Something I have had a long standing interest and perhaps a personal investment in, is the concept of “Warriorship”.

Growing up in the 70’s-80’s during the “ninja craze”, a close friend and I gobbled up books and movies about the Ninja, martial arts and “warriorship”. We spent weekend nights stalking around the neighborhood in ninja outfits, playing “wargames” in the woods with padded weapons, sparring, tossing throwing stars at the side of my barn and generally just trying to impress our friends with our exploits.

For adolescent males this was perhaps a natural thing. Boys at that age are looking to find their place and define themselves as “men”. Some boys look for this through sports, some get into gangs, some fantasize about being “warriors”. As we aged and moved along in life our “exploits” became more “autentic”, we got into rappelling, rock climbing, paintball, legitimate martial arts schools, skydiving and so on. Eventually we joined various branches of the military, most of us seeing deployments overseas and then landed in careers in security and law enforcement. So the fantasy of being a “warrior” had a positive role in forming who we are today. I’d have to say that any man, if he is honest with himself, can still find a small bit of that fantasy within his heart.

While many today assign some sort of positive moral and ethical attributes to “warriorship” I believe that the true appeal to men is the almost subconscious belief that the “warrior” has power over others…loved by women who suborn themselves to the warrior for protection…and feared by other men.  This is probably a “natural” phenomena rooted in our genetic code, and in men’s testosterone fueled drive to compete, seek rank within “the pack” and impress females. If a person is self aware enough to recognize this fantasy for what it is, it can be dealt with and harnessed for good.

However this search for the “warrior” can also have its darker side. My involvement with the martial arts has exposed me to a human tendency that I hadn’t acknowledged before. That being the discovery there are people out there who follow this “Warrior Fantasy” into adulthood and that there are others who would use this fantasy to exploit them for personal gain and ego gratification.

Some people take up hobbies and activities such as marital arts; firearms, oriental philosophies and weapon collecting and other such “macho activities” as a way to find meaning in a life that they think is lacking vitality.   They go about life imagining themselves “warriors”. Its better somehow than just being who they are.

I have come to be of the opinion that a true “Warrior” is someone who goes out into the world and engages in some sort of activity that serves someone other than himself. Soldiers, firefighters, EMT’s, LEO’s and numerous other professions can fit this description. That being said, being a “warrior” isn’t just having a job. There are plenty of people in those ranks that are just “grunts”. Being a “warrior” implies a level of dedication, mindset and professionalism that places one in a different class.

I dedicate the “Warriorship” section of my blog to the research, discussion and collection of issues involving this phenomenon.

13 thoughts on “about”

  1. Tom, I thank you for not using my name as your fellow “Ninja Craze” guy, but I’ll admit it out right.

    I think the appeal of the warrior to people – stereotypically men – is the overt ‘action’ element to it. “Warriors” are people who face challenges head on, internal and external challenges both. They commit to something larger than themselves and are elevated to a higher plane because of such selflessness….yada yada yada. In the martial arts world the rhetoric is all over the place.

    My big problem with the ‘everyday warrior’ gimmick is that a ‘warrior’ mentallity is not just about facing challenges and selfless service – it is the assumption that you, the warrior, is in conflict with someone and that it is a ‘war’ to be won…
    That mentallity of rivalry, conflict, and ‘winning’ isn’t really productive in the everyday world of western society, in my opinion.

    Teaching Self Defense/Martial Arts to civilians needs a different bent in order to make it fitting.

    I look at it this way, there are ‘individuals’ who take full advantage of the civil liberties afforded them by a democratic society and do what they want knowing that, as long as they are clean on their taxes and don’t break the law, no one can stop them – because they are within their rights.

    Then there are ‘citizens’ who take it to another level and do for others in some way – whether it is in the warrior fashion of LEO/Military, the Civil Servant fashion in the form of Firefighters/EMTs and the like, and finally there is the humanitarian fashion in the form of Americorps, Peace Corps, and other civil affairs oriented missions.

    Whether “Citizen” or “Warrior” I think the basic character traits of honesty, integrity, moral and physical courage, dedication to duty….and the rest apply.

    They all take guts and a willingness to subvert your individual freedoms.

    I don’t remember who said it, but I remember a saying about learning the most by serving others, and I think it’s true.

  2. I think a lot boils down to concern about others view us. Mixed up with our personal opinions of who we think we are and where we stand amongst our peers.

