When people hear the term Warrior images of armor clad, bulging muscle, tough guys fighting battles often come into their mind. Other times it might be glove wearing people smashing each other in the cage in the UFC or even boxers duking it out in the ring. Sometimes it is members of the Armed Forces in all their tactical gear getting ready to deploy or during wartime. Many times people hear the word Warrior and they always associate it with some sort of combat involving blood and death…and in the martial arts that is very much the case it seems.
I’ve been training in the martial arts for over 40 years now, non-stop, and have met some people that are definitely warriors in every sense of the images above…and I have met a lot of people that talk like warriors but are simply just wishing they were. In reality though these types of warriors aren’t what I refer to as a true warrior in my dojo. You see, martial arts, regardless of popular media hype, isn’t about how much of a tough guy or bad ass you are. Sure you get strong and capable of defending yourself if you train in a good dojo but no one is ever impressed by how many people you can beat up.
So what is a Warrior then? Well I am glad you asked. A Warrior is a person who is engaged in some kind of struggle or conflict and overcomes it to be successful. In the old times the greatest warriors like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and even mythical ones like King Athur were all much more than just fighters. These people were also educated, strategic and full of drive and purpose (all be it sometimes for good reasons). That being said they are not what my blog post is about today.
Some true warrior examples to me are listed out below. If you read these, then think about them I am willing to bet you come across these everyday Warriors all the time in your daily activities…sadly you may not realize they are such but maybe this blog will make you stop and think about them for a moment…
- The single parent who is working two jobs (or more) to take care of her kids. He/She struggles to do all the chores, clean the house, cook the food, pay the bills and still makes sure the kids are raised, educated and taught properly. They will go without all the “cool” things their friends are doing such as partying, concerts and more just to make sure the kids are clothed, fed and taken care of. Many times you will never see this side of it but I assure you it is there and these single parents are definitely true warriors!
- The person facing cancer…people who are told they have cancer face death upfront. They have to struggle with their emotions on a daily basis and often live hour by hour doing unspeakable treatments that make them sick, frail and scared each moment of the day. They have to dig down deep inside and find a true inner strength to overcome their ailment and attack it back to live life as fully as they can. These are real warriors and they come in all ages, all sizes, all shapes because cancer does not discriminate. Kids to adults have to face this enemy and fight with all of their breath to beat it…that is a real warrior right there!
- That lonely kid who is getting picked on and bullied. This one always bothers me because there is no reason for anyone to be the subject of bullies or “labeling” as is done in society. On the outside they may seem very normal but deep inside they are fighting a demon that tells them what others are saying is true. While none of what others are saying is true that becomes a battle they must face and win. It is much tougher than facing any bully or rude individual who wants to talk down to them. To overcome this they must learn they are worth everything and have every right to be strong, to go for the gold…they have to become confident and that takes friends and family to let them know they are loved.
- An elderly person who is left all alone…they often don’t have family or maybe their family abandoned them. They get thrown into a nursing home because they are struggling to take care of themselves in regular life. There they sit, just waiting for death to come knocking on their door but deep inside all they really want is someone to say hello, to stop by from time to time, to just spend time with them. Loneliness is a very terrible thing and there is never a reason anyone should ever have to battle it by their own self…but it does happen and that makes them a true warrior because they never give up hope, they never allow it to make them smile less…they live for each day because they know it is a gift to just open their eyes.
- The tiny baby born addicted to drugs because their parents made some very bad and wrong choices. This child didn’t deserve this but they fight with all their might to overcome it because their spirit wants to live. They are born without a choice and have to grow through this addiction and learn to live. They are fighting for their very survival and shouldn’t be because nothing they did was wrong. They are pure in heart and soul, yet are facing a battle they didn’t choose. This is a true warrior.
I could go on an on about people I have seen in my life that are TRUE WARRIORS but I think you get the idea of this article. Next time you are sitting there in pity for yourself because you didn’t get your way or life dealt you a bad hand be thankful you are not facing some of these challenges listed above. Life is a gift. Breathing is a gift. Don’t waste it on drugs, illegal activities or being self centered. Look around and see what talents you have that can make our world a better place and then act on that. Say hello to that shy, awkward kid at school. Smile at the elderly lady in the grocery store. When you see someone with cancer stop and let them know you are praying for them and wish them the best. When you see a single parent struggling with their kids don’t be afraid to help out.
Being a true warrior isn’t about how tough you are. No one really cares how many asses you can, or have beat down. They don’t care about your awesome fighting ability… regardless of what they act like when you tell your stories. What people really care about is how you treat others, how good of a person you are and the great things you can do to make this world a little better. Be that someone…be a TRUE WARRIOR.
Steven Franz, Shihan
Shorin Ryu Shorinkan, Rokudan