Fostering a Warrior’s Mindset with Martial Arts
10 Characteristics of the Warrior’s Mindset
In general, modern culture is not comfortable with Warrior energy. Since the social and cultural revolutions of the 60s and 70s, we’ve generally taught potential warriors as children to avoid confrontation and conflict and to instead nurture their “feminine side” (this is a term from modern medical psychology vernacular, so save your hate mail). The result is the Nice Guy; the person who will avoid confrontation and aggression even when confrontation and aggression are justified.
Society pushes people to be sweet and sensitive because they fear them becoming coldly stoic, abusive, and destructively angry. But society’s perception of the Warrior archetype is not based on the Warrior energy in its full, healthy manifestation, but on the archetype’s shadows. The problem is not Warrior energy itself, but Warrior energy that is not used in harmony with the other “masculine” archetypes and directed by empathy, contemplation, and order. Fighting itself is not bad, the question is simply: What is a person fighting for? The Warrior’s energy is needed not only in times of war but on all the battlefields of life.
Properly tapping into the Warrior’s energy provides a person with an unsurpassable power source that will fuel him to reach his goals, fight for worthy causes, achieve greatness, and leave a lasting legacy. The characteristics of the Warrior in his fullness amount to a total way of life, what the samurai called a do vs jutsu.
These characteristics constitute a spiritual or psychological path through life.
Warrior Characteristic #1 – Aggressive
If you look up the word “aggressive” in the dictionary, these are the definitions you’ll find:
- Characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing.
- Making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive.
- Vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness.
Of the three definitions, the first is most popular in modern culture. Something unprovoked, out of line. Notice how often “overly” precedes “aggressive” in common parlance. Aggression may also bring to mind military policies a person does not agree with. In general, it has a negative connotation.
But true aggression should be thought of in the context of the second two dictionary
entries. Effort. Energy. Initiative. Force. Aggression is a neutral tool that can be harnessed for either ill or good. How it is channeled makes all the difference. A person who does not harness their aggression at all picks a fight with everyone and about everything; their relationships fail and then are stunted in their personal development.
The person who reins in his aggression too much becomes the stereotypical weenie Nice Guy – proper aggression turns into passive aggression. They become too “polite” to go after what they want and are seething inside because of it. A person who has successfully integrated the Warrior archetype harnesses his aggression as the force that pushes them to compete to be the best and moves him ever forward towards their goals.
Warrior Characteristic #2 – Purpose
Of course, that proper use of aggression presupposes that a person has goals that they’re striving towards in the first place. A warrior has to have a clear and definite purpose in life, or he/she will feel lost and restless like they’re simply drifting along instead of marching ahead.
Warrior Characteristic #3 – Mindful
The mindfulness of the Warrior is two-fold. First, the warrior is always alert and awake, ever vigilant. They should have keen situational awareness. They never let complacency lull them to sleep; instead, they are always watching, observing, studying, and planning. Secondly, the Warrior is mindful of the finiteness of life and the inevitably of death, and therefore purposefully contemplates that death.
The warrior’s courage is rooted in the fact that he/she is not afraid to die. Life’s shortness brings clarity to their mind. They know that any minute could be their last so they make every day and decision count. Carpe diem! becomes the battle cry.
Warrior Characteristic #4 – Adaptable
During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army knew that it could not match the man and firepower of the British. So instead of facing them down on a field for a traditional battle, the minutemen took to the woods and launched surprise hit and run attacks on the enemy. This is the way of the Warrior. When he’s up against great odds, he bucks convention and uses cleverness and strategic intelligence to find creative ways to turn the tide in his favor. The warrior is an efficient fighter who studies the weaknesses of his opponents and concentrates his strikes there. The warrior is flexible and able to respond to change by shifting tactics on the fly.
Warrior Characteristic #5 – Decisive
In times of peace or crisis, whether for big things or small, the Warrior is able to boldly make decisions. He/she doesn’t stand there, wondering what they should do, scared of choosing the wrong option. They are calm and cool under pressure. Once a decision is made, they unhesitatingly move on it. The Warrior is able to be so decisive because they train so thoroughly for these moments; they are prepared. The warrior thinks about all possible contingencies and what he/she would do in each situation before the crisis arrives. When the crisis does come, the mind and body already instinctively know what to do.
Warrior Characteristic #6 – Skillful
Part of the Warrior’s confidence in decisions is rooted in supreme competence. The warrior’s energy is concerned with skill, power, and accuracy. The Warrior has absolute mastery of the technology of his trade…the technology that enables him/her to reach their goal. They have developed skills with the ‘weapons’ used to implement the decisions that have been made.
Warrior Characteristic #7 – Loyal
The fighter’s loyalty…is really to himself, to impressing himself with himself and to impressing others. He wishes to be the star quarterback while the warrior’s loyalties, on the other hand, are diametrically opposed to the fighter’s because the warrior’s loyalties are to something beyond and other than himself and his own concerns.
The Warrior’s loyalty centers on “a cause, a god, a people, a task, a nation, larger than individuals. The Warrior has a “central commitment” around which he organizes his life. His life’s purpose is rooted in ideals and principles, which naturally strips away superfluities and pettiness and brings his life great meaning.
Warrior Characteristic #8 – Disciplined
The Warrior has mastered himself in body and mind. His/her power is rooted in self-control. They know when to be aggressive and how aggressive to be. He is the master of his energies, releasing them and pulling them back as he chooses. The warrior decides the attitude he/she will take in a certain situation, instead of letting the situation dictate how they feel. The Warrior understands his/her limits and takes calculated instead of unnecessary risks. Their discipline also frees them from the fear of pain.
Feeble, mediocre people believe all pain is bad. The Warrior knows there is bad pain and good pain. He/she is willing, even eager to withstand psychological and physical pain on the path to their goals. They’re the type of people who subscribes to the “pain is just weakness leaving the body” philosophy; they relish difficulty because it makes them stronger.
Warrior Characteristic #9 – Emotionally Detached
Not all the time, but when he/she is in Warrior mode. To complete the mission, the Warrior must be emotionally detached from the fear and doubt generated by his/her own feelings, from the intimidation emanating from the enemy, and from the demands put on them by friends and family. The Warrior needs the kind of mental clarity that only comes from single-minded purpose, or as Kaiso puts it, “The Warrior needs room to swing his sword.”
Switching off that emotional detachment when away from the mission represents a great challenge for the Warrior. The inability to do so can result in one of the Warrior’s shadows.
Warrior Characteristic #10 – Creative Destroyer
The Warrior is the archetype of destruction. However, the Warrior in his fullness only destroys in order to “make room for something new and fresh and more alive.” His is an act of creative destruction he doesn’t tear things down simply for the pleasure of doing so. We call upon the Warrior archetype when we quit bad habits and replace them with better ones or when we get rid of people in our lives who bring us down and surround ourselves with people who edify.
Come join us if you’re read to tap into your Warrior Mind.