Excerpted from the book A Masters Guide to the Way of the Warrior
By Stefan H. Verstappen
Well then, the accomplished man uses the sword but does not kill others.
He uses the sword and gives others life. When it is necessary to kill, he kills.
When it is necessary to give life, he gives life.
Takuan Soho, Letters to Yagyu Munenori
One reason for a warrior to have courage is so that he can face the violence inherent in this world. Nature is both beautiful and cruel.
We all try to avoid this unpleasant truth. While we enjoy an outdoor Barbecue how many could stomach a visit to the slaughterhouse? We admire the graceful strength and beauty of a lion, but turn our heads when it slowly tears apart a baby springbok. While we praise our soldiers, how many want to know the details of the horrific acts they committed on innocent people for our ‘freedom’?
We can run and hide from cruelty and violence, but if there is nowhere to run to, and nowhere to hide anymore, who will turn to face the darkness?
This is why the path of the warrior is so difficult, and so necessary. Without warriors among a population, that population becomes a herd, and like all herds, inevitably led to slaughter.
There are times and conditions in every society and everyone’s life where one must face danger and conquer it. Only a warrior can hope to succeed. While the other spiritual paths offer many benefits to those that follow them, they are useless against the dark side.
Someone who spent years mastering meditation sitting in the forest, would quickly find himself immersed in a world of pain, confusion, and panic the first time he is punched in the nose.
While everyone can benefit from following many of the ways and means of the warriors’ path, and integrate them into one’s own personal path, to become a warrior one must include some practical combat training. This could range from a self-defense course, to regular training in the martial arts and even other sports such as target shooting, archery, and fencing. Previous experience facing danger and violence is essential.