English: A Fijian warrior.

Rory Miller put up the following post on his blog a few years ago:


A warrior is someone who makes war for a living. Period.  It’s not some autonomous, independent, noble killing machine, some reborn knight or paragon.  It is someone who is paid money to make big problems go away, often in a messy fashion.

Never been in a war? Not a warrior. Get over it.
I know that there is a myth and an industry building up around the ‘warrior identity’ but there are parts of it that I really don’t get.  “Warriors” I am told, follow their own hearts.  Whatever. Real warriors follow orders. Know what you call a bunch of individuals on a battlefield? Meat.  They have the humility and the basic intelligence to know that other people have more information and trust the people with that information to make those decisions.

Read the rest, but that quote sums up his opinion, I posted the following comment in reply.

Depends on the society and culture we are discussing.

In ancient Japan (and in other societies) a “Warrior” was what you were were born as (vs a Farmer, Artisan or merchant).

I have no issues with some professions using the word as a motivational term to inspire their members to a higher level of training and/or performance.

If a cop considers himself a “warrior” who protects society from criminals and the mindset drives him to workout, shoot, take martial arts classes, study law, etc…GREAT!

On the other hand if a person is only using the term as an ego gratifier and thinks that he/she is somehow a better person than someone else that’s an issue with the individual, not the term.

I think that the word is vastly overused by people who never have to put their ass on the line for it (in service to others). A soldier, LEO, Firefighter, etc using the term? Fine. A hobby martial artist, sport fighter or gun class Rambo? That’s another story.

As a number of my posts have dealt with this same issue I thought it appropriate to mention Rory’s post here. Back in November of 2009 I wrote this:


Alright, I have a moment to type.

It would be a fairly accurate statement to say that when I created this blog it was with the intention of coalescing my thoughts about, and refining my definition of, “Warriorship”.

While “Warriorship” is closely associated with the word “Warrior”, I am starting to come to the conclusion that they may have become two separate but closely related issues; perhaps too closely related. While one can be quantifiable, the other has become so nebulous that people training in what I define as “Wariorship” have come to believe that doing so makes them “Warriors” which I don’t believe is the case.

I am currently of the opinion that the term “Warrior”, as in “I am a Warrior”, is currently overused and misapplied. In my worldview, a “warrior” is a person who fights for their country, lord or master, or is at least a dedicated professional in a field of arms. Professional military personnel fit my definition, with the special operators on one end of the continuum and more mundane MOS personnel at the other. I would also include Law Enforcement Officers as existing on the outside fringe of possible inclusion. Currently the term is being applied to a wide range of people; athletes, new ager’s, martial artists, gun enthusiasts and the terminally Ill to name a few. Not to disparage any of these people, but while they may behave with the virtues of a warrior, or be training in the skills of a “Warrior”, defining yourself as a Warrior impresses me aWalter Mitty-ish fantasy. Harmless in most cases, admittedly, but with some disturbing exceptions as in the case discussed elsewhere in this blog.

“Warriorship” is a concept that doesn’t even have one  accepted definition. While the O.E.D. defines it as “1The craft or skill of military arts and science, see ‘warrior , most attempts to find a definition lead you to Carlos Castenada; Cogyam Trungpa and his Shambala philosophyJoseph Campbell, Ninjutsu practitioners, New Age Druids,Native American culture and Bushido. While sharing some characteristics, there is no common definition between them.

So I guess Im going to add my definition to the mix. I define Warriorship as:

( War-ri-or-ship ) n. [OE. werreour, OF. werreour, guerreor, from guerre, werre, war. See War]

1. A state in which a person is training in the skills and traits possessed by those of the Warrior profession.

2. A philosophy based on the positive character and social traits of persons in the warrior profession.

At least thats my first hack at it. Any opinions or assistance in refining it will be appreciated.

I suppose that by my definition a person can be participating in “warriorship” if they are approaching training and life as more than a mere “hobbyist”. Someone going to amartial arts class two times a week isn’t participating. Someone who buys a handgun and wears 5.11 “operator clothes” and tactical boots isn’t participating. Just reading books and playing paintball isn’t enough.

Someone who looks at the entirety of life as “training in warriorship”, learning, mastering and incorporating into their personal lifestyle skills as varied as combat techniques; navigation, medicine, climbing/rappelling, driving, swimming, SCUBA, physical conditioning and countless others MAY be meeting my definition. However, my personal twist would include some sort of service to society, putting those skills to use.

The hazard lies in the ease by which a person practicing Warriorship as a lifestyle can fall into believing that they are the equivalent of a Warrior. I believe that many people who begin the pursuit in the first place are doing one hoping to become the other.

more to come later…..

The comments section on that post blossomed into an interesting discussion on this topic and if this interests you it would be worth your while to read it. In a nutshell, while I do not entirely disagree with Rory’s opinion here (and I have posted things similar), I also believe that the term is not as simple to pigeonhole as he thinks.


2 thoughts on “warriordom”

  1. Hello Tom,

    The problem is in many ways exactly what you have stated “…the term is not as simple to pigonhole… as most people who use it think or want it to be. Until someone is faced with an immediate life or death challenge, somelike like the young mother in Tennessee, a couple weeks ago, the term “warrior” is just a word. The young woman at 19 had just lost her husband to cancer, had an 11 month old child and living along on a dirt road several miles from a paved road in country. 2 armed men approached her home after midnight and demand entry – the young mother armed herself, called the police and only shot one of the men when he forcibly entered her home. That young mother is a ‘warrior’! She didn’t seek out that confrontation. She did not proclaim herself to be a ‘warrior’. She simply did what she had to do to protect herself and her baby. More importantly, while it is easy to glorify “warriorship” how many people consider the aftermath of acting in a warrior-like manner?


  2. I disagree a little in some details and agree with the general thought.

    Someone being forced to defend themselves doesn’t meet MY threshold of “warriorship”. She either defended herself or or didn’t.

    Much like how anybody can make a citizens arrest. I wouldn’t call that person a “Cop”.

    I do agree that a word is what we decide to commonly define it as. My personal definition of “Warrior” has a cup of PROFESSIONALISM, mixed in with a large serving of SERVICE. A “soldier” may bring a large dose of the latter but very little of the former…the typical “I’m just here for the college money” type who only does what he/she has to and has no desire to really be the best at what they do. No “warrior” in my book. Can still be a hero. Can still serve honorably. There’s no inherent superiority in MY definition of “warriorship”. IMO it’s the ego people pour into the words they define themselves with that are our largest problem.

    Conversely a person my train to a high degree of professionalism in the “warriors skills” but DO nothing with them.

    In the end though, it’s a free world and people will think whatever they want.

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