These days it seems like everyone fancies themselves a warrior. The word has become so overused in our society that the essence of it has become lost. It seems that anyone engaged in any type of struggle, be it physical or not, has co-opted the word for their own personal bandwagon.
Originally, the word had just one interpretation – one who wages war. This is a very strict and narrow definition, but probably the most accurate. In this sense then, a warrior is a professional military or police man who carries a weapon and puts their life on the line day after day to protect our freedom and way of life. In addition to putting their own lives on the line for us, professional warriors do one other thing that completely separates them from the rest of the population. They are sometimes required in the course of their role as protectors and defenders to take a life. This is a great responsibility that weighs on them heavily and one that only they are allowed to bear. It is one critical distinction that many people who want to play warrior do not consider or perhaps even understand.
Let’s Extrapolate A Bit…
If we extrapolate this idea of a warrior as professional soldier a little further, we can than begin to look at those who make a lifetime study and practice of the warrior arts. These are the martial arts which are derived from the ancient warrior traditions of the world. They come from India, China, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, and others. These traditions all have one thing in common – they were used hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago in real battle to save someone’s life. Their wisdom, training methods, and skills were then passed on down the generations to those of us who practice them today.
As for me, I have never been in the military. But I have spent over 30 years training in the warrior arts of Japan, China, and Russia. I developed a system of physical training called, Warrior Fitness, based on my experience in the warrior arts.
However, in spite of this, I must state that I believe a true warrior is much, much more than a person striving for physical perfection in the gym – yes, no matter how hard or intense they are training.
More to This Warrior Thing
There is much more to being a warrior than merely struggling for something or training crazy hard in the gym. A true warrior must have be a protector and defender of life. This might be my own personal bias, but I believe a warrior has a greater responsibility, one of both self and others. My perception has been colored, for the better, I think, by my teacher, Jack Hoban, author of The Ethical Warrior Life, and his mentor, Dr. Robert L. Humphrey.
These 2 men are both true warriors whom I admire greatly. Jack served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer and is a master level instructor in the Bujinkan martial arts. Dr. Humphrey was a boxer and Marine Corps officer who survived the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. There is much, much more to both of their stories, but for now, we can sum up the essence of what it means to be a warrior like so:
“The Warrior Creed”
Wherever I go,
Everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.
Wherever I am,
Anyone in need has a friend.
When I return home,
Everyone is happy I am there.
It’s a better life!
-Dr. Robert L. Humphrey
Everyone who calls themselves a warrior believes that they should possess greater strength, greater power, and greater skill; should they not also possess greater compassion for others and a greater sense of responsibility for helping others as well?
For those who have the strength and the skill, but no accountability, they cannot be called warriors – they are merely thugs.