On the “Ultimate” Warrior: The Spiritual Warrior
This will be a series. I can tell. Unlike many other articles I’ve written, this one does not begin with an outline; I am writing this article from the heart–as it is a topic very close and dear to me.
Islamic wisdom tells young women that in order to find a good husband, she must hide herself within the bosom of God Himself–buried so deeply, a man must search for God in order to find her. In the world of the martial arts, the warrior must wrap himself in the armor of being the ultimate warrior in order to be found.
My use of the term “ultimate” warrior is several layers deep. I will attempt to describe them in this article and then expound on the subtopics in subsequent articles. Please check back with me, as I will be teaching you some life-changing/course-changing things in this serious. They will be free, of course–although the knowledge I will be sharing will be priceless.
Many of the themes I learned from my teachers as I grew up are found in very few places as I looked around. Later, in adulthood, I found myself developing a newfound appreciation for these things in the most surprising places. The same topics that bored me and amused me as a child now have a deep meaning that guide me as a teacher to the point that they now define me both as a man and as a martial artist. Most of them were told to me by my grandfather, and some were echoed by my Kung Fu teacher, who spoke of them in passing (I was a teen and perhaps not ready for those lessons in his eyes). So, not wanting to give full credit to my grandfather–many are rooted in what is known as “wu de”, or Chinese martial philosophy–although much of what I write about is from an FMA point of view.
The martial artist who embraces his art to a near religious or spiritual point is certainly on his way to becoming the Ultimate Warrior. I define an ultimate warrior as one who is far superior to the masses of warriors. “Warrior” does not simply mean that you are a martial artist. To me, a warrior is one who takes the role of being a warrior as his role in life–next to his role as a man, as a husband, as a servant to his Creator (whoever that Creator is). No man is as dangerous on the battlefield than one who is not afraid of death, as he will endure more than what the average man will endure before falling. He sees his role as having an almost Divine mission, and no amount of training will be equal to this. If you read what the Samurai say about their mission as warriors, it darn near reads like a religious text. They speak of their Shogun almost as a Diety. This role supercedes Clan, class, occupation, familial ties, even self-preservation. This is what defeated many of the Crusades in their wars. Although many of these men wanted to spread their religion into the Holy Land, most were driven by racism and greed–and ended up fighting men who believed that their death will be rewarded in the Afterlife, among others who were simply defending an invading force destroying their homes.
I read somewhere that in the Congressional hearings debating whether or not America should enter the War in Vietnam (which was never really declared a War), one veteran who fought in the Philippines stated that America should not, as our (American) soldiers would strive to live on the battlefield–while the Asian often sought to die. Nothing could be more dangerous than a fighter unafraid of death. Contrary to the saying that one shouldn’t “bring a knife to a gunfight”–a fighter unafraid of death can win gunfights with a knife. Many of you reading these words possibly could not fathom such a notion, and that’s why you are just a martial artist and not a “warrior”. See, you put your faith in technology and what you deem “superior” firepower and technique; while spiritual warriors put their faith in God. You fight for a purpose, and they fight for a cause. You practice the martial arts, they define themselves by their martial arts.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, death while in service of religious duty is seen as the “ultimate” sacrifice–whether that is patriotism, martyrdom, or simply trying to protect your family. The same way a fraile mother will fight barehanded against a wild animal or gang member to defend her child, we are talking about 13 year old Palestinean boys unafraid to go up against American tanks driven by Israelis armed with nothing more than a rock. And you talk of courage versus stupidity? Most people know nothing of courage compared to this rock-wielding boy.
As a martial artist, you must see your role in a different capacity than the seminar/video hackers looking for the next buck on the internet. In the next day or two, I will post video of old men far past the age of vigor for most men. These men are not cut of the same cloth as you whose days are spent handing out certificates to men you would never vouch for in a fight through these seminars you teach. They treat their art as a precious pearl that must be highly polished and treasured before they “certify” as a teacher. When you teach classes, you are simply “sharing knowledge”, but for a fee. When they teach a class, they are trying to build the most capable fighters they can, and they are almost never satisfied. Like I said, many of you know nothing of this kind of thinking.
Some martial artists are satisfied casually practicing, while others train rigorously and frequently compare themselves to another–striving to best the next man, and the next, and the next. Just as the “lover” in Rumi’s poetry, who wanders the desert looking for his love, always worried that he is not good enough, hoping to be noticed by his lover (God): The pious man strives to become better as a man and as a servant of God, and is ashamed even of the small thoughts that enter our minds in passing–the lustful thought when we saw a woman in a short skirt, the selfish feeling when someone asks us to borrow money, the lie we tell a beggar (“sorry, I don’t have any money”, yet we have $10 in our pockets) at the gas station–that most people wouldn’t even think of. He becomes more and more pious because he self-polices. The warrior never allows himself to slip in training and in practice: he hates his fatigue when he trains, he kicks himself when he is lazy, he replays his lost matches in his mind obsessively, he is never satisfied with his skill–although those around him believe he is the best. It is when this fighter believes that he can not improve that becomes his downfall; like the martial artists who get angry when another martial artist states that perhaps your style is not superior, you have now cheated yourself by thinking that you cannot improve.
The warrior who sees his role as God-given will always be superior than the one who is simply filling an occupation. His martial arts is more than a technical skill to be sold on the market and displayed for public praise on Youtube. He was called to the arts for some purpose inspired deep within himself. It transcends money, ego, or wrath. It is not to be treated casually, and it is not to be shared with just anyone. It is treated as a responsibility–even moreso as a duty. It explains why these Masters die penniless, but happy; why they divorce rather than give them up; why they will take secrets to the grave rather than pass them on to undeserving students; why they will take a bullet to the abdomen rather than allow a thief to get away with their crime; why they will face 3 attackers alone, than to allow their wives to be disrespected and those men go unpunished; why a fighter will run 3 miles in 100 degree weather during the Month of Ramadan; why a machete-carrying husband will face an invading army to protect the family he loves; why an already popular President will free slaves when he knows they will kill him for doing so; why a boy will face a Giant armed with nothing more than faith and a rock. You call them stupid and foolish, warriors call them “fellow” warriors. They know that courage and higher purpose go hand-in-hand.
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