Friday, December 4, 2009
What Defines a Warrior?
This is a question I have often heard asked in my martial career. I have also heard many, many answers and debates. But they often have difficulty and disagreement defining such a term and setting it apart from other terms. Still, many people have an innate feeling that they are set apart from the crowd, and they feel this term is suiting, yet they have trouble defining it. The term is spiritually grounded in our cultural ethos, yet the dictionary definition does not match the common sentiment. We know it means something special, but what? The answer is simple yet complex.
When I was writing this piece, I happened to stumble upon this piece by one Dr. Bohdi Sanders, and I must say that it says what I was going to say, in one way or another, and I recommend it highly.
In light of that, I will be brief.
I believe what I have to say does not so much differ from what Dr. Sanders has to say, but compliments it.
I had never quite defined the term for myself, despite all I had heard, but I had of late been pondering the question. Recently, my instructor presented me with a certificate for attending a seminar of his “on Basic Principles and Concepts: Knife Against Knife (A Warrior’s Guide to Knife Fighting).” So I posed the question to him. He answered quickly and succinctly. To paraphrase him, being a warrior is a way of being, a lifestyle, such as being a martial artist, as opposed to doing martial arts. A warrior is someone who practices a warrior art, and does so on their own; someone who strives to perfect their warrior skills; someone who seeks to perfect the art. By way of comparison, say, a soldier or policeman who is not a warrior is someone who performs a warrior practice as a job, for pay, and perhaps never trains without direction to do so, not on his own.
A warrior takes his art seriously and personally. The “soldier” is detached. A warrior is dedicated. Someone who “does” martial arts does so only in class. A martial artist trains on his own, often. The soldier does what he must. The warrior is driven to do what he must. Being a warrior is entirely independent of, yet complimentary to any “warrior” profession.
Martial arts (in the sense of personal combatives) connect us most firmly to the term of warrior. This is especially true of the traditional and ancient warrior arts. They give us a direct connection to a time when warriorhood and soldiery were far more deeply connected than they are today. People did not only join soldierly professions, but were born into warrior lifestyles. If one were a member of the part of society who’s duty and profession it was to fight, it was in his best interests to become a the warrior. One had to be skilled in the martial arts to survive. Studying the art of handling a weapon, a sword in particular, leaves no doubt, no room for a disconnection in one’s mind and spirit that one is studying a warrior art of life and death.
Some would say that it is necessary for a warrior to subscribe to a certain model of ethics. I do not believe this is the case. To be a warrior is to live a warrior lifestyle, and warrior lifestyles often have an attached ethos to them, good or evil. But many warriors have no such thing. An ethos is an asset to a warrior and common, but not necessary. It is an epiphemeral phenomenon; a “side effect.” However, a universal trait of warriors is that they have purpose. They esteem and strive for something that makes them warriors, and it may or may not include an ethos. Warriorhood is epiphemeral to that purpose, and a warrior ethos is epiphemeral to warriorhood. The purpose, the drive, is what creates the warrior. It is what they live and breathe for.
The life of a warrior is simply a life of very special preparation.
Copyright Dec. 4, 2009, Benjamin “Casper” Bradak
Posted by B & C at 9:41 AM