  3. I don’t think that a civilian leading an everyday life should have to adopt/adapt/’emulate’ (read copy) a ‘warrior’
    lifestyle in order to find a codex of values and character traits to
    deal with the challenges of life. In many ways it can be counter
    productive, IMO.

    The character traits and virtues have not been clearly defined, but I am
    working with the assumption that they include the basics such as
    Integrity, Honesty, Moral and Physical courage, commitment….and the
    like. Well, those same qualities are evident in the Boy Scouts, most
    postive and successful business organizations, healthy religious
    practices, personal growth programs, philosophical pursuits of self

    The BIG difference between using the ‘warrior’ model/role model and any
    of these other possible options is two major things:

    1. The basic belief that the warrior is/will be in conflict with someone or something.

    2. The basic belief that victory is the end goal/object…that there IS
    an end goal/objective at all.

    There is a problem when approaching life with a ‘conflict’ mentallity in a civilian (please read ‘civilized’) world. Basically, the ‘warrior’ mentallity requires one to see every situation as a fight,
    every challenge or problem as a conflict. That means the ‘warrior’s’ mind will define someone or something as the ‘enemy’ whether
    there is one or not.

    On the second issue, life is what it is, it is cyclical and there really
    is no ‘end goal’ objective, IMO. People don’t ‘win’ life, they live
    life. In the military/LEO, all those values/virtues are meant to keep a
    person focused on completing the objective, but – as we have seen too
    many times with war veterans, there isn’t much help in the ‘warrior’
    mentallity with how to cope with the aftermath (returning home to
    civilian life at the end of deployment, after combat, after trauma…).

    I think a more properly aligned mentallity for civilian martial arts training – especially those systems/schools that are trying to be reality based or self defense focused, is one based on being a good
    citizen, the legal system of the country/state/county/town or city, and
    personal family upbringing.

    I don’t normally pull the ‘been there done that’ game, so I hope this is
    taken for what it is meant to be: Substatiation of my position, but
    I’ve been a civilian and a serviceman, I’ve been trained as a teacher by
    degree, desire, and experience via the service, college, career, and mentorship.
    Based on those experiences and trainings, I don’t see ‘warrior’ mimicry
    as the best choice of role modeling.

    Personally, I’ve used the term ‘Everyday Hero’ for the type of ‘image’
    that encapsules the values and virtues that I would like to see my students and children strive for at times.

  4. PAUL WROTE: “There is a problem when approaching life with a ‘conflict’ mentallity in a civilian (please read ‘civilized’) world. Basically, the ‘warrior’ mentallity requires one to see every situation as a fight,
    every challenge or problem as a conflict. That means the ‘warrior’s’ mind will define someone or something as the ‘enemy’ whether
    there is one or not”

    I think that a warrior is a peaceful person by nature. This does not mean they see things inevitably as conflict driven. It is the fact that a warrior is prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually that separtates him from the rest.

    Every culture has had a warrior class. Life went on as usual but when the women and children were threatened, it was the warriors that stood their ground. Crow Indians would tie ropes to their legs and stake themselves to the ground as a symbol of courage in the face of the enemy. A warrior acts when others do not or can not. If you ask me if there is such a thing as modern day warriors… the answer is absolutely yes. They come in many shapes and sizes.

  5. Simply, Wow. Excellent treaties on what it means to be a warrior. Serving others is a way to serve yourself, though, as in the ego. It’s just a more positive way of doing so. If you serve others, you ultimately are serving yourself. If you serve only yourself, others become destroyed, and ultimately yourself in the process. Kind of like the goose and golden egg thing. Anyway, cool blog. I’ll be back.

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  7. Appreciate you including EMT’s, Firefighters, LEO’s, etc into your ‘Warrior’ column. It’s greatly appreciated, and sadly EMS/Fire often don’t get credit for what the dangers we face and service we do!

  8. I think you nailed it, SOME of the minutia of the other comments not withstanding.

    I WAS a warrior. Now I’m not. Both physically and mentally I’m a civilian. The mindset I had as a warrior was not ideal for civilized life. Yes, I carry the same virtues that allowed me to become a warrior and made me shine in my service as a warrior, but my job is now negotiating conflicts/business deals.

    I only use those things, that made me a good warrior, that transfer logically. I’m right there with you that the warrior mindset doesn’t allow for legitimate disagreement, and that’s where it really falls down in society. It has to be right and wrong with clarity to risk and sacrifice so much, and as we all know if the ultimate foundation is not love for our brothers and our cause you just don’t get there, because sacrifice is at the heart of it.

    Good stuff. May God bless you and yours.

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