initiatives. I often observe recurring issues that many international schools abroad tend to overlook. I place a strong emphasis on student life skills – increasing confidence, self-esteem, and motivation, all characteristics that create direct and lasting results at home, in school, and in life. In one of my previous articles, I discussed the importance of a strong emphasis on student life skills Character development in short.

Schools are not doing enough to prepare students for life outside of the classroom.  Regrettably, many educational institutions today primarily emphasize academic outcomes and overlook, or misunderstand, that the most meaningful predictor of a student’s accomplishments in life is the person they become. This narrow orientation is likely to lead to disappointment in the long term, as a high IQ may guarantee academic achievement in the short run but lack the traits and competencies essential for succeeding in the real world.

There is not a lot of emphasis in our education system on characterological development. The cause may be due to the fact society (as a whole) cannot agree on what an admirable person is like or even what guidelines to define what is the best approach to educating children in this arena.  Perhaps they are unaware this could be the most important aspect of a person’s life.

Often faith-based schools will attempt to implant their value system on students; however, schools (in my opinion) should maintain a secular, critical-thinking approach in all areas.  Characterological development should be based on universal truths that any segment of society can comprehend and resonate with.

As a martial art instructor, and former owner of a martial arts school in Toronto, Canada, I place a strong emphasis on youth physical and physiological development. Martial arts have a deep history in building one’s character. In the new international schools I launch, I typically implement something called the “Black Belt Principles of Life” – 5 keywords that is a summary of the Samurai Code of Honor (Bushido or Warrior code).


Within the rich cultural heritage of Japan lies the profound philosophy of Bushido, the Way of the Samurai. Rooted in the noble traditions of the samurai class, Bushido represents a code of conduct that encompasses values such as rectitude (義, Gi), courage (勇, Yuu), benevolence (仁, Jin), respect (礼, Rei), honesty (誠, Makoto), honor (誉, Homare), and loyalty (忠義, Chuugi). This esteemed ethical framework provides a remarkable model for developing good character in children and youth. These principles provide a solid foundation for molding young minds and nurturing the qualities necessary for personal growth, ethical leadership, and a positive contribution to society. By exploring a historical tale that exemplifies the importance of virtuous character, we can uncover timeless wisdom from Japanese culture and understand why embracing the principles of Bushido is essential for shaping the next generation.

The Tale of Yamato: The Virtue of Benevolence (仁, Jin)

In ancient Japan, during the reign of Emperor Keiko, there was a young prince named Yamato. Known for his compassionate nature and sense of justice, Yamato’s benevolence touched the lives of all who crossed his path. One day, while traveling through a village, he encountered an elderly woman struggling to carry a heavy load of firewood. Without hesitation, Yamato offered his assistance, easing the burden from her shoulders and accompanying her home. This act of kindness deeply moved the woman, who revealed herself to be a wise sage. Impressed by Yamato’s benevolent spirit, she bestowed upon him a sacred talisman as a token of her gratitude and a reminder of the power of compassion.

Yamato’s generosity reached out past this experience. He devoted himself to serving his kin, paying attention to their interests, and working vigorously to work on their lives. His activities motivated others to embrace kindness and encouraged a feeling of solidarity and concordance inside the realm. Yamato’s heritage as a kind chief keeps on resounding since forever ago, displaying the getting through force of this prudence in molding a fair and empathetic culture.

I. Rectitude (義, Gi): Upholding Moral Integrity

Rectitude, an essential virtue of Bushido, emphasizes the importance of upholding moral integrity and ethical conduct. It calls upon children and youth to act with righteousness and to make choices based on principles of fairness and justice. By instilling rectitude, we cultivate individuals who possess a strong sense of right and wrong, and who navigate the complexities of life with moral clarity and steadfastness.

II. Courage (勇, Yuu): Embracing Fearlessness

Courage lies at the heart of Bushido, urging children and youth to face challenges and adversities with bravery and fearlessness. It encourages them to confront their fears, take calculated risks, and push beyond their comfort zones. Through cultivating courage, children and youth develop resilience, perseverance, and the confidence to pursue their aspirations, knowing that greatness often lies just beyond their fears.

III. Benevolence (仁, Jin): Cultivating Compassion and Kindness

Benevolence is a fundamental virtue of Bushido, emphasizing the cultivation of compassion, empathy, and kindness towards others. By nurturing a genuine concern for the well-being of fellow human beings, children and youth learn the value of lending a helping hand, offering support, and embracing the interconnectedness of all life. Through benevolence, they foster harmonious relationships, build bridges of understanding, and contribute positively to the world around them.

IV. Respect (礼, Rei): Honoring the Worth of Others

Respect, deeply ingrained in the fabric of Bushido, teaches children and youth to honor and appreciate the inherent worth and dignity of every individual. It encourages

them to treat others with courtesy, politeness, and consideration, regardless of differences in background or status. By instilling respect, children, and youth develop a sense of empathy, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to foster inclusive and harmonious environments.

V. Honesty (誠, Makoto): Embracing Truthfulness and Integrity

Honesty, an integral component of Bushido, promotes sincerity, transparency, and integrity in children and youth. By emphasizing the importance of truthfulness, Bushido instills a strong moral compass within them. They learn to value honesty in their words and actions, cultivating trustworthiness and credibility. This fosters healthy relationships, builds a foundation of integrity, and prepares them to navigate the complexities of the modern world with honesty and authenticity.

VI. Honor (誉, Homare): Upholding a Code of Conduct

Honor, deeply revered in Bushido, calls upon children and youth to uphold a code of conduct that reflects their values and principles. It encourages them to act in a manner that brings pride not only to themselves but also to their families, communities, and the traditions they represent. By embracing honor, children, and youth cultivate a strong sense of identity, self-respect, and the responsibility to contribute positively to society.

VII. Loyalty (忠義, Chuugi): Devotion and Commitment

The virtue of loyalty, deeply embedded in the fabric of Bushido, teaches children and youth the value of commitment, dedication, and faithfulness. They understand the significance of honoring their obligations, standing by their friends and loved ones, and remaining steadfast in their pursuits. Loyalty fosters strong bonds, nurtures a sense of responsibility, and cultivates a deep sense of connection to principles and values.

In one of my previous articles, I mentioned the value of adding a Leadership Martial Arts program to your school. As a 3rd degree black belt, I implement in school an in-depth Leadership Martial Arts program in addition to a “Character theme of the Month”, based on the same curriculum format I created and used at my own Martial Arts school in Canada. 


The Japanese samurai Bushido code offers a compelling model for character development in children and youth. By embracing the principles of rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty, we provide them with a solid ethical foundation. Through the exploration of a historical tale, such as the legend of Yamato, they learn the importance of embodying these virtues in their lives. By nurturing their character according to the Way of Bushido, we equip children and youth with the tools they need to navigate the challenges of life with integrity, resilience, and a deep sense of purpose. Let us embrace the wisdom of Bushido and inspire the next generation to become individuals of exceptional character and virtue.


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