"Wars not make one great." -- Yoda.
As I have mentioned several times in the past, I have an extensive martial arts library. But realistically, there are only a handful of books that I reapeatedly return to on a regular basis. One of those books is Living the Martial Way, by Forrest Morgan. I reread it at least once every six months.
Mr. Morgan is an Air Force officer with extensive experience in several different martial arts. He is, by almost any definition, a warrior. His whole book is dedicated to the notion that proper practice of the martial arts can (that's can, not will) enable someone to become a warrior.
When someone with his credentials says anyone can be a warrior, I listen. He believes warriors can indeed be found in every walk of life, not only in the profession of arms. In the section he devotes to this question, he points out that doctors, teachers, even waitresses can be warriors. These are people who demand excellence from themselves and those around them. They meet challenges head-on, and do not blame others for setbacks -- and certainly not their own shortcomings. They are standard setters for those around them.
Is he right? I still think there is a difference between those who willingly put themselves in the way of danger, and the rest of us. But I think his point is not to be taken lightly. It even has some history behind it. There are stories from Japan about masters of fine arts being accorded the same respect as samurai. The important trait was the dedication to excellence that made a master.
On story speaks of a teamaster who was challenged by a swordsman to a duel. He sought instruction from a samurai so he could die with dignity. The samurai sensed that this pursuit of even meager instruction in handling a sword indicated a pursuit of excellence. So he asked the teamaster to perform the tea ceremony as if it would -- as well it could -- be his last. The teamaster centered himself and went through the ceremony without a flaw. The samurai showed the teamaster the daijodan high posture and taught him to properly cut down from this position. "Do this with the same conviction you give the tea ceremony and you will at least die with dignity." The teamaster went to his duel and took up the daijodan posture. His opponent studied the teamaster for several minutes and finally bowed and left. He could sense the serenity of the teamaster in this single act. The swordsman might well have killed the teamaster, but he would not beat him.
Apocryphal? Sure, but it indicates that even in classical times, warriorship had many definitions. There are still times when I stumble on my journey to even this kind of metaphysical warriorship. I have decided that the trip is worthwhile because it makes me a better person.
I was a little angered by MiLK's dropping of the "whenever I return home..." paraphrase. This comes from Robert L. Humphery's Warrior's Code (which I'll quote from my sometimes shaky memory):
Wherever I go, everyone is a little safer.
Wherever I go, everyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I return home, everyone is happy to see me.
Mr. Humphery was a Marine in World War II. He fought on Iwo Jima. He knew warriors. And this was his distilled essence of warriorship. His Code was brought into the American Bujinkan community by Jack Hoban.
So while I do still think there is a difference between Warriors and warriors, I defer to men who have been both to help me see the similarities.
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